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Progress, not Perfection

Friday, December 28, 2018

Like many people, I've used the end of 2018 to look back at what's happened and how to improve what I do.  At work, 2018 was a year of amazing things - new standards after 20 years! - and some walls (how in the world do we "rollout" standards?  We've never done that before!).  In some cases, I was flying blind, and in others, I was remarkably confident on the road we took.  

One thing my brain keeps coming back to is the idea of "progress, not perfection".  We have some BIG changes from our old standards to the new ones, and I hope that districts are using this first year of implementation to allow their educators to become familiar with what's new.  I've had some interesting insights from educators across the state:

  • A lot of comments along the lines of "Jeez, with the new standard focusing on civic engagement, there is now actually something that shows my administrators that what I'm doing in the classroom is not only important for our kids, but encouraged!"
  • A discussion I keep returning to in my head with someone in one of our larger districts, who had her teachers go in to compare the old standards to the new.  The purpose was not to "crosswalk" and just dump in the new indicators, but so they could really SEE the differences.  She pointed out to me that in their example, which was using the Geography strand, that the expectations on students are MUCH higher with the new standards; in fact, their team came to the conclusion that what in the old standards was a 12th grade benchmark, is now in the new standards an 8th grade indicator.  As in- what we expect now is a much higher bar in content and skills.  This really stuck with me.  
  • An appreciation of a similar message with common language for this rollout across the state.  We have had great success with the CESA workshops, and if you choose not to attend the CESA workshops (for whatever reason), you have access to every single resource here on the website (although admittedly, I am still a little behind...).  I'm pretty proud of how that worked out. 
  • I also had a terrific conversation with a director of instruction in a mid-size, small town district.  I've known her for years, and I know her social studies team well.  We agreed that her team is good - really good.  I asked if she was ok with good, and she sighed, and said "Kris, I want GREAT".  I think moving from good to great is tough.  But what do you want for your students?  Everyone in this state is in a different place in regards to where they are in their social studies programming, and where they want to be.  

I post these to say - working on understanding the new standards is ok.  Working further into your classroom and curriculum is ok.  Panicking because you aren't 100% aligned and ready is not ok.  Progress, not perfection.  I wish I could make t-shirts for everyone.  Let's see where we're at, and move forward.  Some districts can move a lot, some have very little wiggle room.  Some NEED a lot of work, some have been doing things similar to our new standards for years. But there is always room for improvement, right?  

Progress, not perfection. 


For questions about this information, contact Kristen McDaniel (608) 266-2207