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What to Look for in a Common Core Standards Professional Development Course
All but five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards in English and Mathematics. With that in mind, school districts need to implement professional development opportunities that will adequately prepare for the transition from teacher-centered learning to a student-centered mindset. What does that mean? Most teachers haven’t been exposed to these types of standards, and have followed traditional curriculum structures. While that once worked, the paradigm shift has called for sweeping changes across the board in regulatory standardized teaching and the incorporation of technology into the classroom.
Profession Development critical
Tim Kanold, past president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, recognizes the need. “Professional development will be critical to the overall success of the common standards,” says Kanold. “To help the teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals and administrators, they need meaningful and supportive professional development.”
In shifting to the Common Core State Standards, there is also a change in the way these courses are developed. The new standards have a more rigorous level of learning and benchmarks to measure accomplishments. Acquiring the appropriate resources to ensure educators are teaching at optimum levels is a challenge.
Greta Bornemann, project director for Common Core State Standards implementation for the Office of Public Instruction in Washington state says, “One of the challenges is that everybody appears to be aligned to the common core with professional development and instructional supports.”
One thing school districts and professionals need to realize is that this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. No two teachers are alike, and the instructional techniques used are also different. Teachers who have been teaching for years may have a harder time grasping new concepts than a fairly new instructor who has been teaching for only a few years. As an instructor, how do you determine what a good professional development course for Common Core State Standards consists of? Here are a few tips:
- The course should embrace instructors at their level and help to incorporate new strategies into their existing framework.
- The course should provide tangible strategies that work. Hands-on techniques and demonstrations need to take the place of book teaching.
- The course will be realistic and current. Teachers want to be able to offer their suggestions, voice their frustrations and thrive in an environment where others are also engaged and possibly experiencing the same things.
- The course should discuss and show teachers how to gradually transition from teacher-centered to student-centered environments. Demonstrate how to empower students to embrace their own learning.
- The course should share how students will advance in their learning processes and the value of encouraging higher level thinking and team-building.
Positive Steps Toward Progress
No one professional development course will be perfect, but as long as these strategies are employed, a positive step toward progress will be made in the effort to embrace full implementation of the common core standards. It will take a series of courses and workshops to effectively become fully student-centered. Embrace and share all opportunities for professional development to enhance your concepts and provide greater learning opportunities for the students.