Covering the Curriculum

Published by MrHonner on

I’m proud I covered the curriculum this year.

“Covering the curriculum” is one of those phrases that’s been around so long everyone in education has turned against it. Curriculum coverage has become synonymous with prioritizing the delivery of content over student success, or fixating on what the teacher presents rather than what the students learn. “You shouldn’t cover the curriculum. You should uncover it!” says the education influencer, getting 1K retweets every time.

Of course curriculum planning should center student experience. But it should also embody a clearly defined set of concepts and tools. Covering the curriculum should mean delivering that full set of ideas to students in a coherent and meaningful way. And covering the curriculum was not easy this year.

In September I had to plan for a year of unknown unknowns. Our restructured school schedule included a switch to block periods and a 33% overall reduction in instructional time. Double periods are not as simple as teaching two lessons back-to-back. Losing a third of my class time was going to have a substantial impact on what we could do. There was a lot of uncertainty about what the courses I’d taught so many times before would look like. More fundamentally, there was a lot of uncertainty about what each day of class would look like. I had no experience with live remote instruction, and I had no idea what could be accomplished in a 55-minute Zoom class.

Putting together a pacing guide in September was flying blind. Our Geometry team worked together to streamline the sequence and differentiate core concepts from peripheral ones. I consolidated units in my combined pre-calculus / calculus course hoping for more efficiency. I made my best educated guesses based on my 20+ years as a teacher, but I really had no idea how the courses would unfold.

As unusual as the year was, one thing was the same: Like every year, I tried things, I got feedback, I learned, and I adjusted. I slowly got a feel for pacing and a feel for the day-to-day. And quite remarkably, as we face down the last month of school, I can say that the plan worked. It wasn’t easy, but I taught the courses I set out to teach. Students learned what they needed to learn, and they will be ready for what comes next. I covered the curriculum. And I’m proud of it.

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