Change

Change is a part of life, but it has not always been central to education. When I began teaching, there were some peers whose lesson plans and notes seemed to have been written on parchment. They hadn’t been changed in many, many years (if ever). And, there was no compelling reason for them to change. Every teacher was free to determine what curriculum to present, how to present it, and how to evaluate student learning. Every two or three years an administrator would schedule a cursory evaluation, the outcome or which was a foregone conclusion.

New teachers are entering a profession that is anything but static. The methodology of teaching has changed, in large part due to technology and the Internet. Curriculum has changed, in large part driven by state standards. For about the past twelve years, my school district has been overhauling instruction to address the California Content Standards. By-and-large, this has been a good thing. As a science teacher, I appreciate the fact that there is an agreed upon curriculum. I also appreciate that the California Science standards are considered thorough and rigorous by the Fordham Institute. Standards have given us an identifiable set of targets. They have allowed (forced?) a much greater level of collaboration in the profession.

Much of the effort that I’ve invested in the last ten years has been in developing tools and methods that allow us to know when our students have mastered content standards. We worked backwards, first writing semester “common course assessments”. Many of us have worked to develop a system of benchmark quizzes, which build toward thematic unit tests. Lastly, we are working harder than ever on multiple, daily checks for understanding so that when know when students are prepared for assessments that impact their grades.

We are now looking at new National Core Standards. Today, the California Department of Education announced that it will be changing the nature of our state assessment tests. I am working on the changes that are occurring in the AP Chemistry curriculum, which has an entirely new framework being put in place next year.

If it is your hope to cobble together some nice lesson plans, write some tests, and then use them for the next 30 years, you had better reconsider this profession. If it is your hope that the latest standards will be the end of change, and that the next state test format will be the final edit, you are destined to be disappointed. Change is now part of this profession, as it must be in a rapidly changing world. Deal with it, or go home.

Published by

Andy Allan

I am the owner-developer of Sciencegeek.net and a science teacher at El Diamante High School in Visalia, CA.