Can the common core inspire self-regulated learning?


Taking a step back, educators need to focus on the value of standards to lesson planning, curriculum construction, and effective learning instruction and remove the politics from the discussion. When standards are set to consider raising self-efficacy, we will be on our way to connecting self-regulated learning with the common core state standards, or any other learning milestones that lead to life-long learning. Now, NYS realizes it set the goal to high, the forethought phase was exited too quickly and goals need to be reset if educational goals are to be realized. This often happens when a self-regulated learner reaches the performance phase, realizes that the goals has been set too high, and makes the decision to return to the planning phase to reset the goal. 

Recently we have heard that many states are “rolling back” their approach to the common core, but keeping standards based education. After much self-evaluation, New York State makes it very clear that it has rolled out the common core in error and I want to offer my applause for the task force drawing our attention to the difference between having standards and the manner in which they are implemented. The results of soul searching is evidence of what happens when those who implement policy become self-regulated in their approach to teaching, learning, and instruction.

An article that appeared in EdSource just two weeks ago (New York stumbles, California advances on Common Core implementation By Louis Freedberg , January 10, 2016) states the following when comparing the process in which two significant states made the common core available to their teaching and learning communities. One might say California had an SRL approach and at first, NYS did not, thus the confusion and frustration associated with the Common Core State Standards.

        It now appears that New York moved too quickly to implement the Common Core.     Cuomo went head to head against New York’s teachers unions, insisting on linking the scores of students on Common Core-aligned tests to teacher evaluations. New York was only the second state to do so. However, students took the tests before most teachers had a chance to fully implement the standards or had materials to support instruction, which they say contributed to lower test scores. By contrast, Brown expressed deep skepticism about using standardized tests for accountability purposes. An ally of teachers unions on many but not all issues, he resisted pressures from the federal administration to link test scores to teacher evaluations. That was a condition for applying for federal funds from the Race to the Top program, and for a waiver from some of the provisions of the No Child Left Behind law. It is easy now to forget that as both states began implementing the Common Core, New York received high praise in some quarters for moving more aggressively.

Like New York State, educators from other areas of the country should recognize the place for standards in achieving success in the global educational arena. We teach our future teachers to design learning objectives with unreachable outcomes for the diverse learning population in their future classrooms. Setting short term, realistic goals is the way to accomplish standards-based education, one goal at a time. If we set proximal goals linked to standards, we can focus on raising self-efficacy to accomplish the most difficult tasks.



Common means consistent….

For many years I taught a group of special education students in a self contained classroom for children who had emotional and behavioral challenges.  I had a common sense approach and it worked.  It went beyond the reading and math curriculum to the inner voice that told me if I could structure the learning environment to invite discovery, encourage independence, while strictly managing all of the elements, my students would learn how to read.  This was in an elementary school in a fishing town north of Massachusetts. I did not know anything about standards or the common core, but I did know successful learning experiences motivate exploration and a desire to learn more.  Of course I did not know at the time that what I did was provide learning experiences that fed and increased the self efficacy in my students (I did not know if Bandura had even published the term yet, this was in the early 70’s).

How should we structure our learning environments to encourage independence, self regulation, and metacognitive growth?  Well, whether at home or at a school, we want our learners asking for more, not less. about the task at hand.  How do we encourage sharing what is being learning? It begins with creating a positive atmosphere where young minds observe a teacher or parents enthusiasm about specific requirements because they are learning experiences.  Turning the homework reading assignment into a game rather than a task help teachers, parents, and learners form a triangular cooperative group that moves forward together.

The teacher I observed in Brooklyn turns his academic vocabulary wall into a homework game.  He challenges his students (who are mostly ELL students and stronger English speakers than their parents) to go home and use new words, challenging their parents to learn the vocabulary word.  These second graders return with excited stories about what mom, dad, auntie, or sister, learned from them.  They write these accomplishments in a journal, and the game continues throughout the year.

Academic Word Wall

Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards K-5: Comprehension and Collaboration

Grade 2 students:

1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and large groups.

Common Core Language Standards K-5: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

1. Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including adjectives and adverbs to describe.