Teachers, Students and Parents Benefit from the New National Standards
The 2014-2015 school year sees the adoption of the new National Standards for Education. All-in-all, only 45 states have adopted the standards as their own, but every state has standards that it will follow. Teachers, parents and students only had just over 10 years to get used to the “old” standards, and some teachers are wary of the new revisions. When looked at closely, it is easy to see how common standards are beneficial.
Some teachers have long worried that a rigid set of standards would hamper creativity. In the case of the national standards, many teachers find that their creativity is broadened, when compared to the old standards. Rather than spending hours trying to decipher standards and come up with appropriate lesson plans, the new standards provide a sort of script that can be followed. Full of examples for lesson delivery, teachers are given ideas for appropriate plans.
With the new national standards, teachers are given more freedom when it comes to subject transitions. Teachers no longer must teach science as a unit, math as a unit and language arts as a unit. An entire day, for example, can be dedicated to the solar system, incorporating each subject in a single lesson plan. This can be helpful for special-needs students who have a difficult time making transitions from one task to another.
As a teacher, you may find yourself struggling to help your at-risk students; particularly as a general education teacher. With national standards, the ability to collaborate is heightened. If you’re looking for a fantastic lesson plan for your students in New Mexico, you can collaborate with a teacher in Michigan who is basing lesson plans off of the same standards. When states utilize their own standards, such wide-ranging collaboration is impossible. In fact, teachers are beginning to sell an entire year’s worth of lesson plans on the Internet, making it entirely possible to purchase lesson plans that have already been implemented and tested.
A set of national standards ensures that students in every state are learning the same material, although it does not necessarily need to be delivered in the same manner. Consider that, recently, Texas rewrote its social studies standards to fit a conservative view. The children in Texas’ school districts are not learning why the founding fathers protected religious freedoms. Ultra-conservative Texans have been accused of perverting accurate history. With national standards, states who participate are not permitted to tweak textbooks to suit personal and political agendas.
Historically, the classroom has been a teacher-centered area. Teachers lecture, hand out worksheets and assign homework. New national standards focus on hands-on exploration of subjects, putting the focus where it belongs: on students. Students learn collaboration, cooperation, and communication skills when teachers utilize the new national standards. Students can certainly learn these skills from any teacher, but the new standards encourage group interaction and project completion rather than rote lecture and standardized worksheets.
The new standards are, by no means, without their issues. No teacher will be happy with every section of any adopted standards. If your state has adopted them, learn them, experiment with them, and form your own opinion. Good or bad, the national standards are here to stay until the next changes come down from on high.
Brett Harris writes articles for the Top 10 Special Education Degree Programs that can help you become a special education teacher.