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6.6 TEACHER AS CURRICULUM DEVELOPER

Although instructional supervision is an administrative responsibility. teachers’ insights are critical for developing a successful curriculum. Their sincerity and sensibility are of prime importance. The teacher’s role in the curriculum process is critical because he/she is responsible for implementing the curriculum in the classroom.

The teachers’ contribution in curriculum planning is valuable, which can come in as reflections, clarifications and elaborations.

Rampal (1991), advocating the context-based approach, sees teachers as collaborators in the process of curriculum development, having the freedom to voice their opinions in a democratic environment.

He asserts that teachers can influence this development as much as the expert professional involved in the process, leading to a truly shared construction.

Schwab (1985:83) had also given prime importance to the role of teachers in curriculum development: ‘ teachers must play a central role and the group that makes the decision must be thoroughly familiar with the students who are to benefit.

  • National Standards: When curriculum is being revised and updated, teachers make sure that all of the national standards for the grade level or course are being met by the class curriculum.
  • Teachers’ professionalism and curriculum: Sound curriculum development principles and practices will prevent the curriculum from “just happening. Teakers who attend conventions and in-service meetings, visit other schools, read professional journals, serve on school or district committees, and discuss ideas with other teachers are able to keep abreast of changes in curriculum.
  • Teachers’ research and curriculum: Stenhouse (1975) advocated this role of the teacher as far back as 1975 and presented the teacher as a researcher: all well-founded curriculum research and development, whether the work of an individual teacher, of a school, of a group working in a teachers’ centre or of a group working within the co- coordinating framework of a national project, is based on the study of classrooms. It thus rests on the work of teachers.Stenhouse (1976:25) also stressed such a need, based on his observations that: new teaching strategies are extremely difficult to learn and to set oneself to learn, especially when they cut across old habits and assumptions and invalid a tehard-won skills’
  • Changing the curriculum: Teachers are the first to notice a need for change. Their intimate knowledge of learners, classrooms, and the school environment puts them in a position to make and implement practical curriculum changes.In fact, many changes occur, almost unnoticed, as teachers work together to revise course content and schedules. Many schools assign curriculum leaders, master teachers with additional training in curriculum development and leadership skills to help teachers make curriculum decisions.Fullan (1991:139), the proponent of change, also lays importance on this role of teachers: If the teacher as advocate can become skilled at integrating the change and the change process, he or she can become one of the most powerful forces of change.
  • Students experiences and curriculum: Teachers play a unique and demanding role in cliciting responses from the students for curriculum development based on student voices. It is not the input from the teachers themselves, that the strategy deems more important, rather it is their role in promoting authentic participation of their students in the process.Morrison (in Brooker and MacDonald, 1999:87) writes in this context: ‘Teachers work on the experiences that children bring to school, interrogate them critically so that children’s life experiences are transformed into critical awareness and empowerment’.Innovation and curriculum: The context-based curriculum development approach sees the teachers’ role extending beyond the design and formulation stage of the curriculum innovation. Teachers have to play a vital role in the success of the innovation, once it is adopted and is in progress in schools.Hoyle (1977:132) had noted, genuine innovation does not occur unless teachers become personally committed to ensuring its success. Teacher training is an integral part of any curriculum change.
  • Textbook Adoption: When revised copies of text books or new textbooks during curriculum revision are prepared, the teachers are given sample copies to review and test in the classroom. Then, the teachers select the textbook that fits the needs and present it to the school for adoption.
  • Developing Activities: Teachers develop new activities continually to help bolster the curriculum. These activities help the teachers meet national standards.
  • Developing Assessment Products: Teachers develop tests, layered curriculum projects, and portfolios as assessment products. These assessment products ensure that the students are learning the curriculum.
  • Differentiate Instruction: Teachers will differentiate the curriculum for their students. Teachers will revise and adapt the curriculum so that all learning modalities are met. They will also adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of students of various abilities in the classroom.

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