COMMON CORE: Pooh's Little Instruction Book for Teachers


If possible, try to find a way to write your Common Core Lesson Plans that doesn't involve going bump, bump, bump, on the back of your head. Or send a knife into your heart.

When waking in the morning, if your first thought is, "I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" it's unlikely you'll find it in your Plan Book.

The most important clue to successful Lesson Plans is Never Take Them Too Seriously — leave room for excitement.

Remember: The Bird in the Window only happens for teachers able to take advantage of it.

The trick to succeeding in the classroom is to recognize the moment when you need to let those Plans drop. And smile when it happens.

Never write in your Plans that you're going to practice a special Outdoor Song which Has To Be Sung In the Snow.

It's important to sing these songs. Just don't issue warnings in your Planbook.

When you've been following your Lesson Plan for miles, and you suddenly stop for breath and a student says, "Do you want to hear why the chicken crossed the road?" then you know it's a Friendly Day.

If you plant an acorn, it will grow up into an oaktree. But it doesn't follow that writing "The students will. . ." in your Planbook means they will grow into 21st Century Workers.

If you want to make your Lesson Plan more hummy, add a few chicken riddles. Or Elephant Jokes.

Sometimes a Lesson Plan is a Lesson Plan, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It depends on whether you're on top of it or underneath it.

Don't underestimate the value of Planning Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things in the room and humming along.

If the Lesson Plan was fine today, it doesn't mean anything. It may hail a good deal tomorrow--blizzards and whatnot.


Something about the way Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics say "Good Morning" tends to leave one's ears full of sand.

When speaking to an Evaluator-Carrying-Rubrics of Very Little Brain, remember that talk of pedagogy will put her on edge.

Try not to fall asleep during professional development presentations. It annoys Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics who consider themselves Very Important People.

When conversing with Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics, remember that they think it is rather beneath their dignity to talk of Teachable Moments or even Why the chicken crossed the road.

You may think Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics don't have brains. In fact, it is very likely they are part of a Mind Control Experiment being conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

If the Evaluator-Carrying-Rubrics you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that she is waiting for an important signal from Bill Gates.

If the Evaluator-Carrying-Rubrics asks you the source of a particular item in your Lesson Plan, and you don't know, it's safer say, "I got it out of Danielson" than to refer to Piaget or Dewey. Or Abbie Hoffman.

Eeyore was likely talking about Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics when he said, "We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."


It's always useful to know where a student is, whether you want him there or whether you don't.

Don't forget that a kid isn't a Consumer or a Client or even a 21st Century Worker. He is likely someone who can be cheered by a balloon--or a chicken riddle.

Just because a student is obnoxious, it doesn't mean he doesn't need kindness. . . just as much as the sweet teacher-pleasers.

When your off-the-grid students are wedged in gloom, try reading aloud--choose a book off the Common Core grid.


January 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM

By: Bob Busch


Tough Tight and Together.

On a September day a while back a meeting was held at the Washington Library.

For the first time all the librarians employed by the City of Chicago met

in one place for an in service meeting.

School librarians, like me, and Public librarians listened to presentations,

talked to each other and we even had a Librarians scavenger hunt.

The driving force behind this was Mary Dempsey head of Chicago’s Public

Libraries. She was a superb leader who knew her people and her job.

Many School Librarians had a sort of inferiority complex because

most of us did not have ALA certification. While the Public Librarians

did not have teaching certificates .Ms Dempsey would have none of that.

She told everybody we were all professionals .She is the reason we have

such a truly great library system today. Her appointment was one of the

few our former mayor made that was not political.

Mayor Emanuel better realize the people she hired are not political

hacks. The city loves them and their libraries he would be real smart

to back off now, he cannot win this one.

January 25, 2012 at 11:37 AM

By: Bob Busch

Mary Dempsey, Libraries

Figures. Yesterday I wrote about Mary Dempsey and how her leadership built the best, most accessible Public Library System in the country.

I am sad to read she has resigned today: She had the respect of everyone who knew her and will be missed. Good luck Mary.

January 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM

By: Laura H. Chapman

Lesson plans, rubrics, and checklists

This essay is wonderful...Love the Evaluators-Carrying-Rubrics job title. My professional association is addicted to rubrics, even has rubric evaluation form to determine if a person deserves a one of a kind life-time achievement award.

I am recovering from a "close reading" of the Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards (8-25-2011 version). The Standards were marketed as NOT dictating how to teach. Wrong of course, but the bait and switch marketing strategy continues, here with authors David Coleman and Susan Pimental, asserting that the seventeen-pages of criteria for publishers' (sic) really function as guidelines and are "not meant to dictate classroom practice but rather to help ensure that teachers receive effective tools." With perfected circular reasoning, effective tools are those meeting the criteria cum guidelines. This document not only tells publishers what they must do but also what publishers must instruct teachers to do, from asking "High-Quality Text-Dependent Questions," to offering "Extensive Practice with Short, Focused Research Projects," to "Increasing Focus on Argument and Informative Writing." Judging from all of the imperatives in this document, it is sure to become a 230 item checklist for authors, publishers, teachers, schools, and districts. Conform or else, again. Bill Gates is sure to pay for the checklist version so more data can be crunched, stored, retrieved, and treated as if evidence of all things right and wrong in education.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 4 =