Recently, I was meeting with a school board to provide some training on the practices of effective school districts. I was pointing out the providing teachers with a common scope of sequence is a leadership responsibility, and to not do so is a failure of leadership. This board instantly understood the logic of this and one board member asked how her district was doing. I said that they were on the right track, but they have made a critical misstep that was hampering implementation. The error, they had four curriculum sources (or platforms). One for each content area.
The subsequent questions were as follows: 1. How did this happen? 2. Why is this a problem?
First, how did this happened. It happened because central office missed the critical distinction between theory and practice. In identifying the what curriculum source to use, each group of content specialist searched for the best solution for their content area. The four content areas found the four best solutions, for content areas in isolation.
Now, this leads to the second question, why is this problem? In this district, it is a problem because each content curriculum is accessed and used a different way. For the teacher that teaches just one content area, this is no problem at all. But if you are a teacher responsible for multiple content areas (every elementary teacher and a large percentage of the secondary teachers in this district) or a campus administrator responsible for supervising and supporting teachers from multiple content area (every administrator in the district), you are in trouble.
The district had inadvertently created the following problem… “Teachers we got you a different computer for each class that you teach. For math, we got you an Apple. For science, we got to a PC. For ELA, we got you a Chromebook. For social studies, we pulled an old Commodore 64 out of storage. Now learn to use all of them at an expert level. Why are you crying instead of thanking us?”
The answer, find a good curriculum source that spans all four content areas. In this case, good is better than great. And here is the dirty little truth that curriculum specialists just don’t understand. It does matter how good the curriculum is, it is the mastery of the teacher that makes the curriculum come alive. A great actor can read the back of a cereal box and make it riveting. A great teacher can change the world with a good curriculum.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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