Checking in – Chronicles of a FIRST YEAR Core Essentials School

Sep 10

Chronicles of a FIRST YEAR Core Essentials School: Follow their journey as they take an already invested group of educators and equip them with the common language and Core Essential tools to change the values culture!


What does the FIRST month in a school look like when they are using Core Essentials for the FIRST time? Well the beauty of that question, and our curriculum, is that it can look however you want it to. Our desire is to help you create a lasting culture of values and to do so, there are so many unique moving parts, that it is certain to look different at every school. There is so much to take into consideration. We can all start however with some foundational guidelines that may help get us off on the right foot. Let me share what we have been doing at Lyman Hall Elem. this month:

Determine Your School’s Level of Implementation

This one is important and is really step number one in getting Core Essentials off the ground. You can find our suggested “Levels of Implementation” in the Overview Guide, located in the front of our teaching guide (whole year version). Who should be a part of deciding this level? It’s our feelings that the Principal and Leadership Team, as well as whomever will be leading the day-to-day implementation/delegation of Core Essentials curriculum be responsible for deciding specifically what your school is capable of for this school year. At Lyman Hall, we met with the principal, assistant principal and their leadership team to decide such. FYI they are starting out with implementing Level 2 this 2012-2013 school year.

Familiarize Yourself 

While the administration and leadership figures of the school should be involved in plotting the direction of where the Core Essentials curriculum will go within their school, it is typically the responsibility (we have found) of a school counselor or team of teachers to implement and delegate the different parts of the curriculum each month. We pride ourselves on the fact that our curriculum is written so that EVERYONE can have a small part in the BIG picture. This takes some organizing however on your end. And at the very least, some familiarizing yourself with the components of curriculum that are at your fingertips to use each month. Get familiar. You may not do it every month, but since you are new to using CE, download and print all the resources for the first month and dive deep. Then, using that same stack of resources, compare it to your selected “Level of Implementation” and dive even deeper into those components that you have committed to as a member of that “level.” These are the components you will use each month.

Develop a Team

So now you have your “level” determined and you know the inner workings of what that means since you dove deep into the components of the curriculum that classify that level…now it’s time to make it happen school wide. Before you can do that, especially if you are a lone-ranger implementer, consider the value in forming a team/committee of interested teachers/staff who are willing to meet monthly and each take a portion of the curriculum responsibility to disperse/copy/email about/publicize so that it all doesn’t land on one person’s shoulders. At Lyman Hall we made a chart with 4 columns including: 1.) who is responsible (they signed up) 2.) which curriculum component 3.) what are they to do with it (copy it and put in boxes, email a reminder, etc.) and 4.) when does this need to be done by each month. By sharing the load and making clear expectations, the likelihood that these duties will become consistent and therefore impactful school wide is much higher. Now whomever is “in charge” of this team/group simply looks at the chart and is responsible for reminding/checkin in with each team member to be sure their duties have been accounted for.