Every year, it seems like I start off dedicated to following my basal/textbook curriculum with fidelity, decide it's not working in the middle of the year, and then do my own thing towards the end. My curriculum is a very popular one and used in many schools. It's the expectation that we'll use it, although no one setting that expectation (higher-ups) really knows much about it. How much do you rely on your curriculum and how much do you supplement? Our curriculum has so much to it that it's hard to do both.

Because me district micromanages I have no choice but to be on pace with the curriculum. Each week we have to submit which lessons will be covered in ELA and math. We can not be more than a week off pace. Things let up towards the last few weeks of school but for the most part there is always a chance that someone will pop in with a clipboard checking to make sure you're on pace.

Do you find that the pacing works for your students? Actually because my school says "use this curriculum" but doesn't go through too much effort to check up on it, I think it makes it harder for those who do try to keep up with the pacing and implement the curriculum as intended. Everyone is modifying in inconsistent ways. I had a parent complain that I overtested last year, but actually I was giving fewer tests than what the curriculum suggests. Turns out that the previous teacher had not used the curriculum assessments at all. If everyone taught the curriculum the same way throughout grade levels, it would provide good consistency. That's why I go back and forth on my opinion of how much to use it.

This pace only works for my brightest students. We use Eureka Math and there is no time built in for small group or remedial instruction. That makes it hard to move on when I know the kids aren't ready. With ELA it's easier to stay on pace because we have small group time built into the curriculum. Even still some of the lowere performing students never have enough time to catch up. But I still have to keep moving or risk being called in to explain why I'm not on pace.

We, as a district, write our own curriculum and supplement with a variety of resources - some supplied by the district and some that we've found on our own. Generally, a grade level team is on the same unit, but we are not all on the same teaching point. We're often a few days or even up to two weeks off pace from one another. We absolutely don't follow any sort of guide with a day-to-day plan. Our administration supports us in being responsive to the needs of our own students, as long as we're meeting standards and generally following the unit essential questions and enduring understandings.

The situation is this--we're teaching kids not programming robots. Everyone's brain is different. A basal curriculum, however, is not aware of the specific students in the classroom. (A basal curriculum is a book or a disc, not aware of anything). Some students in a math class will only achieve, let's say, 80% accuracy on independent practice. Does that mean they're deficient? No. It means their brains are exploring and discovering. 80% is often considered minimum for passing, but those students without further guidance are still missing out on 20% of complete discovery. Moving ahead to the next concept, they are still 20% behind. Teachers often comment on these students, saying, "They could achieve more if they tried harder." Meanwhile these students decide, "I'm just dumb at math." Their parents excuse their supposed deficiency by saying, "Well, I was never good at math, either," or "They're just not made out to be mathematicians." The truth, however, is that these students are probably quite efficient at math--they just learn the concepts differently than the students who score 95-100%. Then again, those students are scoring 95-100%, but that's on a math paper--that doesn't always mean they actually, totally comprehend the concepts. Albert Einstein has become a mantra of an example, but it's true, I believe, for most students. They are capable of achieving in math. Babies are born with the ability to do simple calculations. A student makes a mistake in a math problem. That is not bad--that's good! Aside from the few who actually might be just slopping down answers to finish early, mistakes in the algorithm are usually almost correct. The student was thinking and applying. Mistakes lead to further learning. Hey, the same thing, I believe, happens to students who score 100%. They began the lesson without 100% knowledge, with errors in their original concept. Learning by trying leads to success. Learning by filling in answers, getting the B or C, and moving on, leads to regression.