With the school year starting I was originally planning on writing about my class rules.
Instead I think I'll riff on Alfred Thompson's post today titled Curriculum is Hard. I'm guessing I found curriculum design and development daunting decades ago but at this point in my career it's something I enjoy. In any event, Alfred got me to thinking - when is a curriculum your own?
If you grab a curriculum complete with lesson plans, assignments; the whole kit and caboodle and you use it verbatim it's clearly not your curriculum. It probably also isn't really teaching.
What about the more common case. Math curricula has basically been set for years. Algebra, Geometry 1, and then Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Most books seem to be sequenced in a similar way and at least in the schools I know about, the math department has some document listing a day by day list of topics. This makes sense since you probably have more than one class of each type and you want some cross class consistency. Particularly during the first weeks of the semester when kids can transfer and then also at the end of term or year.
When a teacher uses that departmental document are they using someone elses curriculum?
What if they create their own homeworks and assigments?
Most teachers I know use the department's curriculum but make their own unit and day to day lesson plans. Most revise them each semester. Typically these teachers do a little more here or a little less there depending on a number of factors.
Are they creating their own curriculum?
What if they re-sequence the topics?
How about adding an enrichment topic?
Back when I taught math I used the departmental syllabus, as many texts as I could find, colleagues lesson plans and whatever I could find but I always pulled it together to something I could call my own. If I didn't, I wouldn't have been comfortable going in front of my class. Was it my curriculum? They were certainly my lessons.
Now, when designing a course I start from the end outcomes and work backwards but when teaching a course, I still look at as many resources as I can find. I'll pull a little from here, a little from there and combine that with whatever I can come up with myself.
So, when is it your curriculum and when is it not?
If you're just delivering scripted lessons it's certainly not yours.
If you know your stuff and you take someone elses material, make it your own and add it to your bag of tricks, I think it's now yours as well.