Begin with the end in mind...

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How are you feeling about what is going on in education? By now, everyone who needs to implement the Common Core State Standards has begun the transition from using current standards to the national standards. While feelings are often not considered “data”, it is worth considering when everything we do is influenced by how we feel, which influences how we think, and what we think influences the actions we take. Do you often feel more like a human doing rather than a human being? If you answered yes, maybe it’s time to recalculate before moving forward.

Using the GPS as an analogy, to get to where we want to be, we have to know exactly our desired end destination. Then, we have to type in our current location before we can see the directions to take. Often, we find there are multiple options. As we choose a path and travel down the road, we may find unexpected obstacles that impede our movement and we need to consider alternate routes.  Before moving forward, it might be worthwhile to take a moment to self reflect and ask the question often posed at interviews, “Why did you choose to become a teacher?”

With that question in mind, I doubt any teacher would say they chose to become a teacher so they can implement standards, cover curriculum, deliver instruction, manage behaviors, grade papers, and test students. Notice, these are all human doings.  If you do not feel joy when you walk into your classroom, it is time to recalculate and choose the way of being human.  Until we become aware of our own social-emotional well being, how could we help our students develop to become the best human beings they were born to be?  Is this not the end we had in mind when we chose to become a teacher?

Last year, as a classroom teacher, I kept a weekly blog around implementing the Speaking and Listening standards and how to develop oral language. My last entry suggested the first step is to begin with the end in mind. I suggested unpacking the Speaking and Listening standards to determine your end destination.  Being back as a full time mentor, listening to teachers and administrators, attending conferences and workshops addressing CCSS, I questioned if CCSS is the end or a means to get to a deeper purpose.  I believe we are at a pivotal point in education. We can use this transition time to ask questions, to think critically, to clarify, the same way Common Core expects all students to be able to do, and take the time to reflect, recalculate, adjust so we can collectively take the actions that would lead to desired outcomes of what an education could mean for all students.

As you unpack the standards, you will find how participating in a collaborative discussion is not only the overarching goal of the Speaking and Listening standards but foundational and essential to all the other standards.  Developing communication skills is critical and language is the tool.  Like most tools, language can be used to build or break down, to lift up or push down. Language can be used to hurt or heal, to oppress or empower, promote dependence or independence.  

I’m wondering, how might an inquiry around oral language and academic conversation facilitate a discussion to express feelings, collaboration to identify common needs and problems, and to collectively find and create possible solutions?  

How might focusing on language transform our educational system so it can develop every human being’s capacity to problem solve and create a world where everyone could grow and thrive?

I’m wondering, would anyone be interested in an ongoing dialogue to support each other in this challenging calling of being a teacher as we move into a new era in education with Common Core?  



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