Two-thirds of teachers in Chicago spend hours at weekends browsing websites like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers because they say they do not have up-to-date, culturally relevant curricula – and sometimes even need to create lessons from scratch. This is evident from a recent survey by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Teachers in Chicago are not alone. This is a problem in many school systems across the country, but CPS is taking steps to address the problem.
Under the direction of CEO Janice Jackson, a member from Chiefs for ChangeCPS has launched a new curriculum equity initiative designed to create a library of high quality, culturally relevant resources that teachers of all grades and disciplines can use to complement their teaching. The aim is to ensure that all children in Chicago learn from rigorous teaching materials that are tightly bound to high standards.
Dr. Jackson recently spoken to the City Club of Chicago on the teacher survey and curriculum initiative. Here is an easily edited transcript of her remarks.
Two-thirds of the teachers surveyed said that they spent at least two hours, mostly on weekends, searching the Internet for teaching materials for their students. Some of our teachers, especially our newer teachers, who work at some of our toughest schools, say they work six to seven hours so they can differentiate children's lessons. The average teacher spends more than $ 250 of his own money to help kids in the classroom. I understand that. For me as a former teacher, that's no surprise.
I know that we can help reduce this frustration by balancing competitive conditions and ensuring that not every single teacher has to guess what classroom material is. The design of the curriculum is not the responsibility of the teacher. it is not in her job description. Your job is to teach the curriculum, not to write it. So we have to do something else.
Over the next three years, CPS will make significant investments to create an online resource library for teachers that can be used throughout the city. It will have several goals:
- The syllabus will be culturally receptive, Studies have shown that students, when they see themselves in the curriculum, are much more connected to what is presented to them.
- It will support our diverse learners, our special needs students as well as our talented and accelerated students who are ready to move up to the next level, and sometimes teachers have no time to move on because of classroom differentiation.
- Integrated into this system, we identify students who need extra support – eliminating teachers' uncertainty or guesswork about who needs more support and who does not.
- We will ensure that social-emotional learning is embedded. One of the principles of our vision is to educate the whole child. Although we talk a lot about our progress in reading and math, we know that our students must have access to a comprehensive curriculum to receive first-rate education.
- We want to make sure our curriculum for our English learners is translated into Spanish, as the materials have to be accessible to them.
Our curriculum equity initiative will make a major contribution to improving the work-life balance for our teachers. This also means that the algebra in Lake View looks like the algebra in Little Village. This means that teachers can concentrate on getting their work done by involving our children and helping them learn.
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