At my new school, we are in the process of doing curriculum mapping.
What that means is basically planning out the entire year - all the major works and projects - listing the class content for each course, the skills we plan to help the students develop, and how we will assess their work. This will help all the teachers teaching the same courses to be consistent. It also helps us to better coordinate the Regents-level (i.e. regular)classes with the Honors and AP ones. In previous years, two teachers could be teaching the same class, but cover different literary works, give different assignments, and required different workloads. And because all the teachers are mapping together this summer, it helps up to plan better what material and skills will be covered at the different grade levels, and to build on what the students have had in previous years.
It sounds reasonable and logical to do this, but in many schools this sort of joint planning and cooperation is not the rule. My new school is committed to seeking ways to provide our students with better educations. Awesome.
The process is forcing us to spell out more clearly what we are trying to do and how we will do it. It also means some give and take. If we are going to coordinate, then we have to do the same major works at each grade level. Some teachers are dropping works that they've done for years. We're adding works that we are all agreeing on.
We've been at it for five days. Six plus hours a day. Six hours is about all we can handle before our brains start to flat line.
I love it.
I'm coming from a small Christian school where I WAS the English Department - and the Social Studies Department - and where what we could teach was severely limited because the denomination that runs that school is very strict about what can be discussed and what can be read.
Good people who dearly love their children - I understand what they are trying to do - but their rules and beliefs were often onerous. I still shudder at the thought of the books that had pages cut out because of "objectionable" content. And I sigh as I recall the ruling that came down that said we could no longer stage plays because they were too "entertaining."
But now, instead of working solo, at my new school I'm with a group of English teachers doing the planning. We talk and joke as we work. We make literary references - and everybody gets them.
And the works I can teach again. Old favorites like Antigone. Julius Caesar. Macbeth. Pride and Prejudice. The Glass Menagerie.
But I'm smiling.