~ My Teaching Curriculum Vitae~
Homeschooling, which was considered “odd” or “unconventional” or the “road less traveled” only about six months ago, is looking like the “norm” for the school year ahead. . . and this could possibly be a permanent trend.
Even though I’ve been Homeschooling for three years now, I can really relate to this “Suddenly-Homeschooling” overwhelm that is the reality for so many parents right now. I experienced a very similar thing (minus the pandemic and political turmoil) when I began teaching, about a decade ago now.
I didn’t become a teacher the normal way. You know, like when you go to school to become a teacher. I was a “Suddenly-School-Teacher.” This is when you are just out of college and subbing because . . . well . . . you aren’t qualified for much else . . . and then one day the School Leader calls you into her office and asks if you want to become a full-time staff member. Yup, that’s how it happened. I had become a substitute teacher just to make ends meet while I looked for a job in my actual field —Theater Arts . . . ha! So, one day I was a sub, and the next day the 7th & 8th grade Language Arts classroom had my name on the door. It was definitely a “suddenly” sort of experience.
My first shock as a just-out-of-college “Suddenly-School-Teacher” was CURRICULUM. Mostly because . . . I didn’t have any! The school budget had been cut and 7th & 8th grade Reading and Writing Curriculum was somehow among those items that had been deemed of lesser importance. Not surprising—why would reading and writing be considered important?
I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t afford to buy curriculum out of pocket —I was just out of college and broke! But I couldn’t just . . . not teach. There were students who were suddenly-sitting in my suddenly-classroom with my name suddenly on the door. So, I did the only thing there was to do: I went DIY.
I checked out class book sets from the library (most of which I had to read for the first time) and then set to work creating my own comprehension questions, assignments, writing prompts, quizzes, tests, and quarter projects. It was insane. I would come home from work every afternoon and then continue to work often until midnight typing up curriculum for 7 different classes of varying grade levels, abilities, and accelerations. It was like nothing I’ve ever done in my life.
Four months later, that same School Leader who had given me a paycheck and destroyed my life all in one go called me back to her office. She had amazing news for me. She had been given additional funds (randomly in December) and had ordered me a full line of Language Arts Curriculum for 7th and 8th grade. I was thrilled. The Curriculum didn’t make it by Christmas, but when I unlocked my door upon my return from winter break . . . there is was. Brand new. In blue and green. Clean, glossy, and pristine. There to save me from exhaustion and misery.
There was just one problem: it majorly SUCKED. I hated it. The kids loathed it. And I’m pretty sure the goddess of education died the first day we used it.
As someone who had been Homeschooled on classical curriculum, and then attended a prestigious private High School, I was completely dumbfounded by just how . . . dumb this stuff was. I had no idea that the majority of teaching curriculum out there is truthfully, undoubtedly, unequivocally . . . BAD. Take my word for it. Most teaching curriculum is not written by a teacher or a parent or anyone who has seemingly ever met kids. Most teaching curriculum is tediously shallow, unbearably dull, and disappointingly lame in its content and rigor. And we wonder why so many kids hate school.
So, I found myself shoving a curriculum at my students that failed them on two levels: it was below their ability by at least two grade levels (and they were not advanced students), and worse still . . . it’s content was below their age of interest by at least three grade levels (7th graders don’t really want to read about dogs who work for the fire department).
For almost a week, my students and I trudged through the curriculum I had longed for. In the evenings, I walked the dog and made dinner and watched TV and hung out with my husband—imagine that! But I knew what was coming. Kids aren’t dumb. Not like the curriculums they are usually force-fed.
It was Thursday when my first class confronted me about it. Their request was incredible. Even though they were receiving higher marks on the too-easy curriculum . . . even though they were putting in less work . . . they requested we go back. “Can we do the stuff we were doing before?” they asked me. I dreaded my answer. Because I wanted to say “no.” I wanted to choose the easy, the lame, the . . . bad.
But, of course, I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had done that. And so, that is how my “Curriculum Conundrum” began. It plagued me the following three years that I taught 7th & 8th grade, and it has continued to plague me through our Homeschool journey. At the risk of sounding picky (which is true). . . I have been unimpressed at best with most Homeschool curriculums I have encountered. And to be honest (and perhaps slightly self-promoting), I usually decide that I can do better! But . . . at the same time, going grass-roots and taking on all that Homeschool planning and prepping is seriously no joke. I know. I’ve done it.
Now, as a full-time Homeschool mom of two and work-from-home-naptime-teacher-author, my “Curriculum Conundrum” has at last come to a close and yielded a happy compromise. And I’m pretty excited about it.
I hope you will join us this weekend in . . .
Solving the CURRICULUM CONUNDRUM;
picking out the good from the bad & the ugly!
What we will be covering this weekend:
2.) Our CURRICULUM COMPROMISE for Fall 2020
3.) Link for 4 WEEKS OF FREE, PRINTABLE PDF CURRICULUM for K-8th grade!
Don’t miss out! Subscribe below!
Thanks for reading! And may your “Suddenly-Homeschooling” Journey be an unexpected blessing!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~