Clear communication is essential when developing and improving the school’s curriculum. The need for meaningful, clear, and easily accessible communication is especially true at a global level – ensuring that all disciplines are integrated.
Through clear communications, curriculum leaders rectify the reality of departments, and at times individual teachers and classrooms, operating in isolation, with little to no communication flowing from class to class or department to department. Yet, when it comes to an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum design and improvement, clear communication and coordination can be a very challenging task. Curriculum theorists recognize the fundamental element of clear communication as essential to the function of the curriculum.
If part of the nature of the curriculum is communication, then for it to be fully functional and integrated into a global design, the system of communication must be able to reach and connect with all school areas and disciplines. Communication Across the Curriculum Programs (CXCPs)that are meaningful to the interdisciplinary improvement of the curricular program must provide avenues by which each discipline communicates in ways that are both meaningful to their unique areas and provide communication clearly understood by individuals outside of their discipline.
Currently, many schools use a systems approach, known as Total Quality Management (TQM). For clear and effective CXCPs throughout the school, all elements of TQM must be addressed. Trusted school leaders meet this challenge by consistently establishing “professional-development and administrative maps that model the very practices that teachers should be considering for their learners. This creates a cycle of communication and openness breaking from the past tendency toward separateness between leaders and staff.” [Hale & Dunlap]
A central tool and practice for providing clear curricular communication is curriculum mapping. Meaningful, purposeful, and easily accessible curriculum maps are key to effective and clear communication across disciplines. When embraced and competently implemented, it results in deeper and more meaningful learning experiences for students.
For example, I have personally witnessed the advantages of the Atlas Curriculum Mapping software produced by Rubicon. Through intentional faculty PD in the use of Atlas over the course of several years, we experienced tremendous improvements. Not only improvements in curriculum quality on a school-wide level, but improved levels of faculty collaboration – as well as an increased level of trust in the academic program. Through the implementation of Atlas, our school moved from a wide, varied, and disconnected curricular program to a meaningful, interconnected, and intentional program driven by our core values and standards and produced data and evidence to support this new reality.
Clear communication can be a major challenge in guiding the development and improvement of the school’s curriculum, but it does not need to be. At the risk of sounding like a software commercial, with tools such as Atlas, through intentional PD and modeling, school leaders can meet the challenge of clear curricular communication better than ever before, and in that process, gain higher levels of trust in their leadership and the curriculum.
©Toby A. Travis, Ed.D. All Rights Reserved.
- Willam F. Pinar, What Is Curriculum Theory?
- Colleen Garside, “Seeing the Forest Through the Trees: A Challenge Facing Communication Across the Curriculum Programs,” Communication Education 51, no. 1 (2002): 51.
- Allan Ornstein and Francis P. Hunkins, Curriculum: Pearson New International Edition: Foundations, Principles, and Issues.
- Janet Hale and Richard F. Dunlap, Jr., An Educational Leader’s Guide to Curriculum Mapping: Creating and Sustaining Collaborative Cultures.
- “Atlas Curriculum Design,” Rubicon, accessed 20 June 2016, http://www.rubicon.com/AtlasCurriculumMapping_Capabilities.php.