Schools face new curriculum

The curriculum's Implementation at the K-9 level begins next year.

Teachers and administrators have one year to get used to a new school curriculum before implementation at the K-9 level begins next year.

At the school board’s first meeting of the new year on Sept. 6, the board discussed the new curriculum that the Ministry of Education is putting in starting next year for grades K-9 and the following year (2017-18) for grades 10-12. This year is expecting to be a trial year for the district for the new curriculum.

“It’s been in draft for two years,” said Kevin Argue, School District 51 (SD51) superintendent. “It’s been out for people to see and play with a little bit. There was a lot of opportunity for feedback. Teachers have been involved with constructing the curriculum.”

As of September 2016, the K-9 curriculum will be in implementation phase, said Argue.

“So then it won’t be draft anymore it’ll be expected that teachers have moved to the new curriculum for next September. The new curriculum for 10-12 will be implemented in September 2017. It has just come out in draft for in the last week or so.”

Argue said the new curriculum has less specific learning outcomes such as you must cover this or that and a great focus on what’s called competencies.

“They’ve structured it around core competencies and big ideas,” he said. “The core competencies for all subjects are communication, thinking and personal and social skills. Those are in every subject. Then you have big ideas…which are an overriding theme that runs through the whole curriculum.”

He said there are also curricular competencies to actual content, which are more specific.

Teresa Rezansoff, SD51 board chair, said that teachers are able to see the new curriculum now. “Right now, the K-9 curriculum is out there,” she said.

“It’s actually been out there for the last year so teachers could get in and play with it if they wanted to. But this is a transition year—there it is ready to be played with for the schools and teachers to be able to do in-service to look at it and get a strong sense of it if they choose.”

The new curriculum for 10-12 is still in draft form and is essentially a year behind. “For now they will be getting feedback into it,” said Rezansoff.

Rezansoff said the new curriculum allows teachers much more freedom to determine what to focus on and how much time to spend on each topic.

“We need to develop curriculum that will be responsive and flexible and adaptable to the needs of our students which are changing much faster than say when I was a student,” she said.

Norm Sabourin, Boundary District Teachers’ Association president, said that he hopes teachers will not be expected to spent their own time learning and training on the new curriculum.

“With the new curriculum—on the surface there looks like lots of positives,” said Sabourin. “Teachers were involved in creating the new curriculum; so, it’s going in the right direction. The problem we’re worried about again is support and funding for teachers to be trained to use the new curriculum. They will absolutely figure it out if they have to. But, again, it adds to the burden.”

Sabourin said the teachers are looking for help from the Ministry of Education through the district to help them effectively learn the new curriculum.

“They shouldn’t expect teachers to do it on their own time; in their evenings and weekends on top of all of the prep, all the marking and other headaches they have,” he said. “Every time the ministry adds another layer it’s just more weight on the shoulders and teachers bog down. Somehow teachers get it done but we’re seeing more and more health problems.”

Sabourin said all the extra stress and burden can lead to health problems down the road for many teachers.