Tuesday, 17 November 2015

5 Things to think about with the New BC Curriculum

The New BC Curriculum for K-9 was implemented for experiential use this past August- meaning that Teachers could choose to use it or not for the 2015-2016 school year.  As of 2016, there will be full implementation for the new curriculum and this has led a lot of teachers feeling anxious and nervous about the following school year.  The shift in education in BC is more student centered and competency based as compared to the brick and mortar industrial content based style of the past.  Students will no longer just need to "know" but also be able to "do" as well, which should lead to an overall better understanding of their learning.  BC Teachers have been leaders in the field of education for years, and many teachers already have their practiced deeply rooted in these ideas about learning.  I think many teachers are not so much anxious about "how to teach" as they are more worried about "how to assess?".  Nonetheless, it is important that we remember this process is about our students and giving them as much opportunity to have an educational experience that is cross curricular and rooted in growth in Communication, Thinking and Personal/Social awareness.  For all stakeholders in this exciting but daunting journey, and to deal with the anxiety that might ensue, here are some things that need to take into consideration:

1. Parents need to be more informed about the new curriculum changes that have taken place and also the difference between curricular competencies and core competencies.  Though Communicating Student Learning has worked in many districts, the Ministry- if they decide to go this way- will need to explain to parents what reporting will look like, so Parents have a sound understanding of what to expect from communicating or reporting student learning.

2. Time and Patience:  We as teachers want to be at our best for our students all of the time and that means wanting to be as clean, prepared and organized (in a package) as possible.  So this process, the changing of course outlines, discussions on assessment, understanding the core and curricular competencies will take time.  Learning takes time!  So we have to be aware of this  process and be true to it.  So it is important to start small in this transformation.  You do not need to overhaul everything, just choose one part of the curriculum you would like to explore- one lesson, one competency, one unit, one resource and start exploring it.

3.  Aboriginal Principles of Learning not just Aboriginal content.  Talking to helping teachers in my district and other aboriginal educators, this is an important concept.  Too many teachers do not want to appropriate or offend any of the students or experiences that have taken place, so many will feel the need to stay within the ""Content Realm" to feel safe.  We have to dive into the Principles of Learning and also challenge our ideas on privilege so we vulnerably attempt to weave these principles in our teaching practice and learning practice as well.

4.  One of the best things that have come out of the discomfort with this new curriculum is that many teachers, department heads, helping teachers, administrators are working together to find out the best possible ways to implement this new curriculum.  This has led to a sense of collegiality among all levels, thus bringing everyone closer together.  The struggle isn't just for the teacher, administrators are having to find the best ways to support their staff as well.  In a field where most of us close ourselves off in our classrooms- it is refreshing to see so many positive and engaging discussions about how to support each other in this process.

5. The rumor mill is an amazingly scary aspect.  So many of us have heard so many different things and that leads to speculation and fear.  We can only focus on what we know right now.  It is hard to not think about what Grade 10-12 is going to look like and what assessment is going to look like? What we need to do is focus primarily on what we know at this moment of time.  The future has always been uncertain and will always continue to be uncertain.  We just have to keep teaching with the excellence and skill we have been until we get that information.  Hopefully, when we finally receive it, our practice will not have to change drastically leading to a smoother transition.

So if we stay true to our practice and put our student's goals above our own fears and speculations, there may be a wonderful opportunity to give students a more inclusive and engaging educational experience that focuses more on them rather than just content.

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