14 May Slice of Life: To Weed or Not to Weed #SOL19 #TWTBlog
A wise mentor once told me to think about gardening when it comes to curriculum. Many literacy leaders and educators fall into the trap of continually adding new programs, ideas, and initiatives without deciding what needs to go. While each may have merits unto itself, trying to teach too many things forces us not to teach anything well. We all know that in terms of curriculum, depth is preferred to breadth to give students time to explore and synthesize information.
Change is difficult. We are all comfortable with the familiar. We often have trouble letting things go or “weeding” because it is how we have always done it. I personally love tradition and can relate to wanting to keep the tried and true. The problem is that there is not enough time to get it all done and to get it done well. When we try to keep the old while incorporating the new, we simply run out of time.
This time crunch is causing stress for teachers and students. We need to realize that we cannot do it all and it does not benefit our students to literally drag them through the curriculum so we can keep pace. We need to slow down so our students have time and space to learn, reflect, revise, and celebrate.
Weeding the garden of our curriculum is not easy. It is like someone coming into your home and removing your couch. They may think you don’t need the couch. They may plan to replace it with stuffed chairs. But you love your couch. You can’t envision your living room without your couch. Many of us feel the same way about our curriculum. How do we know what to keep and what to let go of? How do we trust new programs? What will be lost if we let certain units or practices go?
I always recommend not weeding until you get to know the curriculum or practices you will be adding. It feels better to know what is going to replace the familiar before you remove it. Still, I find most teachers hold on longer than they should, and it causes problems.
I am always looking for ideas or protocols to guide the process of “weeding.” This week’s #G2Great Twitter Chat is focused on helping us do just that – The 39 Stops to Making Schools Better. We all know we need to weed and these authors will identify 39 practices, programs, processes, philosophies, and people problems that schools must eliminate in order to improve education for all involved. The timing of this chat could not be better! Spring is the perfect time to try new things and let some things go. If we experiment now at the end of the year and work through all the kinks, it sets us up to start the year with focus and intention. Lucy Calkins, in her April office hours, encouraged all of us to do just that, “Anything you want to try next year, try it now! Now’s the time. You know your kids, this is the time to experiment.”
I plan to join #G2Great Twitter chat this Thursday, May 16 at 8:30 pm EST to find out more about these 39 Stops. Hope you will join me!
And … congratulations to Amanda Pitzele! You have won a copy of Debbie Miller’s book, What’s the Best That Could Happen? Please email me your contact information so I can send it to you! Clare.firstname.lastname@example.org
This week share what you do to help yourself “weed” your curriculum/program/initiative garden to slow down and give your students more time to truly learn in the comments. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner on May 17. The winner will receive a copy of The 39 Stops to Making Schools Better. I will announce the winner on the blog on Tuesday, May 21.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.