“I think what experience has taught me, like my time in the classroom and even as support staff at school – I have a greater understanding of what the teacher’s life is like. I live with a person who doesn’t have time to map curriculum; like that’s the reality. So I know how that feels, but I also know from the administrative side of things how essential it is. And so my experience has helped me to be able to more come alongside a school, with the understanding of what they’re facing because I’ve lived that through myself.” – Becki Goniea, Support Specialist, Curriculum Trak
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen to the full podcast episode here or using the player below.
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Michael Arnold: We have Becki Goniea joining us in The Teacher’s Lounge today. Becki is probably a familiar personality for many Curriculum Trak users. She’s served as a Curriculum Trak support specialist since 2018, and as such, she’s helped schools set up their accounts, answered their specific questions, and sometimes their not-so-specific support questions, and conducted many hours of training. She writes for the Curriculum Trak Blog. She’s joined us at a conference or two, with possibly more in the future. And we’re excited to have her join us today in The Teacher’s Lounge to provide us with an insider’s view of how Curriculum Trak works. So welcome, Becki.
Becki Goniea: Thank you. It’s great to join you.
Michael Arnold: Well, it’s nice to talk to you in this context. I know we interact quite a bit throughout the week as we’re trying to support schools, and I thought it’d be interesting to share your story and share your perspective as you do your work.
Becki’s experience in faith-based education
Michael Arnold: So Becki, you came to Curriculum Trak as an educator. And even though you’re playing more of a technical support specialist role here – that’s the unofficial or the official title for this role – you’re still closely related to education as well. Tell us about the role that education has played, specifically faith-based education, in your professional and personal life.
Becki Goniea: So, yeah, I still have kids that are engaged in faith-based education so it’s very important to me. My husband and I, both of us, grew up in Christian schools in faith-based schools, and so we both felt called to teach in Christian schools. And he still teaches high school English. So it’s very much part of who I am, and I value it so much now. Of course, growing up, it was valuable to me, but even more so now, with my own kids being engaged in it, both at middle school and high school level. And I guess even now into college; I’ve got a few in college. It was important enough to us to seek that out, even faith-based colleges for them.
It’s very much who I am and what I feel, as I said, called to support. Even if I’m not actually teaching there, I love that I’m able to teach the teachers, teach the administrators and these schools that I believe in.
Working for Curriculum Trak
Michael Arnold: Yeah. And when we hired you – and it’s been a few years ago now – you weren’t necessarily looking to step away from the Christian school that you were working at. It started out as a part-time role here at Curriculum Trak. Tell us why you applied for that position at the time.
Becki Goniea: I got to be a librarian for about five years and I loved it. I called it my dream job, because I loved to read. I love sharing good literature with kids, and still do, but just not in the librarian role anymore. That was gradually becoming more and more part-time. We had kids heading to college, so we needed a little bit more than that – from my earning side of things. So, Curriculum Trak came alongside me and said, yeah, you can still do that part-time and do this part-time. And those were a crazy couple years for me, but really good to still be engaged there for a while. And well, 2020 hit, and then everything changed up.
So I’ve been really glad to be able to step into this role full-time for a couple years now and just really still be connected with the school, just at a volunteer level instead of full-time or part-time. But it’s enough of a love and investment. That’s where my kids are, so I still value what the school values and it’s still important to me. I’m very thankful that the Lord gave that job to me for a space of time and allowed me to be invested in their ministry and their education for a while. And I’m glad for this now too. As I said, I feel like it’s reaching a broader realm in the same realm, but just more people. So it’s been good.
Transitioning out of her role as a librarian
Michael Arnold: You transitioned from what I think all of us would consider to be a highly social school environment – I think the library is even more social than perhaps other areas of the school – to a work-from-home environment. And that happened right around the pandemic, so there’s all that craziness as well. What was the transition like?
Becki Goniea: Yeah, that was a little tough. And actually, what was hardest was when the new school year started for everybody else and I wasn’t going back to school. That was probably the hardest time for me. I actually grieved that; I had to just allow myself to feel sad about letting that go because I did love that work. I loved being there. I loved that job. And so there was a stretch where I just felt sad about that. We were busy enough that it wasn’t really a super long issue for me.
But even last week, my husband and kids finished school and I’m still working, and that felt just weird. I’m celebrating with them, but I’m not really. I’m not in the same boat. So if anything, we’re busier now than we are during the school year. So it’s just a different flipped world in some ways.
And of course, working from home – I love it. I’ve really enjoyed it, for a lot of reasons. I like having quietness. I dwell happily in that. But also especially since COVID 2020, there have been a lot of times where either my kids had to quarantine, or my husband got very sick. And if I had had to be leaving him every day – it was just really nice to be home for that – to be available to go pick up the kids when they’ve gotta come home and be quarantined or whatever. So there’ve been a lot of times where just having that flexibility of working from home has been a real blessing. It was a transition, but it’s good.
Michael Arnold: Many of us here – all of us here at Curriculum Trak have gone through a similar experience transitioning out of the classroom. I think you’d probably agree with this, that it’s easy to miss the school environment just about every day. And yet at the same time, there are aspects that you don’t miss, you know? So I get this time of year, this is early June – most of our friends are now on summer vacation and we’re working a regular job so we’re actually busier this time of year than we are sometimes through the school year. So it’s easy to miss summer break and some of the other rhythms of school life.
What Becki does not miss about working at a school environment
Michael Arnold: But what about school life would you say you don’t miss? What are some of those elements that you’re like, oh, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that right now?
Becki Goniea: What’s interesting is my husband teaches middle school, high school English. So he’s now having some of those students that I had when they were in elementary, some of those challenging students, and I can say, yep, I remember that one. So I don’t miss the challenges of disciplining and dealing with students. Keeping up with those kids, it’s not something I miss. I fully sympathize for sure, but I don’t miss it.
Michael Arnold: It is nice to, in our perspective, deal more with the adults, the teachers, the professionals, than maybe the kids on a regular basis.
Becki’s role as a mother of six children
Michael Arnold: Now you’re a mom, a wife, you’re involved in your church and even other ministry opportunities. What does it look like to be Becki Goniea when she isn’t working for Curriculum Trak? What are some of the things that you do?
Becki Goniea: Yeah. I have six children. I have five, and then we have an international student who’s lived with us for six years, so she feels like one of ours. I just talked to her last night. She’s home in Hong Kong, so she’s on a flipped day –she was in the morning and I was at night. But we stay closely connected even when she’s home. I have a lot of kids and we’re in a weird stage where we’ve got a few kids who are working, trying to work full-time, and yet they’re home. Summer is a weird time, where we’ve got a mix of schedules.
Being a mom is pretty important to me, and being as available as I can be to them, that’s pretty important. Being a mom looks a lot different now than it did just even a couple years ago, just because our three boys are college age and our two girls are middle school, high school. So their needs are just different. But it’s good.
And I work at our church; I help out teaching kids classes. That’s where I get my teaching fix in sometimes and spend time with younger kids. I’m teaching a first through third grade class right now. My husband is leading the worship team at our church right now, so he pulls me into that a lot when he can. I get “voluntold” sometimes.
And I love to read. I said that already, I think. And I actually don’t have a lot of time to read as much as I would like so I do a lot of listening to audiobooks, cause I can do that while I’m cooking or whatever.
I like to walk every day. That’s a pretty big deal to me, just to have space to myself and get outside when I can. It’s Michigan, so this time of year is great for that. I guess I would say those are big things for me.
Michael Arnold: And for those of us who peruse your Facebook posts, we’ll see stories about a missionary friend that you hosted in your home a while; a graduation event that you just had – your son graduating; you took your younger kids to Northern Michigan –
Becki Goniea: Mackinac. Yep.
Michael Arnold: So there’s a lot going on in the Goniea household.
Being a Support Specialist for Curriculum Trak
Michael Arnold: I’m reminded, there’s a saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person, and I think that fits you pretty well. You got a lot of deals going on. And yet I think a lot of people here at Curriculum Trak would testify that you’re a great support when they come ask for help. And you certainly do stay elbows deep in the day-to-day work of Curriculum Trak. We call your position the Support Specialist. I don’t even know what that means exactly. Maybe you could help us unpack that. What are some things that you find yourself doing in a typical workday? What does it look like to work from home supporting Curriculum Trak users?
Becki Goniea: It’s one of the delights of my job, but also one of the challenges – my job is mainly governed by email. I have the hardest time staying focused. I really get distracted easily with all the emails that are coming in so that is my downfall. I think my weakness is I read something and think, oh, I gotta do something with this now, but I’m doing something else. So being governed by email requests is wonderful, cause I love to write and I love to help people that way. But it’s also a challenge cause that is, most of my day, just keeping up with people’s email requests.
I do spend a lot of time training; I’m helping schools as they just get started, helping them set up their accounts. And then we typically have two meetings with every school. So we try to set up their account and then I meet with them again and just train them on how to use the platform. And I really like those sessions because they’re usually one-on-one or just with a small group, and I feel like I get to know people just a little bit, get a sense for them.
I think for some that’s hard because it is a virtual meeting. It’s on video, and I think we’ve gotten better at that since 2020, but for some, that’s not an easy platform to open up on. I like the challenge of trying to get people to open up and feel comfortable, not just there but in the future. I want them to feel comfortable enough to come back and say, I don’t know how to do something; just leave the door open for that. So I spent a lot of time doing that.
I’ve started working with you more doing our CT certification training sessions and that’s more focused, more in-depth training. And so that’s been good for me because it’s stretching what I know and how I can apply it and help others apply it. I like that aspect that I’m being stretched, cause I think it’s good to always grow in some way and try new stuff. It’s hard, but it’s good. And unfortunately, all you guys are my guinea pigs, but it is good to have to teach in a different way.
Michael Arnold: And working, I think most of us would – I mean, the whole world went through this during the pandemic –most of us would say teaching or trying to train people remotely through web conferencing, zoom, or whatever, you have to work harder at it. That’s why when we wanted to go back face-to-face, we don’t have that luxury so we have to find ways to try to connect through the internet.
Becki Goniea: I was just gonna say it’s a blessing and a curse. I could never meet with administrators in the Philippines any other way. And so to be able to meet with people all over the world and all over the states, it’s really remarkable.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. How many Curriculum Trak accounts do you think you drop into in a typical day? Cause when you get a ticket or a request or do training, you’re obviously in that school’s account, working with them on whatever they have going on. If you had to guess how many different accounts you see each and every day, what number would you put on it?
Becki Goniea: That’s a good one. I would guess probably 20 to 30 accounts every day. Just dealing with questions. I would guess that much. I don’t know.
Michael Arnold: I think that’s a good answer. I think I’m in about 20 a day and I’m not doing the number of training and support requests that you get. It’s pretty fascinating, just every account’s a little bit different, and yet the structure is the same. Then in addition to the training and answering support tickets and the other things that you described, you also maintained some ongoing projects for Curriculum Trak.
Becki Goniea: Yeah.
Michael Arnold: What are those like?
Becki Goniea: As schools are requesting standards that you need, I manage those projects. So a lot of our schools need either standards that they’ve developed they wanna have imported into their account, or if a state has updated their standards or whatever, we need to format those as well. And there’s some work on the back end to do with that. And so we have a team of people who help us, formatting those for us. So I manage these people and keep them hopping, cause we have a lot of requests for this thing. So that’s one project that I oversee just on an ongoing basis.
Michael Arnold: Right? You take the heat. If you don’t get those done soon enough – we needed those yesterday, but we’re requesting them today. Can we have it by tomorrow?
Becki Goniea: Right. Yeah, it’s painful sometimes.
Michael Arnold: Yeah.
Becki Goniea: So that’s one thing. And then we do map curriculum for some publishers, and this is a way that we love to support our schools, is just providing curriculum that’s fully mapped from some – I’d say like six or seven – publishers we have now that we’ve worked with. So as they are updating their editions or as they’re adding courses that they wanna make available in Curriculum Trak again, we have a team of people who, they’re working on mapping that.
Sometimes I’m doing that; sometimes other people on our support team are doing that. And just keeping up with that, managing the updates, managing the new maps, getting those set up for schools to be able to import. So that’s a job that won’t ever go away because we keep adding more publishers and as publishers just keep updating their curriculum as they need to. That’s something that’s definitely ongoing. And we want to grow that area. So I think, hopefully, we’ll have somebody that’s doing that full time, just because it is a great support for our schools. It’s a really good tool.
How being an educator and minister helped Becki in her role as support specialist
Michael Arnold: So all the things you manage in a given day, a given week, how would you say that your experience as an educator and a wife of an educator, a wife, a mother, a person engaged in a ministry – how would you say those things have helped prepare you or support you in your efforts to now support the faith-based schools that we work with?
Becki Goniea: It’s funny. We were just talking about what somebody asked – might have been one of my kids – asked what I majored in college. I majored in English and speech. It wasn’t even an education degree. It was really like, if I were a parent, I would say, why would you do that? But I have used what I learned there in so many ways over the years and I use it still. I love to write; I’m still presenting and speaking in public right now. So a lot of what I learned is still applicable there.
I think what experience has taught me, like my time in the classroom and even as support staff at school, I have a greater appreciation, or just an understanding of, what the teacher’s life is like. I live with a person who doesn’t have time to map curriculum; like that’s the reality. So I know how that feels, but I also know from the administrative side of things how essential it is. And so my experience has helped me to be able to more come alongside a school, with the understanding of what they’re facing because I’ve lived that through myself. So I think that helps.
My mom was an English teacher, and she taught me from a very young age that the written word is really important. And the written word is permanent. And so I think about that a lot actually, in the way I respond to emails, because what you say in written form is lasting, and it should be carefully crafted. But also in a way that you wanna be remembered if you can. That’s a side note, but that is a pretty major part of the way I think when it comes to communicating.
Michael Arnold: Just thinking about that principle, the written word is permanent, or the value of the written word in the context of why mapping even – this isn’t really the focus of our little conversation here but I can’t help myself. Why mapping? Let’s put it into writing. Let’s put into writing the decisions that we’re making, so that we can see it. The power of the written word is valuable even in a mapping context.
Being able to help people as a support specialist
Michael Arnold: So if my math is correct, you’re finishing up four years, or just about to finish four years here at Curriculum Trak. And in that time, you’ve probably helped hundreds of schools get started with their mapping journey. You’ve probably worked with thousands of educators now at this point working with Curriculum Trak and the day to day process, reviewed hundreds of thousands of maps, I’m sure, at this point. And probably millions of benchmarks, right? Individual benchmarks and separate standard sets.
Becki Goniea: Sometimes I dream about them.
Michael Arnold: You’re proofing in your dreams. So you’ve seen a lot and you’ve dreamed a lot. What drives you to do what you do? Like how do you find fulfillment in this process here at Curriculum Trak? Do you still find that this work is exciting? Or has it become somewhat routine after the amount of time and effort that you put into this wonderful practice of curriculum mapping?
Becki Goniea: Yeah. Most of the days it’s not exciting; I wouldn’t say use that descriptor. There are times when it is, because of new challenges. I mentioned starting to do more training and I think that excites me cause that’s new and different, but also sometimes the questions we get that challenge us to think differently about Curriculum Trak or to try to figure out a way to work with a school. I think that’s really exciting to me; that adds spark to what I’m doing. That doesn’t happen all that often though.
And so I think what drives me, I mean, I’m a support person, and I think I’m a support person in real life too. I like to be able to help people. I like to be able to enable and facilitate. Sometimes that’s not a good thing, but I like to be able to do that. I have a hard time saying no to things. My husband is constantly my “no” person for me. He’s like, you have permission to say no. But it’s what I love. And so it’s a really good fit for me to be able to – that’s my job is to help people. I think that’s probably what drives me.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. And I agree with you there, just the recognition that we’re not necessarily playing a main role in the process that the school is taking, but we’re able to help support their efforts and hopefully help expedite and enhance their success in some small way. I find that to be very fulfilling.
Becki Goniea: Yeah. It’s very satisfying. I’m really glad that we’re not like emergency help most of the time. I don’t think I could handle that stress, but this is pretty low stress help and I can handle that.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. The emergency, I mean, sometimes people come to us and they feel like it’s an emergency, and it is in that moment, right? We just lost the course. What are we gonna do to find it? That feels like an emergency, but as we say so often, no one’s gonna die here. Let’s take a deep breath in. No one has died using Curriculum Trak yet, and we’re gonna try to keep it that way.
Advice to schools that want to get into curriculum mapping
Michael Arnold: You often work with schools just getting started, brand new to mapping, maybe brand new completely to mapping. They’ve never mapped before or they’re brand new to Curriculum Trak as a platform to support their efforts. And there’s just a completely different set of, I don’t wanna call ’em problems, but when it comes to a new initiative – even if you’ve been doing the practice of mapping before, trying to fit your practice into a specific platform like Curriculum Trak can sometimes be just as challenging as approaching the practice of curriculum mapping fresh, never having done it before as a tool.
So either way new schools to Curriculum Trak have their own set of challenges and frustrations and concerns, and even barriers and hurdles to get over. From your vantage point, having worked with so many schools over the past several years, what would you want to tell those schools who are considering it or new to the process? Maybe feeling a little bit flustered and frustrated by the process?
Becki Goniea: I think that what I hear the most from my new schools is that Curriculum Trak is very user-friendly. When I’m going through the tools and helping them get things set up most of the time they’re saying this is really easy. This is user-friendly. So I think there is always this guard or this wall in our minds about starting something new. I have this issue, trying a new program. I just had to switch to a new phone carrier and it’s like, I’m really tense about it.
So there are things about new things that are difficult, but what I would say is that let us show you around. Let us get you started, acclimated, and then we’re not gonna just walk away from you either. We’re gonna stick with you. We’re checking in with you all the time to make sure that things are going okay, and that you’re still alive, and that you’re managing things. Our job is to hang with you through it.
Michael Arnold: And you actually snoop in their account to see if there’s maybe specific suggestions that you can give them, like, hey, don’t forget this. Or maybe this report would be helpful. So that was good advice. I think I would agree with that. You just have to jump in and recognize that there’s people here to help you, and that’s really how we see ourselves.
But over time, as schools get more comfortable with the platform and even the mapping process, we grow apart with them, right? Like they just keep moving ahead and grow beyond us. We don’t hear from them as much and that’s okay. We don’t take it personally. But we do continue to interact with them in limited ways. We hear back from them, we share their successes and enjoy and celebrate them. And I just wondered if there’s something recently as a school, maybe a more mature school that you’ve worked with that is starting to reap the benefits of mapping – something helpful or encouraging that you’ve observed from one of those schools that you would share or pass along, or maybe earlier in the process.
Becki Goniea: Yeah, I think probably the greatest thing that I’ve seen happen is when a school recognizes – yeah, sometimes they’re doing it for accreditation purposes; they’re getting their maps in place for that sake, just because they know they’re gonna be checked, they’re accountable for it. That’s not necessarily a bad motivator. We see that all the time. But I love it when they get to the point of, okay, what more can we do with this? And they reach out to add the lesson planner, which is one of my favorite aspects because it does keep those maps alive. I got to train somebody with a lesson planner today, who they’re at that point where they’ve got their maps – to a point where they can go back, and we talk about reviewing and refining them, but now they wanna make them part of their culture. They wanna make it a living, breathing reality for teachers every day as they’re creating lesson plans. So I love it when schools do that, when they realize they don’t just jump into everything all at once. We want the maps; we want the lesson planner. We do that too. But I think it is best if they can take a phased approach, and I love seeing that when they get to a point of realizing there’s more we can do. And they want our help with that.
Advice to schools that have had a rough start with curriculum mapping
Michael Arnold: What about the other side? We hear from schools quite a bit, we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted. I think the disruptions that we’ve experienced over the past couple of years definitely exacerbated this, but our teachers are frustrated by this. They feel like curriculum mapping is a dirty word here at our school. We’re not even allowed to talk about it without getting some frustration coming to the surface. How do you counsel, or what advice do you give to schools who might find themselves in that situation?
Becki Goniea: So I actually met with a school like that this morning too. They actually set up – they met with me I think maybe in 2020 or so. I mean, it’s been a while – and just needed to come back and refresh. What can we do now to move forward? And as I said, I live with my husband, who doesn’t have time to map. He’s already talking to me about mapping his new curriculum with him. And so I know what a teacher’s life is like.
And I think that the best thing, if this is gonna be something that your school values, you gotta show your teachers how much you value it by making it a priority. You show that by – in some ways, the effort is valuing your teachers. It’s valuing their experience. They’re the experts. And you’re saying, we wanna keep that content that you have in your head. We wanna keep it. We wanna build it. We wanna grow it. We wanna stretch you. And so ultimately, it is your way of valuing your teachers. They don’t always see it that way, though, because they gotta put work into that.
So if you’re gonna make this a priority, you’ve gotta create time for it to happen. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that I recommend, is either if that’s on a weekly basis, you just have a little stretch of time, this is what we’re all working on together. Or if it’s PD days, or just setting aside time that’s designated for this. It’s not just, this is teacher work time, because they’ve got a gazillion things to do. It’s, this is curriculum mapping time.
And the other thing I say is if you can do it together as a team in some way, shape, or form – if that’s departments, or if that’s grade levels or whatever – it can be a really lonely job to try to do this all by yourself. And I think your maps may lack consistency if it’s every man for himself. Somehow bringing the team together on this project is really vital.
And we’ve talked recently about administrators who bring food, just to encourage everybody to come together, like this isn’t just for work. It is to be together as a community and to be pushing toward the same goal together. And sometimes food helps that. So make cookies or bring donuts or whatever. Have the coffee ready. But as much as possible, providing time and providing a team is really essential.
Curriculum Trak as a tool to support students and teachers
Michael Arnold: I agree with that wholeheartedly, but even saying that, I think we both would agree that Curriculum Trak and curriculum mapping is not the most important thing that goes on at a school. That’s our operating theory. We base all of what we do on that; that this isn’t the most important thing. It’s a big initiative, it’s an important task, but it’s not the most important thing that goes on to school.
How would you explain that in light of what you just shared, as far as you gotta carve out time, you gotta make sure that teachers feel that they’re important in the process. How do we explain that mindset, that curriculum mapping is not the most important thing?
Becki Goniea: Yeah. I would say Curriculum Trak is a piece of the greater picture. So your picture is gonna look different from the school down the road. Your picture is, what’s your mission? What are you hoping to accomplish with your students? Because your love, your care for them is vital. We think that Curriculum Trak is a good way to support that, to show what you’re doing and to show how you’re loving them and training them and caring for them. That’s gonna come out in your curriculum. It should come out in your curriculum. And so it’s not vital to your school’s life.
It is a piece of it, and I think it’s an important piece of it. And I think more and more schools are realizing that this is a way of supporting what we’re trying to do for our students. I think it supports your teachers too, which is also right up there as far as what you value as a school. Your students, obviously, and what they’re getting is absolutely essential, but how that happens is through your teachers. And so our hope is that Curriculum Trak supports them and makes them better and makes them grow and become what we call “master teachers.”
Michael Arnold: Yeah. And I think that’s what drives us to provide the support that we provide. As a school, you’re doing important things with your students. Let us help support your efforts in this one initiative, which can be so vital to your mission and to your students, but it’s not the most important thing. That’s why we’re here to help you. We don’t expect you to figure it out on your own.
Being able to look at other schools’ curriculum maps
Michael Arnold: But that being said, I wanna pick your brain here a little bit. What do you think is the most underused part of Curriculum Trak by most schools? What’s a part of Curriculum Trak that you just wish more people knew about and embraced?
Becki Goniea: My hope is that this is becoming a little bit more used, but I think the access to other schools’ maps is such a great resource. Because once again, you’re not in this alone. You’re not the only school that’s – and you know that with your head, but to be able to go out there into the other curriculum area and see who else has mapped third grade PE. How can I do this? I have no clue where to start. Or I think this is what I wanna do, but I don’t know what that looks like. What have other people done? I think that’s really awesome, to be able to be part of a larger community that’s valuing the same things as far as curriculum goes.
I hope this is becoming more used because I spend a lot of time teaching schools about that. It may even be a good place for teachers to start before they even start mapping themselves, just to see what’s out there. There are some bad examples there but there’s a whole lot of good to see and to get ideas from, to connect with those schools too. I think that’s just a great resource.
Michael Arnold: Everyone is working towards this initiative out there in that other curriculum area. And you get to see the warts and all, right? It just is what it is. There’s good examples; there’s not good examples. And it’s all valuable to it in its own way, I think.
Becki Goniea: Yeah I still call every map a rough draft. You’re never really done with it even when you think you are. So they’re rough drafts, but some of them can be really helpful, cause they’re further along in the drafting process.
Hopes to provide on-site Curriculum Trak support for schools world-wide
Michael Arnold: Let me invite you to dream a little bit here in Curriculum Trak context. We work with schools all over the world, and if you could pick one location to travel to, maybe even move to for a short amount of time and provide on-site Curriculum Trak support for that region of Curriculum Trak schools, where would it be? I mean, you literally have anywhere in the world to choose from.
Becki Goniea: Well, I think I would go to the Mediterranean. You mentioned Hawaii earlier this week, and I would definitely go back there in a heartbeat. So to our Hawaii schools, you can definitely invite me to come. But I think I would go to a school in the Mediterranean for sure. Somewhere where it’s warm and beautiful. I would love to go there.
Michael Arnold: Good choice.
Becki Goniea: I’m really glad that we get to meet with schools all over the world. Even if I can’t really see what it’s like, it is really awesome just to even make that small connection with them. I just get super inspired.
I’ve actually met with people who are just starting schools, like there’s one in Thailand I’m thinking of that they’re just formatting their curriculum for the school. And that just gets me really excited because Christian schools are popping up – faith-based schools are growing everywhere, and that’s just really awesome.
Michael Arnold: That is something that feeds me and drives me to keep supporting schools because there’s a saying I like to use: a rising tide raises all ships. And the more we work to improve our curriculum, the better the state of faith-based education is around the world. I like that.
On getting involved with other roles for Curriculum Trak
Michael Arnold: Alright. Another question for you. You’re pretty heavily invested in supporting the daily mapping and lesson planning efforts of schools. You talked about that, some of the training, the one-on-one meetings that you do, and even the certification training that you’re taking part in. Now we’re launching a staff evaluations tool; we’re growing a resource bank of articles for our schools, our blog, even our podcast. These are things that we’re doing more of here at Curriculum Trak. And I just wanted to ask you, outside of the support work that you do, what are some other areas of the Curriculum Trak initiative that you’d like to be a part of, or would like to see Curriculum Trak get more involved in? Continue to dream a little bit. What else would you like to do? And where else would you like to get your hands involved with supporting faith-based schools?
Becki Goniea: That’s a good question. I don’t have time to dream a lot, except about standards that I’m working on. I mentioned earlier that I would love to see things grow so much that we have to have a bigger team. So I would love to be able to specialize, if I were able to pick, I would love to be able to specialize in certain areas. Right now we’re spread out so that we’re covering a lot of areas because we can. But I think I would really love it if we can continue to pull in more faith-based schools, more schools who need us, enough so that we could say, I’m a trainer and I get to meet with schools. I would love that.
And get to train in just specific tools even. I love that our company just keeps coming up with ideas and ways to reach the needs of teachers, reach the needs of schools. Like this staff evaluations tool comes, we see this as a need. We’ve heard this from our schools. And so we create a tool for it. And I think we’re just gonna keep doing that. I think we’re just gonna keep finding ways. I’m not a very good idea person, so I don’t really have those ideas, but I love that they’re coming up with ’em and I love that we get to just offer the support and offer the help with those tools.
So I guess that’s what I’d say. I’d love to get so that we have specialists in each tool area because there’s a need for that. It’s growing so much.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. That’s great. So you wanna become more specialized and less of a jack of all trades.
Becki Goniea: Yeah.
Michael Arnold: Well, Becki, it’s been great hearing from you today. I think I’ve learned – even though we get to talk on a regular basis – I’ve learned a little bit about your work and your approach to work and what you enjoy doing, so thank you for sharing that. Do you have any final words of advice or encouragement or insight that you’d like to share before we go?
Becki Goniea: I guess I would say – I end my emails a lot this way – don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and that is true. Don’t be afraid with any question you have. We take the dumb ones too; it’s really important that we hear from you if you aren’t sure. And if you feel like we’ve walked away from this and it hasn’t been a priority, we don’t care, we want you back! I would say the door’s open. We want to help you. We wanna make you a success with this. I think that would be my big encouragement to you.
Michael Arnold: And I echo those words, so thanks for sharing that, Becki. Thanks for joining us in The Teacher’s Lounge today.
Becki Goniea: Sure thing. It’s great to talk with you.