Time To Know
By Dr. Yosi Ben-Dov
January is typically the time to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the New Year. While many of us may aim to eat better and exercise more often, as educators we should also take this opportunity to review our professional goals. Considering our planning typically revolves around the school calendar, an ideal resolution is to begin planning for the next school year, especially in the context of preparing for anticipated changes.
With implementation happening next year, schools need to gear up for the Common Core Standards. If you haven’t already, set a goal to begin discussing the impact on curriculum and pedagogy with your staff. Focus on upgrading your instructional resources to align to the Common Core. Collaborate with teacher groups to review and update favorite lessons plans to meet the new standards, and showcase best practices at the next in-service. If you’re ready when the Common Core takes effect, your school will be prepared for a smooth transition with fewer disruptions.
Make sure that you have technology programs to support the Common Core given that the tests will be electronically delivered. Take the time to consider what partners you want to work with and what programs you plan to implement when school begins in September.
The next step is to secure funding for the project(s) you’re planning. Set a goal of identifying three potential avenues to gain the funding you need. There are plenty of resources for finding grants that apply to your project, from foundations and private grants to federal grants. Some of this information can be found on our Web site. There are also a number of grant databases you can search, plus a list of potential foundations that can support your program.
As you develop implementation plans, begin working with parents in your community to gain their support. While many new initiatives require additional resources, remember that parents have a strong incentive to help make sure their children succeed in the classroom. Get them involved in the school — increase the frequency of your outreach, and work to mobilize them to support your initiatives.
Consider that some parents’ companies may offer funding options they can apply for, or, for those in leadership positions, shepherd requests through the approval process. Others may be willing to help with fund drives and events. While a bake sale at a school technology showcase or science fair may not net a lot of cash for your new initiative, visibility in the school community can lead to securing a new funding source. A group is more likely to succeed than an individual, so start building your community.
As the old saw goes, change is a constant. While we have seen significant transformation in the education world and can expect much more in the coming year, preparing for the Common Core Standards will help you and your colleagues accept the changes more easily, get up to speed sooner, and make needed adjustments faster. As we’re accustomed to hearing from our favorite sports team or perhaps even our competitive students, bring it on! #
Dr. Yosi Ben-Dov is the CEO of Time To Know, an online platform that improves teaching quality and engages students, leading to better test scores and a deeper understanding of concepts.