Posted by: School Improvement Network
The focus of educational practice has shifted to an emphasis on teaching and learning in the classroom. At the end of the day, educational outcomes are shaped, defined and driven by what happens in the classroom between teacher and student.
In meeting the educational needs of our nation’s children, teachers are on the front lines. Though states set policy and allocate funds, districts strategically plan, and directors of curriculum, content specialists and instructional coaches build capacity, it is ultimately the school-level educators who determine the quality of the day-to-day classroom experience of their students. It is the teachers who create classroom culture, define learning targets, plan lessons, deliver instruction and assess learning.
Many teachers view their work from a lens that acknowledges the cyclical nature of teaching and learning. This teaching and learning cycle guides the definition of learning targets, the design of instructional delivery, the creation and administration of assessments and the selection of targeted interventions in response to individual student needs.
As teachers across the nation effectively integrate the Common Core Standards into their individualized classroom practice, these standards are energizing every aspect of the teaching and learning cycle.
The Common Core Standards help teachers to define student learning and performance targets, helping teachers to determine what their students need to know and be able to do at each grade level.
Understanding these standards as learning targets, teachers find answers to the question, “What do my students need to know and be able to do?” Teachers are thus supported towards design and delivery of engaging, standards-based learning opportunities. These opportunities come most often in robust lessons that engage their students and advance them towards mastery of the standards targets.
The Common Core Standards do not prescribe content for teachers to teach. They provide specific performance goals to help teachers and students engage with curriculum and content. The Common Core helps educators discover and use strategies that stimulate higher order thinking and cultivate the skills of analysis, synthesis, and creativity.
As teachers transition to the Common Core and align their practice to these new standards, they are glad to learn that many of their most engaging, content rich lessons are fully adaptable in this new context.
As they integrate the Common Core, teachers make informed decisions about HOW to teach to ensure all students learn. Teachers thus are able to help all students acquire the knowledge and the skills they need to be ready for the next grade level and, ultimately, to attain readiness for college and the workforce.
As teachers analyze assessment data, to examine student progress towards standards-based goals, they gain important information to help them determine whether every student is making adequate progress towards mastery in each standard area. Assessments, aligned to the standards, provide evidence to determine whether all students have learned.
Monitoring student progress and allowing assessment results to guide next steps is critical to creating student centered, developmentally appropriate lessons. Aligning intervention strategies with the Common Core Standards guides teachers in responding with effective, targeted interventions for those students who don’t learn as expected.
Integrating the Common Core Standards will energize the teaching and learning cycle by aligning robust learning targets with instruction, assessment, and intervention. This alignment and the synergy it creates will increase teacher effectiveness and maximize student achievement in K-12 classrooms across the United States.
What strategies have helped you “energize the teaching cycle”? Share your insights in the comments!