Hi! Happy Friday!
On August 7th I’ll begin my 8th year as a high school English teacher (!) If you’re interested, let me know and I can do a little post on my teaching journey (NH, NY, MA). I’m getting really excited to decorate my classroom to make the space welcoming and ready for a new group of kiddies!
I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about writing a shared ELA curriculum and what I’m still learning. I hope it’s helpful!
What I’ve Learned:
It is really, really hard to do well.
Though we all want our students to grow, be successful, and be inspired, we all have varying visions of how to do that best. And that makes sense! Teachers aren’t robots and neither are classes of high schoolers. Writing a curriculum that is culturally responsive, rigorous, riveting, and scaffolded to reach all types of learners is no joke. Any and all suggestions are welcome, always!
Ask for help, but know what your end goal is beforehand.
Collaboration is so huge with teaching, but I think the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” is a real thing when it comes to sitting down and crafting curriculum. Knowing what your end of unit goal is and having confidence in that will help you ask the right questions when you’re feeling stuck getting students there.
Leverage the strengths of people around you.
Need to create text sets about power that include Shakespeare but the last time you read him was in college? Totally fine! Seek out the nerdiness of others! English teachers love sharing their love of literature probably more than anything else. Also, there’s something naturally endearing and equalizing when we ask others for help, whether we’re in year 1 or year 20.
What I’m Still Learning
You can’t please everyone, and it’s okay.
I’ve learned that no matter how well written a curriculum is, teachers will probably change a decent amount of it once it’s in their hands. I’ve done that myself every year I’ve been a teacher. It’s normal and it’s nothing personal against the person who wrote it. I’m definitely working through this one the most.
There is no perfect curriculum–don’t get too attached to it.
I’ve taught at two founding schools in their infancy, and haven’t taught the same curriculum two years in a row in forever. While I like that element of change and evolution and get really excited to be along for the ride, it has its challenges. I’m learning how to balance out the amount of time, energy, and detail I’m putting into curriculum knowing that teachers will adapt a significant amount of it to their own personalities and groups of students. Besides, next year there’s a solid chance the course will change again. At least there’s no way to ever get bored!
Create as many opportunities for structured student collaboration as possible. How nerdy and cute my 9th graders preparing debate rebuttals?
I’d love to hear what your insights are about curriculum writing! As always, thank you so much for reading! Have a restful weekend.