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Surviving Curriculum Changes

Over the past decade, classrooms across the country have shifted. The transition from teacher-centered to student-centered classrooms is nearly complete, and the curriculum of these new environments is constantly in a state of change. For the average teacher, these changes can feel unnecessary, even threatening to academic freedom. If curriculum changes are causing stress in your classroom, remember that there is a very important reason behind the changes. There is also a good chance that you can manage these changes better than you may think.

Why Change Curriculum Standards?

The simplest answer to this question is that your students’ world is changing just as quickly as your classroom. To create better student outcomes, classroom curricula must keep pace with their needs. According to Olaf Jorgenson in “Why Curriculum Change is Difficult and Necessary,” the curriculum changes taking place now are not just fads. The last decade of research in the education field has yielded more information than the research efforts of the previous fifty years combined. This research has led to new understanding of best practices that you can implement in your classroom and your school. If you are considering earning an online master’s degree in education, you will likely encounter these practices in your coursework before you and your colleagues even see them in the field.

Why Is Change Difficult?

While people in general resist change, teachers especially do. According to Jorgenson, most educators are risk averse, and they often avoid open conflict. Teachers generally value their autonomy, so academic freedom is a very important. When all of these factors come together, it can create resistance to newer, more progressive changes. When these changes originate outside the school, such as at the state capital, teachers may be skeptical. However, when the change develops naturally from the bottom up, teachers are more likely to embrace it. To survive curriculum change of any kind, teachers should take real ownership of curriculum changes by understanding the research behind them.

Survival Strategies

According to the change communication model, the process is basically linear and involves several steps. The change agent initiates the process, then there is resistance, but from resistance comes innovation. This leads to the intended change adopter. If you keep this process in mind during the early phases of any new change, you can use resistance to further innovation.

There are multiple ways to survive any curriculum change, be it organic or forced. One of the most important aspects to remember is that the research behind many of the changes reveals that it will benefit the students. As an educator, finding innovative ways to adapt your skill set is a talent you will need to continually develop.

As an educator, you are an agent of change in your students’ lives. Implementing any change to the curriculum is generally a monumental task that you must take seriously. Your students’ world is very different from the worlds of previous decades, so it is important to remain current and relevant. Furthering your own education, through professional development or returning to school for an online master’s degree in education, is a way to develop your own abilities to better serve your students. Student-centered adjustments backed by research can make your classroom a better learning environment.

Learn more about the LSU online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program.


National Association of Independent Schools: Why Curriculum Change Is Difficult and Necessary

Office of Educational Research and Improvement: Surviving Change: A Survey of Educational Change Models

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