About Alice Trosclair

Alice has been teaching for eleven years. She currently teaches English III, English Language and Composition AP, and English Literature and Composition AP. She lives with her husband and son in south Louisiana. She also has hundreds of "adopted" children.

common-core-iconCommon Core has been a controversial topic in education since it was first mentioned in 2012, then fully implemented in 2013, despite plans for a two-year transition. Personally, I have no problem with it. Standards are standards after all and it puts all the states on an equal playing field. One of my students arrived from California her freshman year and found that Louisiana’s Curriculum was too easy. Common Core puts the same expectations in all the states, preventing this from happening. The way Common Core was implemented is what many educators have a problem with; the short transition period has been difficult.

One group that has been very affected by, but about whom so little has been written is our high school students. Our students have learned one way for so long, and then things change almost overnight. They have been in school for nine to twelve years and then they are expected to change learning styles. High school students and teachers are adjusting to Common Core, but it has not been easy for several reasons.

Life Style. Our students come from a world of entitlement and instant gratification. Entitlement comes when they are young; part of the reason is we do not let our students or children fail or struggle. Everyone gets a trophy and everyone wins. In addition, our students are born between 1996 and 2000, a time when the internet changed the world. They have never known a world without Google or cellphones. Everything they ever want to know is at a click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. Then add a nine to ten-year of education that “spoon-fed” information and you have today’s average high school student. Many students were able to sit back in a classroom, hear the material, and put it back on a test. Common Core does not allow them to do this. It is about skills and being able to apply knowledge, not just memorize facts and put it down on a piece of paper. It has been an adjustment for them.

Complex Material. Common Core requires students to read, understand, infer, and critique text independently, and frankly, many are just not willing to do it. They rebel against nonfiction texts and complex texts not because they are not capable, but because they do not want to and it is “too hard.” It is easy to sit back and let someone tell you exactly want to think and what the text actually says, which is the way they learned to do things pre-Common Core. Common Core requires them to write and use textual evidence to support what they think and believe. It requires them to explain their answer and teach it to others. For many of them, this is an entirely new concept. A perfect analogy of Common Core growth is we have gone from reading Harry Potter senior year to reading Wuthering Heights. This amount of growth is amazing, but there are “birth pains.” And many high school teachers are fighting this battle with their students every day, but every year that passes it gets easier for them and for us. This is why a longer transitional period would have been more beneficial for everyone.

Balance. Many of my students have gone from having one difficult class to three difficult classes. All of them have become a challenge. According to several students, the most difficult thing about Common Core is balancing all the work and extracurricular activities. As the amount of homework and studying increases, there is less time for things like student council and dance classes. It forces them to manage their time and put priorities in order. Many students do not learn this concept until their freshman year in college. There is an enormous amount of late work being turned in and many crocodile tears being shed, but they are learning to balance. It is just taking some time.
Growth. Students feel the change because for the first time, they are being challenged and as with every person, change does not come easily. Some refuse to do the work, or expect an “A” for mediocre work. Common Core is slowly breaking down the attitude of entitlement and some are even embracing the challenge. One of my seniors said, “It is supposed to get harder. I mean, how else are you supposed to prepare for college?” (Bailey, 18). Every year that passes, students have adjusted. There will always be those students that will not change, but many of them do. One of my AP seniors said it best, “Your work gets harder so it forces you to grow” (Ashley, 17). This is what school is all about helping our students grow.

Common Core is a challenge to carry out, due to lack of materials and funding, but we are making it work. Our students are adjusting and when the current kindergartens arrive freshman year, we will see a totally different high school student than the ones we have today. I just hope that they will arrive with Common Core and be able to keep it through their senior year.

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