This year, a curriculum coordinator position was created out of the desire to ensure that Journeys School offered students the best possible education. The responsibilities of the curriculum coordinator can be broken into three areas: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. In each of these areas, the intention is to keep families informed of the work being done to stay true to the mission and create a learning environment for students that excels in every way.
In the realm of curriculum, one focus this year is the elementary mathematics program. Journeys School has used Everyday Mathematics in the elementary school since 2004. We are currently researching a variety of math curricula to ensure that we are using the best one currently available. Our objective is to find a curriculum that is aligned with our mission and one that will guide us in further developing our math program. Currently we are looking at several curricula including Math in Focus, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication that follows the Singapore Approach, Scott Foresman/ Addison Wesley’s Envision Math and Investigations in Number, Data and Space, as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math Expressions. Over the next several weeks, teachers will be teaching sample lessons using the above mentioned curricula and rating each curriculum. This spring, we will gather our notes and discuss what we feel is the best fit for the Journeys School elementary program.
Another area of focus is the alignment of our current curriculum with our benchmarks. As we mature as a school we are fine-tuning our curriculum planning methods to best align with our benchmarks. Currently we have an excellent curriculum created by a passionate cohort of teachers who collectively have over 100 years of teaching experience. The Curriculum Coordinator will be responsible for harnessing this expertise and creativity and funneling it into a common language and format. One of the unique aspects of Journeys School is our ability to differentiate our teaching to the needs of the individual student and adjust our lesson plans accordingly. Our curricular guide will support this ability to modify lessons to best meet the needs of the classes.
Journeys School teachers are talented, informed, and constantly striving to create a learning environment for students that is engaging and supportive. In terms of instruction, the curriculum coordinator’s objective is to work with the teaching teams to continue to fine tune our area of expertise. Journeys School teachers are of the mind-set that there is always room for improvement in both our teaching and our students. As a result, we are frequently collaborating with one another and seeking professional development opportunities to ensure that we are using every opportunity to maximize student learning. The curriculum coordinator will be actively engaged in this process through teacher observation and feedback. After classroom observations, the curriculum coordinator will meet with teachers to discuss our teaching philosophy and practice; as well as teacher’s mastery of both the content and pedagogy of that content area. Journeys School strives to have classes that are 1) student centered and differentiated to challenge all learners 2) based on respectful relationships and a whole-child approach 3) directed by authentic assessment and individual accountability and 4) experiential, place-based, engaging and relevant.
The curriculum coordinator will also review assessment results. Beyond looking at the end score, the curriculum coordinator will look for trends in each subject area. Journeys School teachers are actively working on making assessments clear to families as well as informative to teachers. Our goal is to use these assessments to inform our teaching and maximize student learning. When trends are identified, teachers will work with the curriculum coordinator to create a plan to address the area in need of attention. At the end of last year in the lower elementary, spelling was identified as an area of instruction that needed improvement. This fall grades first through third adopted a new spelling program entitled, “Spelling by Pattern”. The teachers and curriculum coordinator are closely monitoring the assessments to determine if this new program is resulting in improved scores as well as improved spelling in their writing. Assessments are viewed not only as indicators of growth, but also as one of many indicators used to determine curricular effectiveness.
At Journeys School, we are inspired to provide a learning environment that engages, challenges, and supports students on their learning journey. We are committed to creating kind and confident students who are life-long learners, risk takers, and inquirers. With a dedicated focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment the curriculum coordinator’s goal is to support Journeys School teachers in this mission.