Nicki Rawn


Teacher - Elementary School

Al Khobar


  • Posted 10 Months ago
  • 680

Developing and Building Relationships

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After nineteen years of being a lower elementary educator, I am leaving the classroom and becoming my school’s literacy coach. For the first time in years, I really don’t know what my what my job will look like in September. So I have been spending my summer researching and researching.  I have decided to focus the beginning of my new position on building and developing relationships. ‘The Framework for Literacy Coaches’ suggest that the coach needs to establish and maintain non-evaluative, non judgemental working relationships with colleagues. They need to promote fair, respectful, and productive relationships among colleagues/teams. Also, coaches need to encourage colleagues to take intellectual risks in a safe learning environment. Their job involves supporting individuals through the change process and acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of individuals and teams. They must promote networking among colleagues (EduGAINS).


I wonder how can I do all this while honoring different philosophies of education and curriculum designs?


What I do know is that I have learned new ideas from my PME 810 course and have a deeper understanding of curricular conceptions, philosophies, designs, and their relationship and relevance to planning, instruction and assessment.


Educators who follow the philosophies of Perennialism and Essentialism believe the “education is viewed as instruction” (Ornstein, 1991). These philosophies fits into Subject-Centered curriculum design. Ornstein  and Hunkins (2013) state that “Subject-centered designs are by far the most popular and widely used. Knowledge and content are well accepted as integral parts of the curriculum”. When I work with these teachers they will plan the content before instruction.The instruction is done through the curriculum and is based on getting children to gain the skills teachers want them to achieve. These educators believe that standardized tests is one form of assessment that is most commonly used. These types of assessment provides information on the content provided in the classroom.


Educators who follow the Idealism and Progressivism  philosophies believe that education provides the content and tools for students to make discoveries on their own which provides personal satisfaction for individual learners (Eisner and Vallance, 1974).  This learner-centred curriculum design approach sees students over subject matter as the program’s focus (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1991).  Knowledge is seen as “an outgrowth of personal experience” and teaching should be suited to children’s’ developmental level (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1991). When I work with these teachers, the planning is student-centered. They believe that all people are naturally inquisitive and creative and schools should foster that. These teachers are facilitators who know all of the outcomes and help students get there by exploring. Their assessments are varied because all individual needs are different.

Educators who follow the Reconstructionism and Pragmatism philosophies believe that skills and knowledge is used to produce "reflective and critical sociocultural members" (Hill, 1994).   It places societal needs above individual ones, and sees schools as agents for social change (Eisner and Vallance, 1974).  This problem-centred curriculum design fit into both these philosophies. This educational structure uses real-life problems to address needs in a community, and curriculum extends beyond subject boundaries in order to apply problem-solving procedures (Ornstein and Hunkins, 1991).  When I work with these teachers, I need to be mindful that they plan by not focusing on subject content but social issues and particularly local involvement. These educators believe that authentic instruction is what leads to more learning across cultures, socio-economic status, etc. Their assessment is an ongoing process – therefore assessment and instruction are not separate.


For more information on my learning on curricular conceptions, philosophies, designs, and their relationship and relevance to planning, instruction and assessment, please see

As a Literacy coach, I need to be mindful of how individuals' personal values, background, goals, and ideas differ. It is these differences in curricular conceptions and philosophies that determine how educators plan, instruct and assess our students. As a coach, I must listen actively and respond appropriately according to learning needs, situations, and contexts. I feel that knowing is half the battle and sharing our different philosophies of education and curriculum designs will help teachers understand each other. Starting with a conversation by asking teachers which philosophy (or combination of multiple philosophies) they most adhere to, would be useful to get teachers thinking about their practises.


At my school, teachers are obligated to cover the curriculum, but every educator is unique! I believe that as I work with each teacher at my school, the instruction, planning and assessment will look quite different. And that is to be expected. There is not one philosophy that is going to meet the needs of all the students. That is what we are here for…..our students!


I’m left wondering what strategies a literacy coach can use to encourage colleagues to take risks in their planning, instruction and assessment when it may differ from their beliefs in curricular conceptions and educational philosophies?


EduGAINS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2017, from


Eisner, E., & Vallance, E. (Eds.). (1974). Five conceptions of the curriculum: Their roots and implications for curriculum planning. In E. Eisner & E. Vallance (Eds.), Conflicting conceptions of curriculum (pp. 1-18). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Publishing.

Hill, A. M. (1994). Perspectives on philosophical shifts in vocational education: From realism to pragmatism and reconstructionism. Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, 10(2), 37-45.

Ornstein, A. C. (1990/1991). Philosophy as a basis for curriculum decisions. The High School Journal, 74, 102-109.


Orstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P, (2009). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues.  (5th ed., pp. 31-57). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Specifically, refer to Table 2.4 “Overview of Educational Philosophies” on page 56.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues (6thed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.  Read Chapter 6, pp. 149-173.

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