Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bumpy Road

We are starting the process of creating a home grown curriculum at my school. For years, we had a curriculum, but it was just a document that was mostly borrowed from another district. The fact that we did this is material for a separate post, I suspect, but I would like to focus on the steps we are working through as a staff to begin to create a document that is home grown.

Luckily, our principal signed us up for a new program in New Jersey called the CAR (Connected Action Roadmap) Pilot. This program, created by the department of education, is program that gets schools to maximize the work of their PLCs. After attending a workshop held by the department, the group of us went back to our school to begin to explain how the staff is going to begin our journey down the path of creating our home grown curriculum.

As we presented to the group, we explained the road map we were going to follow. As usually happens, we immediately began to face: "Why do we have to do this? How can I do this? I am not a curriculum person. Can't we just pay someone to do this?"

It became quickly apparent to the presenting group, we had our work cut out for us. See, the principal was using the feedback from a survey sent to the staff. The leading response was work on our curriculum, so we had feedback to help guide us toward the most urgent problem of the curriculum. Regardless of the feedback, we are still facing an uphill battle. There appears to be three groups:

The first group is the group that feels this is a waste of time. They do not see the need for doing this work. They are very happy with the way things are. How are we handling this group? By providing them with the big picture overview of our journey. We are giving them "pictures" of what the final product will look like. We are hoping this will help fill in the gaps they might have and get them motivated to work.

The second group is the indifferent group. This group is doing the work, but they are not really enthused about getting their hands dirty because they do not think they are qualified to do curriculum work. They would be okay if this initiative just died like so many others in education. How are we working with this group? First, by showing them they know more than they realize. We are taking small steps through each standard to guide them through the curriculum work.

The third group is the one that gets it. They have the big picture view and are comfortable with the standards and how important our curriculum is. How are we helping this group? Honestly, just by making sure they have the proper resources and staying out of their way. We are hoping this group will continue the dialogue with some of their colleagues from the other groups.

Honestly, we face these same situations working with our students. We have groups at different levels, and they need to be challenged at that appropriate level. The same steps need to be followed when we are implementing a new way of doing things with our staff. These adult learners are going to need the same patience, time and resources as the students in our classrooms. I think many times people assume that adults learn things a lot quicker than kids, but my experience tells me that assumption is incorrect.

Needless to say, we are moving along this journey as an entire staff. We will continue to provide the differentiated approaches to guiding the groups through this journey. We will have a lot of bumps along the way, but it is a journey we will face together.

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