This was the phrase that prompted my work with grade level teams on examining the CCSS-Math standards. Elementary school teachers in the Palo Alto Unified School District are in the middle of a pilot year to select new math curriculum that scheduled to be implemented during the 2017-2018 school year. PAUSD has been using Everyday Math for eight years with a lot of conflicting opinions of the curriculum between the staff and parents. There are many schools that have used it with fidelity while some schools have moved onto using other math curricula to meet the needs of their students and align with the Common Core State Standards, including EngageNY. No matter what curriculum teachers use, quality pedagogy that focuses on the success of all students, aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the 8 Mathematical Practices is the key.
I share the belief (and fact) of many that there is no perfect curriculum. My view is that any curriculum acts more like a GPS navigator. Throughout the school year, teachers make professional and purposeful decisions to use supplemental materials to meet the needs of their students. As a result, the progression of lessons in any curriculum is paused or altered. These professional and purposeful decisions is the science of teaching and no curriculum can replace the science of teaching. Instead, the curriculum as a GPS navigator to guide the teacher back on a predetermined path when necessary decisions to change the path are made. Like any road trip, the driver (the teacher) can make purposeful decisions to alter the suggested path (of the curriculum guide).
The biggest part of this analogy is the focus on the destination - meeting the grade level standards. An effective curriculum is designed to bring all students to meet CCSS at the end of the school year. Focusing on the destination of CCSS is the key aspect of the standards mapping activity.
Having a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards is definitely an important piece of instruction.
- to know the destination of the school year,
- to know what's important to address at each point of the year and how concepts build,
- to be able to teach to those standards no matter which math curriculum is used (or selected in PAUSD),
- to see curriculum maps as guides to meeting CCSS and professional instructional decisions are far more important,
- to be able to see how "concepts build from grade to grade."
It's definitely important to remember that We don't teach curriculum; we teach students. Be mindful of the standards - the end destination, however, remember we teach students.