Updated: Nov 13
Materials only matter if K–8 teachers have the support to understand and implement them. How are districts, instructional leaders, and curriculum providers working together to ensure that educational resources impact student learning? inquirED and NCSS were joined by John White (Chief Success Officer, Great Minds) and Sarah Milo Hoskow (Head of Partner Experience, inquirED) to explore how to support teachers, schools, and districts in implementing high-quality instruction.
Coherence and depth in curriculum are essential attributes of high-quality instructional materials.
Curriculum implementation needs to be strategic and aligned with the entire district's vision.
Schools and districts are successful when they make a commitment to longevity in curriculum implementation.
Teachers need continuous support and professional development throughout the curriculum implementation process.
Coherence and Depth in Curriculum
In a recent webinar, John White (Chief Success Officer, Great Minds) and Sarah Milo Hoskow (Head of Partner Experience, inquirED) discussed the complexities and nuances of implementing high-quality instructional materials in schools. Their insights provided a comprehensive look at the challenges and opportunities faced in modern education.
White emphasized the importance of coherence and depth in curriculum, pointing out that for decades, discussions about education reform have largely overlooked the substance of what children learn daily. “We talked about who the teachers were…about the choices the parents had,” White said, “but we didn't really talk about what kids were doing and learning and talking about in school every day.” He argued that a quality curriculum should build a growing body of knowledge, fostering well-rounded education rather than a disjointed learning experience. White highlighted that the issue often begins at the systems level, where principles of coherence can get lost in a cascade of directives and processes, leading to teachers not being fully prepared for successful implementation.
Strategic Implementation with Support
Milo Hoskow stressed the importance of not only what is taught but how it is taught. According to Milo Hoskow, high-quality instructional materials should include instructional supports to ensure that teachers are equipped to foster ambitious learning goals. She pointed out that strategic implementation of these materials is essential and requires more than mere adoption. This involves aligning the entire district with the vision, ensuring everyone has an entry point, and providing continuous support for teachers. “We can't just put high-quality instructional materials in front of teachers and expect them to know exactly what's in it,” Milo Hoskow shared. “We have to meet them where they are and provide the supports to learn and grow along the way.”
Both panelists agreed that no single plan fits all districts and that continuous assessment and adjustment are vital for maintaining coherence in curriculum implementation. According to White and Milo Hoskow, fidelity (i.e., using the materials as they were intended) is important, but the concept must be adaptable and fluid. "We shouldn't overstate the kind of brilliance of the curriculum," White said, "and undervalue the nuts-and-bolts issues that are hard about teaching."
Longevity in Curriculum Commitment
The discussion also covered the importance of longevity in curriculum commitment and the need for professional development to be grounded in real classroom experiences. White and Milo Hoskow underscored that adopting a high-quality curriculum is not a short-term endeavor but a long-term commitment that requires sustained effort and consistency.
White specifically highlighted the success of Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, as an example of this principle in action. He pointed out that a successful curriculum implementation transcends mere adoption; it involves a deep, multi-year commitment to the chosen curriculum, ensuring that it becomes an integral part of the educational fabric. This commitment is vital for allowing time for teachers and administrators to fully understand and integrate the curriculum, to observe its impact, and to make necessary adjustments based on real classroom experiences.
Milo Hoskow highlighted the significance of preparing for this journey even before the adoption stage. She stressed that the curriculum should respond to a bold vision for students, advocating for a strategic, long-term plan that starts with initial adoption and continues through intensive implementation and into sustained practice. Milo Hoskow's perspective reinforces the idea that longevity in curriculum implementation is not just about duration, but also about strategic planning and adaptability, which ensure that educational reforms are substantial and enduring.
Keep Exploring: View the Webinar Recording
Our webinar delved into the intricacies of implementing high-quality instructional materials. John White and Sarah Milo Hoskow offered invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities educators encounter in this endeavor. They emphasized the significance of curriculum coherence, strategic implementation, and continuous support for teachers. To gain a deeper understanding and access further insights, we highly recommend watching the full recording of the webinar. Click below to watch the recording now.
inquirED was founded by teachers with the mission of bringing inquiry-based social studies to every classroom. Inquiry Journeys, inquirED’s elementary social studies curriculum, is used in schools and districts across the country to help students develop deep social studies content knowledge and build the inquiry skills that are essential for a thriving democracy.
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