Every administrator and teacher has experienced the butterflies that come with the first days of school. “Teacher anxiety dreams” are the talk of the lounge and include colorful details of bulletin boards that melt like Salvador Dali paintings, classroom desks turned topsy turvy, students who arrive attired in bathing suits rather than school uniforms, and lesson plans left on top of the kitchen counter in the haste to deal with unprecedented traffic on the way to work. All too soon, the creative planning of early summer quickly gives way to the reality of in-service meetings, schedule changes, and new technology.

Yet, we love our jobs!

Rooted in our hearts is the mission to capture the heads and hearts of our diverse students and to become masters of the craft we call teaching. While there never seems to be enough time – especially during the academic year – for professional reading, most of us maintain the desire to continue refining and discovering best practices while we are actually practicing. To help our Curriculum Trak community, we have spent some of our summer vacation poring through cyberspace’s filing cabinets to collate a series of blog posts you might find interesting to read during the school year.

Refer to this list at the beginning of the year and as you focus on various school initiatives such as intervention and differentiation. You will also encounter challenges like social-emotional and post-pandemic issues. Teachers also enjoy discussing classroom management, grading practices, and even creative ways to approach the holidays. In everything, we as faith-based educators also continue to seek ways to capture both the heads and the hearts of our students. Hopefully, the golden tidbits from your colleagues who are passionate about education may inspire and re-inspire you over the next months.

Blog posts are from those within the Curriculum Trak community as well as some of the best educational practitioners of our time – some you may have heard of; others, like yourselves, who simply love sharing their experiences of what works in their schools and classrooms. Topics are divided into themes covering the months of the academic year. Each includes the title and a link to a blog, as well as a quotation from the first paragraph of each post.

Blessings for a bountiful, enriching 2022–2023 school year!

August–September – Back To School

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Validate New Teachers Through Thoughtful Onboarding” by Joan Schwartz, March 2, 2022


The hiring of a new teacher is an exciting time for both the new teacher and the administration. This teacher has been chosen to best fill a position, so he/she is feeling motivated to do his/her very best to educate his/her students with unceasing dedication. The administration has worked hard to select the candidate that will provide a welcoming environment of learning—emotionally, socially, and academically—for the students.

Everyone is hopeful for the future! But is there a plan in place to help transition the new teacher to success in this new classroom or school or district? Without a plan, this learning process for the new teacher is often overwhelming and stressful, which is no way to begin such a positive opportunity. Creating a plan is where the work begins to provide an atmosphere of support and encouragement that will foster the best transition for the new teacher.

ASCI Blog: “The Tie That Binds” by Matthew H. Lee, April 2022


Relationships, especially with other believers, are some of the most precious things we enjoy in this life. They give us a foretaste of heaven as they are the one thing we get to take from this life into the one to come. As John Fawcett writes in his beloved hymn, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” it is a blessing for believers’ hearts to be bound together in Christian love, for “perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.”

We should strive to promote and protect relationships—between and among faculty and staff, students, and families—in our schools. After all, David described brotherly unity as pleasant (Psalm 133:1), and Christ commanded us to seek peace and reconciliation with one another (Matthew 18:15-20). But not much research describes the nature and importance of relationships, particularly in a Christian school context.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “The Three R’s of Classroom Culture” by Dana Hicks, January 31, 2022,


Being an elementary teacher for twenty years was my delight…my joy…a true gift. It came easily and never did I have to go to work – I wanted to go – every single day. My job was not work but rather a calling – one in which I got to model true servanthood and create a classroom culture where we valued people, things, and fell in love with the learning processes. One in which students wanted to come to school as much as I did. One in which it was easy to get student engagement and respect. One in which the students would do almost anything for me because of our close relationship.

What would make me want to leave this dream job and move into a middle school classroom? An easier schedule, right? Maybe less hours? Oh, it must be the calm, non-hormonal thinking of the typical middle school student, heeheehee! Nope…it was simple OBEDIENCE to what I knew God told me to do. Being a follower of Jesus and a student of the Bible for twenty-six years, I’ve come to understand that when God leads me to do something, He requires my obedience. He lovingly gives me a choice, but there’s nothing sweeter than living in the rewards of obedience – even if I don’t understand what I’m stepping into when I give Him my yes. And let me tell you, I had no idea what I was stepping into by moving to middle school. Due to God’s faithfulness, I survived my first year, but knew SOMETHING or SOMEONE needed to change going into my next year.

CACE Blog (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education): “Initial Research Observations Post COVID at Christian Schools” by Paul Neal May 17, 2022


Now that we appear to be on the downward slope of a 2 1/2 year pandemic, it is interesting to consider the impact it has had on Christian schools. While the long-term effects on education are already being discussed and will likely be researched for some time, there are some interesting initial trends emerging in the research that Charter Oak and CACE have been conducting with Christian schools over the course of the pandemic.

We Are Teachers Blog: “65 Welcoming Doors for Back to School 2022” by We are Teachers Staff, June 29, 2022


They’re about to walk through your door for the first time—how are you going to welcome them? These back-to-school classroom door decorations let you show off your teacher personality from day one. From simple but meaningful to artistic and impressive, these ideas cover every subject, every teacher type, and every budget. Get ready to make an incredible first impression!

October – Getting to Know Them (While Building Curriculum Rigor)

Teaching Channel Blog: “Combatting the Chaos: 3 Cs for a Well-Managed Classroom” by Christopher Bronke, September 28, 2021


Classroom management provides for us perhaps the greatest of juxtapositions between frustration and comedy. When we take the time to look back on some of our classroom management challenges, the stories come pouring out.

Don’t believe me? Next time you have lunch with a group of colleagues, ask them to share their favorite classroom management stories; you’ll laugh for days. However, in the moment, the mismanaged classroom can easily ruin not just that specific class period, but the entire day and, potentially, an entire year or semester.

We’ve all had that one class that, by November, you dreaded going to because you knew every single minute would be a battle….

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Standards Based Curriculum” by Dr. Mark Majeski, June 2022


The standards movement crept into education after the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform in 1983. Slowly, state by state education departments adopted standards and state-wide assessments. The purpose was to get all students in the state on an equal playing field and to measure academic achievement. Publishers pivoted and created resources aligned to either national or state standards. For the most part, private schools were late to the standards movement. Private schools felt successful with the outcomes of their graduates. These schools were graduating students, and 95% of graduates were moving on to college or university. The question needed to be asked. Is what we are teaching equivalent to our public school counterparts? Were we producing comparable results on IOWA, PSAT, SAT, ACT, and other standardized assessments with the scores of public school students? How could we even compare scores if we were not teaching the same standards or curriculum?

TeachThought Blog: “8 Ways to Create a Brain-Friendly Classroom” by TeachThought Staff, June 2022


The idea of a ‘brain-friendly’ classroom isn’t a frequent talking point in education, but maybe it should be.

How to create such a classroom isn’t immediately obvious. Although it is valuable for teachers to be familiar with neuroscientific research and pass relevant findings along to education stakeholders, it is crucial that educators use classroom strategies that reflect what we know about the brain and learning.

So how can teachers create environments where anxiety is low while providing enough challenge and novelty for suitable brain stimulation? How can you create a classroom that works in a way the brain ‘likes’ to learn? This is obviously a multi-faceted concept involving sensory input, task creation, sequencing, mindset, tone, student-to-student and student-to-teacher interactions, and so on, not to mention the far more impactful experiences students have at home. Trauma or even simply an ongoing state of stress in a dysregulated environment all shape the brain and its functions–the brain you as a teacher are trying to help them use to learn.

Peas in a Pod Lessons Blog: “How to Teach Struggling Writers,” January 2022


Writing can be one of the harder subjects to teach, and some kids struggle. Here are a few simple ideas to help you teach writing to all of the students in your class – especially the struggling ones.

November – It’s Real Now, Post-Pandemic Lessons, & Parent Conferences

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Identifying Curriculum ‘Deliverables’” by Huntley Cooney, May 2022


We’re going remote.

Oh, those dreaded words that so many of us heard during the past two years!

But every cloud has a silver lining (so they say), and ours was that it forced us to take a closer look at what it was we were actually teaching our students. When the pandemic began we were in the process of creating our curriculum maps on Curriculum Trak. At the point that the lockdown hit we were busy selecting and writing our standards. We had been looking at our state standards and methodically going through them, when we suddenly found ourselves online and with no time left to ponder which standards we might adopt, which we could modify, and which we should ignore. We realized that if we were going to have a successful year, we had to clarify where we were heading NOW! And we had to be able to communicate these clearly to our students and parents.

We asked the teachers to winnow their curriculum and strip their classes to the essentials, focusing on three elements: “What are the most important skills, knowledge, and virtues that a student must gain from your class by the end of year?

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Shalom and Parent-Teacher Conferences” by Dan Beerens, March 2022


During the fall and spring conference times with parents, teachers typically report on the academic progress of students to parents. It should be a time to share celebrations and concerns. Sometimes the student is present or even “leading” the conference. I believe that this time with parents is a critical one, as it is one of the few times that there is an intense focus on their mutually shared responsibility – the student. From the school side of the equation, this is a prime time to also communicate the mission of the school to the parents. From the parent side, this is an opportunity to have a significant time for a conversation with another adult who has worked with their child about their view of the child’s growth.

I have been emphasizing to Christian schools that this precious conference time should be about more than just academics…

The Innovative Educator Blog: “5 Pandemic Learning Gains” by Lisa Nielsen, January 2022


If you follow the fear-mongering mainstream media, you’d think today’s youth is doomed as a result of the “learning loss” caused by the emergency remote learning students were involved in during the pandemic. Innovative educators (and their students) understand this is untrue. There is not one moment in time when any particular subject or topic needs to be learned. As adults many of us know we remember and use very little of what we learned in our K-12 education. Talk to students pre-pandemic and they’ll tell you school often felt boring, irrelevant, and disconnected from the real-world where they can learn anything, anytime, anywhere using technology that traditionally was not available (even banned) in many schools pre-pandemic.

Instead of focusing only on loss, let’s talk about the tremendous learning gains caused by the pivot to remote learning. Because of the pivot students and staff were catapulted into the future in many school districts. As a result our students will now be more prepared than they ever would have been, had education not been disrupted. Here are five pandemic learning gains.

Learning Sciences International: “Why Student Engagement is Important in a Post-COVID World – and 5 Strategies to Improve It” by Michael D.Toth, March 2021


After several long months of remote learning – more than a year for some – school officials report that many students have become more passive, have a lesser sense of social belonging, and feel disengaged from their learning.

The EdWeek Research Center surveyed students and teachers after the first half of this school year and found that student motivation and morale are significantly lower than they were prior to the pandemic….

December – Assessments, Report Cards, Vacation!

Alliance for Catholic Education Blog: “Beware Your Hearts Do Not Become Drowsy” by Maria Corr, 2021


I’m the girl who plays It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year on repeat starting November 1. Christmastime is the best time. When I enter my classroom each morning, California sun shines through “snow”-frosted wreaths on my windows as I write homework assignments on the stocking-framed whiteboard and prepare my “Jesus Bday Mix” playlist for students’ arrival. Despite their disapproving glares and “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” refutations, I insist that we embrace the holiday spirit for as long as possible. Maybe it’s my Type-A personality, my holiday extroversion, or a little mix of both, but I’m all about being prepared.

Naturally, then, the only thing I love more than the Christmas season is the Advent season. Four weeks built into the liturgical calendar all for preparation. Advent isn’t just about preparing our decorations and playlist queues, though; Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus.

All Things Assessment Blog: “Back to the Basics” by Amy Janecek, May 2022


Educators across the country are sharing how this school year was far more difficult than the previous two years during the pandemic. There have been many pivots (I know, I know . . . that is like a four-letter word), many shifts, and many concerns raised as students return to school and socialize with peers they have not seen for a long time. This was a year like no other. As it comes to an end, educators have an opportunity to take a breath and reflect on what worked well and areas in which to seek growth. There is also an opportunity to think about going back to the basics with assessment practices. The pace of the year had many teachers juggling way too many responsibilities; summer brings time to reflect and opportunities for collaboration. This time allows teams to dig into the skills and knowledge students struggled with the most and design formative and summative assessment practices that align with the standards.

TeachersPayTeachers Blog: “Meaningful Report Card Comments to Support Growth Mindset” by Team TPT


Once a term report card season comes, bringing both excitement and stress to students’ and teachers’ lives. How students view their report cards can be impacted by the type of mindset they have around their work. When a student reads their report card comments, you want to make sure that they won’t feel like their abilities are defined by their grades. But rather, that there’s room to grow with practice and reflection.

Once a term report card season comes, bringing both excitement and stress to students’ and teachers’ lives. How students view their report cards can be impacted by the type of mindset they have around their work. When a student reads their report card comments, you want to make sure that they won’t feel like their abilities are defined by their grades. But rather, that there’s room to grow with practice and reflection.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Faith Journeys Made Visible” by Renée McKeone, January 2022


While there is much clarity on assessing growth in academic areas such as reading, math or science, Christian schools face the unique challenge of measuring growth in a student’s faith journey. To address this challenge, Ann Arbor Christian School initiated faith portfolios. These portfolios document each student’s faith journey, giving parents and teachers the opportunity to “peek” into a child’s developing faith. We recognize that faith is a journey and the pieces in a child’s faith portfolio give us insight into their faith development from expressions of love for God to doubts and questions, from areas of confusion to a commitment to follow Jesus.

Saved You A Spot Blog: “Teachers on Christmas Break,” December 2021 (funny)


Teaching in December can be challenging. For all those teachers on their winter break, here is a fun post for you enjoy during your much deserved break!

Teachers on Christmas break be like…

January – School Initiatives

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Is This a NEW Idea? Social-Emotional Learning in Christian Education” by Judy Friesenhahn, March 2022


Have you ever taught without incorporating Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)? The what of curriculum is very important, but the how is crucial for guaranteeing that learning happens. Due to all the changes in our world, there has been an increased focus on the need to be sure that the social/emotional needs of students are met. Every time a new idea for meeting those needs appears, I realize that many teachers have been incorporating those practices for a very long time. Many of the social and emotional needs of our students in Christian-based schools are met as we also attend to the spiritual well-being of each individual.

Edutopia Blog: “Future-Ready Outcomes as an Alternative to Participation Grading” by Edward R. Motalvo, July 2022


At the end of the last school year, my fellow teachers and I compared notes about classroom management, co-teaching models, and student performance. The conversations veered toward grading and participation as we discussed how poverty impacts student engagement. We also shared our concerns with how standards-based models create negative consequences such as proficiency segregation.

Based on those conversations, I wanted to reevaluate my grading structure. I sat down with my colleagues and we began to consider the role of participation grades. We pondered the question: How could we take the rather ubiquitous practice of assigning participation grades and redesign it into something both convenient and transformative? This year, I decided to swap participation grades for assessing future-ready outcomes.

Heinemann Blog: “Using Pre-Assessment to Ease into Reading Differentiation” by Lynn Bigelman (includes video)


The research is compelling: When teachers differentiate reading instruction, students learn more. But teachers are too often given the expectation of differentiation without the details on how to make it work. In No More Reading Instruction Without Differentiation, Lynn Bigelman and Debra Peterson offer a framework that adapts instruction based on individual students’ needs and interests.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog (Teacher’s Lounge Podcast): “How Can PBL Advance the Goals of the Faith-Based School” by Dr. Josh Ornelas, July 2022


At the end of the day, we all work in groups. Now we’re not in cubicles anymore; we work as a team. [No] single problem is solved by a single discipline anymore. And so again, we need to work as a team. Those 21st-century skills that the students need: the four C’s of collaboration, communication, creativity, and communication – all of that makes PBL work, and those skills are the skills that the employers are asking for in the real world. I’m an administrator at a school. Do I do some things alone? Absolutely. But more often than not, I’m in this workspace with two other administrators and we’re working on one project at a time sometimes. So it’s so applicable in real life. – Dr. Josh Ornelas

February – A Time to Reflect & Maintaining the Energy

McGraw Hill Blog: “Maintaining My Energy by Focusing on the Students” by Skylar Primm, May 2022


Ask any practicing educator, and more likely than not they’ll tell you that the 2021–22 school year has been their hardest ever. Harder than pivoting to remote learning in March 2020 and finishing out the year without ever seeing our students in person again. Harder than the back-and-forth remote-to-hybrid-to-classroom switches of 2020–21. I think many of us optimistically hoped for some semblance of normalcy this year, especially in the upper grades for whom the COVID-19 vaccines were available starting last summer. This was certainly the case for me, and as I approach the end of my lucky thirteenth year of teaching, I confess that I often feel exhausted, disillusioned, and just plain out of juice.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Growth & Grief: A Cautionary Tale” by Michael Arnold, May 2022


Like many teachers, I like to view myself as an innovator when it comes to my instructional practices. As I grew from a novice to a more experienced practitioner, I prided myself in being willing to try new things, applying what I was learning from the experts in my field. Over time, as I continued to develop my teaching style and grow in my knowledge of the craft, I loved the rush that taking (reasonable and responsible) risks in my classroom could bring. I enjoyed the sense of danger that came with stepping away from the curated (or canned) curriculum and trying something new. I loved to think about the basic concepts to be taught, mix in my knowledge and experiences with my current and past students, and pair that with ideas gleaned from professional development and collaboration opportunities – and then climb out on a limb and give my idea a go. What could be better?!

This was especially true in my last teaching position before I moved into curriculum directing and supporting Curriculum Trak schools. I was in the 8th, 9th, and 10th grade Bible classroom where I had a lot of liberty to experiment and explore. I was free from externally mandated outcomes (like state standards), so I was able to apply myself to the internal goals of the Bible department while knowing that I had the leeway to try (and retry) things as needed. But, like many educators, I found that I still had a tendency to gravitate toward the favorite and familiar instructional strategies during the busy or stressful seasons. I wasn’t crazy!

The Faith-Filled Teacher Blog: “8 Things Teachers Need to Stop Doing” by regina, 2021


“Yes, I want to do things to set my students up to fail!”

Said no teacher ever.

If you’re reading this I know that you want just the opposite. You want to know how to set your students up to succeed. Your desire is to teach with excellence.

I don’t have all the right answers. I’m far from knowing it all. But I have experienced a lot of success in my years in education. One of my proudest moments was when 92% of my students passed our state math and reading assessments. And these were students from high poverty backgrounds, most with dual languages in the home.

This is not a call to perfection, but a call to excellence. So in this post, I want to chat about some of the things that I feel are major roadblocks to effective instruction. Check the list to see if you’re doing any of these things.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Make Time: A Teacher’s Guide to Time Management” by Angie Parker, May 2022


We are all given the same hours in the day but we all choose to use our time differently depending on our personality and our lives in general. If you have children living at home, then you can relate to me and likely have a lot of different schedules to manage. Just exiting the teaching field, I can empathize greatly with teachers of smaller schools who teach many different disciplines. At my previous job I taught Kindergarten–5th grade Technology, Career Development, Financial Peace, AP Computer Science Principles, Dual Enrollment Intro to Computers, as well as being the head of secondary girls dress code and 9th grade class advisor. Phew! This was just one semester’s schedule. It changed for me in the second semester. I still got to teach fun, elective courses, but it was hard to manage my time with having to create lesson plans for many different disciplines.

March – Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “What’s In It For Me? Making Curriculum Mapping Work for MY Good” by Christina (Sereda) Sasso, May 2022


Saved By The Bell was one of my all-time favorite television shows growing up. I’ll never forget sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal watching reruns before getting ready to hop on my own bus to school. The slapstick comedy, the relatable characters, and completely unrealistic scenarios never failed to incite giggles over my breakfast. But the silliness of the show wasn’t all it had to offer.

There were all sorts of life lessons that the audience learned through the antics of the troupe of characters. One in particular stands out: Zack Morris. “Preppy” and stubborn, Zack had an eye for mischief and schemes, creating chaos throughout the building for his friends, Principal Belding, and the other teachers at Bayside High. His high jinks were always the highlight of the show. The consequences of his shenanigans, though, aren’t the most important things to learn from Zack Morris. Rather, we need to learn a lesson from his selfishness.

No matter what schemes were being planned, Zack always had one question in his mind, especially when it came to helping his classmates: what’s in it for me?

…In education, we often feel this pressure to give without receipt. Lessons need planning, essays need graded, and newsletters need written. Apart from the daily grind, we’re planning kindergarten graduations, field trips and field days, and dealing with troublemakers. We’re lucky to get a bathroom break in the midst of it all. Even with all of the rewards that teaching brings, the burdens can weigh us down.

And as the pressure to go, go, go and do, do, do mounts through the school year, it’s not hard for curriculum mapping to feel like the proverbial straw.

Ted Talk: “The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything Online” by John Greene (TedTalk Video)


From introduction: Some of us learn best in the classroom, and some of us … well, we don’t. But we still love to learn – we just need to find the way that works for us. In this charming, personal talk, author John Green shares the community of learning that he found in online video.

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Figuring Out What Really Matters in Curriculum Planning” by Dan Beerens, April 2022


I often joke in workshops that, as teachers, the day we return from spring break is when we kick in to “fast teaching” mode! We do this because, while we were relaxed in November and February and consequently added a few days to our favorite units, we are now faced with being behind on the content we feel responsible for teaching. This is a problem that pops up as regularly each spring as dandelions in our yards. What can we do about it?

For starters, let’s make a good plan. I am a huge fan of curriculum mapping as a vehicle for having the important conversations with colleagues around what really matters in our learning experiences over the course of PK-12 in our schools. Good planning inspires hope and helps to keep us on track through the course of the year. We can commit to eliminating this “cramming” behavior at the end of next year if we plan well this summer/fall as we start a new year!

April – Testing, Standardized Testing, & Spring Fever

ASDC.org: “Redos and Retakes Done Right” by Rick Wormelli, November 2011 (but still relevant!)


Allowing students to redo assignments and assessments is the best way to prepare them for adult life.

Jarrel plagiarized one paragraph in his health class essay on the dangers of second-hand smoke. Carla came to after-school review sessions and followed every direction, but she only scored a D on her English exam. Marco was distracted by other things when he did his history homework: It’s full of incomplete thoughts and careless errors that he doesn’t normally make.

All three students would like to redo their assignment or assessment properly, and they would like to receive full credit for the new versions they submit. All three cases put our instructional mind-set to the test.

From Education Week on Assessing the Assessments: A link to several articles discussing assessments (This is a hot topic among educators…formative? Summative? Standardized, ACT/SAT?, etc)


Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Looking Down an Unfamiliar Path: Preparing Our Students for the World of Virtual College” by Becki Goniea (interview of Sarah Oaklief of Colorado Christian University), May 2022


Nowadays, when we talk about how our school year has been “mostly normal,” we all know what that means. Kids have been sitting in our classrooms, and we’ve been teaching them face-to-face, even if those faces have been occasionally covered by masks. Our Zoom classes have become only for a small minority of students. We’re discussing and teaching and interacting in person, and it feels so good to see the virtual classroom in our rearview.

However, I would like to point out something pretty significant that we have all seen become a reality for many of our students: online college courses are an affordable and convenient option, even while students are still in high school. While our pandemic-based, slightly experimental virtual education was challenging in so many ways and we’d really rather not dwell on it, it might be valuable to consider how what we are doing in our classrooms today can provide lasting help for our students as they continue their education virtually.

Share My Lesson.com Blog: “How to Survive Spring Fever at School” by Julia Thompson, April 2019


Spring can be one of the most frustrating times of the school year for teachers. Just when your classes are finally going well and your students are on track to a successful finish for the year, warm weather happens. Suddenly, you notice that even the most cooperative students are staring out the window and begging you to teach class outside. They are restless, unfocused and distracted.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to have fun with your students while enjoying springtime; you don’t need to dread each warm-weather school day. Here are few strategies to help you get started on overcoming the negative effects of spring fever…

May–June – We Made It…Looking Ahead

Teaching Channel Blog: “Four Ways to Gather Student Feedback” by Gretchen Vierstra, May 30, 2018


As another school year comes to a close, I’d bet that you and your students are looking forward to summer break. While these last days of school can be crazy, they’re often reflective as well.

You’ve probably asked students to self-assess their learning, and you’ve probably been busy assessing their learning in final projects, portfolios, and report cards. Of course, all of this assessment of student learning is important — but remember, you were the one who guided them on their learning journey!

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “4 Essential Questions Our Graduates Must Be Able to Answer” by Karen Dorman, June 2022


I recently watched our class of 2022 walk across the graduation stage, and I asked myself as their senior Bible teacher if I had done enough to prepare them for the onslaught of anti-biblical ideologies they will surely face at the university level. My answer: I don’t know and I may never know. Regardless, I am convinced our students must be able to answer four essential questions by graduation.

Kids Discover Blog: “Summer Planning for Teachers: Finding the Right Balance” by Justin Birckbichler, June 2022


Many people say that teachers “get the summers off.” I find this to be false. Many educators will use their summer for professional growth rather than treating it like a three month vacation. But we all need time for rest and relaxation. The question is: how do we find the right balance between personal and professional growth over the summer months?

Curriculum Trak Community Blog: “Launching a Curriculum Review Cycle” by Dr. Renee L. Mungons, July 2022


Many schools do not have a designated curriculum director until they reach an enrollment of 500+ students and are able to support this “extra” position. When that time comes, creating a new position can mean that the pioneer must help determine what the job description will be. In my case, the elementary principal was giddy in his eagerness to sign over all rights to ordering testing materials. Thus, my job includes managing all school assessments, and I quickly discovered why the principal was glad to delegate this. But no matter what is added along the way, a curriculum director is first and foremost responsible for…the curriculum!

During graduate school I discovered that when you are in over your head, you need to start by getting organized. Being organized gives you confidence and makes it seem like you know what you are doing. For the curriculum director, the first step is creating a curriculum review cycle. This involves developing a rotating schedule that includes all the major domains. Our head of school wisely advised that ELA be given two years; we began with that content area. Domains that are smaller, such as world languages and fine arts, may be combined. With this cycle, it takes seven years to get through all subjects, which coincidentally follows the Old Testament pattern that seven equals “fullness” or “completeness.”

Lynn Cuffari has been committed to faith-based education for nearly 30 years. Most recently, she worked as a teacher and principal for both the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona and the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Lynn graduated from the University of Arizona in 1982 with a B.A. in Journalism. In 1983, she married Joseph Cuffari, an Air Force officer. While stationed in Naples, Italy, Lynn earned her M.Ed. from Framingham State University of Massachusetts, which had a program for military families stationed overseas. In 2001, she joined the faculty at Immaculate Heart School in Tucson, Arizona as the middle school ELA teacher. In 2006, she became the principal at IHS, leading that school from 2006 until 2011 when she became principal at St. Augustine Catholic High School. In 2019, Lynn “retired” from St. Augustine to join her husband who had accepted a position in Washington, D.C. Not quite ready to sit still during the pandemic, she completed the 2020-2021 academic year as the middle school ELA teacher for the Diocese of Arlington’s Saint Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. Lynn is also an Executive Coach for ACE’s Remick Leadership Program and a mentor for Notre Dame’s Latino Enrollment Institute. She also continues to work part-time as an educational consultant for Curriculum Trak. She and her husband enjoy cherishing every moment they can spend with their son Joe, daughter-in-law Grace, and grandchildren Vinny and Carolina.