It’s finally starting to feel like vacation for me. Well, sort of. A few weeks ago, I was working at Willow Glen along with around 70 other English teachers from 6th-12th grade on chaptering (you will learn all about this in August) and lesson planning common core units. Later on, I was working on revising and editing snippets of units at the central office. If you happen to ask any of the teachers in attendance during these processes, I’m sure they would tell you the same thing that I will: It was a rich and powerful experience.
Being able to work directly with other professionals, developing curriculum and brainstorming ideas, is unfortunately not something we get to do often as teachers. More often than not, we are isolated from one another, and the collective brainpower that we possess is vastly underutilized. After talking with teachers from other districts, I have come to the conclusion that we are lucky. Many other districts have no plan at all for common core. Many of them are confused, worried, or worse, kept completely in the dark.
Sometimes I think I take for granted working in a district where teachers are able to have a direct impact on the future of our profession. But we should not take this for granted. Maybe it’s about time. It’s time that we are trusted and given the opportunity to determine how we move forward. It’s time that teachers work together across sites and grade levels to create curriculum that benefits all of our students. It’s time that we demand to have input, that our expertise is used when making decisions that affect the course of the future for us and our students.
Next year, we are jumping into common core no matter how anyone feels about it. I will say this though: every SJTA member should be grateful that the units, assessments, and chapters that many of your colleagues having been working on were entirely peer driven. You should thank those who took the time — some of whom have been working on common core for well over a year — to leave the classroom and work over their summers to deliver something that will benefit you as professionals, and ultimately your students as learners. This is the way it should be done. We are the movers and shakers. We are in the driver’s seat. I have to admit, to me, it is nice to be thought of as more than a babysitter.
It’s no surprise that we know we what we are doing. We understand, more than anybody, how top-down decisions affect our students. Let us hope that the days of empty district mandates are gone and that we are entering an era of collaborative, teacher-driven efforts. Let us hope that the trust we are building with the district continues. Let us hope that other districts and associations continue to look to us as role models.
After all, it’s about time, isn’t it?