What comes to mind when you hear the term curriculum leader? Do you have a vision of your HOF standing at the back of your classroom observing teaching and learning? Do you see the instructional leader as the building principal conducting three-minute walk-through observations? Is the curriculum leader the department chair? How many curriculum leaders can one school hold?
Curriculum leadership should not be determined by a person’s title or years of experience. Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership. Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school. Strong, intentional leadership in curriculum development is a necessity for strong instructional leadership.
Curriculum leadership is complicated because leading curriculum development meetings involves working with fallible, imperfect human beings. A second reason curriculum leadership is difficult is due to the school schedule and a lack of extended time for teachers to discuss and revise existing curriculum documents. I know in my environment the complexity of documents can seem confusing. While it is difficult to ask for each teacher’s input, documents that are top-down rarely receive as much teacher buy-in as documents that were created by the teachers who are required to implement the curriculum. Curriculum leaders must work together to create a culture of trust where teachers and administrators can agree to disagree. Furthermore, leaders must develop quality time and create schedules which provide time for creative thinking and reflection, rather than scheduling early release days when teachers complete fill-in-the blank curriculum worksheets.
Five Reasons Why Schools Need Curriculum Leaders:
- Curriculum Leadership provides clarity.
What should every student know and be able to do?
- Curriculum Leadership provides opportunities to develop and empower future leaders.
Curriculum leadership is not a solo act.
- Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for continuous improvement.
Schools should be learning organizations.
- Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity to establish goals.
Goals provide teachers and students with something to aim for.
- Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for improved alignment.