In December I posted about school principals providing instructional leadership to support implementation of the Common Core Standards. My point was that beyond alignment, issues of effective pedagogy need to be addressed if the standards are to make a difference to student learning. Something I didn’t talk about was the role principals play in creating a context that welcomes change.
Given the frequency of school reform movements and the heat that schools take about failure to meet state and national targets, this is not an easy task. Still, I believe based on my own experience as a school leader that the principal sets the tone in the school, and an atmosphere characterized by cynicism or even fear of change does not benefit anyone, least of all the students. Instead, a school culture that promotes innovation, considers different points of view, and engages faculty in continuous learning is more likely to respond in constructive ways to the implementation of the Common Core Standards.
I believe Kentucky was the first state to adopt these standards, renaming them the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS). This spirit of getting out in front of change brings about positive results, allowing educators to think creatively about how they can use new legislation to improve conditions for students, rather than resisting the requirements. So what are the benefits of the Common Core that school leaders can point to? Three positives come to mind:
- deep rather than broad curriculum,
- standards that are linked across disciplines, and
- commitment to all students graduating from high school, college ready.
As a school leader you can think of others, but more importantly, you can invite your faculty to identify what is positive about this change, what they will be gaining, and what potential exists for them to do a more effective job in educating all their students.