When I was a kid, I used to love looking at optical illusion images. I was fascinated by the way the images could change based upon a person’s perception or mindset. One of my favorites was this one.
My first view was the beautiful young lady. While others, immediately saw the old witch. It’s the same image. But, there’s more than one way to view the exact same image. The same is true about our curriculum.
We have curriculum documents that outline dozens of standards to be taught over some established period of time. I’m given this document, as are my colleagues. We teach this curriculum. It’s the same document, same standards. We SEE the same thing. But, does this mean we have a “guaranteed and viable curriculum”? I’d argue, no.
“The first school-level factor is a “guaranteed and viable curriculum.” I rank this as the first factor, having the most impact on student achievement” (Marzano, 2003). Curriculum matters. I couldn’t agree more with Marzano. At times, teachers feel like this is out of their control because they don’t write the standards or the curriculum framework. But, having curriculum and having “a guaranteed and viable curriculum” are completely different. And, teachers have 100% control of guaranteeing a viable curriculum for students.
Teacher teams need uninterrupted time to unpack, digest and dialogue about the curriculum. This time should not be undervalued or underestimated. Teams need to make sure that they are SEEING the document in a similar manner. Teams need talk about what matters most for their students and establish non-negotiable skills that ALL students will master through their curriculum. Teams should determine, together, what standards are taught and which standards are mastered by students. Teams will determine how to assess this learning and how to respond, a PLC at its core.
Next step: Stop underestimating the value of unpacking standards and curriculum documents, even if they are prescribed for you. Start making sure you see what I see in those documents.