Teacher planning styles in the context of mandated curriculum


The Texas Education Agency has mandated curriculum content and lesson cycles in the form of Essential Elements, Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), and Texas Teacher Appraisal System (TTAS), for every teacher of every subject at every grade level to be taught in Texas public schools. Recent teacher planning research indicates that teachers generally do not plan in the objectives-first style generally attributed to the model created by Ralph Tyler in his Rationale, the planning style which the mandate requires. This study attempts to answer the following questions: 1) How do teachers approach lesson planning in the context of top-down curriculum mandate? 2) How do teachers perceive constraints applied by state and local mandate? 3) How do teachers accommodate conflicting recommendations in the mandate? 4) How does mandated curriculum affect teacher attitude and teaching behavior? The study employed case-study research methods. Participants were a total of twenty teachers, two from each of the departments of science, English, social studies, mathematics, and special education in each of two comprehensive high schools in central Texas. Results reveal that secondary teachers proceed through their usual planning cycles and then translate their plans into the mandated format. One-fourth of the teachers plan in the mandated objectives-first style. Over one-half use an eclectic approach of the two styles, and four teachers seemed to use the interactive-process planning style. Teachers' objections to the three parts of the mandate are discussed. The researcher concludes that mandated curriculum has had positive effects on teachers' awareness of the importance of planning, their use of more varied activities, and their awareness of teacher-student interaction. However, the mandate has had adverse effects on teachers' attitudes toward their own evaluations, their morale, instruction time spent on the classroom agenda, and the currency of the curriculum