As the Ministry of Education rolls out its new curriculum, teachers across the province are faced with the task of learning how to implement it.
Vernon Teachers’ Association president Lisa Laboucane spoke to Vernon School District trustees recently about training plans to allow for smooth implementation of the new curriculum.
“They worked together, the ministry and the BCTF, to talk about what all of the locals would need and the differences with districts, and they realized that no framework would fit into every district — we each have our own culture,” she said.
District superintendent Joe Rogers said this has been a collaborative effort centred around professional learning for adults, with conversations taking place between the VTA and the District Parent Advisory Council.
“We said how are we going to work with parents as well, so I think the plan that we came up with addresses the learning needs of teachers and also the parents’ needs as we move forward,” he said.
Earlier this month, a full day of facilitator training took place that included 25 teachers and 10 administrators, with broad representation across schools, grades and specialties, with a focus on learning as an ongoing process.
“It was clear in the framework it is not a train-the-trainer model; it is not an expert-novice model,” said Laboucane. “This is a massive change we are experiencing in our system and it’s a lot to take on, so as we begin to implement this in September, we needed to have facilitators around the district that could support all kinds of learning.”
The new curriculum will incorporate aboriginal content as part of the learning journey for all students.
“They approached the framework from a standpoint of what we know about aboriginal ways of knowing and aboriginal ways of learning,” said Laboucane, adding that the framework was built on the three key pieces of honour, trust and respect.
“The focus was very much strengths-based, so we had facilitators who came in with passions and interest areas. The afternoon was just buzzing with teacher learning.”
The new curriculum is in draft form for kindergarten to Grade 9 and will be fully implemented in September 2016. Grades 10 to 12 will begin a new-curriculum transition year in September 2016, followed by full implementation in September 2017.
This year is considered an exploratory year, where use of the new curriculum is voluntary.
“They wanted our conversations about the new curriculum to occur collaboratively and to reflect local strengths, that was a big issue — our local organizational structures, issues and concerns,” said Laboucane. “It’s been a wonderful process working together with the district.”
With trustees’ approval, the 10 hours of non-instructional time relative to the curriculum support plan are as follows: Feb. 22, one day; April 21, half day; May 19, half day.
“Some of that non-instructional time in April and May is important because the secondary curriculum isn’t fully developed and we will be learning a lot about assessment, so the time in April and May will be some pretty heavy learning because we’ll just be seeing some of that for the first time,” said Laboucane.
“I will make it clear that the curriculum days are not professional development days and the pro d days are not curriculum days and they may overlap, but some of our teachers are involved in inquiry projects that have district and BCTF funding and doing everything from exploring outdoor education and exploring teaching math in new ways so they already have things under way. They will be exploring things on the two days, as is their autonomous right.”
Laboucane said the VTA has been in contact with some of the youth partner groups in the area, such as the Okanagan Science Centre, which can offer extra programming during those NIDs.
Laboucane asked if the district would consider funding some additional training for the implementation of the secondary curriculum.
“Especially considering our secondary teachers are only going to be seeing the draft this spring and getting five hours with that and an additional five hours next year,” she said.
“Grad requirements aren’t there and they are looking at having us digest and put it into place in five hours.”