In my career, I’ve taught anywhere between three different courses to eight within a single school-year. Most days I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water staying just one step ahead of my students. With so many standards to “cover,” I was wearing myself out and quite honestly I had no idea where my students were in their learning as I was busy looking ahead to the next standard we needed to cover. Does that sound familiar to you? While that exhaustion was there during my first several years of teaching, my last two years were completely the opposite. What if I told you that “less is more” can help you and your students? Here I’m going to share with you how you can dwindle down your standards from many to a few that mean less overall work for you and more in-depth learning for your students.

In this episode, Khristen discusses:

  • Essential Standards, Power Standards, Big Rocks (“eduspeak”)
  • Determining “Nice to know” from “need to know”
  • What this looks like in your CTE classroom

Essential Standards, Power Standards, Big Rocks (“eduspeak”)

Education buzzword alert! We’re going to talk about “essential standards,” “power standards,” or “big rocks” today and what they mean for you and CTE. If your school or district are professional learning community focused or PLC’s, then you may have heard these terms before. There is plenty of research from Marzano, DuFour, Hattie, and Ainsworth that tell us that if teachers can prioritize standards, and teach the most important ones more in-depth, that our students will be more successful in learning all the content.

Determining “Nice to know” from “need to know”

A few summers ago, I was able to go to a teaching workshop where I learned about Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. In case you aren’t familiar with those manufacturing theories, they are both about continuous improvement and eliminating unnecessary waste. Think Toyota or Ford assembly lines. Ironically, at the same time, I was commuting each day back and forth to the training, I was listening to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. As I was learning and listening, I found a way to determine which of my standards had the highest priority. Once I prioritized, I put all my focus into teaching just those standards.

What this looks like in your CTE classroom

After you have determined your 8-10 “need to knows” per class, per semester, you will need to create “I can” statements. “I can” statements are ways that students will know that that have met the standards. This will help with your unit and lesson planning as well as assessments for proficiency. 

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