Northwood Middle School (Kent, Wash.)
2014 Puget Sound Region Teacher of the Year
The mantra of Seahawks and Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson last season was simple and always the same: “Why not us?” He lived it, breathed it, made his teammates believers, and did the work necessary to achieve his goal.
Mind you that Wilson, a third-round draft pick, faced many obstacles. Being a short quarterback, he was told by most he wouldn't succeed in the NFL. His ability was doubted. But, it was a good thing for Seattle that John Schneider and Pete Carroll had the foresight to see beyond the critics and obstacles. Wilson made believers out of all of us and taught us that obstacles are opportunities. Maybe, in regard to education, we should strive to adopt a similar mindset. Common Core essentially poses the same question as Russell Wilson's phrase, “Why not us?”
Every NFL team has the same goal, regardless of zip code or fan base: they want to win, win some more, and earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Coaches will use a variety of methods, drills and philosophies to accomplish this objective. Their techniques and styles may be different (just look at the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh in comparison to Pete Carroll), but their end goal is the same: victory! Education is similar. Our “victory” is students graduating from high school ready for college and life.
The new standards will help level the playing field to make that happen. Whether you live in Manhattan, NY or Yakima, the expectations are identical. It’s the way teachers reinforce the standards that’s different. For example, Reading Literature Standard Two asks 8th graders to discover themes and their development throughout a text. Teachers in Manhattan may use "Kidnapped" by Stevenson as a model text, while teachers from Yakima may use Hinton’s "The Outsiders." The students reading "Kidnapped" will discover themes of loyalty, friendship, and diversity of ethics. Those reading "The Outsiders" will discover themes regarding the impact of social class and what it means to be an outsider. Some teachers will be like the 49ers coach Harbaugh and others the Seahawks' Carroll, and that’s OK. Teachers still have the freedom to choose what they’ll teach and how they’ll teach it; it’s the standard being reinforced that is the same.