"Just tell us what to teach," I hear. "That's your job."
No it's not. I will give direction, such as "we're going to work towards integrating our science curriculum" or "we need to make changes to our curriculum so we are more closely aligned with the state standards." I will give options to consider as we move in a certain direction, I will answer questions about specific implementation, and I will go gather research and ideas. I will sit with teachers as they are wrestling with lesson and unit design and help them as much as I can by asking guiding questions and telling them if what they're doing will enhance or inhibit student learning.
But I will not dictate specifically what teachers should do and how they should do it. It's about ownership. It's about having skin in the game. Teachers are in front of their students day in and day out - they know them best and should be making those on-the-ground decisions.
I'm also told I should just give teachers the curriculum by purchasing a math or reading series so that way we would be automatically aligned to standards and teachers could just follow whatever directions are in the series. Well, I think we all know by now that textbook companies make textbooks to sell textbooks, and I've seen many a text (especially math texts) that slapped a CCSS standard on already existing textbook pages and called it "alignment." I've also seen the damage that can be done by telling teachers to follow the scripts in a textbook series - teaching becomes mindlessly doing tasks with students without any connections made for students about what they're doing and why they're doing it. The learning gets lost amongst all of those steps.
I do understand why teachers ask me to dictate rather than direct. Some teachers feel as if they're not qualified to design curriculum, feeling that textbook writers are the experts, so they adhere to whatever the textbook says they should do. Other teachers, like some students, are afraid of failing. What if they design something for their students and it doesn't work? What if they're "wrong?" What they don't understand is it's not about being wrong...it's about trying to do better and be better for our students. Teachers developing curriculum from standards and then designing lessons from those standards is a part of that cycle of teacher growth and development - trying something, tweaking it, trying it again, or trying something different. It helps teachers grow in their practice rather than stagnate, and gives them the needed autonomy to design the right learning experiences for their students.
And I refuse to take away that autonomy by dictating. As long as we're all moving in the direction of doing what's best for kids, I think we're all doing the right thing.