Anyone can photocopy handouts, skim over them in a faculty meeting or two, and leave teachers to create time-lines and checklists for implementing new CCSS standards.
But if we are serious about successfully implementing these standards, we must, as Wynn Godbold puts it, “communicate this integrated vision of deeper learning so that teachers can appreciate and become confident about what is required of them.”
Rather than checking standards off a list, Godbold, author of How to Be a Great Teacher, suggests principals do these four things:
Get to the Core of the Common Core: 4 Tips for Principals
Begin with the end in mind
This may sound cliché, but it isn’t. You have to begin by understanding what you want CCSS instruction to look like, sound like, and feel like in your building. You must take time to formulate a clear vision before you can communicate that vision to your teachers.
Vague instructions are frustrating to teachers—they also suggest that you have not done your homework or developed a clear and attainable vision.
Before issuing instructions, ask yourself the following questions:
- What does implementing these standards look like?
- How will we know if our students have mastered them?
- How will we measure success?
- Does our measurement of success match the expectations of the standards
- If we are not checking them on a list, how do we assess them?
Be mindful of how you present this information to your staff
The CCSS is a big shift for teachers and students. It is not typically something that can be accomplished in a single meeting. Knowing how you work best and developing a time-line of multiple communications will enhance your ability to communicate clearly and at a pace and depth that teachers can handle. Having a multi-conversation plan allows you to deliver smaller pieces of information at any one time.
When you discuss the CCSS, be mindful of the “myths” about the standards
Teachers may have heard other people saying things that aren’t true or relevant about CCSS. It is part of your vision-building job to set the myths straight. Avoid using CCSS jargon—“an inch wide and a mile deep,” “depth of knowledge,” “building conceptual understanding,” etc.—and make these concepts digestible.
Provide ample time to assimilate new mandates
One of the biggest complaints teachers have when learning about new mandates and implementations is that there is no time for assimilation. Teachers, just like kids in a classroom need time to think, discuss, and visualize before they implement. Do everyone a favor and plan for this critical assimilation time.