02 January 2007

What's in the Box?

This district will have some significant changes next year, especially at the elementary level. With two schools looking to close, there are about 50 teachers to place at new-to-them schools, and quite possibly in new-to-them grade levels...not to mention all of the other shifting that typically happens between school years. There's a lot to coordinate and in Curriculum, we're trying to be as proactive as possible. My favourite quote from a teacher so far is that "We're getting a lot more support from the district than from the union." Indeed.

One of the things we're working on in Curriculum is a "Grade in a Box." The idea is to provide a concise snapshot of what happens at a given grade level (and when), what resources are available (and should be in the classroom), and so on. It should be a quick glance for teachers---especially those who will have new teaching assignments next year.

The biggest issue we're having so far is a philosophical one about how we structure the overall map of a grade. Some areas (math, reading, writing) already have pacing guides. Do we want to simply expand on that by adding other areas...or is it more useful simply lay out the big ideas? My personal bent is to go with the former---give some specifics, because it's the day-to-day stuff that will worry "new" teachers the most...although I think the big ideas are really what help frame instruction. Next year is going to be all about survival mode for many people. They're not going to be ready to broaden out just yet.

All of this will have to be done with significant teacher input, of course. The support beyond that will also require an investment. Right now, we're looking at offering a day of inservice at the beginning of the summer---as well as in August. For the second one, we would pay an "expert" teacher at each grade level to set up their classroom early so that there was a model for the meeting.

As a grade level teacher, what would you like in a box? What would you have liked to have known at the beginning of your tenure?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our district recently did something similar. While I don't need as much support today, this would have made a huge difference during my first few years.

It was a lot of work, but I'm hoping it will pay off. This is our first year working from the documents. Ours were more grade in a binder.

Email me if you want more details.