Putting Education Reform To The Test

Three Questions For Teachers About Common Core Standards, Part 1

Tricia Craig teaches at Walden Elementary School in Hillsborough County.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Tricia Craig teaches at Walden Elementary School in Hillsborough County.

Yesterday we told you that we spent a lot of time at summer Common Core training sessions for teachers.

One of the things we were curious about is how teachers felt about the new education standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states.

We asked teachers the same three questions about Common Core as they prepared for next year’s deadline to use the standards in every Florida classroom.

Name: Tricia Craig

School: Walden Lake Elementary in Hillsborough County

Teaches: Fifth grade

Experience: 11 years

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

A: I feel totally prepared. This summer I had taken the math and the reading, and I feel like before anything else this is the first time that we switched over standards that I’m ready. We’re not really rolling them out until the following year, but I’m excited to implement the things that can be implemented this year. Because they have given us so much background in the ‘Whys?’ that it’s going to be easy.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: I do, especially for math – and reading too, because it’s more specific in reading. But for the math standards the coolest thing is that they’re taking more off our plates so that we can dive deeper into it.  Right now we’re teaching all this stuff and there’s not always time to do the ‘Why?’ But this is going to give us the time to do those whys and let our kids be true thinkers as to why this process is going on.

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

A: Our thinking has to be switched from – I’ve always been a teacher that is more of a facilitator, so for me that switch isn’t going to be that difficult. But that switch of being very precise on my vocabulary, and I need to know the concepts deeper than my students know them. I can’t just fly by the seat of my pants anymore. I have to know which students might get those strategies; which ones won’t. And I think the thing for me is going to be, I always listen to my students as I walk and facilitated but to know which students are going to be the key ones to call up to help other students.

Name: Heidi Johnson

School: Blanche H. Daughtrey Preparatory School of Arts and Sciences in Manatee County

Teaches: Second grade

Experience: 8 years

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

A: I feel good about it because last year I taught first grade, so I got an introduction to the Common Core already. And then I get to loop with my class to second grade this year, so I know what to expect for my kids pretty much.

Q: Do you think the standards are an improvement?

A: Yeah, I do because you can zero in on what they really need and they get a deeper understanding, deeper thinking and they can expand more on that.

Q: How has it changed the way you teach?

A: You’re able to hit – even though they’re for the general – but we have such a big population of ESOL (English as a second language) students you can hit all opposite ends of the spectrum.  It goes – the way I teach it – take in all of it and they can get a deeper understanding. One kid you think might not get it, the other that you think’s not going to – they actually do get it. And it’s cool to just watch the growth in them.



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