Standards, Standards, Standards

10:30 AM

I'm going to date myself with this next GIF.
Marcia Marcia Marcia GIFs | Tenor
For full disclosure, I'm too young to have seen these aired originally, but definitely old enough to have watched the whole series on re-runs.

However, this is the scene I think of for SO many moments in life.

I'm a middle child. 

I'm the 2nd of 3 daughters.

Yes, I have/had a middle child complex ... kind of.

I can TOTALLY relate to standards ...

Wait? What?

*How did she just jump from the Brady Bunch to teaching standards?

Go with me on this. 

In your room, what is the priority list?

When I taught it looked like this:
  1. Create a safe/inviting atmosphere for all students
  2. Know your stuff (AKA Standards)
  3. Teach your heart out
All three are important, but sometimes teachers focus on the 1st and 3rd parts without really honing in on the 'meat' of academics ... the concepts, skills, and general knowledge that help kids grow to be well-rounded human beings.

*But, Emilee, "it's not what you know, it's who you know" in life.

NOPE. That's a cop-out.

If that were true, the most popular kids in high school who never did their homework would be running the world.

While people skills are great, and they will most likely land you a job, your ability to learn, communicate, and present your skill is what will help you KEEP your job.

*Standards are constantly changing.

Are they really? I mean, sure the order gets mixed up and the wording is rephrased, and it may jump around between a few grade-levels, but do they really change? Not really. So, once again ... that's a cop-out. 
****FYI - lists of standards seem to change every 5-10 years. If you're new, you'll see this happen if you teach long enough. Standards changed 4 times during my 8 years of teaching in Nashville.

*I know what my kids need to learn.

Great! However, you signed a contract that said you would teach what your supervisors mandated. So, this is also a cop-out.

See what I mean? These are actual comments people have spoken ... out loud ... to me. This is why I call "Standards" the middle child of education. They are present, but teachers would rather focus on the prettiest or cutest aspects of teaching. 

How do we change this?

Well, as the Brady Bunch evolved through its time on air, Jan became a more popular character. People related to her. She grew. She applied herself to what she wanted to do. She even became somewhat popular.

I believe this can be the same with standards.

As I'm writing this, I am laughing at what my friend Morgan told me once at a Thirty-One party. She held onto a beautiful wristlet after looking at it. As she began filling the display wallet with her own wallet's contents I just looked at her ... completely confused. She just smiled and said that she was "dating it." 

How perfect was that? She would spend time with this wallet, see if it could hold all of her stuff, if she liked the look of it, and if it didn't bother her wrist. She was literally getting to know the ins-and-outs of it! 

I see standards the same way. If you don't get to know them, you will constantly hate them.

 I can't remember the number of times I would look at some standard as I'm writing it onto my board and think "Hmm, I wonder if I'm going to cover the whole standard with my next few lessons."

That is like showing up to a date dressed in mountain climbing gear (unless you're actually going mountain climbing ... you know what I mean.) You know it's a date, but are you actually prepared for it?

I know in this culture a man paying for a date may seem weird. However, I was raised (and will raise my own children) to look for a man who protects and respects the woman. On a date, if a guy didn't come to the door to pick me up, I wouldn't go. The doors weren't opened for me? Not a chance for a 2nd date. Oh, and if he didn't pay for said date? Well, then he would have had to stay at the restaurant to wash dishes. 

This is the same way I feel about standards. They are there to help protect our time and respect our abilities to teach. Standards are not meant to make life harder. In fact, I would suggest USING the standards to make your life easier.

Adapt the standards to show students a purpose behind them.

  • ADD ELA EXPECTATIONS TO THE END - When I would post a standard on my board, it was to help remind me of what we were learning. I began adding to the standards to help my students know what they would be doing that day WITH the standards. See below of an example. The bold is the standard. Everything else is what I would add.
    • 4.RL.CS.5 Explain major differences between poems, drama, and stories by creating a poem based on a movie you like. 
    • 11-12.RL.CS.6 Analyze how point of view and/or author purpose requires distinguishing what is directly stated in texts and what is implied by writing a review of the book with sarcasm.
  • WRITE THEM AS "I CAN ..." - This. Super simple, but just adding the "I can ..." to the beginning of standards encourages students to take ownership of their learning. This takes the pressure off of you and places it onto them. See the example below.
    • (4.RL.CS.5) I CAN explain major differences between poems, drama, and stories by creating a poem based on a movie I like. 
  • APPLY PROJECT EXPECTATIONS - When you apply standards as the expectation of a project, you will see a change with the way students respond. Below is a simple rubric I put together to cover the project for the standard that I had listed above. See how simple? Now you have a standard based lesson with an assessment. 

At the end of the lesson and assessing activity, reflect on how it went. What worked well? What needs improvements? Should I try a new activity with this standard? 

Sometimes, I think we want to overlook the standards because we aren't given PRACTICAL APPLICATION STRATEGIES. Sometimes, we are overwhelmed with the number of standards. Sometimes, which I think is the case most of the time, we do not believe we can do them justice. 

Please remember... these standards were written by people. Some of them possibly educators. However, they do not have YOUR kids or YOUR district or YOUR expectations. 





Believe it. 

You can do hard things ... you know, like teaching despite a worldwide pandemic?  

Jan became good friends with her siblings as she got older. They understood her better. Instead of being considered the forgettable middle child, she became the glue between her sisters.

The more you understand the standards and work WITH THEM, the more they will become the glue that holds your teaching together!

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