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October 14, 2011 My New Job as Curriculum Director By Ruth Manna
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    About one year ago I left classroom teaching to become a curriculum director. When I was a teacher I wondered what a curriculum director did all day. I didn’t think a curriculum director could be as busy as I was. Read on to find out what it’s like to switch from working as a classroom teacher to working as an administrator. The two jobs are more alike than you might imagine.

     

    Endless Variety

    For teachers, every day is different. The same can be said for curriculum directors. Constant problem-solving makes teaching intellectually stimulating. Being a curriculum director is similar. There’s variety in working with consultants, arranging professional development events, analyzing assessments, and responding to teachers’ questions. No two days are alike.

     

    Rhythm of the Year

    Each job has its own rhythm. There’s a rhythm to teaching, to the progression of lessons and the school calendar. Now, as a twelve-month employee, I’ve adjusted to a different rhythm, one in which summer is much busier.

    Summer is a time for planning professional development for the upcoming school year. Last summer a group of teachers, staff, and I wrote a District Early Literacy Action Plan. There would not have been time during the school year to create such a document. We also ran a district-wide summer reading camp for young readers.

     

    Greeting, Meeting, and Working With People

    Just as it is for teachers, one of the joys of my new job is working with a wide variety of people. As one of several district administrators, I frequently visit schools to chat with students and teachers. An important part of these visits is asking teachers if they have the resources they need as well as providing feedback.

    I attend many more meetings now than I did as a classroom teacher. As a curriculum director, I attend more regional and statewide meetings, whereas as a teacher, most of my meetings were school-based or district-wide. 

    My central office colleagues and I enjoy potlucks and share boxes of donuts, much as my co-teachers and I did when I was a classroom teacher. And of course we have visitors and field questions from principals, teachers, staff, school committee members, and publishers’ representatives. It’s a very busy office. 

     

    My Own Space

    A classroom is a teacher’s second home. I personalized my classroom with area rugs, table lamps, and themed displays. I’ve done the same with my cozy office, which is full of books and colorful posters. I even put up a whiteboard full of reminders and notes, so my office would feel more like my classroom.

    Making Things Happen

    In a classroom there’s excitement in the air and so much happens in a few short months. As a staff member I may not have the daily, direct responsibility for others that I had in the classroom, but I do encourage teachers and staff and see positive growth and change. I write and manage grants and serve as Title I director for our district in addition to my curriculum, professional development, and assessment responsibilities.

     

    Harder Than I Thought

    During this year, I’ve found this multidimensional position to be more challenging than I had expected. What adds to the complexity for me is the fact that I work with six elementary schools spread over a 256-square-mile school district. Just to drive over hilly terrain to all six schools takes about three hours.

     

    It’s a Great Position!

    As curriculum director, my work potentially impacts hundreds of students annually. I enjoy the challenge of working with adults, which has helped me develop my interpersonal skills. As teachers have gotten to know me, they’ve learned to rely on me. I have opportunities to write, which I enjoy. There’s potential for my new curriculum director’s job to evolve over time. 

    In many ways, being a teacher is similar to being a curriculum director. While there are special rewards in classroom teaching, being a curriculum director has its own unique benefits. Both jobs are fulfilling in that we are working together to help students develop as learners.

     

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