Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment are intricately linked pieces of every educational program. It is impossible to separate them but for the purposes of providing information to our teachers, parents, and community members it is sometimes helpful to look at them as separate pieces of the larger puzzle. Instruction refers to the tools that teachers use to deliver the curriculum. Teachers are always adding tools to their individual tool boxes through the Individual Professional Development Plans that all certified teachers must complete. In addition to the individual plans, the Pelham School District has goals and plans to increase our instructional effectiveness across the district. Some of these are described below. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please contact the Curriculum Director.
The Pelham School District is in year three of a comprehensive professional development initiative to increase understanding and use of the principals of differentiated instruction. We have been working with a nationally recognized consultant, Michael Shackleford, to train teachers using a cohort model. In a cohort model, teachers go through trainings as a group and then go back and share their new understandings with their colleagues. In the first year we trained ten teachers from each building for 5 days over the course of the school year. The second and third years were the same model. This has been a powerful training model for our teachers. The year 1 cohort teachers helped to build excitement and knowledge for the teachers who went through the training later. Mr. Shackleford has also come to our schools and observed teachers implementing the practices learned in the training, provided teachers with constructive feedback, and then geared later trainings to meet the needs of the groups.
The transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) requires teachers to not only teach new curricula but it also expects them to teach in a different way. In the past much of what was taught through the New Hampshire State Grade Level Expectations (GLE's) was broad and superficial, we would often refer to our curriculum as "a mile wide and an inch deep." The new Common Core Standards are very much the opposite, asking teachers to teach a smaller number of higher level standards in depth. This is a major shift in how we provide effective instruction to our students. A good example of this is in mathematics. In many ways, the CCSS expects teachers to teach math to students but also to teach them how to be mathematicians, to apply the math content at a higher level than has been expected before. Teachers are working together in their grade level teams and the vertical teams to better understand these new expectations in Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literacy.