New curriculum pursued

Vernon School District teachers have been busy familiarizing themselves with the new curriculum.

Vernon School District teachers have been busy familiarizing themselves with the new curriculum.

Paul Britton, intermediate/middle years curriculum co-ordinator, has updated trustees on the training process so far.

“When we have a conversation about curriculum, it is really part of a bigger picture,” he said. “This is just one piece, and it tends to be the most visible piece — what parents see, what educators see, everything that’s going on.”

The 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 trial year in September 2016, followed by full implementation the following year. The upcoming school year will also see a trial introduction of the new provincial exams.

When a call was made for district facilitators, 27 teachers and 10 administrators stepped up and took part in facilitator training.

“Facilitator training began Dec. 9, which is a really fast turnaround but we managed to get this crew together and came up with some really clever ideas on how they wanted to share with their colleagues and support their colleagues in learning the new curriculum,” said Britton.

The first training session for curriculum implementation took place Feb. 22, a district-wide event for all teachers.

Linda Spiller, director of instruction, says facilitators tried to ensure there were entry points for all levels of teachers’ understanding of the new curriculum.

“So the dialogue was very rich, and I think everyone came away with at least a deeper understanding and perhaps just feeling more relaxed about things,” she said. “A lot of teachers are wanting more time to dig deeper into their curriculum.

“They realize that all they have to do is some enhancement or just look at it through a slightly different lens, maybe through a core competency lens, not changing everything but really enriching what you already do.”

Britton said a number of highlights came out of the day, including the fact that educators are keen on creating collaborative opportunities.

“It’s the power of helping teachers get outside of the boundaries of their classrooms and have meaningful discussions,” he said. “It was also recognizing that educators were already using the new curriculum thinking, so some people left thinking, ‘hey I’m all right the way my pedagogy is set up, the  way that my mind-set is set up is leaning towards the new curriculum and it might make my job a little easier in that realm.”

Britton said there was a large range of diverse needs within the teacher population and at the end of the day, many were anxious about two issues in particular.

“One is resources, which are complicated because of funding,” he said. “Reporting and assessment were two of the things that really  grabbed on to teachers who said they don’t know if they can do this. So there was some anxiety around that which we’ll have to address. That’s a larger and bigger conversation than can happen in a couple of months.”

Also up for discussion was the issue of parents in the classroom, which Britton said is an area where teachers can improve.

Parent information sessions are scheduled for May, said Spiller, to share with parents where teachers are at with the curriculum.

Teachers continue their training on the curriculum over two half days, April 21 and May 19.


Vernon Morning Star