Strengthening Curricular Programs

Case Study: Strengthening Curricular Programs You are in your third year of being a principal and have begun to see how your efforts of improving instruction are paying off for your school. You and your leadership team, made up of your assistant principal and two academic coaches, regularly visit classrooms, and support the planning process. Your informal visits, along with measured student achievement, paint the picture for a need to support some staff, while simply reinforcing the practices of others. One of your strongest performing teams is your fifth-grade team, made up of mostly veteran teachers. They communicate well with each other and often create thematic units that serve as the map for other grade levels. Recently, one of the most skilled teachers on the fifth-grade team, Ms. Kochiyama planned a literature study for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Her unit called for a close reading of the book with students answering a variety of comprehension questions and engaging in numerous writing activities. Once the book was completed, students were to watch the film A Cry in the Wild and then compose a compare and contrast essay. Your strong sense of modeling what you expect has kept you in the loop as it relates to instruction in the classroom. You have been able to observe Ms. Kochiyama gather significant student achievement results and you are excited to see the essays of the students. But you are caught off guard when you receive a phone message from a parent who expresses concerns about a movie being shown in her son’s classroom. She asks for a meeting with you to further discuss her concerns. The next day, you meet to review the parent’s concerns about the movie, which the class is scheduled to finish viewing later in the week. This PG-rated movie correlates to the book that was already read in the classroom. The parent explains that she has recently reviewed the book and then heard from her son that the movie was being shown in class. She was appalled that the story and movie had numerous “inappropriate and disturbing” pieces, and requested that the curricular materials stop being used in the classroom. The parent said she will not allow her son to participate in the class while the remainder of the movie is being shown and that she has already left a message at the District Superintendent’s office about her concern. She added that she is considering contacting the media if her concerns are not addressed to her satisfaction. What are your next steps?

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