A Timely Message: Look Forward, Not Backward

We had our first day of Professional Development yesterday for our school district and the day began with presentations by two of the newest school principals: one at an elementary school and another at the middle/high school. The theme of both talks was very forward-looking.

“What year are you preparing your students for?” was the main underling question of both presenters.

They both asked us to think about what we want students to know when they graduate high school, and how can we use curriculum mapping and the new Massachusetts Curriculum Standards to get there. The message also indicated that we need to be going deeper with our curriculum, instead of skimming along the surface of ideas. And the 21st Century Skills that I find so important — collaboration, multimedia composition, and more — were front and center in their presentations, too. That was nice to hear validated at the administrative level, and maybe will give some colleagues an incentive to keep dipping their toes into the waters.

Stacey Jenkins, an elementary principal, talked about the shift to digital curriculum mapping and away from the large binders that sit in many of our classrooms. She espoused the potential of more collaborative curriculum design, and more alignment of scope and sequences across our school district. We’ll see how that unfolds over the next three years, but the idea is great.

“Once you print it out (curriculum), and put it into a binder, it becomes outdated,” Jenkins noted. “We owe it to our kids to map our curriculum in a way that will be easy to change. We need to update our instruction as quickly as updates happen in technology.”

She shared part of this video of Heidi Heyes Jacobs, curriculum mapping guru, talking the same message at a TED conference.


Laurie Hodgdon, principal of the middle/high school, acknowledged that teachers must admit that students today learn in different ways and at different paces than when they were a child in the classroom. While she pushed hard on the idea of “rigor, relevance , and relationships,” Hodgdon noted the many challenges that we face, including:

  • Accelerating technology
  • Changing workplaces
  • Globalization
  • Demographic shifts
  • High stakes accountability
  • Motivation of students

I liked the message they sent and it seemed to connect the work we do at the elementary schools with our colleagues at the upper grades.

Peace (in the shift?),


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