Embrace the Grind
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -
Embrace the grind. -Marshall Yanda, Baltimore Ravens guard
We wanted to take a few minutes to think about how much the work laid out before us
requires constant, conscientious, hard work.
Especially with Common Core and the instructional shifts, a real gauntlet has been
thrown down. Not only are teachers expected to change the content of what is taught,
but the shifts are requiring a change in how we teach as well. This is something that has
never been attempted before. Content has changed on occasion. Assessments have
changed on occasion. And different classroom methods have been proposed and even
strongly advised- think differentiated learning and multiple intelligences for example-
but never has an instruction shift been absolutely required for the academic success of
students. This is hard for teachers.
What we know and what we continue to learn is that these changes have to be
addressed consistently and systematically. One of the math shifts is an embrace of
fluency. The folks writing the math modules build in fluency exercises every day. On
the ELA side of things, there are shifts to supply text-based answers. These folks have
a very "protocol-based" system to give teachers and students the practices needed to
make this shift a habit. And they use the protocols constantly.
When teaching the priorities of the Danielson Framework- cognitive engagement,
constructivist learning, and 21st Century Learning- we show a video of a teacher and
students in the middle of a great lesson demonstrating how climate works in a soda
bottle. We often get push back that the classroom in the video is not real life, that our
students are not like those students. Those are charter school students. First, charter
schools are often in the toughest neighborhoods with the toughest kids. Second, we
should recognize that that highly effective classroom didn't just appear. There was a lot
of hard work on the parts of both teacher and students, learning the protocols, learning
the habits, practicing to eventually look that good.
North Star Schools in Newark, New Jersey consistently scores tops in the state on NJ
assessments. Paul Bambrick-Santoyo makes no secret of how they do it. Lots of hard
work, lots of practice, all with the use of protocols that force the development of good
Making these shifts, bringing our students up to the level expected is hard. And it
requires constant hard work. Without working on changing our habits, our practices, we
may get what we always got.
Embrace the grind.