1. Establish a Purpose - Curriculum writing can get out of control fast. Having a shared purpose for the curriculum helps the team to manage many aspects of the process such as clarifying priorities, timelines, and goals. "What is a curriculum?" is a great way to begin building a shared purpose for the curriculum. Is our purpose to develop a written curriculum, a taught curriculum, or a learned curriculum? Examining this question will yield a deeper understanding of the curriculum goals and guide the team's work. When things get messy or decisions need to be made, going back to our purpose give us direction.
2. Share Hopes and Fears - During one of our first gatherings and before any significant decisions are made about the curriculum, I simply ask our team, "What are your hopes for this process and for this curriculum?" Members share while I capture their responses on chart paper. I then ask, "What are your fears for this process and for this curriculum?" and record their responses on another chart paper titled "Fears." We keep these charts in our work room and return to them often throughout the process. Our own 'Hopes' and 'Fears' end up leading the curriculum writing process. At the end of the process, we also return to our 'Hopes' and 'Fears' to see how our final product compares.
4. Eat the Elephant - What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at at time! This is a perfect mantra for curriculum writing. Writing curriculum is hard, messy work and it can feel overwhelming even to experienced writers. Acknowledge the enormity of the project, and then break it down into 'bites'. This helps the team understand the big picture, while also seeing how they can chunk each phase into manageable parts. A 'one bite at a time' approach builds efficacy, teamwork, and focus for everyone on the team. (Check out Considerations for Curriculum Development and Eating the Elephant.)
6. Commit to a Design - The structure of the curriculum needs to make sense for both teachers and administrators. Therefore, both perspectives need to be at the table when making the decision regarding the overall design. Approach this step with a certain level of 'form and freedom'. Create and commit to a design that reflects the philosophy that has already been established (such as Wiggins and McTighe's Understanding by Design, Heidi Hayes Jacobs' Curriculum Mapping, etc.). Resist the urge to 'figure it out later'. That will only triple your workload by having to reformat all of your work.
10. Manage the Finish - I love the rush I get when I start to see the finish line! But the finish line has its own set of details to manage. If you have the luxury of having the support of an administrative assistant, give them a heads up of what is coming their way so they can schedule their upcoming projects accordingly. Nobody likes surprise projects! You will also need to give consideration to how the final product will be presented. Will you have paper copies? Will it be bound? If so, plan the copying and binding process now. If digital copies, where will they be stored? Do you want public access? And most importantly, how will this curriculum be rolled out to all teachers?
And when you finally cross that finish line, don't forget to celebrate success! Validate this accomplishment and reflect on the process. Then, buckle your chin strap and start planning for implementation. Moving from a written curriculum to a taught curriculum is the real challenge!