Today we feature Nancy Kreth, Elementary Science Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Northside School District in San Antonio, Texas. Her words follow:
Transforming Teaching and Learning in a Large District: Our Concept Based Curriculum Journey
As a Central Office Curriculum and Instruction Specialist in a large, diverse district, when I think of transforming teaching and learning, I try to visualize what this transformation would look like. In a district our size, with limited resources and staff, it is a daunting task.
We have been on our concept based curriculum journey for about 6 years. The original intent was to send the core people in our curriculum and instruction department to the Concept Based Institute with the hopes of building capacity as those people returned and trained within our district. There was a real commitment to change, the training was developed and dates were set to take the new learning to campus team leaders. This rolled out and we felt that we were on our way.
But in a large district, keeping the momentum going is the great challenge. Commitment to concept-based curriculum requires fortitude and an extended conviction to the belief that this paradigm shift will yield a return that is worth the investment. When the business of schooling takes over, the vision can get lost in the technical management of everyday survival. While more of our central office staff has attended the institute and now possess the information to take this work to more teachers, over time we have lost sight of the shared vision.
One important lesson learned has been the importance of timing. We often bring ideas and professional learning to teachers based on our desire to give them the information because WE think they should have it. We have found that bringing concept based curriculum to teachers in the context of learning about their new standards has been quite beneficial. It has relevance and meaning. THEY can connect to it.
Dovetailing with this is a district initiative to support our schools as they begin to transform the teaching and learning in their buildings. Curriculum and instruction is at the heart of this transformation process. As a department, we are excited about the potential of lighting the concept-based curriculum fire in our work again. The vision for transformation calls for deep, profound learning. This kind of learning is just what Dr. Erickson ordered…learning that stirs the head, heart and the soul.
We’ve rekindled the fire and can’t wait to take our next steps in the journey.