These are all questions that we must ask ourselves whether we are individuals, teachers, schools, doctors, businesses, or churches. Seek ye first to understand then get busy putting that understanding to good use!
So many things in our everyday lives represent education in general, and the many challenges that we must work through to improve what we provide students and how we offer it. Common Core State Standards and how we implement them are the latest challenge as we seek to ramp up the value of our educational buck. While some may feel this is the latest scholastic fad, I believe it is an adjustment to our path, a fine tuning of our journey. Just as in life, education, business, medicine, or in our own faith, if we remain stagnant we will not grow or improve. While we may be comfortable in our current existence, things change as a result of new understandings that come to light. If we are to grow and remain viable, we too must consider the revisions that could improve our situation, or make us believe or think more deeply, and ultimately make the necessary changes. There is a beautiful world awaiting us if we look for the possibilities. But how and if we get there is all about the plan.
As you consider how you will get to the top, you must look at the big picture, including the beautiful sites along the path, as well as those obstacles that must be dealt with or avoided. What tools do you have or need for this journey? To identify the challenges, you must do your research, consult with the experts and your hiking partners, and then select the best path. Keep in mind, your journey will not be without forks in the trail and fallen trees. What unforeseen obstacles will block your path and cause you to revise your journey? Always remember this is a collaborative journey because the rules require us to never hike alone and always let people know what your plan is, including a time table. And when it's all said and done, how much more enriching will the experience be to enjoy the view at the top with someone else!
Read on for another metaphor of life ...
Even with a plan, the project uncovered new issues that had to be included in the restoration. The timeline became extended. Frustration threatened to erode the joy and hope of the ultimate goal. But the plan could be revised, and was always in place to help refocus us and keep the project moving forward. But it got easier when we asked for help. Others would come in to lend a hand. Suddenly the work got done more quickly and frustration would subside. Progress monitoring was important – to take time to step back and realize how far we had come on this journey and recognize that the list was getting shorter. Then we could put our heads together, make some new adjustments, and continue to implement the plan. Celebrating the checkpoints along the way is critical to success! It is just a few weeks away from being completed. Then the new question becomes, “What next?”
Regardless of the metaphor or the setting – improving education comes down to these common things: The Plan - what will it look like and how will you get there? Implementation: The hard work that comes with implementing that plan side by side with those who dream the same dream …. But oh how you will enjoy the fruits of your labor when you see the joy of learning and understanding return for both the teacher and the student!
Next: Using Understanding by Design to help teachers implement Common Core Standards within their content areas. Click on the link to access information on Curriculum and Common Core on this website.