During my limited Common Core professional development trainings, I had the opportunity to watch videos of Common Core in action. We were shown videos of teachers expertly “facilitating” as bright-eyed students enthusiastically constructed their own learning. The excited students engaged in focused and complex discussions about the tasks at hand. The kids were all hard at work learning, and the teacher was circulating to ask clarifying questions and provide positive reinforcement. This was a pretty impressive demonstration of Common Core teaching. Clearly, this was the way to run a classroom!
Then reality started creeping in. I noticed that the bustling productive classroom in the video contained about 12 students. All 12 were on task and were able to converse in a polite and effective manner. Nobody was arguing, playing around, or wandering about the room. There were no students who just gave up and sat there. There were no hands in the air or calls of “I don’t get it.” The teacher never once had to redirect any misbehavior. I’m not so sure that I and my classroom of 37 inner-city students could recreate quite the same scene of productive, calm learning.
I’m told that our students simply need to be taught this new way of learning. Now I have plenty of faith in all of my students. I believe with all of my heart that they are all smart and capable people who can excel at anything they set their minds to. But I do question whether this unstructured approach to learning is well suited to all classrooms, particularly those with large class sizes. I absolutely advocate for students to have plenty of opportunities to work together, but I believe there needs to be a balance of direct instruction from the teacher as well.
I’d be interested in hearing your advice and opinions. Can anyone share any success stories of implementing the Core with larger class sizes?