The start of every school year brings countless learning opportunities to students, teachers, parents, and administrators. However, for teachers new to the industry or recently relocated to a new school or district, adjusting to a different environment and education style can be overwhelming. Fortunately, curriculum mapping can help teachers gain access to successful strategies specific to their school, integrate more smoothly into their new teaching environment, and present an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with established educators and school administrators.

School administrators can build inclusivity and confidence in curriculum mapping in many ways. Here are a few:

Get teachers started right

As each new teacher is hired, introduce them to curriculum mapping processes if they’re unfamiliar with them, and give teachers access to review specific maps for their grade and/or school. This presents them with a range of teaching strategies for engaging their students, and customized notes from other educators regarding successful lessons and potential challenges.

Where possible, connect new teachers with a mapping mentor; ideally, a teacher who is an experienced curriculum mapper and who has been with the school for a longer time. This mentorship can be as formal or informal as desired but will give teachers someone to connect with when they have questions about the process. It may also provide them with a familiar face on the first day of class — something that’s equally welcome to children and adults!

Develop a positive learning environment

Foster an environment of continual learning by providing professional development opportunities that develop teachers’ mapping skills throughout the year. Schedule mapping review and/or strategy into professional development day calendars, and allow adequate time for questions and feedback. Then, allow teacher feedback to impact the existing process, whether by tweaking the user experience or noting issues with a map to be addressed either immediately or in its next iteration. 

It is also important, particularly when introducing curriculum mapping as a new process or when introducing stakeholders to working with it, to develop an atmosphere that is open to different teaching styles. The key goal of curriculum mapping isn’t to tell educators how to instruct their students but to outline content that must be covered, and illustrate how the understanding of that content will be assessed.

Encourage diversity in the school’s Professional Learning Community

Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, are a great way for teachers to support each other throughout the school year in working through their curriculum map. They can also help new teachers acclimatize to their new environment and build strong working relationships with their peers. As a group that meets regularly (often, monthly) to discuss teaching strategies, they may take some time to establish their aims and meeting style; it is important, as an administrator, to ask participants for input on how they would like the PLC to be run, encourage new membership, and allot weekday time for its meetings to encourage genuine commitment. Administrators or PLC team leaders can also connect the PLC with external consultants or experts for learning opportunities or conflict resolution. Read this Q&A with Professional Development Expert Lisa Vander Weide to learn more about PLCs and meaningful professional development for educators.

This video by Heidi Hayes Jacobs shares how to work and create a curriculum task force. Watch below:

Welcome feedback from varied perspectives and stakeholders

Curriculum mapping is an ongoing process. While participating educators record their findings on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and have their students’ term assessments and results to gauge their class’ progress, it is also important to reassess each map yearly at a higher level(by a team based out of the school or district) to address gaps, share best practices, and highlight lesson breakthroughs. 

In Chalk’s eight-step Curriculum Map Review Process, teachers choose their degree of involvement. It can range from first reviews of all maps by all teachers at a proofreading level to getting involved with more in-depth small group review, where a group of 5 to 8 educators share their findings and questions based on the first review and bring their feedback to further small group sessions and a large group (all-staff) review which ensures each teacher’s ability to read the curriculum map and addresses revision points for immediate remediation or further research. This multi-step process gives teachers ample opportunity to provide input towards the shape of next year’s map, and can also incorporate committee feedback from outside stakeholders including parents, students, and other educational or community organizations.

Curriculum mapping is a considerable time investment, but it bears strong returns in helping teachers share best practices among a wider community while shaping their instruction to each class they teach. This helps to create a collaborative and adaptable learning environment which is beneficial to teachers and students alike.

Try our Self Assessment: Am I Ready to Refine My Curriculum Mapping Process to get started.

Blog contributed by Taryn Graham

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