There’s no magic wand to conjure successful curriculum implementation. To be successful, teachers must intensely prepare for instruction by, among other things, consulting curriculum experts and working with peers through challenges. But they must also continue to consult with experts and peers as questions arise during teaching. Is pacing appropriate? How to scaffold rigorous content without sacrificing quality?
Unfortunately, time is short for professional development in general. And while the value of professional development while curriculum implementation is under way is clear, such training is particularly hard to schedule.
In Her Own Words: From Content Leader Susan Haydel, District Curriculum Specialist, Iberville Parish.
What has been your biggest takeaway from the program so far?
I absolutely love being able to connect with others during our professional development time. Sharing ideas, hearing success stories from others, and even learning from each other’s mistakes has been so rewarding. Hearing other peoples’ perspectives on how and why they think the curriculum is designed the way it is has also helped me in my role as a coach in the district I serve.
What would you say to a district or school leader considering sending an educator through the ELA Content Leader program for Wit & Wisdom? How would the district or school benefit from having a Content Leader?
I am a leader in the district enrolled in the program now, and I would do it all over again. The more leaders we can have at different schools in the district, the better. Everyone benefits from educators having as much knowledge as they can about what it is they are teaching. When teachers truly understand their content, students benefit, the school benefits, and ultimately the district benefits. It’s a win-win!
Recognizing these realities, the state of Louisiana created a system to ensure that teachers have access to strong PD and implementation support before, during, and even after instruction.
The Louisiana Content Leader program helps local educators develop the expertise to provide quality curriculum-specific PD to support other teachers in their school or district. Content Leader training, a first step toward principal certification, is an investment in both the educator and the school system.
During the program, Content Leaders learn how to implement a curriculum, facilitate lessons, deliver PD, and plan and provide ongoing implementation support. In August 2019, Louisiana approved Great Minds® to provide Content Leader training for Wit & Wisdom®, our innovative English language arts curriculum for Grades K–8.
Content Leaders help other Wit & Wisdom teachers develop strong ELA instructional practices to set students up for success. For additional support, teachers can contact Great Minds experts directly or through their Content Leader.
We’re looking forward to training Content Leaders in other subjects. Louisiana has approved training for PhD Science®, our science curriculum for Grades 3–5, and participant recruitment began in December 2020. The state is considering whether to include Eureka Math®, our PK–12 curriculum, in the program.
When a district does the hard work of finding and deciding to implement a high-quality curriculum, teachers and students deserve every chance of success.
At Great Minds, we see successful implementation as the seat of a stool bolstered by the three legs of rigorous curriculum, PD, and implementation support.
With the Content Leader program in Louisiana, Great Minds gives educators a comfortable seat on this stool—and with it, professional growth, a broader learning community, and the opportunity to provide a quality education to more students.
That isn’t magic but it’s close.
If you’re a Louisiana educator who would like more information about the program—or if you would like to nominate educators in your school or district—find out more here.
Are you interested in delivering Wit & Wisdom PD but don’t live in Louisiana? Or are you a Louisiana educator who is not yet ready to pursue Content Leader certification? If so, you may be a good fit for our Wit & Wisdom PD Fellows program—an opportunity to continue teaching Wit & Wisdom while sharing your passion for and knowledge of the curriculum with others through PD delivery.
Amanda Stephens is the Louisiana content lead facilitator for the South implementation team at Great Minds. She grew up in south Mississippi, where she earned a degree in elementary education with a specialization in reading at the University of Southern Mississippi. From there, she began her teaching career of 18 years across the United States from New York, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and finally, New Orleans, Louisiana. She began working for Great Minds in June 2020 and feels privileged to work with the dedicated educators in the Louisiana Content Leader Program.