From Broad to Narrow
This blog started as a digital portfolio that I created as one of the requirements for earning my K-12 Principal Certification. Up until now, pretty much all of the content has dealt with education, but the topics of the blog posts have been a bit scattered. For any given post, I have more or less “thrown a dart at a dartboard” and written about whatever has come to mind. To reflect this broad approach, the site title and tagline have read “Ross Cooper: thoughts from a k-12 curriculum supervisor.”
Now it is time to narrow my focus.
A few days ago I changed the title and tagline to “Cooper on Curriculum: curriculum & unit design. inquiry-based learning. assessment & grading. professional development.” In regards to the title – Cooper on Curriculum – it reflects my passion for curriculum (which I have had since I taught fourth grade), and a major focus on curriculum is now a part of my official job as a K-12 curriculum supervisor. (In fact, I have often wondered how educators could not be passionate about curriculum, since it is what we deal with each and every day.)
Concerning the four topics in the tagline, these are the curriculum-related areas about which I believe I am most enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I came up with these four off the top of my head, and to make sure I was not missing anything I spent some time browsing through my education books and previous blog posts and articles. I tried with all of my might to narrow it down to three, but it just wasn’t happening.
Since I have entered into education I have grappled with whether I should (1) spend the majority of my time improving upon areas in which I am not particularly strong or (2) dedicate myself to getting the most out of my areas of strength.
While I have come to believe it is important to be knowledgeable across a variety of education-related areas, it is not reasonable to expect an educator to be well read or the “go to” person across several of them.
Also, in Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses the significance of focusing on areas in which you are passionate about and excel, and Tom Rath mimics these same sentiments in Strength Finder 2.0. Both Collins and Rath (as well a plethora of other researchers/research) emphasize that successful people and companies tend to take this less is more approach. (Also, isn’t this the same approach we want teachers to take with their instruction, as opposed to curriculum that is mile wide, inch deep?)
After “casting the net wide” for quite some time, it is now obvious to me that (1) there are specific curriculum-related topics that for me stand out above the rest, and (2) by focusing on these topics I can ultimately make more of an impact on our students. So, in the end, I look forward to approaching my writing with more of a focus, and diving deeper into topics about which I (1) am passionate, (2) have had experience, and (3) believe I can speak intelligently. Finally, there is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to learn in these areas by writing posts that incorporate research, force me out of my comfort zone, and stretch my thinking.
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