Friday, October 18, 2013


Teachers are being asked to do more.

More...and more... and more...

Teachers I talk to regularly are overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed-- implementing the new Common Core Standards.
Overwhelmed--undergoing new teacher assessment procedures.
Overwhelmed--dealing with the increased required use of technology.

Teachers are frustrated and tired as they face many other new  requirements placed upon  them by their schools and districts.

They are drowning in demands that have doubled, tripled the number of laps they must swim just to finish their daily work.
Read two related posts: The Joy (and Burden) of Teaching and Teacher Vulnerability.

In addition to more responsibilities and demands put upon them by others, teachers are asking more of themselves.

Teachers are cramming more into lesson time frames--more than they believe their students should be asked to handle, more than they would have normally done--in the name of rigor.

Teachers are spending more time reading selected texts than they believe is necessary--more than their students actually need-- in the name of closer reading.

Teachers are assigning more written work-- more than they can effectively grade with appropriate feedback--in the name of challenge and preparation for college and the workplace.


We have all seen those delightful AT&T commercials with the kids having discussions with a man about a variety of topics.  My favorite is the one in which the little girl explains why we should want more:
More is better than less...If you really like something, you'll want more of it.We want more.
We want more. Like, you really like it, ya want more...
Click here to watch this commercial.

More is not always better.
Sometimes less is just right.

In More by I.C. Springman, a magpie starts with nothing and little by little gathers more and more and more for her nest.  With the help of her mice friends--and as a result of a disastrous fall from the tree caused by way too much stuff-- she learns to achieve a  perfect balance of just enough.

I originally shared this lushly illustrated, sparsely worded picture book with our teacher inquiry group as some of our members were gathering more and more data-- it had almost become an addiction. This book reminded us that as some point we have enough.

I think this message applies just as well to  the "more" situations we encounter with implementing all the changes  this year. 

Sometimes, we can exponentially increase our results by intentionally starting small, beginning with less.

 That is the mathematical lesson we learn in One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi.  In this traditional folktale, Rani is being rewarded for a good deed.  When offered a reward, she requests a meager one grain of rice---doubled every 30 days.  Do the math!  This very quickly becomes a monumental amount of rice and will feed her village for a long time.

More is not always better.
More can result from less than we sometimes think.
What is enough?
Enough is enough.

Who decides?

When I first read the common core,  I brought to the reading all of what I had heard and read prior to encountering the document myself.  I brought misconceptions, misinformation, and exaggerations.

The statement that gave me pause and great comfort-- the statement that we all need to hold onto-- as we navigate this new era of nationalized standardization is the following paragraph from the Introduction of the Common Core Standards which states clearly that this document is designed to outline results---not define the means in which we achieve these results:

By emphasizing required achievements, the standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning.  Teachers are thus free t o provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards
(Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, 4) 

So... do we need more?
We have to decide.
How much it too much?                                                                                                                            
What is enough.
Enough is enough.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What is overwhelming you?
In which areas are you being asked to do more?

Write a personal narrative or essay to express how you are feeling?
Who and what are helping you?  Who and what are hindering you?

Write a letter of advice to someone facing the same"more"  situations as you. In your letter include strategies you have found that help you navigate effectively through the "more."

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