<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=191589654984215&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Another change!?!?: Three Considerations for Selecting High-Quality Instructional Materials

By: Michael Carey on January 2nd, 2024

Print/Save as PDF

Another change!?!?: Three Considerations for Selecting High-Quality Instructional Materials

Teachers  |  Classrooms

When asked what my favorite story is, one of the first titles that pops into my mind is Hamlet. But Hamlet is not my favorite story - not even close. I like it, sure, but the reason it pops into my head is because it was one of my favorite units in high school. The brilliant educator Ms. Nelson thoughtfully designed the unit, and the experience still resides in my mind twenty years later.

As educators, we are obsessed with the content we put in front of our students. A thoughtfully crafted and rigorous curriculum can transform lives, and our lessons can make waves decades into the future. Because of its impacts, we must be thoughtful when considering changes in the curriculum we put in front of our students. 

Education Elements supports the implementation of High-Quality Instructional Materials (HQIMs), and our previously published guide provides a comprehensive view of HQIMs. If your organization is thinking of implementing a new curriculum, here are three things to consider:

1. Honor the Apprehension

One of the most dramatic changes a school can make is a change in curriculum. After all, the content put in front of students is a critical component of our instruction, and nothing is more frustrating to a veteran teacher than being told that the curriculum carefully crafted over the years has now gone the way of the VHS. When such changes are proposed to educators, teachers must view the HQIMs as engaging, challenging, and usable. The reality is that if any of these qualifications are not met, it is less likely that teachers will implement them with fidelity (Rand).

Teachers each develop their unique style. Education is a personal profession, and a curriculum perceived as too scripted or misaligned with one’s style can feel uninspiring, uncomfortable, and unreasonable and will likely go unused.

These apprehensions are understandable, and honoring them is an important part of the selection process. You can honor these apprehensions by providing good explanations and resources about the curriculum.

New call-to-action

2. Explain the "Why"

In Education Element’s comprehensive guide to High-Quality Instructional Materials, we discuss how "Teachers spend 7-12 hours per week searching for and creating instructional resources, many of them unvetted." You do not need to be a math teacher (like me) to know that comes out to 252 - 432 hours per year (10.5 - 18 days)! A carefully selected HQIM can drastically reduce the time educators spend curating materials. 

In addition to time saved, an HQIM ensures that the instructional content is rigorous and aligned with academic standards. This can be particularly useful with staff who are early in their careers and are building their capacity to provide rigorous instruction aligned with standards. Having vetted high-quality materials in their toolbox can reduce teacher workloads and reduce their anxiety over instruction.

Finally, selecting excellent HQIMs shifts the focus from lesson planning to lesson internalization. Internalization is the process by which teachers understand what students will learn in a specific lesson, how they will be assessed, and what teacher moves need to be made to guide students to mastery. After an internalization process, teachers deliver content with exemplars in hand, pre-scripted questions for checks for understanding, and a plan for supporting all learners. Teachers and instructional coaches complete the internalization process together, allowing for meaningful coaching sessions and cycles that allow teachers to improve academic outcomes for their students.

3. Include Teachers in the HQIM Selection Process

The best curriculum in the world means nothing without strong teachers to implement it. To determine if a curriculum is engaging, challenging, and usable, teachers must be involved in the curriculum investigation and vetting process. Forming an adoption committee comprised of teachers from multiple grade levels and disciplines can ensure these three criteria are met. Our curriculum audit can help explore the strengths, opportunities, and the extent to which the proposed curriculum meets the criteria for high-quality instructional materials and cultural responsiveness.

The curriculum adoption committee should work in partnership with all community partners, and the final recommendation should be representative of the views of all stakeholders. The process can and should be slow and deliberate, and can take 6-9 months with a proper scope and sequence to determine the curriculum that will best serve the community.

The selection of an appropriate curriculum is challenging and meaningful work. It is also one of the most important decisions a district can make for the students they serve. Education Elements can be your partner in implementing this work effectively.


New call-to-action


Public Relations Today