Consider this a fact-finding mission.
Here’s some context: I am new to the district I work in, meaning I just started here in July. I was hired to come in and supervise three departments, three departments that had not been supervised (in the traditional sense–whatever that is–) before. Curriculum had been looked at, but a group effort to make it flow from K-12 hadn’t been attempted.
In New Jersey, schools are grouped according to something called a District Factor Group, which is a value consisting of wealth components and educational levels of the residents taken from the most recent census data. The group we belong to is very close to the highest (on and scale that rates them A-J with A being the lowest, we are an “I”). The top two socio-economic levels usually comprise most of the top performing schools within the state. Withing that group, we rank near the bottom in most of the measurables society uses to gauge us.
Are the two items related? I’m sure there is something to the fact that there hasn’t been an earnest evaluation of what we do in quite a while, and going through such a process is often painful the first time, but it must be done.
I’ve talked to the teachers, specifically in the English Department at the high school, and outlined a plan to change the sequence of the courses offered. None of them liked it, and, in fact, most were opposed. That plan is now being debated in public. It’s equal parts structural/course sequence change and curriculum change.
But what I am finding I really need is more input. Input from the teachers and students. Input from the network out here. How do re-arrange situations in which students don’t view their learning in certain “levels” with any seriousness?
I need models. I need ways to help kids who don’t like to read and engage in “literary things” find value and meaning in what they do in their academic classes. I need ways to make it come alive for them.
I also need ways to do this so that teaching these kids in this new way does not drive my teachers insane.
There are models I’ve looked at that I love. I’ve read Readicide and am mining that for ideas and inspiration. What else should I read? Who else should I talk to? What are you doing that is making this type of difference?