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Written by Susan Savage

The Common Core State Standards are more than a document. They are a new way of thinking, a substantial mindset shift, a vehicle to move our students to bigger and better things. The document in itself is meaningless unless teachers implement the standards-based approach to teaching with fidelity.

How do you ensure that real change is happening and that students will begin to perform better?

It takes more than a document. One of my current obsessions, in my role as instructional coach working on a large curriculum restructuring project, is getting everyone to come to consensus on standards. I want to have a nice, neat, school-wide document that clearly states our priority standards per quarter and that the various disciplines align, supporting one another.  As you can imagine this takes some doing. But upon some reflection, I realize that it really isn’t about the document (although, come hell or high water we WILL get one done)!  A document is a piece of paper that is meaningless unless authentic change happens at the same time.

So what does that look like?
What could be more important than the “document”?

Here is a list of what I see happening at our high school that means more than a document.

1. Teachers talking about and analyzing standards together.
2. A growing comfort with data and using data to make instructional decisions.
3. Questioning previous practices and discussing more effective ways to assess and instruct.
4. Teams of administrators working with sending schools.
5. Teachers reading books on teacher leadership, literacy, assessment and differentiation.
6. Collaborative scoring.
7. Meaningful discussions about teaching and learning in the hallways, faculty offices and cafeteria.
8. Interdisciplinary professional learning teams setting school wide goals.
9. A desire and commitment to observing each other teach.
10. A constant student focus.

So as we toil away at creating the “document”, we must remember that like any journey the real work is happening along the way.

Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit which one undertakes and continues the journey.
Alex Noble

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