When Superintendent Dorsey Hopson spoke at a teacher town hall two months ago, he told them they could be flexible in working with Shelby County Schools’ two newest curriculums.

But teachers didn’t think that was specific enough. So he appeared in an eight-minute video that was emailed to teachers Friday, offering more details on what he meant and making sure they heard his point of view firsthand.

PHOTO: Shelby County Schools
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson appeared in an eight-minute video to explain his expectations to teachers.

“It is my expectation that after teachers and school leaders learn the new curriculum and become comfortable implementing it, they will customize the lessons and tailor them to fit their specific students’ needs,” he said. “I want to be clear that, before we can customize the curriculum, we must know how to use it.”

Teachers have described the lesson guides as “scripts,” citing minute-by-minute instructions and district-level observers pointing out any deviation from them.

More details for teachers are expected this summer on “preparing and customizing lessons,” said Racheal Addison, the district’s director of professional development and support. Teachers with the highest evaluation scores would get more flexibility first, Hopson said at the teacher town hall in March.

Hopson said the lesson guides were not meant to be scripts.

“The curriculum is to be used as a guide that serves as a road map to student learning and ultimately student success,” he said.

Some teachers have said the new curriculums don’t align to Tennessee’s expectations for what students learn at each grade. Those expectations closely resemble Common Core. But both curriculums, Expeditionary Learning and Eureka Math, received high marks from a national group that measures alignment to Common Core.

Hopson said it is important for teachers to implement the curriculum accurately, “with fidelity.”

“Make the lesson your own, but ensure that it’s being delivered in the sequential order at the recommended pace and with the recommended text,” he said.

You can watch the full video below: