We just finished up a Module in MACI entitled "Evaluation of Curriculum and Instruction". Since the title of the program is MA in Curriculum and Instruction, I had mixed feelings about this class. I wasn't sure if it was going to be something like the capstone of the entire program or if they were going to try to cram the whole of the program content into six (very) short weeks. Additionally, if that was going to be the case, I wondered why this class wasn't at the end of the program or at the beginning? Interesting, I thought.
Professor comes in on the first night and we find out she is an administrator. Mixed feelings. I'm still developing my attitude towards administrators. (No offense to those of you reading this.) Of course, I'm learning you cannot pigeon-hole someone into a box, just because they chose to leave the classroom. We learned that she is an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction (of all things!) in a large suburban district just to our north. Again, not sure how I was going to feel about this class! We learned the first week that she would only be teaching a few of the chapters... we were going to teach the rest! I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but then again, why not? I have done the same kind of thing in my own class, so why not in a master's level class? In fact, mishelleyb, one of the best teachers I know, does that for one of her undergraduate classes, so why not a graduate class?
I was given (out of pure chance/coincidence) the chapter on the knowledge base. What? Knowledge base? What is that? Yeah, those were my same thoughts when I found out I was going to present on that chapter. So, I read the chapter, and I thought, "What? Knowledge base? What is that?" Seriously, though. It was a very informative chapter. I learned about the knowledge base. Its where you learned to do what you do. I think it even goes beyond just education. My education will only carry me so far; I've also got to have some passion about my subject and I think that's part of the base. Its intrinsic and cannot be learned. Teachers either have it or they don't. I'm sure its something that can be lost and I've seen many teachers who seem to have either lost the flame of their subject matter or certainly its dimmed a little. I know, those teachers didn't do that on purpose, but nevertheless... At least now you know my train of thought while I was working on that chapter.
We went many different directions during this module. We covered nearly every chapter in the book entitled "Contemporary Issues in Curriculum". We talked about Kudzu, Rabbits, and school reform. We talked about grappling and budgets. But probably the most meaningful chapters in the book had to do with racial achievement gaps and equality in education. These impacted me greatly, as the population of my school has a high percentage of african-american students and a significant number of highly mobile Hispanic students. After 3 years of teaching, I am beginning to gain inroads into these populations and increase their enrollments in my classes. That means this knowledge is relevant. On the other hand, if its not already relevant, neither I nor my subject area will be relevant to these populations.
The essence of what I'm saying here is this class impacted me far more than I anticipated. I am beginning to see growth in my professional knowledge base. I see situations differently, I am able to handle problematic students differently (in a good way), I am able to structure or redesign my curriculum to meet the needs of my students, without wasting a lot of time on it.
Apparently, the one thing I'm unable to do better is communicate what I am able to do. I'll just keep trying.