Involvement, Professional Development and Learning
There are several formal structures that have aimed to actively engage teachers in curriculum change processes. There have also been professional development opportunities specifically related to the redesigned curriculum. These questions (1) asked teachers
to identify structures in which they had been involved and reflect on the extent to which they feel they had a meaningful voice within those structures and (2) reflect on their experiences over the past three years with professional development and
learning activities specifically related to the redesigned curriculum.
Involvement in formal structures related to curriculum change
Approximately three out of five teachers have participated in formal structures related to curriculum change.
Participants in these structures are divided as to whether they feel they have had a meaningful voice in shaping the process of curriculum change to date.
Participating, but feeling like participation has been superficial or tokenistic, can lead to frustration with both the process and the resulting curriculum.
“This did not feel as though we were a part of the process. It felt like we were merely reacting or trying to negotiate the changes.”
“I am not sure that the spirit of collaboration has been mutual.”
“It has felt-top down. Teachers are told what will happen by admin, and when we raise questions, they don’t know much and have to go back to the district or ministry for clarification. We need to slow down the process.”
“None of these will help teach my class tomorrow!”
“ It has doubled my work load—was on every committee available to be a strong voice for teachers but it made no difference since the powers at large did their own thing anyways. I was heard, but no action was taken to reduce teacher work load. Next year
I am not volunteering on any educational change committee since I am not wasting my time any more.”
Since 2013, teams of teachers have worked collaboratively, with Ministry of Education staff facilitating, to revise BC’s K–12 curriculum. Teachers who were appointed by the BCTF to these teams also have divided views as to how much of a meaningful voice
they had in the process.9
There have also been a variety of mechanisms whereby teachers can provide feedback on draft curriculum.10 Members of the Provincial Curriculum Revision Teams have indicated that this feedback represented very diverse and often
polarized views as to the direction of curriculum change.11 Besides making revisions challenging, the diversity of viewpoints can lead to frustration for teachers who feel that their suggestions were not followed, particularly
if there is not a clear and transparent process for acknowledging and responding to feedback.
“I made written submission to the Ministry and the union but got no reply.”
“I would like to know that the feedback we have been giving the Ministry is actually being considered.”
“Our department wrote an eloquent letter to the Ministry when they requested feedback. We spent weeks writing our thoughts and concerns and we were never given any feedback or response of what happened with our feedback.”
Professional development and learning
Teachers have participated in a range of professional development and learning opportunities specifically related to the redesigned curriculum. While these activities can be seen to have increased teacher workload (see previous section), many teachers
perceive that these activities had little or no impact on their preparedness for implementing the redesigned curriculum.
The most common professional development activity was individual research, with 92% of teachers indicating they conducted research specifically related to the redesigned curriculum over the past three years. However, individual research can require significant
time and money.
“[Teachers are] being expected to figure it out largely on our own time and expense.”
“Individual research (time to research) impact has been high but definitely not enough time to feel remotely competent in understanding the new curriculum in my subject areas.”
Some teachers have found this time in the context of teacher education programs or graduate studies, and view these programs as key opportunities to reflect on practice and engage in discussion and debate related to curricular change with colleagues.
“My most valuable time has been in researching, reading, and dialoguing with colleagues who are keen to make meaningful changes. More than anything, implementing the new curriculum has been about growing in my own understandings/values and about developing
a better understanding of decolonizing education. These have been supported almost exclusively through personal work and my Master’s program.”
“The greatest impact on my teaching practice and learning about the new curriculum was a graduate studies course I took. We were exposed to Aboriginal instruction in a powerful way, inquiry, and some assessment practices. The greatest impact was the ability
to examine our practice and learn from each other the struggles and new approaches we could take.”
Teachers express frustration with professional development and learning opportunities that are perceived as superficial, unclear, or top-down.
“Endless meetings...jargon-filled discussion...nobody to clearly identify a goal and a process and a possible assessment strategy.”
“The single day pro-d sessions are not useful to improve my learning or implementation of new curriculum.”
“The activities were not ever specific enough to be helpful.”
“We have these tiny meetings [related to assessment and curriculum implementation] for a few hours during Pro-D days that are months apart and generally raise more questions for me rather than giving me insight and understanding or practical knowledge
on how to do this.”
“We’ve had new curriculum [in-service days] but they are sort of useless when the curriculum is still in draft form and we don’t want to waste time creating stuff that could disappear.”
Certain groups of teachers feel that they have not had access to existing opportunities.
“As a [teacher teaching on call, TTOC] I have felt left out of the curriculum implementation. I graduated just before the implementation began. While I was in my practicum, I used the old curriculum. Now I have been left out of the new curriculum workshops.
I feel that I am playing catch up on my own and am at a major disadvantage.”
“I teach in a community in [a rural area]. There is very little opportunity to attend professional development with the new curriculum. It is incredibly costly to travel for the opportunities provided elsewhere.”
“I work part time and so far all the curriculum implementation days in [my district] have been on days I do not work.”
9 As of November 2017, the K–9 teams have produced curriculum that was finalized for the 2016–17 school year, whereas the 10–12 teams continue to meet with the aim of curriculum implementation in 2018–19 (for Grade 10) and
2019–20 (for Grades 11–12).
10 As a part of this survey, teachers provided many subject-specific comments. These unedited comments were collated in October 2017 and sent directly to BCTF members on Provincial Curriculum Development Teams that are currently
meeting to revise the draft 10–12 curriculum.
11 In a related project, BCTF research has been conducting semi-structured interviews with members of the Provincial Curriculum Development Teams. The purpose of these interviews is to explore teachers’ experiences navigating
potentially diverse expectations in relation to curricular approach, form, and content within the teams. A report will be available in early 2018.