The California Story

Okay, a “misunderstood teacher” story, and then a great article in defense of the Common Core in California, and why our state is implementing it better than New York and other states have (and are).
Today, my fabulous student teacher and I (and yes, she must be called fabulous), wore our pjs on top of our clothes, brought in toothbrushes, shampoo, mirrors, hair dryers, towels, pantuflas (slippers), bathrobes, soap, nail polish, brushes, combs, an alarm clock, and other accoutrement to act out the morning routine (with reflexive verbs) for our 2nd year Spanish students.  And, yes, yours truly brought a blow up mattress with blanket and pillows and pretended to be sleeping as the sleepy high school children entered the classroom when her rude alarm clock awoke her to 2014 – a totally perfect set-up for the kids’ first day back from winter break.
My fabulous student teacher performed it (and got videotaped) at 9:00 am; and I performed it again later in the afternoon.
Cut to an email received at 5:30 pm sent by the principal, after I walked to my car after my 11 hour day of teaching and an after school district curriculum meeting: “It was brought to my attention that you brought in a queen sized inflatable mattress and have set it up in the front of your classroom. What educational purpose does it serve?”

I feel like I’m in trouble. This is why principals should be in the same union with their teachers – we all need to be on the same team, fighting together for a better education and better resources and more fun for all of the students! Why would it be assumed that the quirky Spanish teacher was doing anything other than an interesting lesson? I’m sure I will be able to smooth it all over tomorrow . . .
Anyway, below is a link to a great article that came out on Diane Ravitch’s blog today on why California teachers are excited and not afraid of Common Core. The essence is, that if the standards are decoupled from bad testing policies and reform measures that punish teachers, principals, students and schools, the standards are really profound and interesting to aspire to (I agree mostly). Recently, I called up one of my old mama friends who is now an education professor in Milwaukee (she was a bilingual elementary school teacher who did her PhD on immersion schools in San Francisco). We discussed the Common Core at the elementary school level, and since I am a high school teacher with an elementary school kid, I am largely clueless about the appropriateness of the standards. She concurred with how “cool” and interesting the standards are, especially in math.  They are about helping you get your students thinking like a mathematician, to attend to the “bigger picture,” of mathematical thinking, so to speak.

The California Story.

This article is a plea not to let legitimate hostility to pervasive high-stakes testing, rewards and punishments based on junk science, and privatization measures aimed at delegitimizing public education, which too often accompany the adoption of Common Core Standards, blind you to the value of the standards themselves. In California, there is strong opposition to such “reform” efforts, yet widespread, enthusiastic support for the standards. The standards are seen both to embody the kind of education we have long desired for our students, as well as providing a tremendous opportunity to stimulate much-needed discussions on how best to improve practice at each school and district and develop the collaborative capacity to support such efforts.

Maestra Malinche

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism”- Colleen Wilcox

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