Jacqueline Simmons, Ed.D. designs curricula, produces films, and leads professional development workshops with local and international non-profit organizations, schools and universities, museums, and foundations. Her work addresses sociopolitical issues, such as resilience and innovation among vulnerable populations across the globe; and challenging topics, such as the history of American slavery. She has conducted research and led capacity building workshops in Afghanistan, Kenya, Palestine, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the UK and in cities across the US.
Jacqueline is the Vice Chair of the Curriculum & Teaching Department at Teachers College, Columbia University where she also directs the Master of Education Program. Her teaching and research examines the design, theory, and critical analysis of curricula with particular attention to youth, media, sense-making and conceptions of innovation.
She is co-creator of a curriculum lab called Black Paint, a collaborative space to reimagine possibilities for curriculum making as a public endeavor.
Education with Purpose
I have worked in the field of education for many years and in many different roles - as a teacher, non-profit administrator, academic researcher, university lecturer, and consultant. Throughout two decades of professional work, I have come to think of education as inherently innovative and interdisciplinary, involving fields outside of traditional schooling including art & design, film, and community-based initiatives. I hold firm to practices of deep inquiry, self-reflection, and critical analysis as foundational, and try to push others to think of learning as something that is human rather than exclusively institutional.
Learn more about my vision and approach.
These recent projects with Philipsburg Manor, an historic site in New York's Hudson Valley, reflect the range of my work as a curriculum designer, multimedia producer, and workshop facilitator for teachers and professionals.
"During the colonial period, runaway slave advertisements were published in nearly every newspaper. These primary documents indicate the size and scope of colonial enslavement in the North and provide evidence of ongoing, active resistance by enslaved individuals against the institution that bound them." Excerpt from educational materials created for Historic Hudson Valley.
Designed a standards based curriculum about enslavement and resistance in colonial New York, using art making to help middle school learners interpret colonial era slave advertisements.
Runaway: The Film
Produced a short film that imagines the lives of enslaved Africans at Philipsburg Manor, a northern plantation during the colonial era. Designed a supporting curriculum to help viewers engage in dialogue about the film's themes of power, family and resistance.
Program Director for 2017 and 2019 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Teacher Institute supporting K-12 teachers across the US. Co-designed syllabus about slavery in northern colonial America and facilitated daily seminars with historians and other faculty.
All of my courses approach curriculum design as a process of negotiation and decision-making that is a living, breathing, ongoing and iterative engagement with ideas, rather than as simply the creation of static curriculum guides or educational products to be implemented by teachers with learners. In my work and in my teaching, I urge educators to imagine curriculum as more than a series of facilitated activities or opportunities to generate data about effective learning. This means that we must integrate deliberation about knowledge - what we choose to teach and why - into the design of lessons, activities, and workshops that engage learners and teachers in intellectual journeys.
Designing Curriculum & Instruction
This course offers an introduction to curriculum design and development. We explore differing theoretical visions for curriculum as we begin to construct our own views of the role and purpose of knowledge beyond content and teaching materials. We also study practical frameworks for designing curriculum and instruction that enable us to prioritize, focus, and assess learning experiences. As a culmination of class learning, students work collaboratively to co-design a useful curriculum for a specific audience.
Advanced Curriculum Design
This doctoral seminar prepares advanced graduate students for theoretically grounded professional work as curriculum designers. The course invites deep discussion of curriculum theories and complex ideas about curriculum content that may seem perplexing or not easily applicable to the more practical negotiations involved in curriculum design. Students help to shape the syllabus by proposing theoretical perspectives to guide the selection of required readings. We then work together as a collaborative design team to create a curriculum for an authentic client, which will provide essential modeling for professional design work.
Curriculum Design Strategies:
Placed Based Curriculum
This is a new online course that serves as an accessible introduction to curriculum design, or as an extension to more comprehensive curriculum design courses. The course is suitable for non-degree professionals in a range of fields with little experience designing curriculum, as well as for knowledgeable educators and graduate students with a background in teaching. We explore curriculum as place-based, and curriculum design as a sensed (emotive, physical, and imaginative) creation of knowledge and experiences. Students learn to incorporate curriculum walks into the design of original lesson plans for their specific populations and content areas.
All courses offered through the Department of Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University
As an experienced non-profit professional and independent consultant, I regularly work with local and international NGOs, museums, and foundations to design multimedia curricula and professional development. Links to selected projects appear below.
Led the research, design and implementation of a multimedia resource about social innovation. The interactive website includes short films and instructional materials to support the development of skills needed by government agencies and community partners to innovate in the social sector.
The Resilience Age
Contributing producer and curriculum consultant for The Resilience Age, a multimedia film and curriculum to support HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition to inspire collaboration among government officials and professionals in urban planning, climate science, engineering, architecture and design.
Facilitator of Idea Accelerator Workshops with Mayors in cities across the US as they develop staff capacity and skills to conduct preliminary research and investigate complex problems in their communities.