Supporting New Teachers: Building a Purpose for Curriculum Mapping

As a member of your schools’ leadership team it’s an exciting time when a new teacher starts at your school! They come in, set up their classroom, get to know co-workers and bring a fresh outlook to your team dynamic. Getting them set up for success with curriculum is an important step in developing a continuum of learning.

New school year, new teachers! Here are five-tips to provide ideas to support new teachers in understanding curriculum mapping. As a member of your schools’ leadership team, how you present your curriculum development process to new teachers is crucial to ensure your process continues to accelerate and grow within your school.

Five Strategies for Getting New Teachers Onboard

  1. Define curriculum mapping at your school
  2. Share how mapping will help them and why it is important to the school
  3. Leverage their skills
  4. Set them up with a mentor
  5. Establish a plan for ongoing support

Strategy 1: Define curriculum mapping at your school

You know what curriculum mapping and unit development is, but your new teachers may not. Take the time to simply define what curriculum mapping means at your school. Many schools define curriculum mapping as the process of capturing the written curriculum, which includes a written articulation of what students will learn within each course and grade level. What’s your definition?

Strategy 2: Share how mapping will help them and why it is important to the school

Talk to your new teachers about why your school maps their curriculum, be sure to focus on the big picture. Develop a purpose statement around mapping that clearly states the reason why you do it.

For example: We curriculum map to support teacher communication and collaboration in order to build a better educational experience for students.

Anytime a new teacher sits down and starts to map, this is the statement that should guide their work. At the conclusion of a unit of study, before they begin teaching the following one, teachers can use this purpose statement to inform their reflection, both independently as well aswith their teaching partners. Why? Not out of obligation, but because it streamlines their process and can be reviewed and reused each year to enhance their students’ learning journey.

Check out one district’s ideas on the purpose of mapping.

Strategy 3: Leverage their skills

When you are introducing the curriculum process and Atlas to new teachers, start with the basics. Give them an overview of Atlas that focuses on what they really need to know:

  • Show them how to log in (website, sign in credentials, etc.)
  • Explain the Dashboard and the ways that they can customize it to meet their unique needs
  • Show them how to find and customize their courses
  • Using a map that has strong examples, review a model unit and walk teachers through the organization of your school’s unit template. A unit style guide is also a helpful tool to clarify expectations for each unit component.
  • Introduce the reporting and collaboration capabilities of Atlas and suggest ways that these features can support basic, intermediate, and advanced tasks.

Simplicity is key. Stay focused on the expectations and rationales for their curriculum maps. Share a timeline or calendar to show them when there will be dedicated time throughout the year to support curriculum mapping. Remind them though, that the first step is for them to get comfortable doing it. Consider having some lead teachers guide teachers through the process and answer questions as they come up in the discussion.

Check out these 6 Tips for Teachers in Developing Curriculum

Strategy 4: Let them practice with a mentor

Partnering new teachers up with someone to support curriculum development is a great way to support ongoing learning and team building. Whether they are new to mapping or used it in previous schools, there is a learning curve to understanding the process and curriculum language of a new school. Creating a culture of mentorship in the curriculum process creates opportunities for novice teachers and curriculum writers to grow from the experience of others, as well as a chance to foster leadership through a cycle of recruiting more new mentors as their expertise increases.

Strategy 5: Establish a plan for ongoing support

Specifically dedicate time during the academic year to meet with your new teachers to check in on their curriculum mapping. Intentionally integrate into your curriculum cycle and/or new teacher mentorship a regular meeting time with the new teachers, as they will need support that your more experienced teachers and curriculum writers may have already gotten.

During these meetings, be prepared to troubleshoot challenges, provide time and space to work, as well as share information on regularly enhanced or new features of Atlas (such as various reports or collaborative tools). This will allow teachers to deepen their understanding of how to leverage Atlas as a tool for their curriculum mapping.

Once the units for a course have been mapped, consider supporting teachers with the next phase of curriculum work which may include expanding units in Atlas into lesson plans, completing a curriculum review, and engaging with Atlas as part of their regular practice of curriculum and instruction. Remind them that curriculum is an iterative process and since their units are “living” documents, they will continuously review, update, and revise them to ensure their students have the best learning experience possible. After all, don’t forget to celebrate the success of your teams gains large and small!