Curriculum mapping is taking root

Almost five years ago, TLSP determined it was necessary for our schools to begin the curriculum-mapping process. National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) was going to include this as a requirement for accreditation, and since all our schools were NLSA members, this was a proactive move. An online curriculum-management system was purchased for all our schools, and each school sent two faculty members to a daylong training on how to begin entering information into the program. After training, those faculty members were then responsible for leading the process back in their own buildings.

Several months into the process, our schools kind of stalled. They wondered about the value of spending so much time entering this data and felt as if they were just reinventing the wheel since their textbooks already provided a scope and sequence. They spoke with colleagues working in public-school settings who told them “this, too, shall pass” as they mapped once and never got back to it. Some schools halted the process, others pressed on, but all were questioning the value of curriculum mapping in general.

Fast-forward, and the differences are truly notable. Here are three observations I’ve made in the past five years that demonstrate how far our schools have come:

We’re trying to find ways to integrate mapping into our daily routines. During a recent lead-teacher meeting (these are the teachers who were trained initially and lead mapping in their schools), one teacher talked about keeping her maps open on a tab in her browser every day as a way to remind her to keep referencing them. It was encouraging to hear of her commitment, but exciting to hear other lead teachers talk about what else can be done to make mapping more important to us daily.

We’re beginning to see it as a process instead of a product. As schools have plugged away at entering curriculum information into their maps, I have heard many say, “We don’t what to map our books,” or “We want to map our curriculum first, then choose the resources we want.” These are true indicators that our teachers are beginning to see that their maps are living documents that can be used to make their curricula even stronger. And they also understand that they’re never really done mapping.

Since many of our schools are in the second phase of mapping, which is about refining the quality of the maps, we’re asking for time to talk about our maps with each other. This is the core of the mapping cycle. Teachers map, then talk, then map, then talk. As they talk, they begin to see what they can change or add to their own maps. Or, the entire staff makes a commitment to focus on one area of content or instruction.

So much progress in five years! I want to extend a special thanks to all our lead teachers, who have worked hard to help mapping take root in our schools. These teachers are true blessings in their schools and should be applauded for their commitment and dedication. Thank you, teachers!

Ascension Lutheran School-Katie Ervin
Bethlehem Lutheran School-Amy Kopp
Central Lutheran School-Danielle White, Elizabeth Renwalt
Concordia Lutheran School-Angie Owen, Shelly Davis
Emmanuel-St. Michael-Alicia Levitt
Emmaus Lutheran School-Stacey Durlacher
Holy Cross Lutheran School-Becky Schroeder
Lutheran South Unity School-Sheila Nehrenz, Susan Mittelstaedt
St. John-Emmanuel Lutheran School-Heidi Dancy, Sharon White
St. John Lutheran-Melissa Monn, Linda Atz
St. Paul’s Lutheran School-Adrianne Mannigel, Jennifer Krieg
St. Peter’s Lutheran School-Holly Ehle
St. Peter-Immanuel-Sarah Weber
Suburban Bethlehem School-Rachael Johnson, Amy Greener
Woodburn Lutheran School-Sarah Fleek
Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School-Amber Franz, Mickey Martin
Zion Lutheran School-Anna Selzer