School Dreams in July

Every teacher knows what a school dream is.  They usually creep into one's sleep from late August to late June.  July is usually reserved for school-free dreams.  This year the school year stretched to the very end of June hence the dreams have not disappeared yet.

Last night's dream was revealing.  I was at a summer teacher party.  The conversation moved to school issues.  I commented, "I'm not planning to create any new curriculum this year, I want to deepen and broaden the current units I teach."
     "Oh," replied a colleague, "You haven't heard."
     "Heard what?"
     "Heard about the new social studies curriculum.  We've just bought a whole new series for social studies, and every teacher will have to teach it next year."
     "They bought text books," I replied, "Don't they realize they'll be outdated before we even open the first page, and what about RTI, multi-media composition, primary documents, tech-integration, the flipped classroom?"
     "The decision has been made," the colleague replied.
     "Don't they realize that education is not like the water faucet.  I just don't turn off my brain at the end of the summer, and turn it on again in the fall.  I use the summer to integrate, synthesize, study and plan for the year ahead.  Starting a new curriculum on September first, one that I didn't even have a voice or say about, or might not agree with presents a stumbling block at the beginning of the year -- a time when I'm ready to create a kind, caring learning community with my students."

The I woke up thinking School Dreams in July!  My mom's right - I need a hobby.  But truthfully, as I think about education, I know it's important to keep teachers in the decision making loop even if decisions are considered or made over the summer months.  It's also important that new curriculum decisions reflect new technologies and methodologies.

I wonder what the best time line is for implementation of new ideas and efforts.  Many systems are considering that now as they analyze the common core standards.  My state, Massachusetts, has set up a reasonable time line for common core standards' infusion.  This summer I'll take a close look at the common core standards, and think about how the curriculum will change over the next few years. I'll start a list of questions as systems will have decisions to make about which units they'll keep, revise, and change to a different grade/subject area.  I'll have my eyes open on Twitter with respect to optimal units, materials and strategies to reach the new standards.

Dreams can be scary, particularly school dreams in July, but they can also open the door to new thinking and ideas as one continues the path of educational thought and work.
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