Thursday, November 3, 2016

Change and No Change?

For some of us who have been in education over the years, we see two things: 

  1. Things change and 
  2. Many things stay the same. I think the wisdom for all of us is to discern what we need to change and what we need to keep the same.
  • What has not changed: Reading and writing are more important than ever, and without Math foundations, students do not have a chance with the more rigorous curriculum.
  • What has changed: An area we strongly need to consider is the fact that student focus and attention spans have decreased dramatically over time. It is estimated that from 2 to 7 minutes we can continue to talk to kids before students are clueless.
  • What has not changed: Worksheets are still prevalent in classrooms throughout the nation, and the strategies, layout and the setup of many classrooms have not changed for decades.
  • What has changed: The examples and availability of research-based methods, varieties, access, strategies and tools to enhance and personalize student learning abound more than ever!
  • What has not changed: Checking for Understanding and Checking for Mastery remain one of the highest level strategies to ensure student learning for all kids, yet if we go into most classrooms throughout the country, teachers tend to call on only the kids who know the answer (hands raised).
  • What has changed: There are more tools, methods, techniques, software, and technology to help teachers check for understanding and mastery than we have ever experienced in educational history!
All of the above provide the rationale for what Corcoran Unified believes and does. This is why we are so proud of our staff who have had the humility and the wisdom to be able to move forward with our initiatives to make sure each and every student in our District is served.
We walk into many classrooms today that look much different than they did a few years ago with kids working in organized, structured cooperative groups (Kagan Structures); where students use technology to advance their learning using 21st Century Skills; where teachers track and monitor student learning by checking for student understanding and mastery using a variety of research based techniques and relevant technology; where more and more of our kids are doing more relevant reading and writing and more rigorous math; where more and more of our kids are engaged in their work solving problems, asking and answering tough questions and doing research to construct projects that make them think at higher levels; and, where teachers use a variety of direct instruction and have the wisdom to know when and how long to speak directly to students while using interactive strategies to make sure kids are involved and are doing more speaking using more academic language than teachers do throughout the day.