Written by sUperintendent Michael Nagler Thursday, 03 July 2014 00:00
I am still surprised how many people mistakenly believe that the Common Core Standards and the State’s Common Core Curriculum are the same thing; they are not. The State has provided a curriculum guideline that may be followed to help children reach the standards. Districts may or may not decide to use these curricula material; it is completely a local decision. Mineola has used a combination of State materials and our own teacher created materials.
I analogize the standards and curriculum to Equestrian show jumping. In show jumping the course is comprised of a set of obstacles that every horse must complete; the obstacles are not moved, lowered or changed to accommodate the horse. The common core standards were created with the same premise; a universal set of requirements that every student should meet. Obviously there are many other factors that determine whether those standards are met.
The most important ingredient to successful show jumping is the horse, followed quickly by the rider. Not every horse can be a show jumper. You wouldn’t ask a Clydesdale to jump fences (although some do in commercials). Grooming and training the right horse to jump is critical to successful completion of the course. In teaching, the horse is the curriculum, and the rider is the teacher.
Not only do you need the right horse you need significant time to develop the relationship between the rider and the horse. The most successful equestrians have a symbiotic relationship between rider and horse, each knowing how the other will react to a given obstacle. Teachers and the curriculum are no different. Teachers need to be comfortable in the content they are teaching- but more importantly need to know if the curriculum is meeting the standards.
Sometimes, no matter how well trained, a rider can be thrown by a horse. The horse believes that the obstacle is too hard to overcome. In these cases the rider’s patience and experience is most crucial. It is imperative that our curricula address the students that may have difficulty meeting the standards. In these cases our teachers are the most important. We need to develop appropriate materials that enable our student to progress and exceed the standards.
Starting now and continuing throughout the summer we will provide time and opportunities for teachers to work with his/her grade level curriculum. We are committed to making sure the materials we teach are engaging and appropriate. Most importantly we want our daily assessments to measure standards and track student growth in the standards. We have helped develop a software program that will allow us to do this electronically.
We are convinced that all our students can meet the standards. We will continue to modify and refine our curriculum to make sure our students are properly prepared. Our teachers and administrators will continue to be a vital part of developing curricula that is appropriate and challenging to help students meet and exceed the standards. I am confident that our teachers and administrators are up for this task.
This column previously appeared on “Nagler’s Notions” at blog.mineola.k12.ny.us/?p=1626