Saturday, March 21, 2009

Can You Use Someone Else's Curriculum?

by Nicole Ouellette

My sister is an elementary school teacher. To me, that makes her an automatic saint, no documented miracles necessary.

She is also a young teacher in a small school and moves around grade wise: first rate last year, second grade this year, and third grade next year. I asked her about a recent teacher in-service day. "At least I got my math curriculum done," she said "you know, for the next teacher." And that got me to thinking about curriculums as usable documents.

Flashback to the experiences of my friends becoming teachers. Some entered classrooms where the retired teacher had left behind binders and file cabinets full of their "curriculum", presumably for them to use. Being young and overwhelmed, in the end most of it ended up being tossed out. On one hand, this is certainly a shame to have all that work gets thrown out but on the other, who wants to shift through someone else's organizational logic or stream of conscious thought? I certainly wouldn't.

To me the only way a curriculum is usable by more than one person is if it's very general and able to fit within a few typed pages. I would tend to look online for ideas for lesson plans but in general I want to plan on going to teach a concept myself. The fact that I would have to teach meteorology in April? No problem. The fact that I have to use what I think is your crappy lesson on clouds? Not so much.

(Come to think of it, all I wanted in the last school I worked in was to look at the school's curriculum and for two years I asked. I've still never seen it.)

Do any of your schools use a curriculum in a real way? If so how can we best share it amongst other teachers and with the public?

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