Sunday, July 14, 2013

Teaching Is The Core

On July 8, 2013, I along with 600-800 NYS educators gathered for a week full of learning and engagement at the Network Team Institute training in Albany, New York. We were charged by Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz to become learners, students of the Core, to build a level of content knowledge leading to new expertise, and to sustain the effort into the future.  Slentz, Senior Fellow Kate Gerson, as well as other presenters provided us with the latest updates on the NYS initiatives and views on how to change the trajectory of teaching and learning. 

Each day, Commissioner John King delivered an address to encourage NYS educators to "right the ills of democracy with rigorous education." On the third day, his contagious energy acted as a catalyst for us to move forward. While thanking educators for their tenacity, courage, and perseverance, King noted there is a gap between our values and reality. He asked administrators, staff developers, and teachers in the room to confront that gap, develop a path where deeds match convictions, to challenge themselves to live in the I can, rather than the I can't, in order to affect teaching and learning. 

Throughout the week, I and others tweeted pertinent phrases, posting them for both the Albany audience and those back home. Below is a sampling of the tweets. More can be found on Twitter at #NTIny and #ntiJuly13. 
  • We are all teachers. We represent the gateway for each of our students to access new opportunities.
  • Thrilled to see over 300 NY educators focus on the critical work of P-2 education and the education and the acquisition of knowledge through text. 
  • Go back to districts/classrooms and talk about what we value and believe in. 
  • CCLS demands much more student voice and much less teacher voice.  
  • When change happens without people going through a transition, it is just a rearrangement of the chairs.
  • Updated information from EL will be available on EngageNY next week.
Each day we met to grapple with the "hard" work of the Core that impacts teaching and learning. While sharing common goals during those long days in Albany, a new set of objectives were established. No matter which part of NYS you came from, your essential "take away" was to teach to the core in classrooms leveled for ALL learners. This demands a shift from old vestiges of teaching and learning to a growth mindset. In order for leaders to effectively lead the core and teachers to effectively teach the core:
  • standards and shifts need to be internalized
  • best practices need to be implemented
  • student work needs to be examined
Throughout the NTI training, Commissioner King and Deputy Commissioner Slentz referenced Ronald A. Heifetz's perspectives on change: in order for adaptive change to occur, employees at all levels must work together toward solutions. At the NTI training, all the participants worked closely and collaboratively but the weeklong work only paves the path. We left with tools in hand, such as Metrics and Expectations document, Impactful PD Rubric, Professional Development Turnkey Kit, and curriculum materials to make the Common Core come alive. We left with a sense of commitment. We left with expectations on how to transform teaching and learning. However, the next step of the journey depends on the collective body of educators harnessing their energies to become facilitators of literacy because TEACHING IS THE CORE.