30 Oct Learning From One Another At The Regional Workshop in Atlanta
By Anna Murphy, Rubicon International
We are excited to have a diverse group of educators join us in Atlanta for the Regional Workshop. To jump start the workshop, a few of the schools and districts attending have shared some of the interesting things they are doing to support their curriculum development. If you have something you want to share prior to the workshop – email us!
Continuity in the Mapping Process
Lee Hark, Associate Head of School and Upper School, Durham Academy, NC
One of ways we’ve tried to push back against the natural resistance to this initiative is to change the rules of the game. We’ve decided that all of our maps have to be generated collaboratively. My insistence that “no one maps alone!” is, if not a rallying cry, then at least a widely recognizable refrain. For lots of reasons (architecture, geography, culture), meaningful, propulsive collaboration is hard for our faculty. Not surprisingly, we’ve run up against some confusion, inertia, and downright despair, but the process has also led to thoughtful, cross-divisional work in many disciplines. Just the other day at a local watering hole, I stumbled across a team of history teachers from three divisions, hard at work on writing their own standards! Their conversation was vigorous and impassioned. I could almost feel the student experience improving as they wrestled with their endeavor.
Something I’ve realized along the way is the need for very clear expectations and flexible, realistic goals. Some of the faculty want hard deadlines and firm consequences for “failing” to reach our goals, and others want to be left to their own devices. Neither approach works well with a faculty who are in very different places with this work, both individually and within departments. It’s fair to say that I was not as clear as I needed to be about what success would look like in year one, and in the years to come. I’m working to correct that.
Our work is bolstered by its alignment with our strategic plan, specifically that all students’ learning experience should be “cohesive, connected, and sequential” throughout their tenure at the school. This process is helping us develop that cohesion, as well as providing a framework for conversation and collaboration. We are struggling with a language and concepts that are foreign to most of us…and we are advancing together. I fully expect this to transform the learning environment of our school.
**One part of their successful implementation was an Essential Questions presentation the US Foreign Language Academic leader put together for a K-12 department meeting. You can find the presentation below or click here.
Setting the Stage for a Curriculum Initiative
Jean Levis, Curriculum Coordinator, Greenwood School, FL
After joining us at the Rubicon Leadership Institute planning curriculum writing goals, reviewing curriculum, and creating protocols to support her school’s process, Jean decided their first big step was to establish a curriculum committee. (This is a small team of four people who will help guide the process for introducing the curriculum initiative.) This team worked together to create goals and objectives as well as engaging activities to share with their entire curriculum writing team, which included all teachers. Read the whole blog here!
1. The Curriculum Quilt: Setting the Stage
During a staff meeting at the beginning of the year the Curriculum Committee kicked off with a short presentation introducing everyone’s new curriculum initiative.
2. Capturing the Curriculum: Faculty Feedback
The team at Greenwood purposefully built in “buy-in” opportunities as they had a whole school of teachers to get on board with the new curriculum priorities. As we all know, getting others excited and motivated to try something new can be challenging unless you clearly show them the significant value of that change.
Opening up the floor for feedback can be daunting, but when done in a constructive way feedback allows participants to share their opinions, both positive and critical. This can be an important step in getting staff on board with any new initiative.
3. Developing an Identity
Through this process Jean and the Curriculum Committee have created an identity for the initiative which give it some character (similar to another schools cohort called Next Chapter Ninjas).
4. Next Steps
Always look to the future! Having clear objectives helps promote buy-in by showing the longevity of the process. Long term thinking may initially take up more of your time. The addition of a committee, buy in meetings, and changes to the structure of how things are done will be well worth the extra time they take. Having the priorities for mapping established and actionable next steps will ensure Greenwood’s curriculum process thrives.