Preparing Your Parents for the Common Core

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

As a teacher, you’ve had a few years to prepare for the new Common Core standards. Your superiors have had a little longer than that. However, unless you have some involved parents who keep their fingers on the pulse of education, this year is the first time they will be hearing about the new standards because they just recently made the mainstream media.

They’re going to freak out.

I hope that through your own study you’ve found that there really isn’t much to worry about, and that’s a great first step to helping your parents through the change as well. Here are some other ideas that you can use to ease the transition for them.

Come up with an FAQ (or find one you trust)

The Common Core is politically polarizing right now, meaning that it’s sometimes hard to separate the real information from the noise. As their child’s teacher, you can speak as a symbol of authority on the subject. Try to anticipate some of the parents’ questions and organize them into FAQ form, or find a Common Core FAQ with accurate information. Then take the document and share it via e-mail, on your school/classroom website, and physically at Back to School Night.

Spend some time comparing the standards

It might be a good idea for a school to organize a Common Core night outside of the regular Back to School Night festivities. Perhaps one teacher from each Common Core subject area can spend some time comparing the old standards to the new, followed by displaying some of the new materials that will be used to address the new standards. It’s much more efficient to talk to everyone at once rather than having to answer hundreds of phone calls and e-mails.

Prepare a good answer to “What should I do to help?”

If parents come to you with concerns about the Common Core, it means they are committed to helping you and their student succeed. Come up with some ideas for them to help their student through this process. It might be as simple as more conversations where the student has to work through their thought process rather than just give an answer (a big focus of the new standards). People are more at ease when they feeling like they’re helping the cause.

Back to School Night: No Common Core

Aside from distributing your FAQ or pointing them to Common Core Night, make Back to School Night a Common Core-free zone. It’s about discussing how your classroom works, what you expect from the students, and getting to know the parents so you can establish rapport. If you let talk of the new standards in, they will dominate the conversation and won’t let you talk about anything else.

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