How to Get Teachers to Stop Hating the Common Core


The backlash against the Common Core among teacher is, at its essence, a leadership problem.

In Heifetz and Laurie’s near seminal “The Work of Leadership” the two leadership scholars start by explaining the difference between adaptive challenges (game-changers, challenges that enable positive growth) and technical challenges (business-as-usual type stuff that just needs to get done).

In general, it seems that CCSS and the challenges it presents are being approached as technical challenges by many school leaders. However, there is a tremendous opportunity to make them out to be adaptive challenges and to rally staff behind a common vision.

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Why I Love the Common Core State Standards Part II

ed reform, ccss, common core, liz natale, diane ravitch

If you thought I was out there with my opinions last time.

I’d like to continue the ideas from my last post about the roll-out of the Common Core State Standards.  Recent outcry makes my view even more unpopular–especially among teachers.

A colleague of mine,  Liz Natale, recently wrote an essay lamenting CCSS and education reform that, rightfully, went viral.  Her writing is heartfelt and brave and I admire her for sharing her passion.

My union also distributed this speech by Diane Ravitch. In it, she details the history of the CCSS, how they were developed in a sort of secrecy, and why they may not be the best solution for education reform.  As usual, Ravitch is well informed and cogent in her statements.

I agree with Natale and Ravitch on many points.  Do I love the NCLB-esque focus on testing?  No.  Do I love the new models for teacher evaluation?  No.  Do I love the breakneck pace of implementing the Common Core and it’s correlated assessments that districts face, the whirlwind that has teachers questioning whether to remain in the profession? No.

I wrote my own critique of how Connecticut planned tackle education reform a few years back.  I still feel teachers aren’t given their due.  The old saying that teaching is a 5-9 job is more of a truism than a witticism, and even more unrecorded work hours will slip on by as we rally to meet all the new demands placed on us.

But there’s still something that bothers me about rejecting CCSS wholesale.  While many of my fellow teachers’ reactions range from frustration to righteous indignation to utter despair, I can’t help but notice the silver lining.  I am actually excited by the Common Core, and I can’t wait to effectively incorporate it into the curricula of the classes I teach.  And after even more reflection, I think I know why.  Originally, I thought it was because of the focus on independent learning.  Now I know it’s more than this. Continue reading

Why I Love the Common Core State Standards

arne duncan, ccss

What did you just say about the Common Core? I am THIS close to giving you a detention!

I’m probably about to lose a few readers by posting this . . . but here it goes.

If you’re an average adult reading this post, then you may be looking for more information about education reform.  If you’re a parent or guardian, you may be seeking information about how to best prepare your student for the PARC or SBAC tests.  If you are a teacher who chose to read this post, then you’re likely looking for ways to argue with me.

Before you start reaching for your torches and pitchforks, hear me out.

There are so many reasons for and against the new Common Core State Standards.  Pros include improved student performance, better teacher support and accountability, and the promise of equity among school districts across the country.  Cons include educational control shifting from local to central agencies, an increased focus on standardized testing, and the possibility of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to curriculum and instruction.

I agree with many of the for and against arguments I’ve heard.  Both sides have good points.  But I can’t help but notice too many of the arguments are short-sighted and have veiled their true intentions.  Many teachers are just trying to guard their old lessons and content.  Arne Duncan may have a point about parents afraid to see their “honors” students struggle.  Policymakers and bureaucrats have a shiny new system to uphold.  Test companies have a ridiculous amount of money to make.  And politicians need to say they’re doing something about education and the economy.

Here’s my take: no one locked in this debate truly has students’ best interests in mind.

common core, standards, ccss, education
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Why Video Games are Important in Education (Infographic)


As an avid gamer, tech writer, and full-time teacher, I always try to bring game concepts into my lessons. At the very least, talking about games is a great way to connect with my students. However, I rarely use games in the classroom. This infographic has me thinking it’s time to start! Take a look. How do you, or would you, use games in your teaching if given the chance?

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Leadership Self Improvement Plan

leadership, improvement, education

It takes a lot of work to become a good leader!

Here’s an essay I wrote for one of my educational leadership classes at Southern Connecticut State University.  It ties together my study of communication skills, conflict resolution, and a few New Year’s Resolutions to boot.  If you enjoy the essay and find it useful, please let us know in the comments.  Thanks! – Bill

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How to Live Well After the Digital Revolution


gc logo 8.14.11Here’s an essay I published on this site a few years ago when it first started.  It used to have it’s own separate page, but now that I’m redesigning the site it will be a linked post instead.  It could use some updated, but it still helps summarize what this blog used to be about, and where it will go in the future.  Enjoy! – Bill

PS – Thanks for your patience as I update Good Circuits to better reflect my own writing and thinking and to better invite you to join in the exploration of where technology and the humanities meet to make us better people!

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