New curriculum training for educators

Education ministry, teachers' union have created plan to implement new K-12 curriculum.

The provincial government and the teachers’ union are partnering up for the a support plan to implement a new curriculum in B.C. schools.

The new curriculum, unveiled at the beginning of September, maps out what teachers teach and what students are expected to learn. While it focuses on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic the new curriculum teaches them in a way that students also learn the collaboration, critical thinking, and communications skills needed to succeed after high school.

Putting $1 million on the table, the education ministry and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) have created a plan to help introduce the new curriculum into B.C. classrooms over the next three years.

Shelley Balfour, the president of the Cranbrook and District Teachers’ Association, notes that a wholesale change of curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 12 hasn’t happened before.

“Usually, it is one subject at a time,” Balfour said. “Making changes to the whole curriculum at once is a monumental task for teachers to undertake. Our classrooms are still full to the brim with students and classroom composition issues are evident in many rooms. Huge curriculum changes and a new Student Information System, MyEducation at the same time has caused many of my teachers some angst.”

The $1 million funding will go towards targeted training this school year, as well as dedicated time worth $100 million over three years so public school teachers can prepare for the curriculum.

The support plan includes:

• learning sessions for teachers at the provincial and local levels

• webinars, videos and district-level teams in place so teachers can learn first-hand what is working in the classroom

• extra time set aside throughout the three years so districts and teachers associations can collaborate on training for teachers

• dedication of two existing professional days to the new curriculum in 2016-17 and 2017-18

“This year is considered an “exploratory” year which allows teachers to tackle some, all or none of the changes,” added Balfour. “Next year it will be mandatory to follow the new curriculum so the District has formed a “Transforming Curriculum” committee comprised of teachers, administrators, and management.  This committee is meeting for the first time in early October to start to determine how to support classroom teachers with the changes.”

The Education ministry is working directly with more than 150 teachers on 20 curriculum teams to develop the new curriculum. A draft K-9 curriculum was finalized in October 2013, while a 10-12 curriculum is currently being developed and will be available for public review.

Aboriginal culture and perspectives have been integrated throughout all grade levels. The curriculum also includes the history and the contributions of the Asian and South Asian community to the development of our province – and the injustices they experienced.

“In our changing world parents expect us to make sure kids have the skills they need to succeed,” said Mike Bernier, the Minister of Education. “The new curriculum was designed by teachers for teachers and these training supports will make sure they can bring the new curriculum to life in the classroom. It’s really encouraging to work collaboratively.

“The BCTF and its members have been key partners in building the new curriculum and this support plan. It’s my hope we build on this work together for an even more collaborative relationship moving forward.”