How are they adopting the new curriculum?
It’s the end of January, and that new literacy curriculum you adopted at the beginning of the school year is in full swing. While the school year feels like it is crawling along this time of year, the end of the year will be here before we know it, at which point it will be time to assess how that new literacy program panned out. But waiting until the end of the year is not a good idea. What if there are things that you can do now to effect change for the positive, while the school year is just entering the midway point? Implementation and adoption are incredibly challenging concepts in schools, so let’s break down a few easy steps you can take over the next couple of months to ensure that you’ve done all that you can to truly embrace the new program in your school.
- Become an active visitor. Carve out time to visit classrooms and get in on the action. Observe your teachers and students engaging in the new curriculum, and take on an active role. Ask teachers and students questions, take a good look at any materials that are being used and participate in a few activities. This will not only make your students super excited, (I mean, how fun is it for students to see their principals become students?), but will show your teachers that you truly care about how this new program is working in actual classrooms. If you have a team of literacy specialists in your school, create a task force to take this on collectively, and schedule times to debrief on what you are learning during your visits.
- Solicit feedback. At your next staff meeting, ask teachers for feedback on how things are going. We know that adopting a new curriculum is a huge undertaking for teachers, whether they are in their first or 21st year of teaching. Give them a chance to voice their real opinions and give some feedback: the good, the bad and the ugly. After that, collaborate on solutions to the challenges they’re facing. Teachers often feel that a new program is simply something that is happening to them, that they are being told to do. It doesn’t have to be that way. Even if this new program is a decision brought in by an administrator, the implementation should be a collaborative exercise throughout the year, so give those important people on the front lines a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings.
- Identify any PD needs. This is a big one. Most teachers are not coming out of the gate with a strong foundation in teaching literacy unless they are coming from a literacy background. Most teacher licensure programs and masters of education only require a single 3-credit course on literacy, and sadly, much of the content in such a course focuses on strategies necessary to pass state licensure exams. This step will take some time, but dig into how confident your teachers are with their literacy knowledge, including understanding assessments, components of literacy instruction and differentiating instruction for diverse learners. Based on what you find out, you may want to consider some PD options for teachers in need over the coming weeks or months.
Keep your eyes on the prize
The 21st-century student is focused on so many current topics, such as technology in the classroom and social-emotional learning; but we need to remember that literacy should always be a priority in schools. Adopting a new program is a huge undertaking, and requires all hands on deck to ensure the quality of implementation, fidelity and at the end of the day, student success. There is a lot that school leaders can do to support new program adoption, and a lot of support out there for school leaders who need an extra hand. If you feel that you could use an extra hand, give us a shout and let’s talk through how Leaderally can be your implementation partner, for school and student success.