In the second webinar of our series Adopting Materials Through an Equity-Focused Lens, we turn our attention to the first stage of the instructional materials selection process—designing the instructional vision.  An instructional vision shapes how data, policies, and state requirements are integrated into your districts’ curricula adoption process. 

Jesse Melgares, the Senior Director of Programs & Partnerships at New Teacher Center, and Dr. Todd Davis, Chief Academic Officer for Aldine Independent School District in Texas, discuss how using an instructional vision helps deepen a district’s engagement with the materials selection process. 

Constructing an instructional vision works best if a variety of stakeholders are involved. Jesse Melgares examines the consequences of not including teachers and students in the beginning stages of the instructional visioning process:

“The frustration [for teachers] in curriculum changes comes when it's something that's being done to them, instead of them being a part of that process. From a student perspective, if I've been doing math with direct models presented to me that I could follow all the time, it's not as rigorous. [N]ow you're saying ‘students you're going to explore, you're going to make mistakes, and by the way, this math is a lot harder.’ That's a pretty big ask, even though down the road, it is a much more engaging and much better way to learn math.”

– Jesse Melgares

Jesse describes what he learned through his experiences working with teachers and students through a curricula adoption process and how to include them as essential stakeholders in an instructional vision that leads to stronger outcomes.

“Given all of the frustrations that might come up for your different stakeholders, it is critical to get really clear. What are the things that we care about, what do we value, and ultimately what is the change that we wish to be true in the classroom?”

- Jesse Melgares

Dr. Todd Davis discusses the key takeaways from Aldine Independent School Districts’ journey through an ELA adoption at a critical time of change for the district.

“I think the key thing that we learned in all of this was to never underestimate the reoccurring need to be rooted in your why. Why are we moving forward in this direction? Don't let it sit. Once you finish the work and adopt the curriculum, there has to be a common thread of that communication that moves forward.”

– Dr. Todd Davis

Todd also reflected on the importance of supportive leadership in maintaining a clear instructional vision:

“You have to have a superintendent that is a champion of the work. If the superintendent is not the lead literacy learner in your district, it's going to be hard to get that level of commitment.”

A Long-term Mindset

"You have to go into it with the mindset that we are going to have to relearn, that we're going to come to new conclusions and that we don't have all the answers right now." 

@tdavis_aldine @AldineISD #materialsmatter

Districts often have the desire to address pressing challenges in learning and professional development. However, Todd explains the necessity of seeing materials selection as a long-term strategy with far-reaching benefits:

“We're not playing a short game, we're not looking for band-aids on learning.  We're playing the long game. There is an end game of graduation with choices and opportunities. It's students with the opportunity to enter advanced course work at the high school level, and thriving in those courses. That's the long game that we're trying to play right now.”

– Dr. Todd Davis

You won’t see the results of a curriculum selection overnight. But your instructional vision, as well as the relationships built and lessons learned will ultimately add to district knowledge, policy, and practice and contribute to success in the classroom.

"Superintendents can play the role of lead learner.”

–  @jessemelgares @NewTeacherCtr #materialsmatter

Both educator leaders emphasized that an adoption process should consist of leaders who understand and can articulate a clear vision for how quality instructional materials will drive change for their teachers and students, but leaders should be learners too. And like establishing the instructional vision, decisions are best when they include perspectives from various stakeholders at every level of educational practice, from superintendents to students.

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