NAD Standards: Empowering our Teachers
By Steve Baughman | Principal—Indiana Academy
N orth American Division (NAD) Curriculum Standards were developed with Adventist teachers in mind. I know this because I was a new teacher serving on the initial Language Arts Content Standards committee tasked with writing the secondary Language Arts Standards and developing the general format of what would later be adopted as the NAD Curriculum Standards. Those who have been privileged to serve on a Summer Committee know the amazing experience that one can have networking with other educators. My experience was no different, except that I was a novice teacher (having just completed my first year in the classroom) serving on a committee of exceptionally talented and experienced educators. To add to the unique experience, this was a Language Arts committee full of accomplished English teachers collectively seeking to simultaneously draft, format, and spellcheck a common document using a projector (cloud-based document sharing was still a couple of years into the future). Looking back, I am impressed at what our group accomplished, but it was not for lack of tense debate and multiple times starting from the beginning. Ultimately, the committee desired to draft a document that would succinctly and effectively serve as a tool for future teachers to use as a tool in their classrooms. And that is what is at the heart of the current conversation regarding Standards-Based Instruction (SBI)—equipping classroom teachers with the right tools to educate students in the most effective and efficient way to help them gain fundamental essentials.
Just as the NAD Content Standards are designed to empower teachers to decide for themselves the best way to teach their students, SBI is meant to leverage those Content Standards in a way that lets the expert in the classroom (the teacher) determine the best way to meet each student's growth and needs. Properly using SBI must start with a fundamental understanding of the standards themselves. The Secondary Content Standards were written with three broad themes:
Course Focus, Course Abilities, and Course Content. Essentially, the Course Focus and Course Abilities are written with the intent that a teacher will revisit each of these standards strands repeatedly over the course of a school year. Therefore, these essential elements must be repeatedly taught and practiced, regardless of the content itself. The third of the standards themes is Course Content, where content-specific items may be taught in standalone units or visited to varying degrees over the course of a school year. It is through teaching the Course Content standards that the broader Course Focus and Course Abilities standards are infused.
It was with concerted effort that the NAD Content Standards were written in a way that empowers and enables teachers to teach the standards through various pedagogical approaches rather than feeling chained to the sequential pages of a textbook. By focusing instruction on meeting the "big picture" standards of a content area, the classroom teacher can be creative in determining how to teach those standards to the students best. Also, when it is a common standard being taught, a teacher has a bit more leeway in differentiating instruction for the diverse learning needs of individual students.
While this approach to instruction may be a new concept to classroom teachers, a supportive and encouraging school administrator can help support teacher collaboration and creativity by enabling teachers to be the experts in the classroom and empowering those experts to creatively help students demonstrate mastery rather than rote routine.
Standards-based Learning NAD Principals’ Handbook Excerpt
Standards for student learning developed in subject areas under the direction of the NADOE. In developing these standards, resources such as the compendiums of current state/provincial standards and subject-area standards developed by professional organizations have been referenced..
Standards identify what a student should know and be able to do. Standards are to be used by the teacher in planning, implementing, and assessing the instructional program. Teachers are responsible to provide instruction that allows for all students to achieve the standards.
It is the principal’s responsibility to:
It was with concerted effort that the NAD Content Standards were written in a way that empowers and enables teachers to teach the standards through various pedagogical approaches rather than feeling chained to the sequential pages of a textbook.
Transitioning into Standards-Based Instruction (SBI) is a journey, in my case, a long one! I am entering my ninth year and still learning new and fascinating things about it. I am still in awe of what SBI is doing for my students and me as a teacher.
Making the Shift to Standards-Based Learning
Multi-grade Teacher—Downers Grove Adventist School
Standards-based teaching can be daunting, confusing, and overwhelming at first. Teachers need to know they can start by taking small steps, a few at a time. School administrators can encourage teachers to take these small steps while giving them time (and time off) to plan, collaborate, and reflect on Standards-Based Instruction and assessment. Teachers also need time to attend professional development in the form of:
Reading books on Standards-Based Learning
Watching Standards-Based Learning videos on Adventist Learning Community
Attending in-person or virtual workshops
Watching YouTube videos
Visiting other teachers who are doing Standards-Based Learning
Listening to podcasts on Standards-Based Learning
Joining Facebook groups
There are many resources for teachers on Standards-Based Learning. There are even more on Standards-Based Grading. I would recommend learning how to teach standards first to understand the mindset shift and why behind it before venturing into the Standards-Based Grading world. Again, small steps at a time! Because there are many resources and professional development, teachers would benefit tremendously from continuous training so they can keep asking questions, improving, collaborating, and practicing Standards-Based Instruction.
Standard-Based Learning is a huge shift in how students learn and, more importantly, in how teachers teach. Teachers also need time to learn new (or be reminded of) teaching best practices and instructional strategies to best serve their students. When best teaching practices take place, students experience meaningful, transformative, and lasting learning, which is the goal of Standards-Based Learning and Instruction.
For a successful, strong, and joyful transition to Standards-Based Instruction, teachers need encouragement, training, and time.