The other day @mythagon asked me about my take on curriculum writing. I immediately thought, “Awesome! That’s one less blog post topic I have to come up with for #MTBoS30.” Not that coming up with blog post ideas has been that challenging so far, but seeing as this is only post 6 of 30, I may feel differently in a week or two.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking throughout the day of how to write about my take on curriculum writing. I think I’ll start by talking a bit generally about how I feel doing curriculum writing, but I have a feeling I might need to do some follow up posts to fully flesh out my thoughts. (Yay! More blog post ideas I can pull out of my pocket as needed.)
In general, I think curriculum writing is tons of fun. When I first started working at Time To Know, I often described my job as taking everything I did as a teacher, cutting out one small slice of the countless responsibilities I had, and then focusing on just that one slice all day, every day. That alone made it a dream job.
To put the cherry on top, my team at Time To Know loved to argue and debate about pedagogy. One thing that always bothered me as a teacher was that having a strong opinion about pedagogy (which I totally have) often resulted in hurting other people’s feelings more than it did fostering dialogue about how best to serve our students. Not so with my Time To Know team.
I remember the first unit we cracked together was about geometric transformations for 4th grade. (By the way, cracking is what we called unit planning. The goal of our initial planning was to “crack open” the topic to analyze it from different angles.) Over the course of a day and a half, we had numerous heated discussions about how to present the concepts, when to use off-computer activities vs. on-computer activities, what the ultimate goals of the unit should be, etc.
I kept thinking to myself, “I’m in heaven!” I could never have had such engaging, intense discussions with any of the teachers I worked with during my 8 years in the classroom. Well, my friends Paula and Courtney would have been up for it, but that’s about it.
If you stood outside the room listening, you would have thought that by the end of that cracking meeting my team would be ready to go its separate ways, but that wasn’t the case at all. We were all so passionate about developing these lessons that we argued and fought for what we thought was right, but we were also professional enough not to take it personally.
We understood that we were arguing so much because we all had the best interests of students in mind. Once the meeting was over, we walked out of the room, started talking about life outside of work and made dinner plans for that night. None of the tension from the meeting was carried out of the room into our personal relationships.
As a collaborative, pedagogical effort, curriculum writing is extremely satisfying to me. I’m a fairly introverted person in general. I love time to myself to decompress, and I love my husband for understanding that about me. However, there’s something about working collaboratively with a team that I click with that invigorates me so much. If I could find a team like that at a school, then I’d be in heaven yet again.