Letters                                          Page 6


Reader Reply

Common Core & Early Childhood

Re “Common Core: Too Little Change, Not Too Much” by Michael Petrilli (May 2014):

It concerns me greatly that the Common Core standards were not aligned to early childhood education, to the specific pedagogy of how young children especially learn best and when.

The Common Core State Standards is all about the what -- and early childhood is supposed to be the foundation for future learning. If teachers are tasked with administering standards that ask young children to learn material for which they are not neurodevelopmentally ready, there really can be no good implementation of such standards. We don't ask elementary-aged children to run 5-minute miles; we know their bodies are still too small and not yet mature enough to do so, yet we ask them to learn skills and perform tasks that would come much more naturally and easily in later years.

No "wiggle room" exists in the Common Core’s primary grades standards to amend them to more realistically align with what and how children best learn at what ages and stages.

Early childhood is defined as the period from birth through 8 years of age. In a typical elementary school, this would extend through 3rd grade, so counting from kindergarten, four of six years of a K-5 school fall within that domain. For a school with a pre-K program, five of seven years are early childhood -- and we're asking very young children to do work better-suited for children two or three years older in some cases.

If we get those first years wrong, I have serious concerns about how future learning can build on a shaky foundation. I say fix those early grades and then we can talk about the issues Petrilli raises in his article -- whether there has been sufficient change or the right kind.

Rockville, Md.

Social Media’s Merits

I came across Dan Cox’s article “Connecting With Social Media” (February 2014) about the use of social media in school administration while researching for my upcoming doctoral dissertation. My working topic deals with Twitter’s effect on scholarship monies (scholarship applications, awarded local scholarships, completed applications turned into guidance, etc.).

Cox’s shared findings were similar to a conversation about social media I had during a recent assistant principal interview. I find it reassuring to hear about other school leaders, such as Cox, who are implementing Twitter successfully. It has been a difficult battle to have my school district buy into its benefits as a communication tool.

Language Arts Teacher,
North Dorchester Middle School
Hurlock, Md.

Reading Daniel Cox’s article brought me back to the beginning of my journey in getting connected and taking control of my learning.

In January 2012, I jumped into the deep end of the pool and joined Twitter. I was extremely hesitant to do so because the whole social media thing wasn't my scene, but I needed something to move me. I slowly started to build my personal/professional learning network, or PLN. I filled it with passionate educators who seemed to be using Twitter to share, collaborate, learn and grow.

I started by "lurking" -- just reading the tweets of those in my PLN, connecting to the blogs of different members, checking out the apps people were suggesting and reading the articles they deemed worthy. It was slow and subtle, but before I knew it, I was hooked! I was learning and growing.

Instead of watching the news each morning, I start my day by checking my Twitter feed and invariably, I learn something new. I read about something I want to try to help me be a better administrator. I explore something I think our teachers might love or our kids might enjoy. I started to interact more with the people who I valued in my PLN and to my surprise they started responding

This is when the experience really changed for me, when I started to feel energized and empowered. It wasn't about Twitter, it was about the connections. The people on the other end of the tweets that I loved reading were the source of my growth. The people who believed in education; the people who were dedicated to doing what was best for children.

These people I didn't know in real life were becoming my support, my resource and my friends. Being a connected educator saved my career.

Lead Learner,
Cantiague Elementary School,
Jericho, N.Y.

Penalty Box for Kids

Re Kimberly Moritz’s My View, "The Penalty Box for Our Students” (May 2014):

There is a big difference between five minutes and five days, so I think it is ridiculous to use ice hockey as a comparison. Try comparing your policy to something comparable, such as human slaves who were put into boxes when they acted up.

The author really has a draconian view of teaching practices that are covered up by an "oh it’s kinda like hockey" excuse. Is teaching going on? Perhaps just teaching a lesson. 

Bellingham, Wash.

Letters should be addressed to:
School Administrator,
1615 Duke St.,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543



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