Robin Galeaz is a committed and highly effective 7th grade math teacher at Manchester’s McLaughlin middle school. She has made great strides in implementing the new standards in her classroom and helping other teachers do the same. Here is what she told the Manchester Board of City Schools last night:
Mayor Gatsas and Board of School Committee members, Good Evening. My name is Robin Galeaz and I teach 7th grade math at McLaughlin Middle School.
I am here tonight to add a much needed show of support to the state education standards and the Manchester Curriculum Guides. I would like to focus my thoughts tonight on three areas: education standards, education curriculum and education instruction.
Education Standards are set at the state level. These standards are goals for each child to meet at a specific grade level. New Hampshire introduced Grade Level Expectations/Grade Span Expectations in the mid-2000s. These standards were accepted with little fanfare or dissension. In 2010, the state adopted new standards entitled, College and Career Ready Standards. Incorporated into these standards/goals are standards that over 40 other states have deemed important for the educational growth of our students. It has only been in recent months that these standards have been met with dissension.
When the State of NH adopted these new College and Career Ready Standards, they were strengthening the GLEs/GSEs that already existed. Standards were added, while others were moved from one grade to another grade to allow for a more focused approach, but no standards were discarded. By adopting these new standards the state has increased the expectations of students in terms of how they apply their knowledge and show mastery.
These standards also state new expectations of fluency at the lower grade levels, upper grade levels will be able to go further in depth in their topic areas.
Education Curriculum is set by the City of Manchester. This curriculum is our road map of how to meet the state standards. The curriculum includes resources, activities, and assessments. The City of Manchester has always had the best interest of its students at mind when developing curriculum by including its own educators in the development phases. I have had the opportunity to participate in these development phases by conducting textbook searches and developing our current Curriculum Planning Guides. Those of us who worked on these guides were constantly thinking about the students and educators of the district as we designed these documents. We were very excited to spend the time designing these documents and incorporate the new rigor that was being expected of both students and teachers.
Education Instruction is determined by the classroom teachers. We know how our students learn and what approaches will work best. With the implementation of these new standards, our classrooms will need to take on a new look to better serve our students.
My classroom will need to change to a more student focused space and away from the teacher being on the stage at all times. I have already created a number of hands-on labs and activities and I am working every day to find more ways to incorporate this model into my class. My classroom has taken on a new more active vibe and I am looking forward to seeing what my classroom looks like at the end of the year. There is a learning curve for everyone: I need to be more a facilitator and the students need to learn how to communicate their understanding. But I believe that these changes will make all of us stronger members of the classroom and education community.
Fourteen years ago, I made a commitment to the children of Manchester to provide them with the education they deserve. I try to live up to this commitment by using sound teaching practices and real-world situations to deliver the state standards and the Manchester curriculum. I believe these two documents have the best interest of our students in mind and I am asking for you to support the children of Manchester by approving the motion made tonight to accept the new state standards and the draft copies of the Curriculum Planning Guides.