Congratulations on moving forward with your new Curriculum Mapping initiative!

You’ve set a goal, perhaps you have your Atlas site up and running, and you’re ready to break it in! Similar to signing up for your first marathon, one step is to certainly buy a pair of running shoes— you’ll need them. Another important step is to figure out a training plan; you can’t sprint a marathon! To do this, it is important to take an honest assessment of where you are starting from in order to get clear idea of the optimal training plan for your school or district. Equally important is to actually put in the miles. If you’ve secured your Atlas site it will become an essential part of your curriculum work. But it’s important to remember that it’s only one part in a dynamic process.

As you and your team gear up to start curriculum mapping, a common question is: what comes first, Atlas Training or Professional Development?

To answer that question, let’s return to our running metaphor. We find that the schools we work with often fall somewhere within 3 categories:CATEGORY #1:

Your treadmill is under a pile of laundry and your running shoes have been long relegated to yard work. You haven’t worked out in months and your muscles could use some firming up. If this is you, it makes sense to start slow, with consistent and steady activities that will build strength, increase endurance, and boost the confidence you’ll need to go the distance.

Schools and districts in this category might be starting curriculum work from scratch. You might be joining a school in a leadership position and discovering there hasn’t been a focus on curriculum for years.  You might also find that there is no formal written curriculum, and teachers may have little experience or confidence in writing curriculum.

Characteristics might include:

  • You have an accreditation visit and have been told you need to strengthen your curriculum
  • You’re a public school and are not sure if your curriculum is aligned to state standards
  • You’re shifting to proficiency based grading, but have not yet defined proficiencies
  • You use the textbook as your curriculum
  • You have something new, such as standards, and need focused professional development


To get you started we might suggest:

  • On Site Professional Development around Building a Curriculum Process. Depending on the goals of your school or district, this might include Professional Development to develop a standards based curriculum or PD to support teachers as they develop the curriculum and design units of instruction. If you don’t use standards or specific learning outcomes at your school or district, we can support your team with professional development to create pacing guides for specific grades and content areas, as well as guidance for teachers in developing high quality units of instruction.
  • Once you’ve developed a vision for your curriculum work, established a process, and empowered teachers, you might consider embedding Atlas Training into your curriculum professional development.


You’re an athlete who is new to running. You are in good health, but haven’t yet developed the core strength in your abs, back, legs and glutes essential for running increased distances. If you’re starting here, it probably makes more sense to leave those new shoes in the box for a couple weeks and focus on developing those core muscle groups. A few weeks of strength training will prove invaluable by helping you avoid injury while also laying the ground work for long term success.

Schools and districts in this category have elements of a curriculum process in place, but may be missing key pieces or need focused improvements. Maybe you have a new strategic plan, but are just starting to put the pieces in place to work towards it, or your school has adopted new standards. Teachers now need time to become more familiar with the standards, and they need  support in aligning the curriculum to those standards.

Characteristics might include:

  • Teachers in your school or district have written plans, but these plans are in different formats and stored in various locations
  • New Standards (or student outcomes) have been adopted, and you need to investigate and, in some areas, re-write your curriculum to ensure alignment
  • You have a consistent planning document that teachers are generally familiar with, but they could use more in-depth professional development on specific categories (such as Enduring Understandings, Essential Questions, and Differentiated Instruction)
  • Your school might be adopting new resources, such as new textbooks, and teachers have difficulty understanding the difference between “resources” and the “curriculum”


To get you started we might suggest:

  • On Site Professional Development around Building a Curriculum Process. This will help your team to establish a clear vision and purpose for your curriculum initiative, with concrete goals and action steps.
  • Once you’ve developed a vision and established a process you’ll be ready for Atlas Training, including Navigating Atlas, Aligning Standards and Assessments, and any others that might be relevant to your school or district.


You’re an athlete who has experience running shorter distances, are in good health, and have solid core strength in your abs, back, legs and glutes. If this describes you, you’re probably ready to put those new shoes on and start training!

Schools or districts in this category might have a strong curriculum process in place. This might include consistent leadership, and clearly articulated curriculum goals you are working towards as an organization.

Characteristics might include:

  • Professional development is in line with school goals in teaching and learning
  • Your curriculum has been aligned with school adopted standards or student learning outcomes
  • You have a curriculum review cycle
  • Teachers are knowledgeable in writing unit plans
  • You’ve been documenting units in word docs
  • You have have had professional development in mapping and curriculum

If you fall into this category you’re ready to move forward with your curriculum work with Atlas!


To get you started we might suggest:

  • Atlas Training: This will help your team use your Atlas system to support your curriculum work
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