Here are two things I know for a fact:
1. People hate change.
2. People love to complain about their jobs.
I don't care who you are, whether you're a teacher or a sales rep or an investment banker. Everyone loves to play the my-job-is-harder-than-yours game. As a young teacher who has been in the field less than five years, I agree with all those other teachers out there in the Twittersphere. Teaching is a hard job. If you want to get things done your way, you have to play to whatever politics there may be in your district, cross your fingers that you have a supportive administrator, and then pretty much just make it happen with your own blood, sweat, and tears (and probably your own funding). I get it. I chose an underpaid and underappreciated profession. But I also didn't choose it because I thought I was going to be overpaid or even appreciated a normal amount. I chose it because I love kids, and I'm passionate about creating more curious, creative humans.
A lot of people in a lot of states are up in arms about Common Core because they believe it squeezes creativity and inquiry out of the classroom. I would like to disagree about that and provide evidence to support my disagreement. My school is in its second year of implementing Common Core State Standards. As our team created our seventh grade curriculum, we really chose to focus on how to move to a more inquiry-focused, student-led model of learning. Yes, we changed our core texts to increase the rigor of our students' reading. Yes, we are still subject to quarterly standardized testing, like many other districts, and, yes, we were able to cover all the standards in depth by the end of the school year while still allowing students choice in both reading and writing projects. My classroom is far more creative and collaborative now than it was during my first year of teaching and implementing Common Core has helped our English department move to a much more team-oriented, cross-curricular approach.
I realize that the introduction of the CCSS has been a rough transition. Not every educational leader understands that the standards are a framework from which to build a curriculum. I'm fortunate to have very supportive adminstrators. Not every teacher has that. But I guess I'm frustrated because people are really playing the blame game here. Instead of taking ownership of the fact that teaching is hard, and teachers don't have a voice, and all the rest, why don't we take ownership of the fact that, at a grassroots level, we can create change? No, we can't change our states' decision to use or not use Common Core, but we can open our classroom doors and our hearts and our minds to impact the lives of our colleagues and our students in a positive way. We can choose to smile and share victories in the teachers lounge and on Twitter instead of complaining and saying teaching's almost not "worth it" anymore.
We all have frustrating days and weeks and months. Life is hard sometimes, whether you're a teacher, a principal, a student, or a parent. Rather than get caught up in the negative, let's all get caught up in the positive. In fact, let's create the positive. Let's create some positive, and then post it on Twitter and share some positive. That's going to be my goal for 2014. What about you?