Elizabeth Coyner, Executive Director
I recently attended a middle school parent meeting. Their guest speaker that evening was Lisa Hatamoto, founder of Inspiring Student Success (www.InspiringStudentSuccess.com).
Here is the story Lisa shared. Twelve years ago Lisa’s daughter was enrolled in an elementary school that practiced Common Core-like standards. She took one look at the group learning and problem based lessons taking place in the classroom that were so different from her own experience as a student and her engineering training, and decided that Common Core could not work. How were social dynamics going to help my daughter excel in life? Why were the teachers wasting time in the classroom with games? she wondered. True to the Asian parent stereotype, Lisa had extremely high academic standards for her daughter and was determined that her daughter would be the best in her class in all areas, especially in mathematics. Lisa started tutoring her daughter after school. They did workbooks and flashcards, and, Lisa tried everything she could to pressure her to do more math. Her daughter became angry and exhausted from Lisa’s attempts to force her to do math. Lisa felt like a horrible parent and gave up on the pressure tactics.
As part of the school’s requirements, Lisa had to volunteer in her daughter’s math classroom. She learned about the approaches and techniques in the curriculum… and slowly Lisa started integrating them into her daughter’s math time at home. Using these techniques at school and at home helped Lisa’s daughter be successful and gain a positive attitude toward math and learning.
Lisa knows first hand what it is like to be parent who does not know what is happening with the new approach in the classroom or whether it even works. From her time in her daughter’s classroom though, it became clear to Lisa that the new approaches do work. Lisa understands how beneficial it will be to give our children access to the kind of educational standards they truly need in order to succeed in school and life.
Aware of the challenges that schools and teachers are facing when it comes to integrating Common Core into the curriculum Lisa now works as a liaison between schools who are implementing Common Core curriculum and the parents that may or may not yet support or understand these efforts. Does your community have a parent or set of parents who can share an appreciation of the new approach with other parents who may still be frustrated? Is so, invite them to share with the other parents at a parent meeting. If you have not found those parents yet, consider taking a proactive approach. Invite parents, colleagues, administrators and school board members into your classroom so they can see first hand the benefits of being in a rich student-centered problem-based classroom. When the parents are supporting your efforts their students will learn more.