Cal Poly Partners with Local Teachers to Put Common Core into Practice
November 19, 2013
Contact: Tanya Flushman
The Common Core standards are here, and Cal Poly's School of Education is working with local teachers to prepare. This summer, a team of professors held a free workshop attended by 103 local K-6 teachers and administrators representing all of San Luis Obispo County's school districts and two out-of-county districts.
The workshop consisted of five days of grade-specific instruction in the Common Core standards for mathematics and English language arts. In all but five states, the Common Core officially became the new standard in K-12 schools beginning this fall, and the degree of implementation and teacher education varies widely across districts.
"There's a big need across the country to have teachers understand the new standards," said Dr. Tanya Flushman, a Cal Poly professor who specializes in literacy learning and one of the workshop leaders. "Our goal for this workshop was to help teachers gain a deeper understanding of Common Core."
Teachers had the opportunity to gather resources, plan lessons and coordinate their planning both across grade levels and among different schools. "Over and over again the teachers expressed their gratitude to have had a space to plan and reflect in a professional way. They felt it was rare for them to have time to talk about their work as professionals," Flushman said.
Ultimately, professors and teachers gathered at the workshop with a common goal: helping elementary students. "Teachers have a huge impact on student achievement, and now they're taking back new ideas and ways to think about their practice," Flushman said.
The feedback from teachers at the workshop was encouraging. “I can't wait to go back to my school and share everything I learned. This week has helped me feel more confident, comfortable and excited about the Common Core,” one teacher said.
Cal Poly faculty members hope more and more local teachers will see the university and its faculty as accessible resources. “It is vital that the School of Education faculty continue to support our partnerships with local school districts as Common Core standards become part of the educational fabric of the Central Coast,” said Dr. Julie Herron, a professor and workshop leader who specializes in elementary mathematics.
In response to teacher requests, Cal Poly will present a second offering of the workshop in January 2014. In the meantime, elementary teachers and students are already reaping the benefits of this summer's work. At a recent follow-up session, one teacher said, “Using the strategies I learned at the workshop this summer, my students are the most prepared they have ever been at this point in the year.”