Friday, October 16, 2009

Curriculum Vision - Helping Struggling Readers

As the Curriculum Director at Reading Horizons, I have learned a lot about the "development" aspect of the coined term "Curriculum Development." To "develop" in this context means to create, polish, and improve materials and to oversee projects to completion. For me lately, it means getting down in the trenches, rolling up your sleeves, and going to work. As I have been actively engaged in improving the Reading Horizons software and direct instruction materials over the last few years, I have learned the role of patience, balance, and vision. I have been reminded of the importance of character in the work place--sincerely caring about your work, consistently striving to do your very best, and putting in an honest day's work.

I mentioned the word vision. Under the leadership of Tyson Smith, President of Reading Horizons, each department has its vision "emblazoned" on the wall in each respective department to always remind its employees of what we are there to do. I want to share the vision statement for Reading Horizons' Curriculum department. It reads: Produce excellent-quality curriculum that fills expanding needs without compromising the simplicity and effectiveness of the method.

I had an experience this week while engaged in a significant, "brain-draining" task that kind of popped up out of the blue. I was "in the zone," concentrating deeply on the task at hand, when the end users of the materials I was working on came to mind. I thought of students learning how to read for the first time in their lives. I thought of refugees who have had very little formal education who would learn life-long literacy skills. I thought of non-native English speakers who have never learned strategies that have "clicked" for them before. I thought of teachers and tutors and volunteers who have a noble "vision" and a strong desire to help their students learn to read, to learn literacy skills, to learn English. It put things in perspective for me. It made my efforts seem worth it. It made the workload, though very heavy and overwhelming at times, seem lighter. It made me want to try even harder to "produce excellent-quality curriculum that fills expanding needs."

There are a lot of needs out there. I'm grateful to work for a company that assumes a small role in helping to fulfill some of those needs. I appreciate those users, both students and teachers alike, who motivate me to do my best to live up to this curriculum vision while fulfilling their own.

(To see where this blog post coexists, see, click here. See also my blog post here.)

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