06 October 2012

Wearing My Parent (not my educator) Hat for the PTA

From a parent and educator’s point of view…

Since very early drafts of the Common Core State Standards, I have been involved with reviewing, presenting, and helping educate others on the Common Core.    Most of my work was done as a consultant at the Kentucky Department of Education, where we provided feedback to early drafts, brought teachers together to provide feedback, presented to various audiences at local, state and national conferences, deconstructed the standards, created learning plans and units for the standards, and created assessments for the standards.  Basically, I spent the past three years of my life immersed in work related to these standards. 

Consequently, when I was asked by a teacher and parent liaison at my son’s elementary school to provide an overview for parents at the next PTA/curriculum night, I jumped at the opportunity and quickly spouted out three or four ideas I could use based on all my previous presentations.  This very kind and calm teacher and parent liaison gently reminded me that my audience would be different because it would not consist entirely of educators but of normal parents who just wanted to know what their children would be learning in the next few years. 


This changed everything.  Although I had been involved with the PTA off and on over the years and had spent many hours volunteering at the elementary school, I realized the need to think carefully about my audience for this presentation.  In the weeks leading to PTA night, I spent hours retooling powerpoint slides I had created for previous regional, state and national presentations.  My three younger adult sisters kept popping into my head, and they became my goal post for considering my audience.  After learning we would have a translator present on PTA night, my audience goal post expanded, and I grew more excited with the challenge of helping fellow parents understand what our children would learn in the coming months and years.

My foray into helping parents understand the Common Core was not only exciting but also enlightening because I reconsidered the responsibility I have as an educator to make sure my colleagues in education understand the standards alone will not make a difference.  Effective teaching and learning practices will make the difference in knowing our children are ready for the world which awaits them beyond their K-12 schooling experience and we don’t have to wait to show our children this world.