While working on my article "The California Standards for Student Learners" I have been pondering the true role of the teacher in the learning process.  California has 6 main standards for teachers, with 32 elements under them, and no standards, as far as I can discern, for student learners.  Here are the 6 standards:

One: Engaging and supporting all students in learning
Two: Creating and maintaining effective environments for learning
Three: Understanding and organizing subject matter for student learning
Four:  Planning instruction and designing learning experiences for all students
Five:  Assessing student learning
Six:  Developing as a professional educator

Young teachers spend significant time on these standards in their teacher training programs at the university and also in their induction programs, which, in California, are two years in length.  In this program, known as BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment), teachers perform a number of exercises linked to these standards.  Most districts currently use these standards at least as part of the evaluation of teachers, both new and veteran.  A careful look at these standards suggests the very active role expected of a teacher in his classroom.  By implication, the role of the student is much more passive.  Education is something done to him.

As a result of the adoption of the new Common Core Standards, I am gradually changing my sense of what the true role of the teacher is in the learning process.  The true role of the teacher is to connect writers with readers and to support this silent communication.  Writers, therefore, assume the major role in standards one and three.  The teacher still maintains the major role in standards two, four, five and six.

If the state adopted a corresponding set of standards for student learners, this schema may be highly effective.  Below are the major standards for student learners:

One: I am responsible for my own education
Two: I am responsible for my own behavior in class
Three:  I am responsible for my own engagement during each lesson
Four: I understand that a varying percentage of my work will take place outside of class
Five:  I understand that the academic world is a text-based world
Six:  I understand that the quality of the rest of my life is directly related to how much education I complete and how much I learn while in school

These 6 standards will also have specific elements under them, a further mirror of the teaching standards.  If teachers and students came together in the classroom with the same vision of their shared purpose, and writers assumed a more central role in engaging students and delivering content, the United States may once again be the instructional leader of the world.



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