Yesterday I went to Costco to get apples, There were sixteen varieties of apples, yet they were all a type of apple. Now, an apple expert would immediately know that some were good for baking, others of eating, and still others represented a variety of flavors. However, none of the apples could claim to be oranges!
As states begin to individually revise approaches to implementing the common core the essential skills needed to be college ready remain unchanged. Learning achievement requires a common core of learning goals that emphasize college readiness and self-regulated learning.
When not being politicized, the common core initiative can be viewed as an excellent set of guidelines for curriculum, instructional planning, and good teaching. The old saying that states, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it everytime!”, has not been the problem with our educational system. In reality, aiming at mixed sets of goals and curriculum planning has led to poor learning outcomes.
As educators we need to embrace the concept of common standards. Educational excellence is the goal of all those involved in teaching and learning, although approaches to achieving the goals are varied, we are all headed in the same direction.
You know sometimes it comes down to resetting our goals in the moment. Self-regulation informs our decision making almost “on-the-go”… For example, if I am planning a dinner party with many guests and find that I have run out of time to cook all the food I need (or wanted) – why not have pizza?
Self-regulation is a life skill and it applies to entertaining as well as the classroom setting. Sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp (especially during the holidays), and the grasp of our students, meaning we set goals without a realistic time frame. In last week’s class we discussed the hazards of lesson planning, and how to set attainable proximal goals that raise self-efficacy. Like the dinner party with a three course meal, I had not taken into consideration I would not have time to cook the meal – when I thought ….PIZZA – I was able to maintain the “look” of the dinner party (decorations, table cloth, dinnerware, cutlery), the only thing that was adjusted was the menu which did not make me look like Martha Stewart but neither did it make me cancel my party. The next time I will set more realistic goals which will include time management.
My take on this is that we need to be realistic with what can be accomplished in one lesson or group of lessons. If we adjust goals we are doing it in the interest of raising self-efficacy. An “It Can Be Done” motto is better than not doing it at all. Eventually we will get to better time management but for now working with what we have, praising every proximal goal attained is one way to create a successful learning environment and increase student learning. The common core standards are a spiral staircase encouraging a meaningful progression towards attainable goals not an immediate run to the top.