Guest Editorial: Good curriculum vital to learning

By Chris Selle
Superintendent
Meeker School District
Special to the Herald Times

Chris Selle

MEEKER | No factor has greater influence on student learning than the classroom teacher. While this statement may seem exceedingly obvious, it is also backed by much research. As such, the effort made by the Meeker School District to attract and retain high quality educators is of greatest importance. Currently, we are blessed with professional staff members that care deeply about students and learning. We must still be diligent providing competitive compensation, a positive work environment, and academic freedom coupled with appropriate accountability to ensure that these wonderful and devoted individuals stay in the Meeker School District. A teacher shortage currently exists in Colorado, as fewer and fewer young people are choosing to make education their lifelong profession. Many of the reasons for this are well beyond the control of the Meeker School District. Nonetheless, it is imperative that we make the Meeker School District a viable and attractive destination, when we have staff vacancies, for the quality educators who may be interested in our district.
One tool we can use to support excellent instruction is appropriate curriculum and curriculum materials. In the most basic sense, curriculum refers to the knowledge and skills we want students to gain and learn. The focus of the curriculum narrows when we consider the knowledge and skills specific to a given grade level and subject area. An overview of this narrowed focus in our curriculum can be found on the school district’s website (www.meeker.k12.co.us). This overview is located in the “Parent & Student Portal” menu on the left-hand side of the home page under the “Curriculum” tab in this menu. The documents contained in this folder give a weekly summary of the knowledge and skills that will be taught at various times in the school year. These documents undergo consistent review and revision so that the curriculum we offer our students appropriately meets learning expectations.
Naturally, the school district must regularly invest in materials to support our curriculum. Few challenges are more frustrating to a teacher than trying to teach with inadequate resources. Therefore, providing appropriate materials has been a point of focus for the school district over the past couple years. New materials we use for mathematics have been purchased and we are currently in the process of reviewing literacy and health materials. Additionally, smaller pockets of curriculum materials have been purchased for individual grade levels or classes on an as needed basis. At the beginning of the 15-16 school year, every content area had main curriculum materials that were at least 14 years old, with some as old as 32 years. While the content itself might not change in a given subject, materials of that age simply wear out and/or do not meet the educational needs of today’s children. For many of us who have been out of school for several years, we think of curriculum materials as textbooks. Those days are long gone. Today’s teachers use a combination of many online and traditional resources to deliver curriculum.
In order to purchase appropriate materials when needed, the Meeker School District has developed a protocol used to evaluate, then acquire, main curriculum materials. The teachers most familiar with the content area are involved in this process, then their recommendations follow a series of steps to ensure the most effective and efficient use of available funds. Fundraising efforts by the Meeker Education Foundation and donations from local organizations to purchase curriculum materials have greatly blessed our school district. Combined with district funds, we are positioned to address the most pressing curriculum material needs in our district. Our professional staff has been intentional and responsible by putting in countless hours to verify our purchases best meet the needs of our students. These efforts made by our teachers and our community to provide viable curriculum materials that will help our students learn gives me one more reason to proclaim I am proud to be a Meeker Cowboy!

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