School Head’s Role in Curriculum Development
Jennifer C. Basilio
Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership. According to Wiles (2009), it should not be determined by the leader’s title or length of service.
Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school.
Curriculum leadership is complicated because leading curriculum development meetings involves working with fallible, imperfect human beings. A second reason curriculum leadership is difficult is due to the school schedule and a lack of extended time for teachers to discuss and revise existing curriculum documents.
In several large school districts, curriculum decisions are made by a small group of curriculum leaders and the final document is handed down to K-12 teachers. While it is difficult to ask for each teacher’s input in a large school district, documents that are top-down rarely receive as much teacher buy-in as documents that were created by the teachers who are required to implement the curriculum.
Curriculum leaders must work together to create a culture of trust where teachers and administrators can agree to disagree. Furthermore, leaders must develop quality time and create schedules which provide time for creative thinking and reflection, rather than scheduling early release days when teachers complete fill-in-the-blank curriculum worksheets.
There are five reasons according to Wiles why school needs curriculum leaders as one of the roles of a school head. First, curriculum leadership provides clarity, it answers what should every student know and be able to do? Second, curriculum leadership provides opportunities to develop and empower future leaders; curriculum leadership is not a solo act. Third, curriculum leadership provides the opportunity for continuous improvement, schools should be learning organizations. Fourth, curriculum leadership provides the opportunity to establish goals, goals provide teachers and students with something to aim for. And finally, curriculum leadership provides the opportunity for improved alignment. The task of a principal is many faceted and not at all easy.
The author is Head Teacher III at Concepcion Elementary School, Mexico
Division of Pampanga.