Monday, January 14, 2013

Curriculum you can't teach

I've been working on a new 9-12 curriculum for the last few months. It's hard. Really hard. Not the actual writing part, but the bit where I try to conceptualize a great curriculum I don't know that I'll even be able to teach. I feel like it is more of a wish list for my seniors than a guarantee of the information literacy skills I will teach them before they graduate. That is very frustrating to me. I don't like making promises I'm not sure I can keep. So I have decided to do the only thing I can think of - conceptualize a great curriculum and make a plan for implementation.

I know what skills my students should have before graduating. I have written curriculum before, read the articles, attended the workshops and see the skills my college students lack. The problem lies in the fact that I am writing a curriculum without a guarantee that I can teach it. At my former district I had a quarterly freshman class. We also had two librarians and never taught at the same time so it worked - introductory skills taught and other classes could be attended to. But I can't do that alone. It feels rewarding when my colleagues ask for help with research projects, but I want to scream when they don't tell me about other projects or assume the students know what to do because they are honors or seniors. Don't they understand that the information literacy skills are a constant work in progress with these young adults? In these moments I wonder why I'm wasting my time making curricular promises to the students that I can't keep.

I know what others will say - "you have to collaborate", "don't let the teachers do research without you", "attend department meetings", etc. I understand all that very well and say the same things to others in my situation. After all, it is easy to blame the others for not collaborating with me. How can I do my job if no one else will play nice?

But then I had to be honest with myself. The simple truth is that I have expected too much in the last two years. I can see the library program and role in my school that I want. And I wanted it from Day 1. Over the last year and a half I have alternated between proud at the impact I have made some areas and frustrated at the slow change that has come in others, as well as going through the process of being the "new kid". I've come to realize that the key is patience and understanding that it won't happen overnight.

Ugh, I'm not good at thinking like that. But I have to.

You see, when you have a curriculum you aren't guaranteed to be able to teach, you have to think positively and creatively. And have a plan.
  • Write the dream curriculum - include everything my students should know to prepare them for college and life in general beyond high school
  • I have to teach it. Zero in on those that have already been working with me for more collaboration in the planning stages of the lesson. (Hear that English and social studies? We need to talk...No, we aren't breaking up. We have been together for awhile now and it is time to take our relationship to another level.)
  • Spread the word about information literacy and tech integration and meet more of the faculty. Host tech workshops regularly for flex hours. An hour here and there should draw them in. (Snacks will probably help, too...)
  • Begin inquiring when other departments are rewriting their curriculum and attempt Phase One of Information Literacy Cross-Curricular Integration 
Collaboration isn't always easy, but it is the only way I can teach my curriculum. Stay tuned as I implement "Operation Information Literacy Skills".

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