Common Core & The Conservative. To be afraid, or not to be afraid? That is the question. Part 1

You set the weather in your classroom, so make it a sunny day!

            This year my state, California, began using Common Core standards as our foundation for  classroom instruction.  I am new to teaching, so I look to my co-teachers as a guide in my response to this change.  I simply “do not know what I do not know” at this point my practice and I trust many of my fellow educators to direct me by their example. From my observations, I would say they are unaffected… conservatives and liberals alike. No. Big. Deal.

            That being said (i.e. I’m a newbie), I continue to be baffled over the Common Core debate, which “appears” to be mainly fueled by folks, like me, who live really far to the “right” politically, morally and socially.

             Being “right” of center, though, does not make me blind or closed-minded.  I support everyone’s opportunity to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions and then live with them if they so desire.

            So, I’m going to TRY to research and unwind this Common Core debate because, frankly, it really bothers me. I don’t know if I’m bothered because my friends post things on social media that shock me about CC, or because I feel personally attacked by those attacking CC, or because I’m new to teaching.   I must discover this!

            Honestly… none of my other co-teachers are AT ALL bothered. They now teach Common Core. Period. And some of them are just like me in their “take” on life.

            The “why” I am bothered (my own personal issue) is not as important as the truth, if it can be discovered. I want to find the “truth” of common core.  Is the ‘truth” that the federal government is imposing its’ will on the state’s right to teach to the content standards it adopts? Is it too “socialized?” (You know, us conservatives and our feelings about socialism.) Or, is it because CC standards are evil?  Why do people that are like-minded as I hate it so much?  I’m so curious, because I clearly do not hate it.  As it’s unfolding in my classroom, I rather really, really like it.

            But again, I’m NEW. Take that into account.

            So, I’m going to try to write a short series of articles about Common Core.  Maybe I’ll call my series, “Common Core & The Conservative. To be afraid, or not to be afraid? That is the question.”  What I really want to accomplish is to find out for myself if I will teach to these standards in good conscience. And once I answer this question, and if it is to the affirmative, I will hopefully encourage my fellow righties… do not fear!

            I say that now, sans research. “Do not fear! 

            This won’t harm your children!

            Trust me!

            I’m a teacher!” 

           But honestly, I don’t have any data to back those statements up.  All I know is what I do day in and day out in my room.  I love what I do. I love what I offer my 4th & 5th graders. I think they learn everyday and for the most part I think they love school.

            I watch my fellow teachers in action. They are amazing at what they do. I’m blessed to be at a great public school with a wonderful leader, support staff and an amazing teaching staff.  I think our district is incredible. Our students are learning and they are happy.  

And just so you know with whom you are dealing…

A “tad” about me:

            My classroom theme is adopted from the educator Dr. Haime Ginott (1922 – 1973), “YOU SET THE WEATHER IN YOUR CLASSROOM, SO MAKE IT A SUNNY DAY.”  That’s the kind of educator I strive to be.  Haime’s famous quote includes these inspirational beauties, “I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration (in the classroom),” and “I am the decisive element in the classroom,” and, “It is my personal approach that creates the climate.”

            (Seriously, I wish my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Dubose would have read some of this man’s books. But, I digress.)

             Above ALL ELSE, I strive to be a loving, caring and compassionate educator.  When my students think back on their learning, I want my face and my affect to be forefront in their minds.  Of course I like to be liked, and no I’m not always popular, but I deliver consequences with compassion most of the time.  I want to be that teacher that did not give my students a hard time, but gave them a positive time… cheered them on and encouraged them and taught them… even when (and it sometimes does) have the opportunity to “get ugly.”

            Think about it… if my students walk into my room and I am happy, smiling, making eye contact, saying things like, “I’m glad you are here today”, then they can bask! The warmth can melt away whatever frozen issues they have come in carrying on their tiny little shoulders.  It doesn’t always melt away the stress, but I believe it often does. (The “formal” phrase in teaching regarding this is the “Affective Filter.”)

          I am making a banner for my room that reads, “Walking on Sunshine” because that’s what I want to happen in my room daily. I want my kids to come in and walk on sunshine (happiness) because their teacher is directing the little solar system of Room 4 with strength and warmth and light. 

            I am the epicenter of their universe from 8:00 to 2:30 every day. They orbit around me, following my direction.

            Some of them are dwarf planets… struggling with every attempt at learning and sadly forgotten either at home or in other classrooms in their educational careers. They have been *“Pluto-ed”.

           Others are like planet Earth… thriving, growing, learning… many things come easy for these learners. 

            And some are covered with a gaseous atmosphere that clouds their ability to see and learn.  They might be clouded by poor socio-economic status, or a tumultuous home life, or be the victim of abuse or grief, or, as in the case of all of my students, they live under a cloud of some type of disability. But, even the disabled can learn like Planet Earth!  And, I will go so far as to say from what I already know; I believe Common Core can encourage Planet Earth learning. (But, more on that in another post.)

             I set the weather in my classroom, so it will be a beautiful day.

            Well, that’s a little bit about me and why I’m researching the debate over Common Core.  If you have specific questions, please post and I will include them in my research. I’ll try to address every concern over the next few weeks of my postings.

            Thanks for stopping by Walkingonsunshineblog!

 *The phrase “to be pluto-ed” came from a talk I heard by author Max Lucado. Want to make sure he gets the credit for the clever metaphor!



2 thoughts on “Common Core & The Conservative. To be afraid, or not to be afraid? That is the question. Part 1”

  1. I too am researching Common Core Natlie. As a music teacher in an elementary public school, I typically “fly under the radar” when it comes to how curriculum is taught. However, this year, I was specifically asked to “use CC ‘speak'” with the kiddos because “we don’t want them hearing one thing in the classroom and a different thing from you” {direct quote”. Which left me wondering, what in the world is CC?
    Basically, the origination of it is this ~
    Having students be able to go out into the world with the following skills:
    *Critical Thinking
    And the teacher is now the “Guide on the side” instead of the “Sage on the stage.”
    OF COURSE we want these things for our students! What I’m finding is that the INTERPRETATION of HOW we teach these skills varies {greatly} from district to district.
    Thankfully, because of my own poor experiences in school and college {not unlike your experience with your 5th grade teacher}, I already teach in a “Common Core” manner.
    One of my two rules in the classroom is called “Umbrella of Mercy” and it has multiple purposes. Students aren’t allowed to laugh at or ridicule a wrong answer. Nor are they allowed to shoot their hand up and gasp {to get my attention}, because under “Umbrella of Mercy”, the student who got the answer wrong is given a second chance. Within that second chance, I facilitate critical thinking by guiding them along in HOW to figure out the correct answer. And they ALWAYS get it!
    I’m wondering if all of the brouhaha is coming from teachers who are already overloaded, overstressed, undervalued, etc.? And again, the INTERPRETATION of CC is so varied.
    Good luck in your research. I’ll be following to see what you come up with. 🙂

    1. Yes!!! Thank you for this reply. I just can’t, at my first blush, get what all the bru-ha-ha is over. My co-teachers like it just as I do, And their response is, “it will change in a few years… just go with it.” But I, like you, always apply the critical thinking piece. I want learning to be experiential… to make sense, etc. Looking forward to unpacking this.. and I look forward to your feedback, too. 🙂

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