The Necessary Role of the Teacher

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Curriculum has been changing quickly the past few decades. Currently, we are moving at lightning speeds trying to develop and implement modern and meaningful curriculum that will positively impact today’s students. This curriculum provides a starting point from which students can establish their futures, allowing them to move forward in any endeavor they choose and into careers that may not be created yet. Teachers carry out the curriculum within in their classrooms. They are the individuals that are implementing the curriculum so that is has meaning and is relevant to their students; they are constantly adjusting their curriculum for the better of their students. For this reason, teachers are necessary when it comes to creating and choosing curriculum.

There are several different approaches to curriculum. Ornstein & Hunkins list the different approaches as, The Behavior Approach, The Managerial Approach, The Systems Approach, The Academic Approach, The Humanistic Approach and The Postmodern Approach (2017). Each of these approaches has benefits, but in our rapidly changing society, the Postmodern Approach could be the most beneficial curriculum at this time. Over the past few years, many districts have focused on all but the Humanistic and Postmodern Approaches. Districts have tried to implement curriculum that follows a blueprint, focusing more on the outcome rather than the procedure, which is in accordance with the Behavioral Approach. They have tried approaches that encouraged more changes in delivery than subject matter much like the Managerial Approach. They have also tried to implement curriculum that encouraged a metacognition aspect such as that within the Academic Approach. With all these approaches, the approach that may best be suited for our changing society and students could be the Postmodern Approach. This approach is inclusive of the Humanistic Approach and encourages teaching “the whole child”. This approach includes life experiences as well as problem-solving qualities creating a meaningful learning experiences while encouraging students to connect and learn at deeper levels. Although this approach may be new to many districts, it is one that allows and inspires educators to be the change agent our students need while closing the achievement gap that is evident in our students of today.

Curriculum continues to undergo transformations and it is imperative that educators, school boards, principals, and districts stay well-informed so that they may provide the most current, and practical curriculum available. Students and their futures are more important than a simple basil and textbook that claim to include standards and benchmarks. It is our responsibility to research and wisely consider all areas of curriculum. Many times curriculum becomes monotonous; a scripted and structured pattern that muffles and sometimes reduces the creativity and enthusiasm within educators. According to Thomas Armstrong, (2006) this developmental criterion approach essentially prepares students for tests but misses the mark because it is not connected to real life (p. 100). Although this style of curriculum is simple to deliver, it is also a disadvantage to educators as they may become complacent and/or unable to interpret specific concepts and techniques (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2017, p. 23). To avoid this gap in curriculum as well as a loss of time and money, teachers need to be part of the role in curriculum design and development. Their knowledge of a fluid scope and sequence which meaningfully connects to students may avoid the educational frustration that many educators and students experience.

Educators taking an active role in curriculum design and development is nothing new; however, it is even more beneficial at this time, in our rapidly changing educational settings and in today’s society. In What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action, Robert J. Marzano (2003, Chap. 11) suggests five actions steps that teachers can apply to curriculum.

  1.  Have teachers identify the important declarative and procedural knowledge in the topics that are to be the focus of instruction.
  2.  Have teachers present new content multiple times using a variety of input modes.
  3.  Have teachers make a distinction between those skills and processes students are to master versus those they are not.
  4.  Have teachers present content in groups or categories that demonstrate the critical features of the content.
  5.  Have teachers engage students in complex tasks that require addressing content in unique ways.

These action steps demonstrate the importance the “teacher” plays within curriculum deliverance. So it goes without saying that the teacher is the main component of curriculum overall. With the guidance of teachers, curriculum can still meet the standards expected by state and government. Data can still be gathered as needed, but can be used by teachers to immediately implement changes that affect students’ knowledge and growth, which is an advantage to the student, teacher, and district. According to Jacobs (2010), teachers bring “pertinent ideas and purposeful practice while addressing what is essential for our learners” (p.6). Their knowledge and experiences provide a favorable foundation for curriculum scope and sequence, which incorporates a positive time management component.

Teachers can also provide a bridge between parents, their students, and administration. Teachers are the individuals who speak to students daily and with their parents regularly. This connection allows for a consistent dialog between both students and parents and provides an opportunity for parents and students to share their wants, their needs, and concerns regarding curriculum. Teachers can then take this knowledge into consideration when participating in curriculum design and development.

Teachers who are well versed in their specialty area as well as child development have the insight into what is needed to teach students. Their knowledge is irrefutable and proven to be beneficial according to research completed by Johnathan Eakle in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Eakle (2012), discovered that teacher participation and decision making within curriculum provided positive school outcomes (p. 22). Through teacher interviews, Eakle also found that a majority of teachers find discrepancies between child-development and district and state standards (2012, p. 23). This information further demonstrates the importance of teacher involvement within curriculum design and development.

Empowering teachers and allowing their voices to be heard can increase student achievements at many levels. High stakes testing has become the norm for which public schools operate and are measured. Many times, the data and accountability from these scores are directly or indirectly placed on shoulders of teachers. That being the case, “teachers as professionals encompass the right to have an active voice in decision making regarding the curricula” because this will ultimately “measure their achievement as well as that of their students, and other conditions for which they are being judged.” (Eakle, 2012, p. 26). M.A. Alsubaie, states that “empowerment of teacher involvement as a center of curriculum development leads to effective achievement in educational reform.” (2016). Positive educational reform is beneficial for all involved.

Curriculum design and development are constantly changing. Curriculum should be a working document that is evolving and growing, allowing for continuous improvement and growth. As is it now, our curriculum is chosen because it supposedly aligns with state testing and it is cost efficient as the same publishers that are creating the test are the same curriculum publishers. After the state or District Leaders have chosen the curriculum they feel is best, teachers must take time out of their schedule to review the curriculum, making sure it aligns properly with their subject, state standards and students. Next, they must determine five to ten “Power Standards”, which are the overarching standards from which their scope and sequence will follow throughout the school year. Teachers then have to “unpacked” their standards, discovering and developing curriculum supplements to effectively teach the standards required, from this, they must create Unit Plans. These Unit Plans are essentially a reworked version of the new curriculum. Once teachers have basically rewritten a majority of their curriculum they must also develop a pre and posttest that will flow with each unit of their curriculum, allowing them the data they must analyze to justify their students’ scores and their abilities.

With all these tasks, teachers continue to make changes for continuous improvements. Many teachers are willing to put in the extra time needed to participate in curriculum design and development. Teachers have developed ways to work smarter, not harder; using their time wisely so that they can positively impact their students. If teachers could be a part of curriculum development and design in the beginning, it would save them time in the end. The time that would allow them to work with their students, preparing them for the future, “not simply to achieve high test scores but to continually improve and produce good citizens and well-rounded individuals”. (Gemberling, Smith & Villani, 2004, p. 85).

Cite this paper

The Necessary Role of the Teacher. (2022, Jan 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-necessary-role-of-the-teacher/

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