Across the United States, students have started test prep. Students march through test packet after test packet with the goal of increasing test scores on a standardized test. In North Carolina, all elementary schools administer the End-of-Grade (EOG) Test. The test is a standardized test which measures how well students understand grade level standards.
If the state of North Carolina decides to pull the plug on the Common Core State Standards, it will be a slap in the face to the teachers and administrators who have spent countless hours (most on their own time without reimbursement) preparing to implement the Common Core State Standards to maximize learning for 1.5 million students.
On June 2, 2010, the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which were implemented during the 2012–13 school year. The CCSS represent K–12 learning expectations in English language arts and mathematics. They reflect the knowledge and skills students need to be college and career ready by the end of high school. Over the past few months, elected officials across the United States are beginning to question the CCSS. On June 4, 2013, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest posted a YouTube video outlining his concerns.
While standing in the car rider line at an elementary school, I was approached by a classroom teacher. She asked, "Are we going to align our curriculum, instruction, and assessments to the Common Core State Standards next year?" I replied, "yes." Then I said, "The Common Core is not going away." The teacher replied, "The Lieutenant Governor is discussing eliminating the Common Core." I replied, "Which Lieutenant Governor?" The teacher said, "The North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest."
As we begin a new school year, it is an exciting time for educators. We understand that our influence will have a positive or negative impact on students. The main goal of education is student achievement. However, some educators place such a heavy emphasis on student achievement that they end up forgetting their purpose. In today's K–12 setting, the purpose of K–12 schools has been defined as preparing each student to graduate high school ready for college and a career.
Do you remember your first year in the classroom? It was an adrenaline rush everyday! We wanted to change the world, inspire students to become great, support struggling students, establish our own reputations as excellent teachers, and earn the respect of our colleagues. I would not trade my first year of teaching for other opportunities. Whether we recognize it or not, the first several years of teaching and administration focus on personal development.
One of my favorite arcade games is Whac-A-Mole. When you drop your token in the machine, you have a limited amount of time to "whac" as many moles as you can. In the beginning of the game, one or two moles pop their heads up and it is fairly easy to hit each one. About twenty seconds into the game, the moles start popping up three at a time and when you smash a mole with the mallet it may pop up again.
Whac-A-Mole is similar to the daily routine of a principal. From the time you arrive at school in the morning until late in the evening, moles pop up. Your job is to address each mole and to prioritize which one is most important. In this article, I am going to describe the "six moles" a principal must address in order to be a good leader.
"The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it." —Rick DuFour, Bob Eaker, and Becky DuFour (2007)