Pacing: Standards or Curriculum?

It seems that next year I’ll be teaching middle school English Language Development (ELD) and ELD AVID. I’m excited about that, and a little nervous. I have only taught high school, never middle school, and in middle school they use (gulp!) pacing charts. And have a district coach who makes sure people are on pace. Now I get the need to make sure the standards are all taught, they really should be the minimum you do teach. And I understand that in order to determine whether they are being learned, you must do regular benchmark exams, and that teaching the standards on a certain schedule is necessary for those benchmark exams to be meaningful. (I’ll write a different post about testing kids to death.) What I don’t get is the perceived need to pace the curriculum. It seems to me to be most important that you look at your end goal and get there. Period. I can’t imagine someone even telling me what story to read when, much less how long to spend on each one. Isn’t that part of being a teacher? Aren’t decisions like that part of what we do as teachers? I don’t expect this opinion of mine will enhance my popularity, but there it is. Few of my opinions do. I’m looking forward to receiving a copy of the curriculum so I can see what I’m up against and make some plans.

This attitude may be naive of me. I have only taught high school, as I said, and when I was there we didn’t follow pacing charts. We didn’t even have a curriculum we followed until the year after I left, when I managed to get permission to purchase one that had been designed for older students. We had always created stuff and drawn from a variety of sources. That was what ELD teachers did, as there was no other choice.

One year a person from the D.O. came in and told us we had to begin using a certain curriculum (one which seems to be ubiquitous in ELD classes in CA at least, the only one the state adopted until about two years ago. Starts with HP), so we ordered it in adequate numbers but the using of it was something else. It was not created for high school and we found it to be insultng to that age student. So we really didn’t use it much at all. The only thing I could see it was good for was pacing. It does a good job of recycling the standards and I did like that. (So. I’m not totally negative.)

At any rate, it seems that next year will be my chance to put my money where my mouth is. Pacing the standards, not so much the curriculum. Wish me luck!

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