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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Curriculum Collaboration: Ideas for Betterment

There's been a number of curriculum snafus in the past year, and each one has been upsetting. None of the people involved are not without merit, good ideas, commitment, or skill, but the errors mostly lie in how the people come together to develop good collaboration over time.

As I smart from yesterday's snafu related to curriculum, I am thinking of ideas for betterment. Here are ideas I have, and I welcome your thoughts on these ideas.

Information Share
Currently one of the biggest issues with regard to curriculum is the lack of inclusive, transparent share. Information is not regularly shared and easily accessible. For example, earlier in the year, one problem was that everyone got together for a meeting, and trouble began when it became clear that the objectives were misunderstood. Due to the fact that there was no clear agenda or expectations, everyone, at one point, realized that they were approaching the task with a different set of protocols, expectations, and beliefs. In hindsight, this meeting would have been more profitable if it had begun with a review of the agenda, expectations, protocols, and beliefs. Hence, a lack of good information share with lead time created a problematic meeting.

The same has been true with other initiatives. In the best of circumstances, I believe that good communication and information share amongst all stakeholders including educators, students, families, citizens, and administrators includes the following:
  • Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly communication that includes updates about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in the future. In the best of circumstances these kinds of communication pieces are housed on an easy-to-access website, and invite voice, question, and spread the good news. For example good curriculum share may be a monthly newsletter with the following items:
    • Curriculum Highlights: Words and images that describe events that have happened that significantly impacted children.
    • Curriculum Quandary: Questions and inquiry related to current curriculum. For example, one of my BIG questions is What strategies best help math learners who are one to two years behind grade-level standards? A question like that could be posed and commentary invited via Padlet, a Google classroom discussion, or Twitter-like feed.
    • Minutes from Curriculum Leader Meetings: Currently curriculum leaders meet often, but the only way that educators learn of what is discussed is through hallway banter or hearsay--it would be much more meaningful if the minutes from those meetings were shared with all. 
    • Professional Learning and Teaching Links: A list of links to support educators' professional learning and teaching.
  • Curriculum Websites that are easily accessible, well organized, up-to-date, and helpful with regard to expectations.
  • Lead Time for new initiative planning, research, and practice.
  • Inclusive Curriculum Development that seeks the voice and choice of all educators involved in teaching that curriculum. Technology affords us many creative ways to co-develop curriculum today in ways that foster distributive leadership and build educators' capacity for leading their profession and modeling that leadership with children.
  • Materials Purchasing Support: It could be that there is a central, online place for purchasing that supports educators' acquisition of needed supplies for expected teaching materials.
Curriculum Development
Good curriculum evolves, and profits from the design process. So it's essential that good curriculum begins with the end in mind including essential questions, desired results, and a way to measure those results that's meaningful and accurate. Then a path is co-created with the educators who are teaching the curriculum. There needs to be stopping points along the way to assess, reflect, and revise. At the end point of any curriculum unit, there should be an open, transparent evaluation, and that evaluation should be shared with all stakeholders in an open, transparent way so that they can use the information to further develop the curriculum for later use. This kind of open, inclusive, transparent process mirrors what it means to learn, and when educators are fully involved in this process they are able to put a similar process in place as children work together to forward their own project/problem based learning.

Respectful, Inclusive Process
There should be modern day protocols that lead our curriculum development and share. Everyone who works with the curriculum should understand the research, philosophy, rationale, and protocols that lead this work. There should be no need for confusion here, and the process should be inclusively created. I can imagine protocols to include the following:
  • All stakeholders' ideas are welcome, and the best ways to share those ideas include the following . . . .(this share would probably differ from place to place, person to person)
  • Ideas and questions will receive a response in a timely manner.
  • The curriculum belongs to all stakeholders and all members of the learning community are invited to take part in this process. Every effort will be made to make this work accessible during school days and professional time.
  • Professionals need to develop their learning is respected and supported, regular share and opportunities to do that will be encouraged.
  • Goal setting is the work of all members of the learning community. Processes are put in place to reflect this essential work with regard to good teaching and learning, and ultimately and the goals created do reflect the voices of all.
There's always room to better what we do. Challenges with regard to curriculum development open the door to betterment. These are a few of my ideas, and I am curious about what your ideas are when it comes to curriculum collaboration and development. Thanks for any share you may be willing to provide.