This school year my district, as many across the country are, is in full adoption and implementation of the new Common Core Standards for ELA. We have taken a very systematic approach of breaking down the standards and fitting them into the context of our school district. The groups of teachers involved in this process are to be commended for the tireless work done to prepare for this year. Specifically, we have really overhauled our writing curriculum and how we teach writing to our students. Without going into much detail, we essentially have a writing program based on the new standards. This program breaks down the standards and has mini lessons, assessments and a whole host of resources for instructing students in the process of writing. To say it is intense would be an understatement and yet I recognize that everybody is implementing common core standards a little bit differently.
One of the things that I am already seeing in this new school year is my students are doing a whole lot more reading and writing. This is especially true in the area of informational literature. This is largely due to the new standards along with the level of intensity in content needing to be taught. Most people think this is a good thing and to an extent I agree. I am supremely confident my students will walk out of my classroom better readers and writers then when they walked in. Due to the sheer amount of reading and writing we are doing with our students there is little doubt this will happen.
However, I fear they will also learn to hate reading and writing when they walk out of my classroom. The level of intense instruction and sheer weight of the content standards is overwhelming to many teachers and surely is to students. We are being flooded with reading and writing on a level I have yet seen before. There are many sports analogies of young athletes pushed too hard and burn out and end up developing a hatred for the sport. I hope I am wrong, but I fear we might be doing the same thing to reading and writing in our new Common Core aligned classrooms. I hope at the end of the year I look back at this post and laugh, as my students will have made gains while still keeping a passion for reading and writing. Yet at this point in time I remain skeptical we might be pushing too hard and too fast.
As a parent, I realize the balance of pushing my kids while keeping their passions alive. If you have a child being pushed too hard by a parent, it is pretty standard they will often grow to resent whatever you are pushing them towards primarily due to the pressure applied by an adult. Is learning any different? I worry we are focused so much on pushing kids forward we are losing the balance and burning kids out. Can we find a middle ground where kids will progress with their learning while not hating learning in the process?