The Wisdom of Waiting

Effective classroom teachers are equipped with a virtual bag of tricks that would make Mrs. Poppins green with envy.  Strong educators work diligently at motivating students, monitoring student morale, building rapport and trust with students, and delicately delivering lessons that are challenging, engaging and rewarding.  Yet, patience may be the most essential virtue of educators worldwide.  Exhibiting patience with young learners is so vital for educators, that without it, even the best designed lessons fall flat.

When Florida superintendents asked the state Board of Education this week to exhibit patience with their counties implementation of the Common Core State Standards, I found it to be refreshing support for classroom teachers who are struggling to learn the most effective ways to teach these new standards as their students grapple with learning them.  The reality is that many teachers support the new standards, but are understandably apprehensive about high-stake assessments while experiencing a steep learning curve.  This is creating unwarranted stress in classrooms throughout the states, and quite frankly, scares the daylights out of some educators.  Teachers believe that holding districts, schools, teachers and students accountable for the new standards after one-year of implementation is tantamount to giving students a final exam the week of Thanksgiving, before all the teaching has been done and the learning has occurred!

Florida superintendents have drafted a plan to suspend the grading of individual schools for three years during which assessment data can be used to drive necessary modifications to ensure that all students have an opportunity to make learning gains.  This patient approach seems both logical and understandable.  Education stakeholders need formative assessments to enhance instruction, more so now than ever before, not summative tests that have high-stakes tied to them.

I have little faith that Florida policymakers will overcome political machinations and exhibit that which they know every effective teacher must possess, patience.  Yet, it remains somewhat uplifting to know that those that work in the education field, from classroom teachers to district superintendents, understand that the longevity and maintenance of the Common Core State Standards will require true patience to truly help students learn significantly more nationwide.

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