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Vanessa, I think it really depends on where you are and what your district leadership is like. When I first arrived in my district 8 years ago, there was not a reading or social studies curriculum, and there were "loose" curricula for math and science. Since then, we have much stronger leadership. We now have curricula for reading, writing, and math, and our science materials are much stronger. I think ultimately our work is to teach the standards and we need to use professional judgement to decide if the curriculum we are given is the best way to achieve that. My advice is to get to know the standards really well so that you begin to have a clear idea of what students should know and be able to do. As that understanding develops, you can find resources that you think help students master the standards. It's also a great idea to have a professional learning network that you create using social media. Don't attempt to teach in isolation! :-) There are so many wonderful people out there who are willing to help.
It all depends. The system I worked for last year had guides that told you what to teach and when to teach it. There was some flexibility, but since the test covered the materials in the guide, there wasn't a lot of room. The system I will be teaching in this year is giving me the freedom to pick what I want to teach.
My district just gives you the book and you are responsible for knowing your standards. There is a lot of group teaching here though
Like in most communities, you would think that some curriculum guide is there to drive instruction for most subject areas. And then depending on school level, it is up to your department to select textbook or other resource to use. Ultimately your role as the teacher is to meet the needs of your students in order to meet the standards. The wiggle room or the degree of latitude, if it hasn't been discussed on a school department level, is in how you're going to meet those needs. Happy teaching.
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