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From first-year teachers to experienced principals, every educator is concerned with curriculum quality and its ability to transform student learning. But as educational leaders rise through the ranks, they also take on new responsibilities regarding academic achievement and the effective development and implementation of curriculum.

Graduates of Mississippi College’s online Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership – Curriculum & Instruction Track program learn how to translate their newfound knowledge of instructional design, teacher development and student assessment into positive results for the staff they lead and the classes they serve.

Collaborative Curriculum Design

While principals are not responsible for the day-to-day instruction of pupils, they have a crucial role in guiding teachers and staff members on how to meet student needs through the curriculum.

In his book Leading Curriculum Development, Jon Wiles writes that curriculum development is the most essential function of school leadership. A clear set of goals and objectives for learning that culminates in successful educational experiences for students, he writes, creates a foundation for every staff member in a school to stand on.

While states typically provide school districts with core curricula to follow, successful principals recognize opportunities to create blueprints for implementation alongside their employees. In practice, this means learning from the experts — the teachers and staff who work directly with students and their families.

Principals must research past and present curriculum, assessment practices and instruction methods to understand why some groups of students are achieving benchmarks and others are not, according to a recent Educational Research and Development Journal article. Principals can set aside time for classroom observations and create forums for parents and staff to express their opinions on the curriculum.

Many principals favor this shared leadership approach because it allows teachers to develop leadership skills and eventually step into management roles. Researchers argue that creating study groups, grade-level committees and leadership teams allows traditional and non-traditional educators to cross-pollinate and blend their unique styles into more effective strategies for students.

Data-Driven Decision-Making

The process of assessing and designing curriculum also allows teachers to create lesson plans that respond to student needs. While curriculum documents dig into specific subject matter expectations, SchoolRubric argues that principals should ask their staff to consider certain fundamental questions. Educators should be able to clearly articulate what they are going to teach, how they will assess students and how they will teach lessons through a range of activities, tasks and checks.

Most importantly, teachers should be able to define how they will use assessment and other student performance data to inform their response to specific student needs. Principals can create space for educators to design lessons that bake in flexibility. If a group of students has reported failing grades on geometry concepts, how can the teacher adjust instruction time or planned activities to address core concepts with these students?

As the Principal’s Playbook says, “What gets measured gets done.” Principals can require departments and teacher leaders to regularly review benchmarks and how students stack up to those objectives. Without mechanisms to measure progress, it’s less likely that all classrooms will adapt to recommended curriculum and instructional strategies.

While some staff may resist discussion of negative outcomes in the classroom, educational leaders recognize a chance to intervene and improve curriculum so that students have a better opportunity to master the material. Sometimes, achieving that goal means confronting brutal facts, the Principal’s Playbook argues.

Prepare For Curriculum Leadership Roles With Mississippi College

As part of Mississippi College’s online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership – Curriculum & Instruction Track program, students learn how to effectively use technology in curriculum development, instructional management and administrative tasks in the Technology Trends in Curriculum and Instruction course.

The program offers a practicum for educators to experience how this new technology works in actual educational settings. Graduates will enter the next stage of their careers with the skills they need to become successful curriculum directors and teacher leaders.

Learn more about Mississippi College’s online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership – Curriculum & Instruction Track program.

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