A Window into the Work: Our Survey of Field Needs

A year ago, three of us published an editorial in EdWeek, We Have a National Reading Crisis, which seemed to strike a chord in the midst of a growing conversation about literacy. We formed a Professional Learning Network of C&I leaders dedicated to sharing our work with high-quality curriculum, because of the positive outcomes in our schools.

Since then, we’ve been pleased to bring this conversation to new venues! Brian Kingsley discussed the ‘science of reading’ in AASA’s School Administrator magazine. Jana Beth Francis was named a Leader to Learn From by EdWeek, specifically for her curriculum work.

Jared Myracle continued to write for EdWeek, noting the need for multi-year investments in reading instruction to reap benefits and the importance of curriculum for coherent, grade level work. He also penned a recent piece on literacy for ASCD. Robin McClellan presented at the Learning Forward conference, and she’s speaking on a webinar with Student Achievement Partners tonight.

We’ve enjoyed other spotlights on curriculum. The Knowledge Matters School Tour has been visiting districts and sharing stories in social media and in The 74. Emily Hanford recently visited Jackson-Madison (watch this space!).

Yet most of our activity has happened behind the scenes. Since sharing our curriculum work, we’ve had numerous inquiries from across the country, seeking to learn more. Often, we’ve been speaking with districts evaluating new curricula. We’ve also connected with peers on the implementation journey to learn from each other’s experiences. It has been fun to see ‘Curriculum Road Trips’ in which Sumner County, a Tennessee district in its first year with Wit & Wisdom, visited Baltimore City for connections and insights.

Recently, the volume of these inquiries has grown, probably because it’s adoption season. And we can’t help but wonder… is there a better way for us to support the field than to have 1:1 conversations? Could we reach more people – and learn more ourselves – if we could organize small groups around these topics, since the same themes keep recurring?

Also, how many educators have good questions, but have been too polite to ask them directly?

We want to turn this question back to you: What would help your curriculum learning journey?

  • Webinars comparing the different curriculum options – or unpacking individual curricula?
  • Zoom chats about implementation challenges?
  • Opportunities to visit our districts, and see the work in classrooms?
  • Virtual tours (videos, webinars) of the work in our districts?
  • Investments in teacher PLNs for users of specific curricula?
  • Discussions focused on PD providers?
  • All of the above – or something else?

If we can understand the needs of our peers, we may be able to create more effective collaboration opportunities; everyone wins, including our teams, if we can foster cross-district learning. (We don’t want to overpromise… but we’ll certainly do what we can!)

We created a short survey, so that your perspectives and needs can inform our thinking.

Please take this survey if you believe that additional collaboration might allow us to better support each other in this important work. Thanks for sharing your 2 cents!