Parents and guardians have unique perspectives on how a curriculum might work with their student. We’ve sometimes heard about cringe-worthy (or worse) assignments in the news. Whether it is a larger unit or a more specific assignment, parents may have a valuable opinion that can hopefully save everyone some time and grief – and increase student learning!
But what do you do when you have a question, idea, or concern? Who even makes curriculum decisions?! Or lesson decisions?
There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re “barking up the wrong tree” when sharing concerns to administrators who ultimately have no control over district-wide curriculum decisions.
So how can you share your feedback – or questions – in a constructive way?
Curriculum adoptions are becoming more and more contested and publicized across the country and globe. Many parents have felt empowered to voice comments regarding district choices.
Possip’s March 2023 Family Pulse Check trends show an increase in curriculum feedback comments. On the bright side, at-home learning increased family engagement with what their students were learning. We know and hear often from parents that they want what’s best for their scholar and deeply value the quality of the education they receive.
At the same time, administrators and teachers have a lot coming at them. Curriculum can sometimes feel tricky to cover. Here are some tips – strategic and tactical – when sharing feedback.
Consider your school’s perspective and options
At Possip, we have several resources available for administrators on best practices for making curriculum information and change available for parents. Your administration might have already taken some of these steps, so it may be helpful to review Possip’s blog post, “Solutions for Curriculum Feedback”. Becoming familiar with these insights to recognize the efforts made and tools available at your school can help build your compassion as you prepare to share your thoughts with decision-makers.
How to navigate the curriculum feedback process:
1. Lean in with curiosity
This step of the feedback process is critical. Often, we find ourselves susceptible to absorbing others’ opinions about a topic, so do your own research and build your understanding of the curriculum in use. Ultimately, this work strengthens your persuasive ability. This blog offers insightful reflections and questions you can ask your student’s school as you continue to build your opinion about curriculum choice. Using these prompts will help you understand information, like length of time a curriculum has been in place and how effective it’s proven to be.
2. Choose your audience strategically
Choosing your audience is also a very important aspect of sharing feedback and inspiring change across a school or district. Often, administrators have little control over district-wide curriculums in use. However, they may be able to direct you to leaders who have more of a voice in these decisions. It may be more helpful to get in contact with a leader who serves on a curriculum committee or a school board member instead.
3. Communicate with positive intent
At Possip, for administrators, teachers, and parents alike, we always recommend communicating feedback and assuming positive intent from the other educational stakeholder. This strengthens your point of view and sets the tone for a constructive conservation and space to share. Remembering that family members and leaders are on the same team is an easy way to put this into practice. We recommend statements like,
“I know you and I both deeply value the quality of student learning. I would like to share a few ideas I have about the curriculum in place that may enhance student learning even more.”
4. Take part in a curriculum review
Often, districts or schools will look for active members of the community to be part of the curriculum selection process when it’s an adoption year. Cultivating your kind, but clear, voice as an engaged family member will be helpful in your ability to partake in this– keep it up! Ask to be involved or invited to participate.
Below is an email script you can use to help you share valuable feedback.
Hi Mr. Stewart,
Thank you for making this school year great for Gammon. I wanted to reach out regarding the History readings I have seen come home this year in World History. We noticed that we haven’t seen as much diversity in the countries covered as we would expect. We were excited for Gammon to learn more about the area of the world we come from, and it looks like there won’t be much coverage of our area of the world at all. Would you be open to creating supplemental lessons – in partnership with families – on areas of the world that aren’t being covered in class?
We hope these tips will be helpful as you continue to hone your curriculum-feedback voice at your school! The root of your shared desire with others in your school community–to ensure your student receives the best education possible. Many factors go into curriculum adoption. Stakeholders can work together in inspiring ways to shape the learning experience for all students.