Are You 1 in a Million?

It’s a fact! Taking apart a standard to examine the embedded thinking skills can revolutionize instructional processes.

In an article entitled Work Deconstructed,  Boudreau (2014) provided a relevant analogy. He stated,

Moving a bed up a tight flight of stairs is impossible if you leave it intact. It just won’t fit. Most have to deconstruct the bed by removing the headboard and legs and separating the mattress from the box spring. Once deconstructed, you can treat the bed like a set of pieces, get them upstairs and reconstruct them. Deconstruction requires the right tools and a good understanding about how the parts fit the whole. But it has the power to reveal a solution to what at first seemed to be an intractable dilemma.

He continued with, “Deconstructed work is revolutionizing talent management, too, and it requires leaders to approach decisions with advanced tools and a keen sense of how pieces fit together.” Likewise deconstructing standards transform approaches to teaching and the process allows educators to approach instructional decisions with advanced knowledge about how all of the pieces of the whole standard fit together!

Reading the Work Deconstructed article caused me to think about a reflective statement a teacher made during a Core Deconstructed professional development session I facilitated. He stated,

Taking the time to slow down to think about how the knowledge types are reflected in the standard in relation to how to advance student thinking from novice to expert helped me to see why I’ve been running into challenges with trying to teach the whole standard.

In other words, taking the standard apart piece by piece, using the tools presented in the TCD process, enhanced his ability to deliver effective standards based instruction and reconstruct the standard in the minds of his students!

After reflecting on that professional development session in relation to Boudreau’s article, I decided to share these slides with you for free! Originally, I created a private page for teachers in the sessions, but I’ve decided to copy and paste all slides with their notes here. They outline the steps in my book The Core Deconstructed.  Given that it’s summer time, now you can breathe, slow down and study the standards using this process in preparation for your student next year.  All I ask in return, is that when you see the benefit, you share the post with your colleagues.

So here are the slides.

The Process Exemplified.001

The instructions in this presentation refer to page numbers in the Middle/High School Practice journal. Both the elementary and secondary practice journals can be found on

The Process Exemplified.002

Phase 1 is all about deconstructing the standard to arrive at the conceptual understanding statement.

The Process Exemplified.003

Refer to the example page in your workshop packet. See page 5. Note that all content-area teachers should embrace the Speaking & Listening standards because literacy within a discipline includes being able to speak competently about the discipline.

After this presentation, you will practice the deconstruction process using a discipline specific standard.

The Process Exemplified.004


The Process Exemplified.005

Phase 2 is all about generating the objective stems for Remember/Understand.

The Process Exemplified.006

First we focus on Factual Knowledge. See the directions on page 28.

The Process Exemplified.007

The Process Exemplified.008

The Process Exemplified.009

See your workshop packet on page 5.

The Process Exemplified.010

We are still in Phase 1 now generating objective stems for Remember/Understanding but for conceptual knowledge. See page 31 in your book.

The Process Exemplified.011

The Process Exemplified.012

Sometimes you will find multiple objective stems embedded within a knowledge dimension. As you “think through” the process, you will see multiple stems reveal themselves to you. As stated in a previous session, TRUST THE PROCESS. See page 5 in your workshop handout.

The Process Exemplified.013

We are now generating tiered objective stems for procedural knowledge and still in the Remember/Understand column. See page 34 in your book.The Process Exemplified.014The Process Exemplified.015See page 5 in your workshop handout.The Process Exemplified.016We are now generating tiered objective stems for metacognitive knowledge and still in the Remember/Understand column. See page 37 in your book. Remember when making decisions about generating stems for metacognitive knowledge, consider your students in relation to the three major classifications of metacognitive knowledge:

  1. knowledge of task (understanding what the task requires)
  2. strategic knowledge (knowing how to complete the task); and
  3. knowledge of self (ability to complete the task).

The Process Exemplified.017The Process Exemplified.018Notice the classification of metacognitive knowledge here is a blend of knowledge of the task and strategic knowledge.

The Process Exemplified.019Phase 3 is all about generating tiered objective stems for the Apply/Analyze column. The directions repeat, but now you focus on cognitive processes that move students toward the Practitioner level of learning with a standard.Again, see page 5 in your workshop handout.

Phase 4 is all about generating tiered objective stems for the Evaluate/Create column. The directions repeat, but now you focus on cognitive processes that move students toward the Expert level of learning with a standard.The Process Exemplified.026All content-area teachers should embrace the Speaking & Listening standards because literacy within a discipline includes being able to speak competently about the discipline.The Process Exemplified.027The great thing about deconstructing, is once you’ve done it, it’s done! The work can be shared with grade level team members and stored electronically for later use. See what Heather had to say about plans for future use in the forward of the book under What Did I Discover?The Process Exemplified.028

Now you are clear about what you are doing!The Process Exemplified.029Turn in your workshop packets to page 6 to respond to the reflection questions. Before sharing your thoughts with your colleagues, engage in individual and silent reflection.The Process Exemplified.030The Process Exemplified.001

You can reflect and practice with your own copy of the The Core Deconstructed, where you’ll find specific grade level examples of each type of standard already deconstructed–that’s RI, RL, W, L and S&L–along with sample grade level lesson plans. I would love to read your thoughts after your own practice and reflection, so please return to share them with me in the comments section below.

In The Core Deconstructed I stated,  “My goal is to see 1,000,000 empowered educators who know the standards intimately, collaborating across the country to yield the true success for students we all know is possible by 2015. This can only be accomplished with you.”

Perhaps you are one in a million. 🙂



Bourdreau, J. (2014, June 3). Work deconstructed. Talent Management. Retrieved from

Common Core Fatigue

Last week I facilitated a learning session at a conference. The session title was “Where is Close Reading in the Common Core State Standards?” The typical thing occurred that tends to happen in my sessions. Participants–this time mainly reading specialists and literacy coaches–entered the room saying, “We’ve done this in my system already,” but left saying, “Oh no, we haven’t done this before.” My two favorite reflective comments from participants were,

The district’s training was good, but teachers were still not sure about what to do next. This session now gives me the structure to help teachers know what to do next,


This session was phenomenal!

After the session I decided to check out the exhibitors. As I walked the halls, row after row and stand and after stand, all I could see was “Common Core.” It was as if every book had the words “Common Core” on them.

I felt as if I were about to pass out from Common Core fatigue!

Recently I read that “almost two of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards, arguably one of the most important education initiatives in decades, and most of those who say they know about the Common Core neither understand it nor embrace it” (Bushaw and Lopez, 2013). Interesting. I said interesting because Americans include people in the education business–educators and publishers alike. Interesting.

That brings to me today’s question: with so much talk  about the Common Core, and so many books with the words Common Core, and so many activities around the Common Core, why are so many people still confused about the Common Core? (Are you experiencing fatigue yet?)

There is a disconnect. There are an abundance of resources, and a lot of talk, but still misunderstandings and misinterpretations abound. I created a seriously audacious goal back in 2012 and that was “to see 1,000,000 empowered educators who know the standards intimately, collaborating across the country to yield the true success for students we all know is possible by 2015” (Brown, p. 12, 2013). Seriously audacious, right?

I want to contribute to eradicating the disconnect, so I’m asking for your help. Here’s how: share your thoughts with me (and everyone else who comes across this post) by responding to the survey below. Together we can use the results of the survey to begin eliminating the disconnect. It’s short and to the point, so please take the time to be candid. And after you’re done, share it with your colleagues because the more, the better.

Remember to click submit at the end of the survey. Here it is:

Let me know your interest in learning the results by signing up for this blog or on my main site.

Saving you from Common Core fatigue,



Brown, S. (2013). The core deconstructed: How to deconstruct the Common Core State Standards so you can teach. Laurel, MD: ESbD Publishing.

Bushaw, B., & Lopez, S. (2013, September). The 45th annual PDK/Gallup poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools: Which way do we go. Kappan, 95(1), 9-25.

Critical Thinking…Not Just for Students

“How do I increase critical thinking among my staff?”

That question represents a composite of the variation of similar questions school leaders have asked in conversations over the last few months. It seems like the topic (in relation to adults not the students) emerges every week. Even the president brought up the need for increased thinking in his State of the Union address. Clearly, there is a need to have this conversation.

According to the American Management Association (2012), professional development–to include mentoring and coaching–is one of the most effective methods for developing employee’s critical thinking skills. The AMA Critical Thinking Skills Survey data goes on to indicate that it is more difficult to develop the skills in “experienced workers.”  Why is this the case? One contributing factor could be hidden biases, also known as assumptions.

Paul and Elder (2009) purport that to engage in critical thinking involves analyzing the logic of an idea or concept and to do so one should break apart ideas or concepts using the 8 Elements of Thought. One of the eight is assumption—beliefs that we take for granted. Hence, unchallenged beliefs can interfere with critical thinking.

Given what we know about assumptions and their ability to influence (or impede) critical thinking development, a question you might ask is, “How can I help my staff uncover hidden biases or assumptions that may be hindering our growth as a team?” One answer is Project Implicit.

Project Implicit investigates thoughts and feelings that exist outside of conscious awareness or conscious control“ (Project Implicit, 2011). In other words, the project’s focus is uncovering hidden biases/assumptions, and this is accomplished by engaging individuals in a variety of surveys. After each survey, your results are immediately generated revealing your hidden biases. Because discovering your hidden biases can be an unnerving act, it is helpful that the results and recommendations are presented using non-judgmental language. This is a great professional development resource for leaders!

Consider this: you can use the free surveys to engage your team/staff in discussions on the collective improvement of critical thinking. Here are steps you can follow:

  1. Complete 3 to 5 surveys to uncover your own assumptions
  2. Reflect and make notes about how your assumptions could influence your thinking
  3. Engage your leadership team in a critical thinking discussion that can begin by them reading this post
  4. Share your results and reflections as a means for making your team feel emotionally safe
  5. Ask your leadership team to complete the survey and reflect on their results (as you did)
  6. Regroup with your leadership to debrief and plan how to move forward with the rest of your staff
  7. Take precautions to make your staff feel safe—biases are a touchy subject

This is a good beginning. Additionally, I’ve put together a few resources that I’ve used with other school leaders to help them increase critical thinking among their staff. You can get started with using them by clicking here!



American Management Association. (2012). AMA 2012 Critical Skills Survey: Executive Summary [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.amanet.og/training/promotions/AMA-2012-Critical-Skills_Survey.aspx

Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2009). Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach, CA: Critical Thinking Foundation.

Project Implicit. (2011). Homepage. Retrieved from

When You Change…

Monday nights. They are changing. If you have been following this blog for a while, first of all, thank you! It gives me great joy to know that my service through sharing, reflecting and inspiring benefits you. Second of all, you may have become accustomed to my weekly Monday night publications since 2012, but 2014 will be different.

During the first quarter of this year, I will be restructuring the site so that it constantly adds value to you on every page of the site. Therefore, instead of weekly posts there will be monthly posts beginning in March. I would love to get your feedback as the major changes occur, so please stay tuned. They will also happen around March.

In the meantime, allow me to close December, the month of giving, by sharing two of my favorite life quotes. I hope they both serve to inspire you as you commit yourself to your personal and professional 2014 goals.

Watch the 3-minute (or so) video for the first one.

The second is simply to…

DSC08989_0619May both of them serve to inspire a successful year for you. I look forward to another year of giving and serving you–my faithful readers–in 2014.

Have an amazingly HAPPY and PROSPEROUS  new year!


A Gift for Change

Have you ever coached a group of teachers who wanted to change their practice, but couldn’t seem to move forward?

I’ve been attempting to organize my files and ran across a set of slides I used to facilitate a critical friends (CF) discussion among a team of 6 teachers. The teachers wanted to engage their students in more inquiry-based instruction, but couldn’t seem to move away from their comfortable GRR/”stand-and-deliver” mode of instruction. Their principal asked if I would help them and so I did.

After some time of observation, I realized that they would benefit from a reflective-practice focused discussion. Once we established a safe space for honest sharing, the teachers admitted their concerns…and yes, their fears. Providing them the opportunity to reflect on not only their practice, but their feelings resulted in the teachers committing to the following:

  1. Creating a 2-month plan of action to engage students in inquiry-based instruction
  2. Meeting weekly to reflect on their transformational process
  3. Assuming leadership of the CF as I decreased my presence


In short, the session was a success!

Well it’s the season of giving, and so that’s what I’d like to do–give you the actual slides to the session I facilitated. All I ask in return is if you like them, or you find them helpful, please “pay it forward” by sharing the slides with 3 of your colleagues. That’s all. Consider this a gift for change.

Enjoy the slides and enjoy the holidays!

Go here for the slides.

How’s That Working For Ya?

Sense of urgency.

I’ll be honest with you: I used to despise that term. It wasn’t so much because of what it meant as it was the behaviors I witnessed that went along with the phrase. In struggling schools I observed well-intended educators doing, doing, doing without engaging in any type of systematic and authentic reflective process. Data analysis occurred and produced much of the same instructional behaviors before the analysis.  There was little to no reflection on and analysis of instructional processes. Yet with little to no change repeatedly no one asked an obvious question: how’s that working for ya?

A few years ago I taught a graduate course on reflective practice. At the start of the class, a learner asked if he could alter the format of an assignment to better align with his learning style and deepen his understanding of the course concepts. I said yes. The product of his learning is one I have since used (with his permission) as a catalyst for cultivating a culture of reflective practice.

I’m sharing his “Curriculum Comics Presents” product below. Perhaps you will consider the ideas presented to enhance reflective practice at your site so that data analysis does work for ya!

sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_01 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_02 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_03 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_04 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_05 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_06 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_07 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_08 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_09 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_10 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_11 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_12 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_13 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_14 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_15 sbphd_AndrewWales_CurriculumComics1_Reflective_Page_16

Here are 3 ways you might use Andrew’s comic as a catalyst for reflective practice:

  1. Rehearse your own journey as a student to determine how to improve instructional processes for you and your students.
  2. Consider how your students are currently responding to instruction and ask, “what can I take away from Andrew’s learning experience as a teacher to apply to my own?”
  3. Use Andrew’s comic as a non-threatening way to engage staff in authentic dialogue on what reflective practice should look like at your site.

Without authentic reflective practice of instructional processes, you could just be spinning your wheels and that won’t work for anyone. Create a sense of urgency about reflective practice.

For more of Andrew’s work, check out his blog.


Wales, A. (2008, June 1). The teacher as reflective practitioner. Unpublished manuscript.

5 Necessary Thinking Skills

It’s simple. This is the month of giving. It’s also a month of reflecting for me.

That being said, as I reflect this month on what’s important to our work, I want to share resources that I have found useful to support one-on-one and group coaching sessions.

Improving thinking is critical to our work, and so, here are 5 key cognitive strategies that are necessary for student success along with five suggestions for using this resource.



Five Ways You Can Use This Resource:

  1. Engage peers in reflective dialogue during instructional coaching sessions
  2. Share with (upper grade) students to enhance their ownership of learning
  3. Ensure common language and common understanding among staff
  4. Use when evaluating a lesson to ensure activity alignment
  5. Study for yourself to ensure your own clarity

The 21st Century Teacher: A Leader’s Reflection

Did you read the confessions of a 21st century teacher?

Two weeks ago I shared the thoughts of a real teacher who vented about a professional development session held at her school. She was an effective teacher who was tired of what she referred to as the B.S. involved in professional development. Her comments should have caused leaders to investigate the health of the adult learning culture at their school.

If you haven’t read her 7-minute venting session, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Afterward, consider Learning Forward’s professional learning standards below and accept the challenge of answering the questions that follow.

Learning Forward: Standards for Professional Learning

Learning Forward: Standards for Professional Learning

Challenge Questions

In order to increase educator effectiveness and results for all students through professional learning:

  1. How do you ensure or gauge collective responsibility?
  2. How do you develop and ensure a support system?
  3. How do you prioritize, monitor and coordinate resources effectively?
  4. How o you evaluate the effectiveness of professional learning?
  5. How do you integrate theories of human learning?
  6. How do you apply change research to sustain long-term change?
  7. How do you align educator performance outcomes with the CCSS?

Ensuring an effective adult learning culture where contributions and participation are authentic is one of your first steps to the student success you seek. Through progressive partnerships, principals I’ve worked with have done just this. Find out how you can be sure your adult learning culture is authentic with a progressive partnership.

Confessions of a 21st Century Teacher – Part 2

I’m saying all of that to say this. When you have teachers saying all of this bull@#*& about “I do…uhg!”

She paused as if she were finished. Then she continued.

Remember last week? That’s where we left of with Ms. 21st Century Teacher. She was in the middle of reflecting on her frustrating professional development experience. This week we continue with her thoughts as promised.

A reminder from last week: this teacher is an effective one. She’s skilled at engaging traditionally low performing students in critical thinking, and has the ability to excite students about learning. Ms. 21st Century Teacher works until 9PM weekday evenings and on Sundays to prepare for her students. She is no excuse maker. I mention her work ethic so that potential questions do not interfere with your empathy toward her. And so with that, here is the continuation of Confessions of a 21st Century Teacher.

“Yes. I know I’m rambling, but I just need to say it. I just need to say it because I can’t say it here because I don’t know who will go back and say something to the principal. But what I’m saying is this: at the end of the day if you have kids…” She breathed deeply to collect her thoughts, then explained, “Okay you know in third grade you have kids who should be around L, M, N, O, that’s where they should be. I have kids in my class who really truthfully and honestly are reading at a Level D. They are no place close to an L or an M. Then I have kids that are reading on Level R—maybe four of them. And then I have a good chunk of them that are at an L…like bordering third grade reading level. How am I doing all of these other things?”

“How?” Now she escalated to a soft yell—the whisper yelling you do when you don’t want to be heard.

“And this is not exclusive to me. There are other classes that have this too. So how? How are they doing all these other activities and these skills?” Ms. 21st Century Teacher leaned in toward me, clenched her hands and  raised her shoulders as she heightened her intensity. “They can’t really grasp a third grade sentence, but you’re doing all of this stuff with them? She took a deep breath then exhaled. “No you’re not. You’re lying!”

As if in mid-thought she calmly asserted, “Because you really have to spend time breaking s@#t down and getting them to understand the fundamentals. And my top group? I take them to the next level with it.”

She began imitating herself as if she were processing with her students saying, “Okay now you know how to answer a question and you do it in a very exquisite manner. Now I want you to start quoting where you get your information from and I want you to say ‘In the text…my evidence in shown in the text in paragraph 2, sentence 1.’ That’s where I’m taking my upper level group. My middle group? I have to get you to answer the question properly. My lower level group? I just got to get you to answer it. I can’t [ask you yet to] restate the question, answer, and give me a supporting detail. I’m just getting you to answer it. Just to find the answer. Then later on I’m going to start moving you to that next level.

She returned to the boasts of her colleagues. “These other teachers, they’re lying. They’re lying. They’re not doing all of that.”

“And I’m looking around and they are always posting s@#t–putting up, putting up, putting up.” At this point she began imitating a frantic teacher putting up student work around the room.

And then she remembered. “Plus you know what? Every time a student does work, we have a thing where you…okay say the student does a drawing and you put up the drawing, you have to have a rubric for the drawing. “You’ve gotta have a task, the rubric, the standard and then every single drawing has to have a Post-it—she leaned forward to enumerate with her fingers for emphasis.—what they did right, what’s the next step. That’s art.”

She listed even more with her fingers, “Social studies, math, science, ELA. Your’re talking about 5 subjects and 30 kids—I’m lucky I got 28 this year—but 30 kids in your class and every single thing they do you have to do that. Every single thing they’re doing?”

She rested in her chair and exhaled. “These teachers are in here lying.”

“Can you imagine that?” The teacher moved her hands feverishly to imitate the gesture of dispensing materials as she exclaimed, “Post-it! They just did the math. Post-it! Post-it! Okay. Post! Okay. Here’s the rubric.”

“Can you imagine that?” She continued. “Not to mention, you have the new [vendor name deleted] system—which calls you to break up into table groups, then you have the guided reading –which calls you to break up into groups and take notes on that, oh and take notes on your [vendor name deleted], then you have your RTIs—take notes on them and put them into groups, then you have your math groups—break them up and you write notes on them, then you have your RTI math groups and you take notes on them. All these groups and you take notes, plus….”

She paused then leaned in, exhaled again and continued “They’re lying. They’re not doing all of this.”

“And whoever thought ‘Wow! They don’t have enough to do. Let’s make them take notes on every single thing they are doing,’—she said sarcastically –“they’ve never been in the classroom. And what they have contributed to is a bunch of manipulative, conniving, deceitful, wretched teachers.

“I know. I went off on a tangent. I just had to release that.”

After allowing the teacher to vent, I reflected and I wondered about the instructional culture at her school as her principal views it. Then I wondered what other leaders had this teacher at their school—effective and fed up.


Vantage Point or Confessions of a 21st Century Teacher

Last week I was called by one of my son’s teachers because she felt disrespected by him. Later that evening as he and I discussed the situation, in all of his 16-year old self-focused wisdom, he could not understand how simply expressing himself was him being disrespectful. Rather than beat him down into submission with my words, I stopped, took a deep breath and silently asked myself “how can I get him to see someone else’s point of view?” And then the answer came to me.

I asked him, “Did you ever see the movie Vantage Point?” He opened his mouth to respond, became silent instead, then laughed. I asked, “Why are you laughing?” He replied, “Because I know what you are going to say.” I continued, “So do you understand your teacher’s point of view?” After a brief “lessons learned” discussion, he empathized with his teacher and indicated that he would apologize to her the next day.

Life’s experiences always prepares us for the next opportunity to learn. The next day I was reminded of Vantage Point.

In preparation for an upcoming book, I was gathering qualitative data from a teacher about her classroom practices on close reading. A few minutes into our time together, it became apparent that she needed to clear her mental space in order to be fully present with me. We agreed to 10 minutes of “clearing.” Her venting created a number of insights for me, one being, I wonder how her administrators view this scenario?

With her permission, I’m sharing a Part 1 of her “space clearing” today and Part 2 next week because I want all of us to have the opportunity to reflect on a number of points she implied. As such, I challenge you to reflect with these questions after you read:

  1. Is there such an undercurrent at my school?
  2. If I say no, how can I be sure?
  3. If I say yes, what can I do about it?

As you read her thoughts, please note that she is an effective teacher who demonstrates consistent growth annually, and exceeds her targets. She’s skilled at engaging traditionally low performing students in critical thinking, and has the ability to excite students about learning. I note this because some of her comments are normally attributed to “excuse makers.” This teacher works until 9PM weekday evenings and on Sundays to prepare for her students. She is no excuse maker.

Now that we are clear about her work ethics, here are the confessions of a 21st century teacher.

“So we had this PD the other day and in this PD I was listening to these teachers talk about this new program we’re using.” She held up a teacher’s manual to show what the PD was about and continued. “That’s the book we’re using. So it’s a nice simple book, right? It doesn’t seem like too much; however, there’s another book we have to use with this.”

“With that being said, I’m listening to these teachers in the PD because they went to the workshop to get the,” using air quotes and a hint of sarcasm, “training.”  “And they’re like,

Oh, I was “trained,” again she emphasized with air quotes.

“You weren’t trained. What you got was an overview. You weren’t really “trained” [air quotes again] because I don’t know how people can go to a one-day training and now ‘I know it.’ No. You have an overview. See and that speaks volumes about these products that people are selling and pushing because” and she leaned in toward me, “if you spent X amount of time developing this  product how can a person can come into your PD and do it in a couple of hours?” She fanned the idea off and leaned back in her chair with her head turned to the side.

Then looking directly at me she exclaimed, “It’s a scam. It’s a scam!”

The teacher took a breath to continue. “Okay so with all of that being said, with [vendor product name deleted] like many other products they give you so much material  and that’s great. But these teachers were talking about,” as she transformed her voice to sound nasally to imitate her colleagues while enumerating on her fingers,

I um…well first I scaffold my lesson, then I give a question, and then the question I put it in a separate time of the day and later after lunch we come back to the question because that means we’re still talking about the book and then I give them a question at home. So that means even when they’re home, they’re still talking about the book. They’re very…”

Ms. 21st Century Teacher returned to her own voice saying, “I’m listening to all this talk and I’m like they are not doing all of this. There is no way in the world they are doing all of this with their kids. They are lying. Then I looked around and realized that both APs (Assistant Principals) were in the room.”  

She looked up seemingly re-enacting her Aha-moment for me and said, “Yep! They are putting on a show. Okay. Yeah. I get it.”

“Because I’m like at the end of the day, when do we do all this?  You pull them out of this group, and you pull them out for that group.” She characterized the pulling of students with her hands as she moved her body from side to side. “And you pull them out of this group and make them do this, and then you pull them out of that group and make them do that and you do this activity and you do that activity and then you do this activity and then you do this group activity.” She opened her arms as if to emphasize a whole group activity. “Then you do—you’re doing this every single day? Every single day? And when they [the students] do that state exam, they [the leaders] want to know can I ask your kid a question and that kid  responds to the question in a complete set of sentences? If not, you wasted time with all these other THINGS” [things emphasized].

“In my head I’m thinking why are they…but then another teacher and I were both like, ‘Im not doing all that’,” she remarked as she shook her head and slightly glided her eyes toward the top right-hand corner of her eyelids. “No one cares. No one cares when you are doing all these great things.”

“I’m just venting right now,” Ms. 21st Century Teacher sighed.

But as quickly as she took her break to indicate she was venting, she rolled out the accompanying thought with as much exacerbation as before her sigh asserting, “And the evidence and the proof of that is…” now imitating an administrator on her classroom intercom, …”Ms. 21st Century Teacher will you please come into my office?”

“Beep,” the teacher imitated the intercom in her room. “Okay, I’m coming to your office.” She replied in a pollyannaish manner.

She shuffled then gathered a host of loose papers on a student’s desk where she sat and began to point to them while looking over her glasses as if she were the administrator and I was the teacher. She continued with her issue. “And then when you get to the office,” again imitating an administrator she declared, “Your scores for your students on the state exam are…” Ms. 21st Century Teacher paused as if to imply that the scores were all that was cared about. Then she tossed the papers to the side.

“No one talks to you about what you have them doing. No one talks to you about whether or not you’re doing a think-pair-share. No one talks to me about the fact that I have them using creative transitional words, that I have them learning how to do a grabber sentence, that I’m putting them…um…having them do a 5 paragraph essay in the third grade. Nobody cares about that.” She leaned over to the side, slammed her hands on the desk, grabbed the pieces of paper she previously threw down and asked while being back in character as the administrator, “What’s your state exam results?”  

The papers landed once more on the desk scattered by her frustration.

The venting progressed. “Nobody cares what I’m doing with my kids in Social Studies, nobody cares that my kids can say ‘I know who the prime minister of England is. I know how many countries there are in Africa. I know Africa is the second largest…’ They don’t care that the kids have this new body of knowledge. No one cares!”

“I’m saying all of that to say this. When you have teachers saying all of this bull@*%# about ‘I do this with my students…’ [breath.] Uhg!”

She paused as if she were complete. Then she continued.