This is what it seems like thus far - put the plan in place, provide direction for teachers to implement the plan, and watch students flourish in this paradigm shift. It appears that the plan comes pre-packaged. Add two cups of "water" and serve. Then simply watch students while they gobble it all up like it's mac and cheese.
Missing in the aforementioned article - and, actually, in the discussion about all of this - is the student voice. No one should assume, though, that students are unaware of what's going on, even if many may appear to be inattentive to the formal learning process itself. I was reminded of this in still another piece published recently in the NY Times entitled "My Hometown Through Teenagers' Eyes". Teenagers are paying attention. Our concern should be about what teens devote their attention to each day. After flipping through the slides, thoughts of "it takes a village to raise a child" immediately bubbled to the surface.
There is really no need here to elaborate upon the meaning of this phrase. The reality is that a "village" usually raises a child by default, anyway. If not entirely influenced by the village (or neighborhood or community or whatever you wish to call it), the peer pressure that forms from the critical mass of villagers certainly can shape an individual's views of the world, expectations one has for oneself, and the norms of accepted behavior. Well, a school community is really a village. And a school community promotes a school culture, too, whether intentionally or not by the policies it enforces. Students are paying attention to this.
Implicit in these policies is the language spoken to communicate the messages imbedded in these. Take a moment to reflect upon these messages. What kind of mindset is your school culture modeling? How are your assessments tied to this mindset? What is your school's position on course selections? Are students allowed to schedule "up"? Do teachers challenge students to "move up"? Is mastery integrated into the curriculum? In other words, are students required to demonstrate sufficient mastery of specific concepts before moving on to the next stage of development?
And what about the language used to communicate messages in the school community? We should know that there are subtle messages - like "reading between the lines" - conveyed on a daily basis. Are students labeled indelibly as "General Education Students" or "Honor Students", or are they viewed as students who takes general education courses and students who take honor's courses? And is it possible for one to shed a label (just a "C" student in General Studies)? Or is it "once a "C" student, always a "C" student" - it's who s/he is? There is a difference here. The language spoken in the village has a profound way of shaping behavior. Students are paying attention to this.
Education is a profession devoted to human development. It requires a committed corps of professionals devoted to developing human beings, fueled by a mindset that all students can grow. It also requires a fresh look at failure - that failure is not permanent, but simply temporary feedback in the learning process. One has simply not succeeded YET. You know what? Losing can actually be good for you. Read this piece and find out why. And while you're taking a few moments to reflect upon this contrarian view, read another piece that poses this question - Can Perseverence Be Taught?
Common Core Standards? The curriculum, by itself, is an intellectual exercise. For successful implementation, it requires an emotional connection - an authentic belief on the part of those delivering it and those receiving it that the standards will deliver on a promise. This promise is that students will be ready for what's next with life-after-high-school. They need to believe this. Teachers need to believe it, too. In short, it's the common belief that matters. At its core, the entire village needs to commit to this belief - and then put it into action. Students will pay attention to this.