Are teachers free to pick their own curriculums for their classrooms?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacher_of_many, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. teacher_of_many

    teacher_of_many Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Are student teachers mainly taught how to write up lesson plans by following state standards and then they are free to teach however they want? Could they pick their own math curriculum, phonics curriculum, science program, etc? If they liked using a literature approach could they do that? Or will the school want them to use the provided math, history, science textbooks? How much freedom will I have to teach my students the way I want to teach?
     
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  3. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    I believe it depends on the school and the district.....

    I teach in a public school in a very small district. I was given a reading, math and science curriculum. So that's what I have to teach. I am not supposed to supplement......:p

    I was not given a curriculum in art, or social studies...so I have to make my own up.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    In the two districts I taught in, we were given the program materials for each subject. For the most part, they are pretty strict that we stick to the program, and that we are all on the same page, the same lesson. That way, if a child moves from our school to another school midyear, it'll be an easy transition for him.

    We are allowed to supplement, but it can't take over the whole program.
     
  5. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Luckily, we are pretty flexible. We have textbooks as resources, but aren't required to use them. We have the Harcourt Trophies series for reading, however, most of us use guided reading books based on the kids' levels (it's more effective for differentiation). For Math, we were required to use Investigations until this last year. We were then allowed to supplement with other materials- I primarily supplement using the Smartboard. We have a Social Studies book that is a little too hard for our age group, so we build our own lessons for that subject. For Science, we have a textbook program that we can use, but I like using my own resources.

    In my student teaching though, we were required to use Open Court for reading and writing. We used Investigations with supplementation. For Science and Social Studies, we had nothing, and had to create everything on our own.

    There are advantages to both! I love the flexibility, but creating your own lessons can be time consuming. This flexibility allows me to address the specific needs of my students.

    If you have a Smartboard, some of the premade lessons you can find on the internet are FANTASTIC, and people from your state have probably created some based off the standards for that topic (ie. when I look for a lesson, I often type VA SOL 2.___).
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Our district has a reading and math curriculum and a breakdown of which objectives to teach when. There is some latitude, however in how those objectives are taught. If the curricular activities are too hard/easy for your kids-you have to supplement.
     
  7. teach1st

    teach1st Comrade

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    My district is pretty flexible. As long as they are seeing gains, then we can use what we please. We are expected to go over our standardized testing results and see what we need to work on for the next year. We also have to present info proving how we will be improving our low areas.
     
  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    We are provided curriculum for math, reading, and science. The only restrictions I have in my classroom is to make sure I teach the state standards. However, since I teach several grade levels of SPED together, I am in a different situation from the gen ed teachers. They are supposed to use the provided curriculum, but can supplement any way they want.
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Where I student taught (in the Philadelphia suburbs), I was told to set my own curriculum as long as I covered certain standards and hit pre-ordained reading material. On the other hand, my current school (in Ohio) has a set curriculum where all teachers working with the same grade and subject have the exact same syllabus. It may not be as creative as when I created my own lesson units, but we are able to team-teach our lectures. It also makes things much easier for our special education team.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It depends on the district. In my district, teachers are given the freedom to choose materials and resources for classroom instruction. With freedom, though, comes RESPONSIBILITY!
     
  11. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    I student taught in Los Angeles, and the entire district had to use Open Court. All schools, classrooms, and teachers had to be on the same page each day. That way if a student transferred schools, they wouldn't miss anything. I was given some flexibility with what things I chose to teach, since I worked in a special ed classroom.

    Where I teach now, I've been given curricula for reading, math, and science. I'm supposed to have one for Social Studies, but there isn't anything. We aren't necessarily required to teach these curricula, however. The other teachers and I have gotten together to discuss which curriculum we like, and we'll be able to choose which curriculum the district will order for us to use next. Of course, we have to agree on one curriculum, since it's costly and helps students to have the same curriculum as they move throughout the grades.
     
  12. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    When I student taught I basically taught when my mentor teacher would have been doing if I was not there.
    In our district now we are free to use the curriculum that we have or suppliment as much as we want. Their desire is that we are teaching the same standards at the same time, but how we do that is up to us.
     
  13. teachgrade5

    teachgrade5 Comrade

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    In our school system, we have to make sure that we are teaching the standards. Each nine weeks has a list of standards that need to be covered during the nine week period. It is really up to the teacher to teach the standard the way he/she wants. Our textbooks can be used as a resource or they can be what you teach the standards from. Unfortunately, not all textbooks can cover the standards that we are currently teaching.
     
  14. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    It truly depends upon the district, school, and sometimes even subject area. For example, I've been working on rewriting my curriculum, and honestly I can do things pretty much how I want. The math department in my school is much more structured. From what I know, most schools will want you to follow the curriculum, and the same classes get the same textbook, but you do have freedom as far as supplementals, and at least some freedom with methods. If the content area is tested, then there is probably more structure, and more limitations on methods. Each school, however, is different, as you can see from the responses. Some schools mandate everything, while others allow more flexibility. It's something to consider when job-hunting: do you want a more structured system, in which case you will probably get more materials (worksheets, etc.), or do you want a more flexible system, in which case you need to develop more material yourself?
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    We are allowed to pick our own resources based on the provincial curriculum.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    ...and to cover the curriculum expectations (standards) whenever we want to during the year.
     
  17. LetsDoSomeMath

    LetsDoSomeMath Rookie

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    I think the amount of flexibility you will have as a student teacher depends on your mentor teacher.

    When I student taught- I had a lot more freedom than a friend of mine. Her mentor teacher wanted things done a certain way and that's how she had to do it.
     
  18. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    All I was given was a textbook! Since then I have collaborated with a co teacher and written the curriculum, however, it is more of a suggestion or guideline.
     
  19. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    We have no flexibility with resources. You use the district adopted materials only.
     
  20. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    We are given curriculum materials to use. We do not have to follow it verbatum per se and have the freedom to teach how we, as professionals, see fit. We do have complete freedom in choosing supplemental materials as they relate to specific needs of our students. You'll be given curriculum when you student teach. How much freedom you have within that curriculum is going to depend a great deal on the teacher that you are working with.
     
  21. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    It depends on the school/ school district. When I student taught out East the school district was very laid back with MS/HS curriculum. Although in elementary every teacher was required to use a completely scripted program. Teachers would get in trouble if they diverted even one word from the script! My friend "Amy" was student-teaching in 1st grade. Amy brought in a Dr. Seuss book, to reinforce rhyming (the rhyming unit was from the curriculum.) She asked her cooperating teacher if she could use the book beforehand. The school's VP came in and saw Amy was reading a book that wasn't in scripted program. She started yelling at Amy, in front of the students, and grabbed the book from her hands! (I was volunteering as a reading tutor at the time, and was working with a student in the back of the classroom.)

    On the other hand, the secondary schools in the district were completely unstructured. I students taught at the secondary level, and my cooperating teacher literally told me to teach "whatever." I wasn't given a single lesson, or even a textbook. I developed a curriculum based on the state's standards. I didn't sleep very much during student teaching, as the teacher completely checked out on day one.

    Most schools in the state I am in now have much more structure. They also tend to be reasonably flexible.
     
  22. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I think flexibility is extremely important. Teachers need to become experts at what they teach, they need to be in charge in the classrooms in all aspects; all the way from discipline to academics. As long as the teachers are hitting the standards and/or going beyond the standards, let them do their job.
     
  23. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    I agree. If I had to use our textbooks for everything that I teach, I would NOT be serving my students very well. Most are below grade level, so these texts are too difficult. I work very hard adapting the curriculum to fit what they need! And obviously, every year what I do changes slightly based on the group of students I have.
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I agree completely. There is no "one-size-fits-all" resource that will meet the needs of each of our students. My job as a teacher is not to read a script, but to recognize the unique strengths and needs of each student and to keep these in mind when designing a program that meets the learning expectations for the grade.
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    We are given a great deal of flexibility, too. As long as we follow the state standards and our kids pass the state test, no one really cares what we do or how we do it. For seasoned teachers, this is a blessing. For new teachers, it can be intimidating.
     
  26. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I know we're an usual case, but we have complete freedom to do as we see fit. I'm at the HS level, so Obviously we have a given topic, ie: Ancient History, to cover, and must stay within that framework. But outside of that, my curriculum is my own. I choose the textbooks, assignments, everything. As long as I meet the state standards, I'm fine.

    This is a lot of work (or it was, initially: now I just revise), but I love the freedom it provides. If I want to cover a new topic or something different, I can almost always do so. Plus, I usually hit the standards with several weeks to spare (intentionally), so I can add in a unit or two on a historical topic of my choice.
     
  27. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Kind of, sort of. I receive curriculum maps straight across the board except for writing, spelling, and social studies (so that means we have it in reading, math, and science), yet my students grasp concepts pretty quickly and I am encouraged to supplement.

    I don't use textbooks in writing. I use a writer's workshop kind of approach. It worked amazingly well for my class two years ago and for the most part last year.

    Particularly in math this coming year, I will CERTAINLY be supplementing because we are working with less standards and we have to go more in-depth. :) Additionally, I do a lot of my own thing in Social Studies and bring in several supplements for science, though we have FOSS now in addition to Scott Foresman and I am dancing.
     
  28. teacherheath

    teacherheath Companion

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    This is exactly how it is where I teach.
     
  29. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    I have a good amount of flexibility. We have state standards and the county adopted literature books, but I can use whatever supporting materials I wish. I could never teach using a script. The LA teachers across the grade do touch bases with each other, but we don't teach exactly the same things at the same time or in the same way. We just developed consistent benchmark tests that cover all the standards so we can track progress within the school as well as between the schools in the county.

    As a ST, I was given a choice about the topics I chose to teach as well as the materials. I was encouraged to try different things out. She said that it was important to experiment as a ST so I could find my style of teaching.
     
  30. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    I interviewed with a district that was the complete opposite. They required teachers in every grade/every subject to use pre-made lesson plans, they had every day planned down to the minute. I've seen this with some programs like SFA(Success For All,) but this school district made SFA look like a walk in the park!
     
  31. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We're given a syllbus, broken down into trimesters. All kids taking the same course need to be able to take the same departmental Trimester Exam.

    Beyond that, though, we have lots of flexibility. We're very good about sharing tests and worksheets (I've been known to give another teacher's test, towards the end of the trimester, as a review sheet.)

    We also update the syllabus every year. So in June, for example, I proposed (and got, after a discussion with the chair and the other geometry teachers) some changes to the Geometry syllabus.
     
  32. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Right. And you have to be sure that whatever curriculum you choose to follow, it is one that helps the students pass and exceed state standard requirements.
     

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