We had a theatre full of parents from our school district last week and my message to them was clear: I need your help in line at Safeway and on the sidelines of the soccer fields.
The Safeway and soccer fields message is one I have delivered before. Parents in our community have been outstanding advocates for our local public education system. We can create shiny brochures or interactive websites, but parents want the straight goods from other parents, whether they run into them at the grocery store or at their kids’ practice. I credit positive word-of-mouth for being a key reason for our increase in enrollment over the last decade. The conversations I was asking parents to assist with this time are different. I need their help with revised curriculum that is being rolled out across British Columbia – first in K-9 and then grades 10-12. As I wrote in my last post, there is tremendous positive energy among educators as they work together embracing the new curriculum, and often new approaches, to meet the needs of students.
Positive momentum among educators is great, but I was reminded by Ron Canuel, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Education Association that this is not enough. In a presentation he gave recently, he spoke about changes that were made in Quebec with curriculum a number of years ago. In many ways the shifts resembled those we are making in B.C. He said that the community was never properly brought along on the journey, and the changes were temporary, not permanent, and a more traditional curriculum returned.
So far British Columbia seems to be making the right moves. The curriculum has been co-constructed by educators from across the province, and I have sat in many sessions with post-secondary institutions, the business community and others as the shifts in B.C. curriculum were dissected and where those in the room helped inform the discussion and the changes.
But back to Safeway and the soccer fields. The task I gave our parents is to share some key messages around the curriculum and be myth busters in the community.
Some the messages include:
- we are working from a position of strength – we have one of the highest performing systems in the world
- foundation skills in literacy and numeracy are still vital and they are not going away with the changes
- incorporating Aboriginal perspectives, applying real-life situations to learning, focusing on big ideas and developing core competencies are not new ideas but they are better reflected now in our curriculum
- as curriculum shifts, so will assessment and reporting and the K-12 system is working with the post-secondary system and others to ensure there is alignment
The session we held last week with parents was inspiring. Our Director of Instruction Lynne Tomlinson spoke about “B.C.’s Curriculum from 30,000 feet” and then 4 teams of school administrators shared different aspects of the work. While the rich discussion was an obvious highlight, I have included the presentations below – please feel free to use them and share them (if you receive this post via email you may need to open the website to see the presentations).
Curriculum Refresh from 30,000 Feet – Lynne Tomlinson, Director of Instruction
Foundation Skills – What are we Still Doing? – Chantal Trudeau and Kim Grimwood
Big Ideas / Central Ideas – Jeannette Laursoo and Tara Zielinski
Core Competencies – Scott Slater and Cathie Ratz
Aboriginal Learning – Steve Rauh and Scott Wallace
Coming off of a couple of days of planning with our teachers, and our session with parents, my belief has been reaffirmed that this is a very exciting time for learning in our province.