Curriculum implementation is about taking the curriculum that was developed and actually using it. This is easier said than done. A new curriculum means the replacement of an old one. It means getting many different stakeholders to accept a new and untested innovation. There are the dynamics of organizational change and careful planning.
In brief, there are three critical components to consider when attempt to implement a new curriculum and these components are
- the speed of the implementation
- communication during the implementation
- support during the implementation
The Speed of Implementation
The implementation of a curriculum must happen in increments. If the change is sudden, people may not use or adapt the new curriculum as they may not have been a part of the decision process. During the incremental implementation of curriculum, there needs to be agreement on the following questions
- How do we define improvement?
- What do teachers and students think of the change(s)?
- What is a quality in relation to the curriculum and education?
Keeping in mind these questions while slowly implementing the curriculum in waves (i.e. one grade at a time) rather than all at once can help to improve the implementation process.
Communication During Implementation
There needs to be two types of communication during a curriculum implementation. Vertical communication between the workers and the boss as well as horizontal communication between workers.
In general, it is easier to speak with peers rather than with one’s boss. However, normally it is the boss who pushes an implementation. This makes it necessary to speak with them and indicates how the processes are going. A break down in communication can lead to a great curriculum on paper that is never used.
Speaking with peers can have perils as well. There may be division over the new curriculum. Petty office politics can erupt and wreck a great plan. It is often left to the management to eliminate this sort of infighting. However, such problems do not affect only curriculum but many other aspects of the school.
A new curriculum cannot be dumped on a teacher. There must be support provided as the teacher acclimate to the new curriculum. Teachers need in-service training, staff development, money, and more to acquire the skills needed to use a new curriculum.
The support must be relevant to the needs of the teachers. This is a mantra we chant for students (meet their needs) but it is important for administrations as well (meet the needs of your teachers). This could help in making the use of the new curriculum a success.
Failure to provide some these needs will lead to the inability to execute the innovation even if there is acceptance of it. It is critical to see the bigger picture of change as the process of winning the hearts of the people affected by the change.