This past year I had the opportunity to write my own tech curriculum. I was starting at a new school with a new set of students and two labs I’d never taught in before. It was a shot in the dark.
I used the ISTE NETS framework to build the curriculum, mapping out a schedule of when I would teach what and which skills were at what level for each grade, but I had no idea where my students were on that map.
Now that a year has passed, I am scrapping nearly the entire thing and rebuilding it based on what I now know about my students, what I have learned over the course of the school year about teaching and learning as well as what I have observed as successful and what has failed in how I teach and design lessons and units.
My curriculum next year will be twice as good as this year’s, I’m certain.
So I struggle with the idea of canned curricula, books and series put out by publishing companies and labeled as ‘curriculum.’
No wonder many teachers feel like robots, delivering what the teacher’s guide says is the objective for the day. I’m not even sure I know any teachers in Philadelphia who have played a part in writing the curriculum they teach. Why are we being told by someone outside of our school or community tell us what our kids need to know?
This doesn’t mean that teaching should be anarchy, with each school doing whatever they want whenever they want. We still need to have an agreed upon idea of what we (meaning teachers as a whole across the nation/world) think our students should know. The issue is figuring out how to get there. To me, that is the magic of writing a curriculum that meets the needs of your students. It is not a fixed document, it is fluid and can be revised. It is not paired to a textbook or a reading series. It is a loose framework that acts as a map to help us navigate through the school year and move our students toward the larger essential questions and understandings that we want them to have.
So please, trust us. Know that we are professionals whose expertise is children. Let us use what we know about our students and about teaching and learning to craft a curriculum together that best meets the needs of our community. Let us have input into the document. Foster conversations across grade levels about skills and concepts students need to have or understand to be successful. Stop calling purchased reading series and social studies textbooks ‘curricula.’
Trust us, please.