A question was sent to me by a member asking why KSD withheld the new math teaching manuals (Math Expressions) from elementary teachers who could not or chose not to attend summer trainings. Good question. Teachers were then instructed to use their old resources and skills to come up with lessons for math until they could attend trainings late in September. This teacher went on to say that she felt responsible for getting her students started on the new curriculum, so she borrowed a teammate’s manual and had an hour a day with it to plan lessons for her students which was not enough time. In the end, she got trained on the new curriculum and received her own materials by October, but what was the message that she got from all this? She felt that she was being punished because she couldn’t take the training in the summer. When I first heard about this plan last year, that was the first thing that came to my mind, too. Is there any other idea that explains why the district either couldn’t have moved the trainings up closer to the first of the year or supplied the materials so that teachers could at least frame their lessons with the new curriculum in mind? Come on, KSD, you can do better than that.
This really brings to mind a bigger picture concerning curriculum and program adoptions and roll-outs that has been an issue in district for many years. We have all seen curriculums and programs come in that were touted as the “new, next best thing,” and were talked up vociferously for a year, maybe two, and then just went away. Some of those programs and curricula were good; some were not as good, but frequently, there seems to be something about the way they are presented that causes initial problems that are never overcome and the demise is apparent even as the program is implemented. Sometimes it seems to be funding that is a problem; other times it is a lack of person-power to enable success. Other times, buy-in doesn’t happen or combinations of reasons occur; we have seen all of these. The bottom line is that we initiate and then drop many programs that are not given a reasonable chance to succeed. I see this as a problem with the TI (or MTI or RTI or whatever it’s called at your building) implementation. This could work really well. I have talked to many teachers who see the potential. I’ve talked to teachers who say that they are seeing the benefits, but it is taking many more hours per week to see those gains. That becomes a workload issue. KEA made the point last year that we need members on all adoption committees to take a look at any new curriculum to examine it from a contractual basis; issues of time and workload need to be viewed as a part of any adoption. KSD agreed, and we put people on committees, but we still have problems. It always feels like there is such a rush to implement that important details get ignored or covered up and then you wind up with the district “punishing” people who won’t get on board by doing things like withholding materials from teachers. Come on, KSD, you can do better than that.