How to Become a School Curriculum Writer
Being a classroom teacher offers you the opportunity to impact the lives of a group of students. Taking a step up to become a school curriculum writer can extend your impact to an entire school. Curriculum writers, also known as instructional coordinators, develop the curriculum programs taught in a public or private school.
We at Gwynedd Mercy University have years of experience helping teachers move into the instructional coordinator/curriculum writing role through our curriculum and instruction master’s degree program. In this short guide, we’ll explain what a curriculum writer does, the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their role, and the steps you need to take to become one.
- What Is a Curriculum Writer?
- What Does a Curriculum Writer Do?
- Skills Needed to Become a Curriculum Writer
- Steps to Becoming a Curriculum Writer
What Is a Curriculum Writer?
A curriculum writer is an experienced classroom teacher or school administrator with specialized education in the design of instructional units. She or he develops the instructional units teachers will deliver in classrooms. Curriculum writers who are also instructional coordinators may also observe teachers at work and provide feedback and coaching on how they deliver their lessons.
What Does a Curriculum Writer Do?
Curriculum writers shape, implement, and evaluate the content that is taught in classrooms at the schools they serve. They are usually mid-career education professionals with several years of classroom instruction or administration under their belts. They play a key role in tracking and evaluating how effective teaching and learning is at their school.
Day-to-day responsibilities of a curriculum writer may include:
- Review teaching standards and curriculum requirements set by state or local school boards
- Write instructional unit plans for various subjects and age groups that reflect curriculum requirements and available resources
- Evaluate resources such as textbooks, instructional software programs, or other learning aids to determine if they align with curriculum requirements and school needs
- Plan and deliver teacher training and professional development to relay new standards, review new software programs, or demonstrate new teaching techniques
- Analyze student assessment data to determine if instructional programs are effective
- Observe, mentor, and coach teachers on lesson delivery and classroom management
- Present reports, findings, and other information to upper administration or school board members as appropriate
Some instructional coordinators and curriculum writers may have a specific area of focus — for example, developing a program for students who are still learning to speak English (ESL) or focusing on mathematics.
Skills Needed to Become a Curriculum Writer
Curriculum writers need to understand the principles and practices of effective teaching and learning. They need to have experience teaching, plus some key administrative and coordination skills. These can include:
- Interpersonal skills: A curriculum writer’s success depends on their ability to build and maintain good professional relationships with teachers, principals, superintendents, and others.
- Communication skills: Curriculum writers need to be capable of distilling complex information into clear language in order to ensure school staff understand the curriculum and new instructional standards. They should be able to communicate, via writing, one-on-one conversations and in presentations.
- Critical analysis and decision-making skills: Instructional coordinators or curriculum writers must have a foundational grasp of statistics in order to interpret test results. They must also be able to make qualitative judgements about the benefits of various textbooks, teaching methods, and other potential changes to their curriculum.
- Leadership and mentorship skills: Finally, curriculum writers who act in a supervisory position at schools should be able to provide motivational leadership to teachers and other staff members. They should be capable of nurturing talent and providing constructive feedback.
Steps to Becoming a Curriculum Writer
Curriculum writers and instructional coordinators, as mentioned above, are usually mid-career teachers or administrators who earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and (if required by their state) obtain licensure as a curriculum and instruction supervisor. It is also possible for teachers who already hold a master’s degree in education or educational administration to complete post-master’s coursework leading to certification as a curriculum and instruction supervisor.
Typically, curriculum writers will have four years of undergraduate education plus two years for their master’s degree. They will also usually have three to seven years of experience in the classroom or administration before moving into the curriculum writer role.
Step 1: Complete Your Bachelor’s Degree and Become a Teacher (4-5 Years)
First, curriculum writers need to begin as teachers. Depending on the state where you work, this may require you to earn a bachelor’s in education, or a bachelor’s in another subject area plus a concentration or dual major in education.
In your bachelor’s program, you will complete student teaching in addition to coursework. After graduation, you will need to pass your state’s licensure examination(s) and obtain your teaching license.
Step 2: Work as a Teacher (Typically 3+ Years)
Next, curriculum writers usually gain classroom teaching experience in a Pre-K-12 school. They can be a general classroom teacher or a subject specialist — what matters is putting pedagogical theory into practice and gaining familiarity with what teachers need to deliver effective lessons that help students master the skills and concepts they need to know.
Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree (2 Years)
Most states require curriculum writers or instructional coordinators to complete an approved master’s degree program if they want to obtain licensure to work in public schools. These programs combine classroom instruction with shadowing and practicum experiences that prepare you to work as an instructional coordinator in a school.
GMercyU’s online Master of Science in Educational Administration – Curriculum and Instruction is designed for busy teachers who want to earn their master’s degree on a flexible schedule. It equips teachers to develop course content, evaluate, and coach teachers, and prepare to play a key role in transforming schools and learning for the better.
Step 4: Complete Licensure Requirements and Search for Jobs
The final step to becoming a school curriculum writer, after you have successfully passed an approved master’s program, is to complete your state’s licensure requirements. This varies
by state, but typically involves providing proof of your master’s degree, passing a certification exam, and paying a licensure fee. Be sure you check your state’s requirements before enrolling in a master’s degree program or post-master’s certification program — you want to ensure the program aligns with your state’s licensure guidelines first!
Once you are licensed, you are ready to start pursuing your first role as a curriculum writer or instructional coordinator. Good luck!
Earn the Credentials to Develop School Curriculum with GMercyU!
Excited about the difference you could make as a school curriculum writer? Find out more about our online curriculum and instruction master’s degree program or post-master’s certification programs today!