Thursday, January 23, 2014

Common Core in Lutheran Schools

On Monday, I was privileged to join the Great Lakes Bay Region Educators Conference at Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw, Michigan. The 45-minute commute on the snowy day was a little longer than normal, but it was a familiar path. As I step inside the doors, it was hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I graduated from that school. I was privileged to spend my four years of high school there. It was the place where I fell in love with the Spanish language. I was able to become involved in Lutherans for Life. My high school government teacher took us on a whirlwind 23-hour trip to Washington, D.C. I still remember sitting in my sophomore New Testament class when they turned on the news on 9/11. It was the reason that I chose to attend a Concordia for higher education and get my degree in elementary education to become a Lutheran teacher. As I ran into many familiar faces, I believe that the best thing about that school was the teachers. They cared about their students, got to know them personally, and did their best to make that school like a family.

The conference was also a great experience. The opening worship on the prodigal son with contemporary music from a pastor from St. Lorenz in Frankenmuth was outstanding. Bruce Braun, the district education executive from Michigan, had an excellent speech as the keynote speaker for the conference. I was able to enjoy fellowship with some former high school peers that are now teaching in the area. I also had the opportunity to listen to a great marketing seminar regarding Lutheran schools. He spoke about how it is important for us to showcase what makes our schools great, but he also stated that it is important to be honest with parents regarding what we are able to accomplish. In other words, there are times when it is better to tell a parent, "We love your child so much that we would like to recommend him to this place because we feel that they can offer him/her more support." We don't want to mislead parents into false hope, or we end up with indignant stakeholders.

The theme of the conference was on Common Core in the classroom. A college aquaintance had told me that they were looking for a few more facilitators to assist with the conference, so I offered to come present about Common Core in K-2 mathematics. I have attended a few webinars on the topic, but I am by no means an expert. It was wonderful to speak with fellow colleagues and hear their point of view regarding how they are approaching Common Core in their classrooms and in Lutheran schools. While the discussion was great, it is difficult to make any large statements regarding Common Core. They are still quite new, and the research regarding their effects on the classroom is still rather unfounded.

That is the question I am posing to you today. What are your thoughts on Common Core?  How are you implementing Common Core into your school or classroom? If you are a parent, what are your thoughts, concerns, or comments regarding Common Core? (Please remember to keep your comments tasteful!)