Tonight, teacher productivity guru Angela Watson will host a session called Better Than Normal, and I'm eager to see what she has to say. Register right here — it's free. Replay available for those who can't attend live.
Lots of times, curricula salespeople will present what's on offer as the end-all-be-all.
“This has got everything you need. You'll never worry again.”
(That's not verbatim, but a gist.)
Here's the thing: when you're picking a curricula, you're looking for a thing that can be guaranteed, viable, and good.
- Can we actually confirm that the core of this thing will get taught, regardless of teacher? That's the guaranteed part, and it's more about systems than curricula.
- Can a human actually teach and learn this curriculum in the designated time frame? That's the viable part. Wish list curricula don't work. If the curriculum designer doesn't pick, teachers will.
- Can we actually confirm that this lines up with the best of what we know about the heads and hearts of children — the sciences of learning and motivation? That's the good part. Is the curricula knowledge-rich and sequential? Are the resources user-friendly? Do the things students get the chance to learn about in third grade get sequel content in fourth and fifth (i.e., is it cumulative)?
Guaranteed and viable were the buzzwords of the nineties and aughts, for good reason. But in the 2020s, those aren't enough. We need good, too.
And even if you have all that — guaranteed, viable, good — there's no substitute for a loving and competent teacher orchestrating the breath-of-life moment when a curriculum becomes a classroom.
The curriculum = the box of Legos — and the instructions, if you're fortunate.
The magic = the builder, the maker, the imagineer.
Invest in curricula and invest in teachers.
Systematize sustainable improvement of both.
Then watch what happens.