Original Published on Sep 19, 2022 at 08:32

By Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Schools in Alberta are teaching a new curriculum in classrooms this  year with K-3 seeing an implementation in English and Math, and K-6  seeing new Physical Education and Wellness in their studies.

 This new curriculum is being rolled out by the Alberta government under the UCP leadership.

  “The process of developing the curriculum has been problematic and  certainly contentious. Recognizing that the curriculum that’s being  implemented isn’t one that many teachers have a high level of trust in.  What I’m saying is, I’m not sure teachers feel they have been adequately  consulted with, and are not confident with what they are being asked to  do, towards the best interest of their students,” said Amy von Heyking,  associate professor of the Faculty of Education at the University of  Lethbridge.

“Teachers have had preparation; they have been working with  the materials available to them. But it is a much shorter timeline than  we have had for previous programs. We have never tried to implement more  than one subject area at a time. Typically, there are several years of  piloting and feedback, then optional implementation with opportunity for  professional learning. And that hasn’t happened. It’s been a very tight  timeline.”

 Heyking also notes the burden of the COVID-19  pandemic adds to the stress, with impacts to students over the last  couple of years disrupting schooling, saying for most teachers the  anxiety about what is being expected of them adds to the burden.

  “The status of implementing the curriculum has been pretty quick. It’s  been developed by the current government in a fairly short period of  time, with a fairy short period for implementation,” said Sandy Bankos  with the facility of education at the U of L. “Speaking to the  mathematics curriculum, it’s structured differently than previous  curriculum. Teachers have to be able to look at what the structure is  and be able to read and interpret that in order to plan appropriate  activities for students. When something looks different, is set up  differently, it takes time to figure out exactly how to work with it.  Curriculum tends to come out first, and resources to support it often  come out after. When first implementing, teachers are trying to use the  resources they currently have in order to best teach a new curriculum.  But the resources that would match this curriculum haven’t been created  yet. Which provides a bit of a challenge for teachers.”

 “This  government made the choice to marginalize professional teachers, the  faculties of education in this province, and hired consultants to create  these drafts,” said Heyking.

 “There has been some modification  because of feedback, but piloting was done by a few teachers in a  limited classroom context. What has to happen, is that information needs  to go back to the ministry about what teachers are finding, and noting  places where there is not a good match with what their students need.”

  Both Heyking and Bankos note though the new curriculum may have issues  with how it is being implemented, students are still in the care of the  best educators.

 “Alberta teachers are excellent, they tend to  rise to a challenge, because they care about their students. They want  to do the best job they can so that their students can be successful  with learning,” said Bankos.

 “Teachers and the work they are  doing with the curriculum directly, will go back to Alberta Education.  Hopefully they will be open to what the data indicates. Teachers are  doing assessments with students in grades one, two, and three, to  understand the levels of students early in the school year and at the  end, to help indicate any potential problems,” said Heyking.

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta
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