That is the best way to feel free within the ever growing structure of local, state and even national curricula. I rarely feel constrained by my district’s curriculum. Mainly because we have so much to do that I don’t have time or energy to explore topics outside my grade level standards, but also because I belong to or have belonged to a variety of curriculum driven teams in the district. This has a given me a chance to talk to colleagues across grade levelsand not get lost in my own classroom or grade. These teams allow me to break out and see and hear what’s going on in different schools and classrooms in the district, the state and at a few national conferences I’ve attended, around the country. This perspective allows me to see that I am a piece of the educational puzzle for my students.
Instead of thinking, “Oh great, I have to teach immigration instead of Colonial America, which I find much more interesting and I have all those books I bought at that great sale and Borders, plus my Betsy Ross costume from third grade, not to mention my Kidz Bop The Best Colonial America Songs Sing Along CD …and then there’s my…..” I see the long term plan, K-12, for the students in my classroom. Without my piece, their puzzle is incomplete.
Since it’s impossible to teach everything a well-rounded high school graduate needs to know in one year, let alone just the topics that are of personal interest to me, there is comfort in seeing the continuum of education K-12. I see our curriculum documents as education insurance. They make sure that we don’t miss anything and that our students are covered.
Regardless of classroom or teacher, each student is guaranteed exposure to the learning he or she needs to progress. Our curriculum maps serve as guides as we navigate through the years. They allow me to make connections to past and future learning. For me, that structure is extremely freeing.