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How teachers can improve their Common Core knowledge over summer break
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2014 10:56 AM

Many states have fully implemented the Common Core State Standards, but that doesn't mean teachers fully grasp the Standard's details. In fact, numerous surveys have shown that teachers feel they haven't been properly trained to use the Common Core. Summer break is a time educators can use to boost their knowledge of the Standards, as they may not be teaching classes right now. By gaining a more solid knowledge of the Common Core, teachers will be able to design aligned lessons more easily. Fortunately, they can find the time and resources to study. If you're a teacher, check out these tips to expand your knowledge of the CCSS:

Read the Standards
Teachers, and anyone else who is interested, can visit the Common Core website. This space includes access to the actual Standards as well as overviews on various components of the CCSS. For instance, you can view the frequently asked questions or explore math Standards in depth. Taking time out over the summer to actually go over the Common Core, as described by its creators, will help you expand your CCSS knowledge.

Take classes
Many teachers went to college for education before the Common Core was introduced. Students who attend college now will learn about the Standards, a resource current educators may not have. Fortunately, you don't have to get another degree to stay up to date on the Standards - you can take a single class or two. Take a look at courses offered by a local community college and see if any cover Common Core topics. If you find an interesting course, consider taking it during the summer semester. Getting a formal introduction to the Standards can give you a foundational knowledge on which to build. 

Talk to the school where you teach and see if they offer any compensation for taking courses. Your school might help you cover the cost as you're taking the class for work. If not, going to summer school is still beneficial. 

Stay informed
Because you don't have to leap out of bed every morning to get to school, you can devote a little extra time to following the Common Core in the news. While much of the information you glean will be about states that have implemented the Standards, you can learn about updates in testing policies and hear what experts have to say. As always, follow the news with caution, sticking to credible sources.

Ask for additional training
Your state, district or school may have given you some manner of training prior to or during the implementation of the Standards. While this information helped you initially, you can always learn more. Talk to your school and see if it will offer additional training programs for you and other teachers. Suggest that experts come in once a week during summer to provide support for teachers who would like it. You may have to be persistent when asking for such a service, so be ready to ask repeatedly. 

Check out online sources
Because the Standards are such a huge part of education right now, numerous groups and organizations have provided resources online. Some sites host webinars on the subject while others are a forum where educators can discuss their experiences and ask questions. Plug into these sites and regularly make use of their resources.

Connect with other teachers
Whether you chat on forums or meet up with teachers working at your school, having a group of fellow educators at your disposal is a huge advantage. You might find that one teacher can answer a question you have and you can, in turn, do the same for him or her. Consider forming a group in your community and meeting regularly over the summer. Swap Common Core resources and discuss topics you all feel are relevant.