Preparing our school district to implement Common Core Standards, the training schedule has been demanding. Over a dozen instructional facilitators and district leaders have been leading teachers through modules that consist of videos, slide shows, and activities as part of a year long process. Today was the first time I ever had to ask a staff of 20 to do a “close” reading of a dense, six page article (filled with SAT words), without the benefit of a group or “jigsaw” strategy. One said, “I’m a visual learner, I can’t read this!” Another said, “I’m auditory,” implying I should play a read aloud of the article. I just smiled and said, “This is a very important article with a lot of information that everyone needs to have an opportunity to construct their own understanding of…” There were a lot of moans and sighs. Some picked up the highlighters I provided and got to work; others attempted to “pretend read” and talk to a colleague at the same time. One asked, “can I move to a separate room so I can concentrate?” I nodded and welcomed her to step into the computer lab adjacent to the library and spoke up to invite others to break off separately if needed, emphasizing the importance of reading closely and annotating text to prepare for discussion. It was as agonizing for me as it was for them (helping dentists pull teeth on a mission trip in Nicaragua several years ago was much easier!). The resulting conversation revealed that no one understood what they had read. As I attempted to redirect and clarify the article, they seemed hopeful. Sadly, some still held doggedly to their preconceived ideas. As we moved on to the videos, it wasn’t much better. A few were attentive and took notes, others flipped through a fundraising catalog or checked their email via iphone. I came very close to doing what I did at the last training…shut it off…and wait…making the offer to continue another day, but I didn’t. I just let myself reside in a state of bewildered amusement, wondering, do teachers need 504 plans or IEPs? How many among us would benefit from working with the vocational rehabilitation department? Are we all as literate as we need to be as professionals…especially considering we are charged with the responsibility of educating future generations? Am I expecting too much? As I read the exit tickets after teachers left, I faced mixed reviews. Some appreciated it, others complained that it was like being in college again, as if that were a bad thing. We are part of a business that advocates life long learning. Shouldn’t we model that value with positive attitudes toward information that can help us refine our craft?
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