I often find myself thinking in fairly large, abstract, perhaps “global” ways. I don’t just think about one component, and instead think of the bigger picture. I don’t often just think about what I’m going to do on a particular day, but the look at how the entire week, or even the whole month, is going to fit together. I find it challenging to come up with a single lesson plan as I’m already looking at the entire unit and how that unit integrates with other subject areas. As a global thinker I also often pause to consider what type of teacher I am becoming, and what things I might bring to a classroom of students.
It is my hope to bring new ideas, and new ways of connecting those ideas together. I hope to integrate different styles of instruction, projects, and assessment into my classroom, creating an environment that may be quite different from what students have experienced in the past. I want to try and broach difficult subject areas and discuss tough topics like the history of First Nations people in Canada, inequality in society, the growing picture of what makes up a family, and what mental and emotional well-being looks like. All of these ideas make up my curriculum.
My curriculum is continuously changing, adapting and growing, and is doing so on a weekly, even daily basis it seems! This is mainly a result of my continued learning about what curriculum actually is. I no longer view curriculum as just a document that outlines what to teach, but as the entire system that I, as a teacher, will create for my students.
This new understanding of curriculum has broadened my perspective even further on the impacts that I can have as a teacher. I have realized that curriculum is not just about school, but about the community beyond the school. It is not about the subjects or outcomes, but about going beyond them and digging a little deeper. I find myself smiling now as I think about curriculum, as I feel like I have the opportunity to really connect to the content that I will teach, and hopefully inspire my students to do so also.
I seldom had opportunities like this as a student. I was always simply assigned a task and that was it; there was no room for deviation. The only exception to this was when I chose to elaborate and add my own creative spin, which usually only led to my further disconnection with my peers for “being a keener.” Teachers did not ask or expect more than what they asked, so students were not ever encouraged to look beyond the words on the page. I had many moments like this in both elementary school, high school, and even college, and I feel that these experiences will certainly shape how I present material, and thus my curriculum, to my students. As part of my curriculum, I would like to encourage students to look deeper, and investigate things that interest them. My hope will be to promote a thirst for knowledge, rather than just satisfying the minimum requirements of a government mandated criteria.
Of course, as a new teachers, my plethora of ideas is rather intimidating! Can I really accomplish all of my goals in the first year? The thought terrifies me! Thankfully there are a ton of resources out there, via the internet, Twitter community, my PLN (professional/personal learning network), books, and veteran teachers, available to help new teachers like me.
This week, I read a selection of stories from The New Teacher Book, and many of them spoke to some of the dillemas I have been trying to resolve in my mind. The main piece of advice I gained from these readings is to take things slowly, and not try to do every new idea at once. Depending on the school that I work in, some of my ideas may be overwhelming even for the other teachers and administrators, and it may take some time to test things out and see what the reaction is from the school, and of course, the parents and community. But, another major piece of advice was to always keep your eye on the goals you have set for your teaching, and not get dragged down by nay-sayers and seemingly overwhelming demands of the school or the education system. As a teacher, I decide what to teach and how to do it, and if there are things that I feel are important for the students to learn, then with a lot of persistence and some support from others, I have the ability to make a difference.
While my understandings of curriculum shift and grow throughout this semester and the rest of my education degree and career I hope that I can always maintain my values as a teacher. Education can make a difference in a child’s life and how they grow in our world, and it will be my role as a teacher to help students make sense of it and use it to their best potential.
What advice would you give to a new teacher with “big ideas”? How can a new teacher bring these new ideas into their classroom without getting a lot of backlash from outside the classroom? What do you feel is the most important element that you bring to the curriculum in your classroom (or your future classroom)?