A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Coordinator: Monday


I’m always a sucker for a good blogging initiative. As luck would have it, my online PLC, #MTBoS is kicking off just such an initiative this week! If you’re interested in joining or if you just want to find out what the MathTwitterBlogosphere is all about, head on over to the ExploreMTBoS site.

We were given two options for blog post topics this week. The first is to write a post about one good thing. The other is to write about a day in the life. The assumption is that you’re a teacher and you’ll write about a day in the life of a teacher. However, I’m not a teacher currently. I’m the elementary math curriculum coordinator for my district. I don’t imagine many people know what I actually do – Dan Meyer had lunch with my secondary counterparts last week and was surprised to hear our jobs weren’t terminated once the scope and sequence was in place – so I thought this is a timely opportunity to share a sliver of what my job entails.

We’ll start with Monday. If all goes well, I’ll write a short post each day. If all does not go well, then you might just get Monday. At least I can guarantee one day in the life!

[UPDATE] – I did manage to write a post each day:


In many ways today was not a typical day which is why I’m hoping to write a few posts this week. On the other hand, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day in my job, so today’s post might be just as representative as any other day I could have chosen to write about.

The first hour of my day I spent reviewing, editing, and finalizing a presentation I’m giving to all of our elementary principals tomorrow. I have about 50 minutes to do an overview session about the state math test (STAAR) and give some tips and advice for how teachers and students should spend time between now and then.

SPOIILER ALERT! I’m going to tell them their teachers should stay the course. The year is only half over and there are still a lot of concepts to introduce. If anything, now is a great time to revisit how things are going and work together with grade level teams to ensure they are providing the best lessons and experiences they can during the upcoming units. Teachers can and should review concepts along the way, but massive test prep is not called for at this time.

While putting together the presentation, I got to try out Snap & Read, some new software our Special Education Department purchased, though it’s going to be available as a general instructional tool for all students. It’s a Chrome extension that allows users to highlight text and have it read out loud. I didn’t get to do a whole lot with it, but it was nice to discover how quick and easy it is to use. Students should be able to pick it up immediately!

The rest of the day I prepared for a PD session I’m leading on Wednesday. This year I received funding from our superintendent – a huge thanks to Dr. Flores! – to purchase multiple copies of the books Beyond Pizzas and Pies and Beyond Invert and Multiply for our intermediate elementary teachers. In addition, I also received funding to provide a full day of PD to one grade 3 teacher from every campus and one grade 4 teacher from every campus.

There’s a lot of information in the books, so my partner Regina and I opted to do two half-day sessions for each grade level. Back in December we facilitated part 1 for each grade and this Wednesday we’re facilitating part 2. We didn’t have enough money to bring grade 5 into the fold so we’re offering them a 2-hour session on an early release day in February.

Normally I have a lot of different tasks to jump between each day, but somehow I only managed to schedule PD prep today, and I sure needed the time! Regina is handling the grade 3 session which left me with the grade 4 session. I had to figure out what I was going to cover from the 3 chapters I chose for this session, make slides, plan out activities – specifically modifications I wanted to make to the activities shared in the book – and get copies made of all the materials teachers will use.

All in all I’m happy with how the session has shaped up, and I look forward to working with the teachers on Wednesday. Now I just have to hope we can get through everything I planned! That’s one area I’m still learning with regard to PD planning. I feel pretty good about the amount of content in my sessions, but I find that I always tend to put just one too many things in every session. Or two or three, but usually it feels like it’s just a bit too much.

I also did some odds and ends throughout the day whenever I needed a short break from PD planning:

  • I shared a reminder about this week’s open planning sessions on our grade-level Google communities. Once a month, Regina and I host two open planning sessions after school – one for K-2 teachers and one for 3-5 teachers. All teachers from the district are invited to come and collaborate together on upcoming math units. Regina and I are there to help answer questions and take part in the process. This year is the first time we’ve offered this. The sessions aren’t attended by a ton of folks, but the teachers who do come let us know how valuable they think the time is. I actually just got an email this afternoon from an AP who shared some feedback a teacher gave her during a pre-observation conference: “Going to open planning was the best decision we’ve ever made. It helps us understand the TEKS and pace our unit.” Hooray! I think this also counts as my one good thing. 🙂
  • I emailed a vendor to get a quote for some books I’m going to purchase for our K-2 teachers. For each campus we’re purchasing multiple copies of books 1-3 in the Developing Number Concepts series by Kathy Richardson. (Another thanks to our superintendent, Dr. Flores!) Regina and I will be leading a full day PD session on those for K-2 teachers in February.
  • Speaking of, I emailed back and forth with a couple principals who are hoping to get a few more teachers signed up for the February PD session I just mentioned. Win!
  • And finally, I watched an Ignite talk that one of our instructional coaches shared with me. Gradual release of responsibility has come up somewhat frequently recently and we’re still trying to wrap our heads around what it should/could mean in math. My fear is similar to what’s shown in the video, that it becomes all about what the teacher is thinking and getting students to merely reflect/parrot that.

There you have it. A day in the life of an elementary math curriculum coordinator. This was a fairly calm day, and I am so appreciative of that. Tomorrow is looking to be a bit more hectic. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to blog about that when it’s over.

8 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Coordinator: Monday

  1. debswyers

    Brian, you are so good about sharing your ideas, knowledge, teaching tips, etc, and now here you are sharing your day! I admire how your writing is always interesting and that you take the time to share. Your posts always inspire me to continue looking for ways to improve my instruction. Thanks! And by the way, always planning a bit too much is just like a day as a teacher.

    1. Regina Payne

      Deb, I totally agree with you! I always planned too much as well, and still I do!!! Brian has a gift, no doubt. I love his unit videos as he sounds so calm. What’s pretty normal to us is that whatever we plan to do during a day, it is almost always interrupted. Our planning calendar gets changed all the time as we have to redo it to fit reality!!!

  2. Teri Owens (@OwensTeri)

    It is funny that you mentioned in your “blurb” about this post that most people don’t know what curriculum coordinators do anyway. We have an instructional partner at our high school. She works with all subject areas and has helped me numerous times – especially as I have tried to “transform my teaching.” However, I realize that I’m really not sure what her “job description” entails. I think I sometimes ask her for info/help that is not really part of what she does. I don’t mean to!! Thank you for sharing your “a day in the life.” There is a lot of time spent on planning and preparing for PD!!

  3. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Coordinator: Tuesday | Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

  4. mathtans

    Hello former hotel roommate! Fancy meeting you in a blogging initiative like this. Great idea to use it to talk about a job most people (including me) don’t know that much about. And to continue for the week is impressive! I tried that once, it worked, but too much on my plate these days. (Peeking at your Tuesday post, I see you’re not feeling too well – that sucks! Hope you get some good rest.) By the way, I like the “stay the course” message… we are all playing the long game here. All the best with your planning.

  5. primemathblog

    I totally get the “just one too many things” planned for PD sessions – definitely a struggle that I’ve carried with me from teaching to coaching! There’s just so much good stuff to share with teachers and have them work on…I have to constantly remind myself to focus and really think through what the purpose/goal is, just like I would do with a classroom lesson. Also, thanks for sharing about the open planning sessions – I love that idea! Do teachers end up collaborating across grade levels or is it more of each within their own grade level?

  6. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Coordinator: Wednesday | Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

  7. Pingback: A Day in the Life of a Curriculum Coordinator: Friday | Teaching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

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