Teachers know that in order to work at their highest level they need to be ever evolving. Professional development, conferences, working with other educators, and learning about new edtech are part of the journey of being a teacher. As the journey unfolds, many lesson plans become tried and true staples. Certain activities, lessons, or curriculum lead to great student success. When that happens, teachers can understandably remark, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In theory, this is charming. In reality, curriculums need to be fluid and dynamic just like the teachers. However, implementing a new curriculum has many challenges. It’s common for teachers to have pure anxiety on the forefront of change. What if it doesn’t yield the results hoped for? Will it be better than what was in place before? Are we prepared to fully implement these changes? These five tips will ease your mind and maintain your confidence that the implementation of a new curriculum will be a success.
Build a Timeline
A clear timeframe for various benchmarks and expectations is an essential way to start bringing in a new curriculum. Start small; choose due dates for selecting a curriculum team, a project leader, projected implementation dates, time for testing out the new curriculum, and time for reflection and editing. This is a process that takes time, effort and work, which all needs to be organized and managed.
Choose a Leader
Whether it’s the head of curriculum or someone else volunteering to take the role, a leader or manager of the implementation project is crucial to keeping everyone on track. This person can oversee what all educators are doing as they develop the curriculum while acting as the final funnel to ensure the process is on time and moving forward.
Spend Time Researching
How is this new curriculum going to align with standards? How has it found success in other schools or districts? Other states? What have you seen at conferences that really excites you? Make sure the time spent shaping the new curriculum is based on evidence of success. Define the shape and substance of the curriculum to fully incorporate every element. Don’t rush through this exciting exploratory part of the process.
Test the Material
You don’t have to wait until the curriculum is fully built before allowing teachers to test-run the material in the classroom. As components are finalized, ask teachers to try parts of the new curriculum to see how it goes in real life. These test runs will illuminate what works beyond theory and what might need retooling.
Plan for Professional Development
Once the new curriculum is ready, make sure a fully incorporated training plan is developed for all the teachers who will be using it on a day-to-day basis. The curriculum team has been working closely with the material for a while now, and it’s time to open it up to the teachers and see how they react. This will give the curriculum team a chance to guide the teachers to ensure they are implementing the curriculum to the highest standard. Teachers will begin to feel ownership over it. Keep an open dialogue with them as students begin the new work, offering support for any instructional needs.
Once implemented, the hard work of developing new, innovative curriculum comes to fruition. Announcements to parents about the new curriculum are important to establish a bridge between school and home. New programs can often cause concern. Be prepared and confident in what you’ve developed, and work to engage and excite parents, teachers and students alike.