In the course of a year and a half, I have found myself thrown into the midst of what is one of our nation’s greatest grassroots movements. I could have NEVER imagined those short 18 months ago, what my life currently entails. My love of being in the classroom, the thrill of watching my students grow and learn, building relationships with them, and my colleagues, would have been replaced. Replaced by my desire to help restore, educate, and fix what has long been a broken education system. Broken….wow, I still can’t believe I am saying that. After all, that has been my goal since I graduated from high school. To be a teacher. I LOVED going to public school. I look up to many of my teachers and colleagues. Mr. Hoyt (who taught for 40+ years in the same position) – was the first teacher to start me on the path of loving music and the clarinet, which ultimately opened up many possibilities in higher education for me over the years. Eric Stemle and Maryanne Bocquin, for instilling a love of the English Language and Literature. What has caused this deep reflection…
It’s realizing that my passion for education is still alive and well, it has just taken on a new face!
I was recently interviewed by Joy Pullman, and during it I describe what started me on the path I’m currently on.
Joy Pullmann is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News, a national monthly publication. Pullmann has been published in the New York Times, Washington Examiner, The Weekly Standard, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, National Review Online, Real Clear Policy, and various other U.S. newspapers and outlets. She is the author of Heartland’s Policy Document , The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States. I highly recommend you read this and encourage others that are looking to find out more on the subject. You can download the full document on their site here, as well as other documents, videos, PowerPoints, and testimonies concerning Common Core.
Joy asked if I was willing to share my experience, as a public school teacher being trained to use Common Core State Standards, and how it lead me to take the position I currently do, against it. I also share my experience with teacher evaluations during the interview. You can listen to the full interview here: Podcast with Joy Pullman
Part of the interview discusses my experience with the new McREL’s Teacher Evaluation System that the state of Wyoming has adopted.
It assess a teacher’s performance as it relates to the Professional Teaching Standards. These Professional Teaching Standards are the basis for teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, and professional development. Each standard includes the skills and knowledge needed for, what the creators deem, is needed for 21st century teaching and learning.
Here is what is stated on their training materials introductory page:
A NEW VISION OF TEACHING
The different demands on 21st century education dictates new roles for teachers in their classrooms an schools. These new roles reflect a deeper understanding about the content knowledge, skills, competencies, and outcomes that define a successful student in the 21st century. Teachers must understand what comprises a 21st century education and how their practice must reflect the demands of the education in order to realize a new vision of teaching.
These are the standards:
1: Teachers Demonstrate Leadership
2: Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a diverse population of students
3. Teachers Know the Content They Teach
4. Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students
5. Teachers Reflect on their practice
The standards are broken down with very detailed information for each individual standard. Teachers are rated as either: Developing, Proficient, Accomplished, Distinguished
I found it extremely concerning at my end of the year evaluation, that my administrator chose not to give me a distinguished verses accomplished rating on the sub section of standard 4:
Standard 4 Section f states “Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities. Teachers teach the importance of cooperation an collaboration. They organize learning teams in order to help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication and collaborative skills, interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop leadership qualities.”
My administrator mentioned she felt I needed to attend a particular training about collaborative teams she felt strongly about, before I could be marked higher. We debated It back and forth a bit, but of course it was her ultimate choice where to rate me.
My concern after reflecting on this process, is that this is truly about control, control of how and even what a teacher teaches. What if future circumstances required a higher rating to keep my job, position, or status. I would need to take the training my administrator suggested, even if it was against my personal philosophy as a teacher.
The fact that my administrator can come into my classroom a handful of times, if I’m lucky, and gain a TRUE and ACCURATE understand of my teaching is ludicrous. The majority of the teachers I speak with roll their eyes and just “jump through the hoops”. Test scores being tied into this is something that should wake teachers up!
Recently, I have been encouraged to see a new movement among teachers, rightly named as BATS – The Badass Teacher’s Association
. They have a HUGE following on their facebook group of nearly 30,000 members. Their mission and goals are:
MISSION: Badass …Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
GOALS: BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.
MEMBERS CAN BE BANNED FOR: Supporting corporate deform entities (TFA, StudentsFirst, Pearson, Bill Gates, etc.); supporting Common Core State Standards; excessive arguing or disrespecting decisions made by the mods/admins/founders, making comments that conflict with the mission of BAT. We oppose the Common Core State Standards.
Some feel it is offensive or unprofessional to use the word “badass” and are uncomfortable with its use. We disagree. As Dr. Naison says: “We’ve had enough. We are not your doormats. We are not your punching bags. We are some of the hardest working, most idealistic people in this country and we are not going to take it anymore. We are going to stand up for ourselves, and stand up for our students even if no organization really supports us. We are Badass. We are legion. And we will force the nation to hear our voice!”
I may not be teaching in public school (I’m starting a private school/homeschool support academy), but they are near and dear to my heart and I’m proud to say I’m part of their movment…even the BADA$$ part, as they put it…
Jenni White, co-founder of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) did a wonderful write up concerning this information. She states it perfectly when she asks,
I have been truly blessed to have met some of the most intelligent, hard working, caring, passionate, American loving, patriotic people in this movement! Some of them call themselves “JUST MOMS”
as Jenni White so eloquently writes about. These are superwomen that call themselves Mom, but are also Common Core Warriors!
I want to give a special Wyoming Shout OUT to those whom I have had the pleasure to meet and thank them for leading this movement and supporting me!
Rep. Tom Reeder
Rep. Kendell Kroeker
Bill and Karen Lee
Sean and Kris Sherwin
Natalie Clyde – Home School Warrior and awesome sister
Matt Kibbe, Whitney Neal, Caitlyn Korb, Kristina Ribali, Heather Williamson – FreedomWorks
Senator Mike Lee (Utah)
Glenn Beck (though it was just a quick hand shake at a book signing, he told me to “stay strong and keep fighting”)
Mom & Dad – I LOVE you!
Bill Hooley – my greatest support and love of my life!