This last week I remembered I have a math series, because I had to haul it down from its dusty position above my cabinets. The safety inspector was coming to town, and the two feet between the top of my cabinets and the ceiling is supposed to be clear. (Only twenty-five perfect of my walls should be covered too. Yeah, crazy. I left that one alone.) Needless to say, the safety inspector is gone and I was given permission to return my neglected published materials back where they belong - out of my way.
That math series was purchased before Common Core Math Standards came along. New standards obviously brought a need for updated materials. My district chose not to buy us a new math series. I'm unsure if that decision was purely financial or whether there was a pedagogical influence as well. Either way, three years ago we were thrown into a phase of making highly informed interpretations of standards. Writing units and developing lessons became a priority for grade level teams. Digging into the standards and understanding every concept became a necessity. Searching for sound tasks, reading professional books, and collaborating became essential. Even though the ground work was laid three years ago, we've continued to revise units based on our continually evolving understanding of the standards and our mathematicians. Our district opened the door for teachers to lead the way.
There's been a bit of murmuring at times about this whole process. It takes time and commitment to do what we've done. Some have wished the district would have supplied us with a complete math curriculum magically aligned to the Common Core. I've chosen to keep my mouth shut during these conversations, because that's the last thing I would wish for. I didn't want someone else leading me - telling me what my math units should look like. I rarely have faith and trust in the faceless publisher. I wanted to find out for myself what works and doesn't work; what I'm supposed to teach and how to teach it. This way takes more work, effort, and time and it can be a little messy, but it's so worth it. I know I'm a better math teacher, and I'd like to think my students are better mathematicians too, which is why being a teacher leader is thoroughly worth the hassle.