Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Three Questions For Teachers About Common Core Standards, Part 3

Teresa Stillman teaches at Cannella Elementary in Hillsborough County.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Teresa Stillman teaches at Cannella Elementary in Hillsborough County.

Here’s another round of Q & A with teachers about the switch to Common Core State Standards. part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

Name: Teresa Stillman
School: Cannella Elementary in Hillsborough County
Teaches: Fifth Grade
Experience: 17 years

Q: How well prepared do you feel for the switch to Common Core?

A: I think I feel really well-prepared. The math department has been really good about phasing in lots of training for us. In our faculty meetings at school we’ve been talking about them. And the kids have started them in Kindergarten and first grade too, so my kids will have a background by the time they get to me – which is nice.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: Absolutely. Yes. The idea of being able to teach in depth and really at a high level of rigor and emphasizing so much problem-solving – I think especially the Standards for Mathematical Practice – that get the kids talking and really problem-solving are a really great improvement.
Also, having things that are common among states because there’s so much movement. And plus we compare schools state to state, so if everybody’s teaching something different it’s not really a fair comparison.

Q: How will Common Core change the way you do your job?

A: I’m going to have to be teaching some different things. There are different standards coming into fifth grade math…so I’m going to have to learn how to teach those. We’re going to be multiplying and dividing fractions, and that’s always been in middle school. So I’m going to have to learn how to teach those and all the tricks that go along with it.
But also giving up a lot of the real teaching to kids, because this is about them coming up with problem-solving methods and not me telling them how to do it.

Name: Karen Newhall
School: Anna Maria Elementary in Manatee County
Teaches: Second grade
Experience: 30 years

Q: How well prepared do you feel for the switch to Common Core?

A: I feel very prepared. Very prepared. We’ve been talking about this all last year, talked to the K-1 teachers as they were coming back from their trainings. Also we discussed it in workshops at school.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: Yes. I think it’s going to be wonderful that it’s going to be uniform throughout the country, throughout the county, when children move. I like that the teachers have more freedom to use the materials that they wish to use to teach the standards.

Q: How will Common Core change the way you do your job?

A: I don’t have enough information about that yet. If you want to talk to me in four days after I’ve done four days of workshops I could probably answer that better.

 

Comments

  • http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com Michael Paul Goldenberg

    Here’s what you’ll never hear from a teacher who hopes to keep his/her job:

    1) I received little (or NO) preparation for teaching the Common Core.

    2) There are major new mathematics topics I’ve never taught being pushed down from higher grades. I have no idea why, and no one has tried to help me understand how they connect with what I have been teaching. Things that I used to teach that were pushed down to lower grades will be missed by this year’s 5th graders, but no one seems to think that’s problematic. Gee, maybe this should have been rolled out one grade at a time.

    3) The new Practice Standards are just the same, pretty much, as the NCTM Process Standards I didn’t understand 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years ago, and couldn’t manage to incorporate into my teaching over the last quarter century. In fact, like many colleagues, I disliked those ideas and actively resisted employing them. But now that the state and federal governments are making this into a big deal, I’m certainly not about to admit that I think the best way to teach is direct instruction. And as soon as class starts going even a little bit out of my comfort zone, you can bet your life I’ll be going right back to teacher-centered, direct instruction. It’s how I was taught, and I believe it’s what works.

    I could go on. There’s little point in reading the puff pieces above. These teachers aren’t about to cut their own professional throats by being completely candid. They can’t afford to. But do we really feel good about hearing a teacher talk about needing to learn “the tricks” about dividing fractions? Isn’t mathematics supposed to be about understanding concepts? I thought teaching tricks was the old approach. Might make one think, if one were inclined to thinking.

  • Riley

    Karen feels very prepared to teach the new standars, and she does not know how common core will change the way she teaches. Wait, should I have used “but” to join those clauses?

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education