As each new school year rolls around, I think back to my days in the elementary classroom. One of my favorite things about teaching was planning. I thoroughly enjoyed developing entire units from scratch. Each unit that I developed was usually a combination of activities and lessons I developed myself, publisher materials, OER materials, and resources that my colleagues shared with me. I also remember the challenges I faced when trying to develop these units, and strategies that I found helpful.
Build a Collaborative School Environment
School administrators and teachers can work together to build a collaborative environment for sharing ideas. Teachers on a grade-level or department team can establish planning sessions for specific units of study, with each member of the team contributing resources and ideas. Administrators can aid in this process by dedicating in-service time for planning and setting clear goals and expectations for the planning sessions.
Share Resources Across Schools
Let’s face it, there aren’t many opportunities for teachers to work directly with teachers at other schools in their district. A district-wide content management system can give teachers a way to add their ideas and resources to materials that the district has purchased. The creative activity that one teacher developed for his classroom may be just what another teacher across town needs for her students.
Use the Buddy System
There is a lot of talk about the benefits that new teachers get from having a mentor. But pairing with another teacher to develop lessons, ancillaries, and assessments, regardless of experience level, benefits both teachers. Planning in this way allows both teachers to capitalize on each other’s strengths. One person may have a greater depth of understanding of the standards to be taught, while the other has ideas for incorporating social-emotional learning into the lesson.
CSA Education can help districts and schools find solutions to the challenges they face in building curricula. Our curriculum team can create the scope and sequence and unit-level blueprints for each subject area, and develop new content. Our alignment team can complete standards correlations and gap analyses to determine gaps in standards coverage. We can facilitate teacher collaboration and reviews to build complete courses that meet your students’ specific needs.