As a language arts teacher, schema theory made a lot of sense to me and formulated the bedrock of my instruction. The theory describes how knowledge is organized in our minds via an elaborate network and how ideas take shape in the form of mental models that frames how we makes sense of our world.
When we learn, our brain works to make connections between what is new and what is already known. Learners feel tension when information conflicts with their prior knowledge. Learning is facilitated when teachers help create connections between the known and the unknown.
I felt a good degree of learning tension as I entered my new role as curriculum and instruction director the previous year because I could not understand the curriculum improvement process. While our district has used a Curriculum Improvement Council (CIC) for a number of years many members and non-members did not connect with the purpose behind the council. According to our school board policy, the role of the Curriculum Improvement Council is clear; it is to support, oversee and recommend strategies for the continuous improvement our district’s curriculum and instruction. Connecting with as many teacher leaders as possible last year, I grew to believe that the development of P-12 Curriculum Councils could greatly enhance the effectiveness, transparency and efficiency of curriculum improvement throughout the district.
Connecting Peers with Purpose
Michael Fullan’s second secret in his book, The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive is about connecting peers with purpose. The Thompson P-12 Curriculum Councils will serve as a conduit for communication, creation, and innovation of curriculum and instruction. The idea stems from the desire to connect peers purposefully in this process. The leaders of each of the P-12 Councils along with representatives from administration, counseling, gifted and talented, exceptional student services, and English language acquisition will meet monthly to assist with the setting of district priorities with regards to resource allocation, program focus, and content renewal. This group will also assist with goal setting and program evaluation so that our work fully encompasses the cycle of planning, doing, checking and adjusting.
Our district will be well represented by these P-12 Council Leaders:
- Visual Arts – Lora Patrick
- Performing Arts – Bob Kreutz & Susan Harding
- Career & Technical Education – Michelle Logan, Tom Frayer, Janese Asche, Amber Wharton
- Literacy – Will Sherman
- Math – Tom Hanson
- PE & Health – Dawn Fertitta
- Science – Chastity Stringer
- Social Studies – Carin Barrett
- Technology integration – Val Downing
- World Languages – Toni Theisen
Agenda items and Curriculum Improvement Council (CIC) mintues will be shared on the Thompson Curriculum & Instruction Wikispace under Curriculum Improvement Council Meetings.
P-12 Council Leaders will have an opportunity to meet face to face with their stakeholder groups during two annual half-day P-12 Council gatherings held in the fall and the spring. The purpose of these meetings is to assess and synthesize content area needs related materials, resources, and the professional development support required to effectively accelerate learning. They will connect regularly with their colleagues though district content early release Wednesday gatherings, secondary curriculum leader meetings and elementary curriculum leader meetings. They will also communicate with stakeholder groups via email, blogs, and web pages related to their individual content area work.
I look forward to sharing our efforts as well and as always, welcome thoughts, comments and ideas.