How to (collaboratively) own the Common Core

Mona Hedrick teaches high school chemistry and physics in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is in her 24th year of teaching and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Mona is a member of CTQ’s Implementing Common Core Standards (ICCS) team.

Habitat for Humanity homeowners take ownership by investing hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house. Christine Voigt, a candidate for Hernando County’s Teacher of the Year, states that the best part of her job is “guiding the students to take ownership of their own learning through hands-on, real-life academic experiences.” The Wyckoff Education Foundation in New Jersey put 125 iPads into schools in August 2011, allowing students to learn to take ownership of their education through virtually limitless educational choices that make learning personal.

Ownership… it seems like there’s something to it.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), according to the website, “were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” What better way to create a sense of ownership for implementing the standards than to have teacher leaders within a school facilitate CCSS training?

Joellen Killion, deputy executive director of Learning Forward, brings out the following characteristics of teacher leaders in her March 2011 article “Teacher Leaders Juggle a Variety of Duties to Implement the Common Core Standards.” Teacher leaders:

1. Work closely with their colleagues to clarify content knowledge;

2. Facilitate teamwork to design effective instructional units;

3. Observe their colleagues and share constructive feedback;

4. Work closely with principals to ensure focus on student learning;

5.  Serve as both leaders and catalysts of change related to the CCSS.

Bill Parcells, a former NFL head coach, once said, “If you want me to cook the meal, let me shop for the groceries.” Teacher leaders are critical to the successful implementation of Common Core. Their involvement promotes the vision of shared ownership and decision-making, and makes teachers collectively responsible not only for the standards’ implementation but their triumph or failure.