Before I took the Teach-NOW program, all of the hysteria about standards really scared me. I had a disproportionate amount of teacher and education related friends on my Facebook even before I started the Teach-NOW program. Common Core State Standards get an overwhelming amount of bashing from these Facebook friends. I didn’t know what else to think except, “Be afraid!” They’re teachers, after all.
Maybe their fears don’t resonate with mine, but my fear was in just misunderstanding standards. I loathed standards so much that I purposely procrastinated on the Teach-NOW assignment dealing with ELL standards. Eventually I just decided to come back to it at a later date during my long Chinese New Year winter holiday. I’d have plenty of time to sludge around in standards then!
I also procrastinated on the first activities from this module, since I had already decided I was going to hate the module. A classmate joked with me that the module was going to last forever since standards was not his or her favorite either.
Well, Teach-NOW wouldn’t be a very good program if I still felt ill equipped to deal with standards. The moment of epiphany was the video with very clear examples of how to unpack standards. If I look at standards as a sort of puzzle to figure out, with the goal being to squeeze out every hidden skill and content in the standard, unpacking standards becomes a bit of odd educator fun.
My one-day hope is to be a curriculum developer and full time writer. Earlier in this year when I discovered Teachers-pay-Teachers, I realized I wouldn’t be able to sell anything in the US in the long run without understanding Common Core State Standards. Regardless of the quality of my material, I wouldn’t be able to market it to the mass majority of educators without being able to identify the specific CCSS supported by my materials.
Now that I’ve learned how to unpack a standard, that opportunity is again very much open to me.
Backwards mapping wasn’t new to me as far as the process was concerned, but it was new in the sense of using CCSS to backwards map. I use backwards mapping at my preschool with the two curriculums we use, since they do provide curriculum standards. These are the only standards our English program provides. That isn’t a good thing, I think. Student language achievement varies widely within the English program and definitely depends upon the teacher’s motivation in class. This is the most practice I’ve had with specifically using SMART objectives, but I need to use them more in my lesson planning. I think that most of my lesson objectives naturally accidentally fall into being SMART objectives. Still, if I’m looking through my monthly planner and making sure that all of the objectives achieve SMART, everyone benefits.
Next to a newfound market for my writing and educational materials, the second advantage to learning about this is that I will now be a better trainer for the teachers on my team. I know how to lesson plan, but teaching this to another teacher was an audacious task for me. I really didn’t know where to start in teaching our new recruits. Now I can give them a clear process, unpack, backward map, then objectives, and then activities. Not the other way around.