Curriculum, Instruction, Evaluation, and Assessment – A Math Teacher’s Perspective

Self-Assessment and Reflection

As an experienced and veteran teacher, it is necessary for me to periodically reflect and re-evaluate my effectiveness as an educator. This should be the case for all teachers! The better I understand my professional strengths and opportunities for growth, the better prepared I am to address the diverse learning styles of my math students. Through self-assessment, I reaffirm that learning is a never-ending process. As times change, so do effective methodologies and students’ learning styles. Through self-evaluation, I can understand in greater depth my own individual learning and teaching styles, as well as recognize the need to keep up with the evolving times and technologies. A teacher’s strengths as an educator are paralleled by his/her strengths as a student. Ultimately, this reflection process leads to the development of various strategies that help me become a more effective educator.

Evaluation and Assessment of Curriculum

An effective curriculum integrates content, processes, and habits of mind (i.e., behaviors that are characteristic of effective learners) taught in meaningful contexts that are relevant and interesting to students. The curriculum should address multicultural issues and perspectives and be accessible to all students. Interdisciplinary connections are also critical. The curriculum should connect the information, skills, processes, and perspectives of various disciplines.

Teachers who evaluate curriculum need to consider whether it has purpose and function and if it is enriching, stimulating, and transforming for both teachers and students. In addition, curriculum evaluation and assessment must be cylindrical in nature. As one evaluation ends and recommendations are implemented, another cycle should begin anew.

Curriculum vs. Instruction

Even the best math curriculum cannot make up for poor instruction. Some teachers simply do not have the commitment others do when it pertains to the “required” curriculum. It is frequently apparent in their instruction and delivery of content, and often they have lessons that fall flat…or worse. Unfortunately, these teachers feel they can blame the curriculum, their students (or a combination of the two) for the failure of their lesson(s). However, the curriculum is simply the what of teaching, while instruction–which is much more in the control of the teacher–is the how. With regards to any curriculum, teachers are presented with a grade-appropriate plan, a text and some materials, and a time frame in which to impart this knowledge. In terms of instruction, teachers make decisions and plans as to the way in which information is best imparted to the learners.

We, as educators, must provide an active role in the structuring, mapping, and planning of curriculum if we are to be successful in the presentation and instruction of the material…

Curriculum and instruction cannot be viewed in mutual isolation. 

  • What are your thoughts and experiences as they pertain to curriculum vs. instruction in your school?
  • How would you define the curriculum?
  • Who should be involved in curriculum decisions (students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.)?