I overheard a conversation in which a teacher was expressing concern after attending a back to school meeting. Seems everyone was given packets for their particular grade level. When viewed, the packet contained units of study from one of the many Common Core companies that have cropped up over the past couple of years. The packet included texts, worksheets, and a script. That's correct, a script of what to say and when to say it. The teachers must follow the script.
Do you have academic freedom? Are you able to decide when to introduce a new topic or review a previously learned skill? Are you able to be creative with your lesson plans?
Wow, a script! That is taking it a far. Last Friday night I sat down with my Australian neighbor who is a middle school teacher. I asked her how she decides what to teach and if she has a set curriculum. In Australia, there is quite a bit of freedom on how and what themes to teach. So, AU teachers do have set standards which they refer to as a curriculum but the teachers have freedom to teach those concepts as they wish. For example, in 7th grade history one of the Australian standards is to teach ancient civilizations. The teachers have the choice to teach from a variety of ancient civilizations. This year the teachers at my neighbor’s school decided to teach about China. But next year they could decide to teach about Egypt. Australian teachers teach using themes so they have a topic that will engage the student and then within that theme they teach skills such as “Identify aspects of literary texts that convey details or information about particular social, cultural and historical contexts.” I told my neighbors about this discussion question explaining how some teachers were being told exactly what to teach and what to say. She thought it took all the fun out of teaching. She said that you can’t engage your students if you don’t have the freedom to teach according to their interest and needs. Plus, if you aren’t teaching about things that interest you than you will get bored and so will your students. Hopefully, teachers will stand up for themselves and bring back the passion of self created activities.