Published: | By: Kim Gulbrandson Topics: Curriculum, Middle School, Social-Emotional Learning Teachers Reveal Four Cool Features of the New Second Step Middle School Curriculum “If I was to talk to another teacher to share about the Second Step program, I would tell them it’s awesome. I would tell them I love it.” —Teacher On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating, how valuable is teacher input to you when deciding what programs and curricula to implement in your classroom and school? If you had a choice, would you implement something that was not created with teacher input or feedback? If you rated teacher involvement as valuable then you will appreciate this post, which describes what other educators think about the new Second Step Middle School curriculum. Both before and during the implementation process, educators were asked to share their thoughts, and their feedback was used to improve the curriculum as it was being developed. During pilot implementation, many teachers from classrooms around the country were interviewed about their experiences with the curriculum. Throughout those interviews, they communicated their favorite features of the new Second Step Middle School curriculum, and the following were the four features most commonly mentioned. 1. The New Curriculum Requires Little Prep Time Teachers consistently voiced that the new Second Step Middle School curriculum requires little prep time, sharing comments such as: “it takes only a few minutes to prep before teaching the lessons” or “it doesn’t take any time at all” or “preparing a Second Step lesson is really easy.” 2. The New Curriculum is Easy to Implement “The program as a whole is very, very easy to use,” said one teacher. Others expressed that it was “’very organized, clear, and easy to teach” and “easy to navigate.” One teacher liked how materials are quickly and easily accessible and do not require flipping through a binder to find needed pages for the lesson. Another teacher liked how the advisory and extension activities are listed right on the page, so if there is extra time to extend the activity that can be done “right then and there” because it’s “right there for me.” Others appreciated the digital nature of the curriculum because it allows teachers to preview the lessons before students come in the door. 3. The New Lesson Videos Are Engaging Many teachers shared that the videos in the new Second Step Middle School curriculum are very engaging for the students, saying things like: “it just seems real to me, and I think the kids just really take a positive note to it,” “they can connect it to their own lives,” and “videos are much better than having old me tell them you know what things were like back in my day.” They voiced their like for the “good questions attached to the videos” and how different ethnicities were represented in the videos, encouraging increased student interest and involvement. 4. The New Curriculum Engages Students Several teachers mentioned that the new Second Step Middle School curriculum is set up for engaging students. One teacher shared a love for the digital format because ”kids love technology” and it “engages kids.” Another liked that every lesson is little different, varying from turn and talks to videos, cooperative activities, and independent writing: “It’s routine because the kids know what to expect, but they don’t know how it is going to be laid out exactly every lesson.” Other teachers welcomed the interesting guided questions and activities and appreciated that the lessons were a good length, and not too long. Overall, students were reportedly engaged in the lessons, at all levels. One of the things that most stood out in the teacher comments is student engagement. Knowing that engagement is important for student achievement, the new curriculum will do a great job preparing students for learning by keeping them interested and engrossed in the discussions and the lessons. For more on how the curriculum was developed, follow the Meet the Makers series. To find out more about what implementing teachers said about the curriculum, follow my next posts.