8 Pitfalls in the EL Education Curriculum to Help Your Teachers Overcome

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Today I wanted to share a collection of resources, tips, and tricks for administrators and literacy coaches that will help get the year started out strong; alleviate some of the chaos August can bring; and best support your teachers as they implement the EL Education curriculum.

Now, I’ve never been a literacy coach or an administrator, so I asked my friend Casey (who actually was my teammate when we taught kindergarten together) to help with today’s post. She used EL Education curriculum as a kindergarten and later 2nd grade teacher, and then subsequently became a literacy coach.

I asked her to share some tips on how you can best support your teachers while navigating some of the most common issues educators face implementing the EL Education curriculum

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #1: The EL Education curriculum (as it is written) is A LOT. 

As a teacher, it feels like so many moving parts and you have to look in 50 different places for each of those parts. At times, it can be difficult to find things in the manuals too.

โœ… Solution: Cowie Club: EL Made Easy membership for all K-2 teachers! The membership streamlines EL so that it is all in one place for teachers to easily access; provides EL Education-focused professional development; and simplifies the content while enhancing student engagement (without losing the overall meaning or goals). Basically the “easy button” for EL Education.

Here’s one of the EL Made Easy membership guides inside a Happy Planner. You can grab the hole punch here. (affiliate links)

๐Ÿ‘‰ If you prefer to DIY, it is important to realize at the beginning that EL Education implementation is not a quick process. Expect it to take a year before you and your teachers really “get” the content and know exactly where things are located within the manuals by heart.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Don’t rush teachers into buying in or getting on board. There’s a lot of opinion surrounding this curriculum and you likely are facing some (or a lot) of resistance, but rushing isn’t going to win anyone over. Allow them time to get to know the curriculum without the pressure of perfecting it all right now. Allowing them the freedom to make it their own (more on that later) is also another way to help with this hurdle.

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #2: Resources and activities in the EL Education manuals can be lacking. 

Things are hard to find in the manuals. It’s not bad content, but educators want things that are visually engaging for their students and wellโ€ฆ ELโ€™s Microsoft Word โ€˜98 stock images may not be the most engaging. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

el education response pages

โœ… Solution: Provide high-quality, visually engaging materials. If it’s not in the budget to buy supplemental materials, help teachers find ways to make it more engaging for their students.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Simplify the lessons so that the content remains without the extra “noise” and overwhelm.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Adapt activities from the EL Education manuals to games/resources teachers already have access to (the simpler the better so that teachers can grab and go and not have to hunt for hard-to-find materials).

๐Ÿ‘‰ Download free EL Education center games, lessons, planning resources and more here!

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #3: One size does NOT fit all. 

There is an extremely high chance that the person that wrote these lessons in their original form does not know how to support those kids in that classroom better than the qualified teacher who works with them day in and day out.

โœ… Solution: If a teacher isnโ€™t following the curriculum the way you expect, find out why. There might be a really great reason.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Consider rewriting and teaching a lesson yourself so that you can truly get a feel for what it offers and what it does not. That way you have a clearer picture of what your teachers are working with.

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #4: There are โ€œfluffโ€ aspects of the EL Education curriculum that are not everyone’s teaching style. 

Great teaching is an art. In the same way, you wouldnโ€™t ask a painter to follow perfectly follow an art book, you shouldnโ€™t ask a teacher to follow a scripted curriculum perfectly. If it doesnโ€™t impact the goal of the lesson, allow them the freedom to make it their own for themselves and their students.

โœ… Solution: These FREE EL Education Year at a Glance pages for K-2 are great to check what the overall point of modules/cycles instead of focusing on โ€œthe scriptโ€.

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #5: Lessons may take longer than expected…and sometimes MUCH LONGER. 

The lessons are written as if there are never any behavior problems, everyone knows how to transition, and there are no bathroom emergencies, no fire drills, or no bad days. Sometimes people get โ€œoff track,โ€ because, well, life happens especially when you’re learning a new curriculum.

el education skills block

โœ… Solution: Focus teachers’ efforts on becoming experts on the content instead of staying exactly on pace. Pacing is important, but in the beginning, focus on becoming comfortable with the content over watching the clock. If teachers need help with transitions, consider using these EL Education skills rotation slides with timers.โ€‹

๐Ÿ‘‰ Take the pressure off and implement only one component at a time–skills block or module. Focus on one of those until winter break (or even the entire first year) and then tackle the other one later.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Create easy-to-use systems so that teachers can access materials all in one place. Consider making a “dashboard” for your teachers, which could be as simple as a Word document in Google Drive with links to relevant materials.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Check out my organization post here for ideas on how to set up EL Education materials.

How to Organize Your EL Materials

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #6: Reading from a script can be dull. 

Allow teachers breathing room to make it their own. Encourage them to retain the overall goals of the lesson while also providing them the freedom to do what they do best–TEACH.

el education fluency

โœ… Solution: Consider purchasing supplemental materials, like these skills slidesmodule slides, or center activities so that teachers can focus their time and energy on getting to know the EL Education curriculum, and not focusing on making it useable.

๐Ÿ‘‰ To DIY, consider breaking lessons down into manageable chunks for your teachers to get to the heart of it all. That way teachers are able to teach the lessons right off the bat without having to sift through unnecessary information. Plus, if they need additional information, they’ll know there’s already a more detailed version in the manual for them to reference.

โ€‹
โ€‹๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #7: Sometimes things in the manuals are wrong. 

No one is perfect–including curriculum writers. Teachers will often notice these errors and become confused about the lesson because it may not make sense the way it is written.

โœ… Solution: If teachers notice errors in the materials, allow them to fix/adjust them instead of focusing on staying “on script.” Students are not going to learn if their teachers are confused about what they’re supposed to be teaching.

๐Ÿ†˜ Problem #8: Talking about one topic for 9 weeks can get boring for teachers and students.

Supplement with high-quality activities by adding in something โ€œoff-topicโ€ during centers or morning work might help the โ€œtrees-for-nine-weeks fatigue.”

el zoo dramatic play

โœ… Solution:ย Create virtual field trip opportunities and encourage teachers to put play back into their classrooms. Consider assisting teachers in implementing extension activities found in the manuals. Allow educators the freedom to go “off script” and read a completely unrelated read-aloud every now and then.

๐Ÿ‘‰ My EL Education membership will include several virtual field trip opportunities and other extension activities this fall. Also, consider trying this EL Education -aligned dramatic play center!โ€‹

I hope you found these tips and tricks helpful!

๐ŸŒŸ I can’t wait to learn all about the exciting things you have planned for this upcoming year! ๐ŸŒŸ

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