On Hack Your Notebook Day I found myself thinking about all the possibilities for hacking curriculum. Especially as we think about our students and who we are and are not reaching with our teaching,, we often think about the materials we are compelled or choose to use. I feel strongly about the need for teachers to hack their curriculum on the behalf of their students…and to encourage students to hack the curriculum for themselves too.
By curriculum, I don’t just mean those self-contained programs in binders and workbooks, but also the novel unit, the teacher-developed projects and materials, the cute unit inspired by a pin on pinterest… Even the lessons we have poured heart and soul into–they all deserve careful scrutiny with our students’ needs in mind.
We all have students who need scaffolds and we all know (or are) teachers who need scaffolds…there’s nothing wrong with leaning on some support structures. The problem, for me, is when the structures get in the way of student learning and teacher development. My least favorite words out of the mouth of a teacher are, “Just tell me what you want me to do!” And I’m not really fond of those words from students either. They imply a lack of investment, a lack of agency, a lack of understanding of purpose and audience. And all of those might be true.
So what do we (I) do about it? I propose that we hack. Let’s carefully examine the materials we are required to use and/or decide to use. Who do they work for in our classroom? Who benefits? Who doesn’t? Who do we give permission to “break the rules?” Who is handcuffed by the materials?