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[Common Core] 6 Professional Development Tips for Your Teachers

Friday, August 1, 2014 -- Mandy Groen

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represent a significant shift in student expectations and assessments. Below are six professional development tips you can give your teachers to help them align to the Common Core expectations and prepare learners to succeed on the new exams.

  1. Know How to Align Instruction to the Common Core State Standards
    The Common Core State Standards do not explicitly define classroom curriculum. Instead, they establish a series of standards for skills and concepts that students must master by various points in their academic careers. Make sure that your teachers are familiar with these standards (find them all on the CCSS Initiative webpage) and that they have the classroom activities and tools needed to teach to them. Additionally, because there is room to customize these standards, make sure that your teachers know exactly when to align and when they should deviate to align to the local standards.
  2. Be Familiar and Use Technology-Enhanced Item Types
    In line with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) guidelines, Common Core assessments will make use of new technology-enhanced item types. These item types go beyond traditional multiple-choice and true/false questions to check for a deeper level of students’ understanding of topics and to promote critical thinking. Take a look at our 21st Century Item Types resource, and be sure your teachers are familiar with the new item types in order for students to be successful on the new assessments. Moreover, make sure that you are giving your teachers tools to use in the classroom so that their learners can practice using these item types.
  3. Make Use of Data
    You have a huge amount of student data at your fingertips, which can be an invaluable resource for differentiating instruction and increasing learner achievement. Make sure that your teachers have access to this data as well and know how to use it to be more effective. Have your teachers spend time with their classroom data to identify which students and topics require additional attention, and have them make their lesson plans accordingly. Online educational tools, like Edmentum Sensei, can help you and your teachers make the most of your data by providing actionable insights.
  4. Be Tech Savvy
    Common Core assessments will transition students away from pen-and-paper testing to interactive, web-based exams. This means that exposure to technology in the classroom will become more and more important. Investigate the numerous online (and often free!) teaching resources that are available. Task your teachers to use all of the technology resources available to them.
  5. Embrace Formative Assessment
    With Common Core’s requirements for deeper demonstration of student understanding, it naturally follows that assessment practices will have to become more robust. Formative assessment will allow your teachers to differentiate instruction for individual students and monitor their progress. This blog post from Education Week provides a great in-depth look at how formative assessment is changing the classroom. 
  6. Consider Your Culture
    The goal of the Common Core is to increase the day-to-day rigor and challenge of classroom learning—which, in turn, can increase student stress. Additionally, most of your instructors are being challenged by this immense change to their classroom instruction. It is critical that your district and school create a culture of positivity. As the saying attributed to Henry Ford goes, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” Times of change often create stress; however, they also provide opportunity. Creating and embracing a culture of encouragement and positivity will help your teachers succeed and your students achieve more!

Want to learn more about how Edmentum can help you align your school or district to Common Core standards and prepare your learners for the new assessment? View our 10 Steps to a Successful Transition to the Common Core.