There’s a lot you need to become a curriculum specialist: a teaching or educational administration license, graduate coursework and experience in the classroom. However, not everything that helps you succeed in this career path takes the form of a credential or degree. In many ways, the qualities that you possess and the skills that you develop play a big part in your success. Among the most important qualities of an instructional coordinator are interpersonal and communication skills, analytical and decision-making skills and leadership skills, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Colleges also highlight the importance of flexibility and creativity in success in this career path.
Interpersonal Communication Skills
You might imagine a career dedicated to developing curriculum standards and materials would require less human interaction than other roles in the field of education. However, observing, evaluating and training teachers are among the most important job duties for instructional coordinators. To be effective in helping to improve teacher’s skills and expressing new ways of using teaching materials and technologies, you need to have excellent interpersonal skills and strong skills in written and oral communication.
While it helps to be naturally good at building a rapport with people, it’s certainly possible to learn effective ways to provide constructive criticism. You should also be strengthening and expanding the scope of your skills in writing and public speaking throughout your post-secondary studies, first as an undergraduate and later as a graduate student.
It’s no coincidence that interpersonal skills and communication skills, which are valuable for curriculum specialists, are also among the skills educators in the classroom should possess.
Analytical Decision-Making Skills
Excelling at tasks like selecting and creating curriculum standards and course materials in a variety of media requires you to be good at both analyzing information and making decisions. These two skills go hand-in-hand. Meticulous analysis is necessary for making sound decisions. Without the willingness to make those decisions, analyzing students’ test scores, teacher performance and the wide range of existing materials has little point.
Some master’s programs in learning, curriculum and instructional design include courses such as Research Design and Methods or Practical Research for Learning Communities to help students build up their analytical skills. Gaining experience in making well-informed curriculum decisions, even through a learning design studio where the stakes are lower than in a real school curriculum design setting, can help students develop confidence in their decision-making skills.
While some people are naturally more indecisive than others, the goal of developing decision-making skills isn’t simply to make faster decisions but to be comfortable in taking decisive action based on the research and knowledge available to you.
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It may surprise you to learn that leadership skills are crucial to success as a curriculum specialist or instructional coordinator. Although the position is not managerial in the same sense as a role such as school superintendent, principal or vice principal, it does require proficiency in many areas of leadership. In developing and adjusting a curriculum, you observe teachers in action to get a better idea of what is and is not working in the classroom. You must also provide the training educators need to implement the lessons you have created.
Often, instructional coordinators, who have years of teaching experience themselves, may serve as mentors to less experienced teachers – as well as to established teachers who are learning new techniques and technologies.
Creativity, Flexibility and Resourcefulness
Ultimately, curriculum creation is a creative career. Although you may not be using your creativity to make art or compose musical masterpieces, you must think outside the box to design new curriculum standards that meet educational goals. Often, some flexibility goes along with this creativity, because you may have to adjust plans, goals and materials once you see your lessons and training in action.
Your plan may assume proficiencies that students and educators don’t yet have, and you will need to tweak it to encompass these additional lessons. Alternatively, you may discover that the teachers and students in your school bring to the table some unexpected strengths. By highlighting those strengths, you could make your curriculum even better in terms of how it resonates with students.
There’s often a fine line between creativity and resourcefulness. As a curriculum specialist, you don’t have to create all of your standards and materials from scratch. Using all of the resources you have, from your extensive research both within your own school and on the textbook market, can allow you to draw inspiration from experts in fields in which you personally may have less experience.
Unlike a career in the arts, the creativity needed to do well in curriculum design doesn’t mean creating all of your own materials, but instead a creative thought process and the ability to synthesize the best ideas, curriculum designs and technologies into a curriculum that fits your school’s needs.