Curricula decisions in pre-k affect everything from what students learn to how they learn it. While many early childhood curricula promote developmentally appropriate practices, I believe some, particularly the scripted programs, fail to capitalize on the “teachable moments” that occur every day in the classroom. As one blog reader recently commented, a scripted program "doesn't really get to high level thinking questions, doesn't address the needs of kids in individual classrooms.".
To be sure, a highly passionate and organized teacher can make the most of any curriculum. But the ability of teachers to adjust specific curricula often depends on a school’s or center’s relationships with the district, company, or other organization it reports to and teachers’ relationships with their direct supervisors.
I recognized the strengths and limitations of the previous curriculum my district used, Curiosity Corner, and engaged my students in meaningful dialogue that came out of our own discussions, regardless of the exact questions the curriculum manual prescribed. This worked largely because my supervisors did not micromanage my classroom, not a benefit every teacher has.
When it came to handling a curriculum switch, my district notified the pre-k teachers of the new curriculum during a summer workshop about a month and a half before school started. Prior to the announcement, we knew only that district officials in the Office of Early Childhood had been vacillating between a few curricula. We were never informed of possible opportunities to voice our opinions based on classroom experiences. Clearly, teacher input and evaluation time were not top priorities.
I think my experience with curriculum decisions is hardly unique and begs important questions, like “What role, if any, should teachers play in choosing a curriculum?”
Any teachers, administrators, or curricula authors who want to take a crack at answering that one? I’m sure we can improve matters if we put our heads together.