Leading With Vision: Taking the Common Core State Standards to Routine Practice in Schools and Classrooms

Successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards (and by successful, I mean implementation that results in the acquisition of meaningful 21st century knowledge, skills, and habits of mind by all students) entails more than simply acquiring a general awareness of the standards and keeping them in mind when planning, delivering, and assessing instruction. Successful implementation involves a systemic rethinking, restructuring, and retooling of everything that affects students, from the culture of the school to the daily teacher and student behaviors exhibited in classrooms. Successful implementation means taking the standards to routine practice in schools and classrooms, and doing so will require a thorough knowledge of the key shifts undergirding the standards, vision, and team leadership.

Key Shifts

Bringing the Common Core State Standards to routine practice in schools and classrooms necessitates that teachers, support personnel, and administrators have a thorough command of the key shifts that are the basis for the expectations expressed by the standards for English Language Arts and Literacy and for Mathematics. Developing a deep understanding of the shifts has significant implications for professional development, unit planning, and teacher and administrator supervision and evaluation, among other aspects of organizational practice.

The Team Leadership Academy in Chicago will afford leadership team members opportunities to identify the “look fors” that flesh out the district’s or school’s vision for taking the Common Core State Standards to routine practice.

Vision

“Leading with vision” is in a sense redundant in that there can be no leadership without vision. The upcoming ASCD CCSS Team Leadership Academy will engage participants in processes designed to clarify what successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards looks like in their district or school. That vision includes developing a common mental image of the instructional practices used in classrooms, the role of formative assessment, what data regarding implementation should be collected by whom and for what purposes, as well as what strategies will be employed to help English Language Learners and students with disabilities experience success. And perhaps most important, realizing a district or school vision demands attention to team building and managing the change process. Accordingly, Academy sessions have been developed around each of these important topics.

Team Leadership

Enough has been written about the benefits of team leadership vis-à-vis leadership by a single dynamic (or not) authority figure that I need not elaborate further on that topic here. Suffice it to say that the shifts embodied in the Common Core State Standards and the complexities of bringing the standards to routine practice in schools and classrooms only heighten the importance of team leadership.

The ASCD CCSS Team Leadership Academy features several 60-90 minute Team RECAP sessions (Reflect, Engage, Critique, Analyze, Plan) that culminate in district or school implementation plans for 2013 with a focus on the question: “What will we do this year to take the Common Core State Standards to routine practice in classrooms throughout our school or district?”

Successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards requires leadership and planning, as well as in most cases a reallocation of time and resources. The Leading With Vision: ASCD Common Core Team Leadership Academy in Chicago is an excellent opportunity to continue your journey to bringing the common core state standards to routine practice in schools and classrooms in your district.

Tim Westerberg, Ph. D., is an ASCD Faculty member, author, consultant, and former high school teacher and principal. He has a long history of working with schools, districts, and professional organizations to implement standards-based education. Dr. Westerberg will be presenting at the Leading With Vision: ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy in Chicago this August, along with fellow presenters Denise Alterio and Judy Carr.

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