Meeting Common Core challenges

With the Common Core standards making their way into classrooms, we know you are rethinking how you spend your instructional time. The question on many teachers’ minds: How can we bring the standards to life in the classroom and in our districts? In the spring, the Center for Teaching Quality in North Carolina hosted three webinars on this subject, and teachers shared their philosophies. Some examples are featured here:

• A high school history teacher in North Carolina offers his students an array of digital and print resources, including online magazines, newspapers and blogs, to challenge their historical interpretation of events.

• Middle school teachers in Nevada are integrating science and writing standards with specially designed writing prompts.

• A Florida fifth-grade teacher urges her students to share funny stories, using laughter as a tool for enhancing learning.

• Kentucky high school math teachers provide a full-time math coach for students who need extra help.

• A North Carolina elementary-level teacher gives her students an interest survey at the beginning of each school year to guide them to books they enjoy at appropriate reading levels.

• An Iowa high school English teacher advises using more accessible texts to teach more difficult skills such as analysis. This might include a book students already have read or a short or layered text.

The key themes that emerged during the sessions were:

• Teaching through inquiry and questioning

• Cultivating authentic learning

• Focusing on communication

• Attending to the whole learner

• Teaching the reader, not the text

• Integrating disciplines to deepen learning

• Collaborating within and beyond the classroom

• Creating the time and space necessary for success

Read more about some of these ideas by accessing these instructional resources:

• Reading Log at

• VoiceThread: A cloud-based verbal communication tool at

• Learning to Think with Dry Erase Ink:

Recommended professional readings:

• Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie E. Westphal

• Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

• The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

• The Laughing Classroom: Everyone’s Guide to Teaching with Humor and Play by Diane Loomans

Visit for more information about classroom innovation.


Know your Weingarten rights

Thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court protected unionized workers’ rights to due process during questioning by a supervisor. The case, NLRB v. J. Weingarten, has come to define what’s known as your Weingarten rights. If you are asked to attend a meeting with your principal or supervisor for an unspecified reason, you should exercise these rights.

First, ask the principal or supervisor to clarify the reason for the meeting. You cannot refuse to attend a meeting called by your principal-to do so would be insubordination. But, if the meeting becomes disciplinary in nature, you are entitled to CEA representation upon your request. (Your principal does not have to tell you this.)

The choice of representative is up to you. You can request an FR from your building or a staff consultant from CEA. This is your right as a dues-paying CEA member. Your administrator should never arrange for representation on your behalf.

Once you request representation, the administrator is obligated to arrange the meeting at a time when the representative can attend. Section 404.01 of the Master Agreement provides members with a maximum of five school days to reschedule the meeting to accommodate this representative.

CEA suggests representation any time the purpose of the meeting is one of the following:

  • Any type of disciplinary action
  • Investigation meeting
  • Reprimand
  • Infraction of a work rule or board policy
  • Questions concerning request or use of leave (personal or sick)
  • Allegations of abuse
  • Parental, student or community complaint

If you have further questions, call CEA at 253-4731.

No first Thursdays

We know that school schedules can be tricky. But be aware: No parent-teacher conferences or any other events that require the majority of the school staff should be scheduled after school on first Thursday of any month. This is because Association business occurs chiefly on Thursdays. We have negotiated the right for CEA representatives to take care of Association business. Please let CEA know if this bargained right is being violated.