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How to Develop a Curriculum as a New Teacher

August-16-2021
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There are a wide variety of guides and how-to articles about how to create a curriculum for your class as a new teacher. You've likely also done plenty of example curriculum exercises in your undergraduate or graduate studies. But in your first few years as a teacher in the “real world,” it's normal to be nervous or confused about how to write a curriculum that will challenge and instruct your students.

Exam Edge is a leader in the online test prep and teaching arena. We offer plenty of resources for new and prospective teachers, including teaching certification exam practice tests. But practice exams aren't the only help we can provide. In this blog post, we'll go over the top ways for you to create curricula that will have a true impact on your classes.

Research Your State's Curriculum Requirements

Of course, the first step in understanding how to create a curriculum is ensuring that you're abiding by all the state regulations. You will need to cover specific subjects depending on your state.

For example, the NC State General Curriculum exam, which Exam Edge can help you prepare for if you are planning to teach in North Carolina, includes a wide range of specific subjects. These must be on your curriculum in order for your students to be at the state-mandated grade level by the end of the semester. For North Carolina, this includes subjects like:

  • Statistics and probability
  • Geometry
  • Language Arts / English
  • Engineering, science, and technology
  • Social sciences

These requirements will change or shift depending on the grade level you're teaching as well, so be sure to go over the requirements that affect your specific class before starting to write your curriculum. The Praxis Elementary Education Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Test, for example, covers the concepts that teachers should include in curricula focused on elementary school students.

Plan Your Content With Students In Mind

Try to remember what it was like to sit through classes when you were the same age as your students. When you are figuring out how to write a curriculum, keep in mind that your students will include a diverse mix of kids who learn differently, come from different backgrounds, and differ in their focus and concentration abilities. The best way to handle this is to include plenty of alternative learning styles and methods.

For instance, consider utilizing guest speakers, YouTube educational videos, music, writing assignments, hands-on creative assignments, and other interactive options. You might have students who learn best by “getting their hands dirty” building dioramas, or students who prefer to write (whether that's imaginative creative stories or intellectual essays). Your students could connect better with visual aids, and some may prefer lecture-style note-taking as a way to internalize the material. By providing different options and methods, you can appeal to different students' learning styles.

Having a variety of learning options that cater to different students is especially helpful if you plan to become a Special Education teacher. The GACE Special Education General Curriculum exam tests you on these factors, which it deems important for teachers to understand thoroughly before beginning their special education careers. The exam stresses these concepts when you are starting to investigate how to develop curriculum content:

  • Planning the learning environment and social interactions
  • Development and characteristics of learners
  • Foundations and professional responsibilities

All of this comes down to a central focus on your students and their individual and collective needs.

Take Advantage of All Resources

Creating a curriculum is a necessary part of the process for every single teacher, so there is no lack of resources for you to explore. Seek out advice from veteran teachers in your school, mentors you have made during your own educational journey, online help groups, and even us, Exam Edge! Using the resources available to you, including plan books or even prepackaged curricula, can help you gain an idea of the direction in which you want your curriculum to go.

Of course, you've still got to put your personal spin on it. Packaged curricula are wonderful, but they often come across as dry to students, and they're usually designed with only one type of learner in mind. For that matter, they might not be a good fit for your teaching style either! After you've checked in with your available resources, play around with different styles, different content, and different lesson orders to find the one that suits you.

Relax and Practice

Our final strategy for creating a curriculum is to breathe deeply and remind yourself that no one "gets it right" the first time. In fact, there might not even be a “right” to get! As you continue your teaching career, you'll certainly make adjustments to your curriculum, become more comfortable with different teaching styles, and change up the way your class learns the subjects you teach. That's okay!

It's also okay for you to switch up aspects of your curriculum as you go. We suggest getting your curriculum content in a place that you're happy with and testing it out by actually teaching students. After a few weeks, you'll have real-world feedback on the way your curriculum plays out, come to a better understanding of your student's needs, and be able to adjust accordingly.

You also might consider taking more certification exams in the future to hone your skills, improve your career, and gain more expertise in the creation of curricula. If so, purchase a set of practice exams from Exam Edge to ensure that you do well on those tests and boost your score to the highest it can be!

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