In response to the August 1, 2013 post, “What Do You Really Think – Part 2,” a reader asks:
Who qualifies as a “curriculum expert” to pick and choose educational materials for a particular subject? What qualities would you expect those people to have?
SC Response Those are some good questions. From a practitioner’s standpoint, a minimum requirement would be to possess current content knowledge. That knocks out 99% of laypeople and probably 50% of administrators. And I am a perfect example of the administrator group. I taught a variety of secondary math subjects in the early 90’s. Then I moved into campus / district leadership. As good (or bad) as I was in the early 90’s, my content knowledge is no longer current. I just have enough self-confidence to admit it.
Next, you would need complete familiarity with current standards. The standards are evolving constantly. Just being AWARE of the standards three iterations ago, from a decision-making standpoint, makes you a liability.
Then, you would need a working understanding of valid assessment.
I would top that off with an above average capacity for understanding logistics in dynamic environments. Because this is the person who is creating an instructional sequence and delivery plan in an environment of unreasonable mandates, inflexible agendas, competing ideologies and emotions driven opinions.
Finally, this person would need to work daily to get better at all of the above. That is my working definition of the “curriculum expert.” This is the person(s) I rely on to develop the playbook for my instructional team. Then my job is to ensure that my teachers run the play and support them (the teachers) in getting ever better at delivery and execution.
One final note: I constantly see these very people (the curriculum experts) hard at work at the Education Service Centers and in school districts. In our profession, we all think that we have it tough, but right now our curriculum developers are the real unsung heroes in education. They have always been universally underappreciated, because when all else fails blame the curriculum. But as of recently, they are being publically lambasted and accused of literally being un-American. This is a shameful and unwarranted situation. And when we don’t stand up for our support staff, we can’t complain when they quit supporting us.
Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…
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