Learning from Curriculum Materials: Scaffolds for New Teachers?

Nov. 10, 2008

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 24, Issue 8, November 2008, P. 2014-2026

This article explores how beginning teachers use and learn from curriculum materials. As part of a longitudinal study of beginning English teachers who teach in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the researchers tracked teachers’ responses to and use of materials over time, and how these materials shaped their classroom practice.

The authors found that the teachers spent an enormous amount of time searching out curriculum materials for their classes and that the curriculum materials they encountered did, indeed, powerfully shape their ideas about teaching language arts as well as their classroom practice.
Based on their findings, the authors propose a trajectory for the teachers’ use of the curriculum materials. New teachers begin by sticking close to the materials they have at hand. Then, over time, as they learn more about both students and curriculum, they adapt and adjust their use of the materials.
The authors argue that new and aspiring teachers need opportunities to analyze and critique curriculum materials, beginning during teacher education and continuing in the company of their more experienced colleagues.

Updated: Jan. 19, 2009