Teachers' Role in Curriculum

Teacher and curriculum

After reading about the roles of Chinese teachers and American teachers, you may ask “What role would a Chinese language teacher assume herself/himself in the language and culture in the United States, and how would that affect the curriculum design? Or “What role would a bilingual/bicultural teacher assume herself/himself in the immersion in the United States, and how would that affect the curriculum design? Here are some thoughts for you to ponder upon:
 
Work as an instructional designer:
You may have focused on the learners’ developmental, emotional and affective needs in your teaching. You may have focused on learner critical thinking, problem-solving and collaborative skills, you may also intend to emphasize, sometimes overemphasize the correct way of pronouncing each word and making each sentence order correct by repeating or ask your students to answer this question “ What does ‘apple’ mean in Chinese?”So can you identify yourself in one or more of the scenarios described above? Research identified that teachers well-designed learning activities that foster language use in authentic and real life settings, can support learner’s needs and facilitate deep learning.
 
Work as an intercultural practitioner (primarily for language and culture teachers):
You are now teaching both Chinese language and culture. These two aspects are closely knitted. And it is helpful for us to ask what culture is, how we detect the nuanced cultural difference in teaching, and how we lead students cross the boundaries of difference cultures. The role of teachers, as an intercultural practitioner, is first to analyze a culture, its concepts and keywords, and then to introduce and explain them to learners by way of paraphrase or presenting the affective behavior within a situation-oriented approach, and finally to step back and let learners discover and interpret the meanings for themselves. (It is at this point that learners may show their positive or negative feelings.) Teachers are now in a position to observe the extent of learners’ understanding and agreement, and so may lead learners into an analytical comparison of the two cultures. 
 
Work with your colleagues to adapt the curricular standards to your own teaching:
 
There are multiple standards for curriculum in the United States. How do we work effectively under the mandated curriculum standards and test system? Examples from Chinese context may give us some insights. Researchers found there are two ways helpful for a teacher’s professional development under the mandated curriculum standards and testing system: 1) careful study of the curriculum materials that were authoritatively, specifically, and consistently structured; 2) and her continuous and substantial participation in the collaborative observations, discussions, and reflections on each other’s lesson development, teaching, and lesson debriefing in schools.
 
Work as an effective room manager

Classroom management is not separated from academic curriculum. A successfully designed and implemented curriculum cannot do without effective room management strategies. Chinese researchers suggested teachers set explicit rules, give punishment and award appropriately, give students some control in a limited range, set up teacher’s authority via respect, develop mutual trust and positive relationships with students, and communicate with the parents. You can find more resources on Gaining Ground and appropriate these resources for your own use in the room management: http://gaining.educ.msu.edu/resources/node/3
 
Work with parents and community in designing your schoolwork and homework:
 
Your room is not the only place that curriculum should be! Please note that we take the general view about the definition of curriculum and regards it as the experiences through which children grow, learn and mature to become adults. So the schoolwork needs to be connected to what students can learn at home and make their learning an integrated and consolidated daily experience. In that sense, homework needs to be considered in our curricular design. And the parents’ involvement is vital for this process. Researchers found that in spite of the differences in students’ race, family background, prior ability, and high school curricular track, low-ability students who did 10 hours of homework or more per week had as good report card grades as high-ability students who did no homework. But it does not mean that the more homework, the better. Teachers need work with parents and make use of varied and meaningful homework to help students engage in goal-directed learning.
Here is an example of how to involve parents in schoolwork and homework:

  1. Objectives: explains the learning goals of the activity, if this is not clear from the title or letter.
  2. Prewriting: gives the student space to plan a letter, essay, story, or poem by outlining, brainstorming, listing, designing nets and webs, or by using other planning strategies.
  3. First draft: gives the student space to write and edit. A student who needs more space may add paper. Some teachers ask the student to write a final copy on other paper at home or at school.
  4. Interactions: guides the student to conduct a family survey or interview, talk with a family partner about ideas or memories, read work aloud for reactions, edit work, practice a speech, or conduct other interactions. Other assignments include exchanges focused on grammar, vocabulary, reading, and other language arts skills. (p.190)