LAKELAND - A compulsory curriculum change for some Kindergarten to Grade 6 elementary school courses is yielding a positive response from teaching staff at Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS).
Last spring, Alberta Education announced an updated draft to K-3 math and English language arts courses, alongside K-6 phys-ed and wellness classes.
The curriculum was initially introduced in March of 2021, with all eight core subjects including social studies and science for K-12, to be rolled out through phases. But after criticism from teachers, parents and experts, several reviews were completed.
Last December, the Grade 7-12 curriculum changes were paused as the province focused on working toward revised K-6 courses. Additionally, science, social studies, fine arts, and French immersion and Francophone language arts were not to be implemented this fall for any grades.
With a provincially appointed panel approving the current K-3 math and English language arts subjects alongside phys-ed and wellness for all K-6 classes last April, the first curriculum changes were scheduled and rolled out this school year.
Just over three months into the new changes across NLPS’ 17 Lakeland schools, feedback from roughly 125 teachers implementing the changes has yielded positive responses, said Terry Moghrabi the NLPS associate superintendent of curriculum and programming.
“We asked some very direct questions, particularly how they felt and how familiar they were with the outcomes in the new curriculum, which included whether they felt comfortable teaching the curriculum, whether they felt there was familiarity in what they taught, and whether they felt they were prepared,” he said, during the NLPS board meeting on Nov. 30.
Overall, more than two-thirds of teachers indicated they were comfortable learning the material and teaching it to their students, said Moghrabi.
Throughout the summer, creating learning and developmental opportunities for teachers involved in order to have a smooth transition with the curriculum changes was a concern, especially with difficulties arising from the pandemic, the heavy responsibilities teachers had to deal with, and overall curriculum material concerns, NLPS Board of Trustees indicated last summer.
But as a result of the learning opportunities created, connecting with teaching staff and supporting them with necessary resources, the efforts have paid off, according to the survey results, said Moghrabi.
“I wanted to share this because trustees were asking ‘How do they feel now after the start of the school year?’ I think the evidence is saying there is a certain level of comfort here, and it’s continuing to grow,” he said.
“I’m assuming teachers are becoming more familiar and more confident in teaching each of the outcomes.”
Additionally, recent provincial funding from the COVID-19 learning disruption supports available for Grade 2-4 students was approved for the division and will help continue learning supports, Moghrabi added.
“Northern Lights qualified for $107,000 from the province to create that plan.”
Translating outcomes for parents
Moving forward, reflecting the changes in learning outcomes to parents as report cards roll out in the coming weeks, is the next step, said Moghrabi.
The new English curriculum includes updated learning outcomes for grammar, an increased variety of reading materials and clear expectations and improved strategies to build comprehension skills throughout grades, according to Alberta Education.
The math curriculum includes a focus on spatial reasoning to help students “understand measurement and geometry concepts at a younger age,” learn and recall shapes, and more.
Phys-ed and wellness classes traditionally offered through two programs have been combined.
By the fall 2024, new curriculums for all subjects including science, French first language and literature, French immersion Language arts and Literature for all K-6 students are expected to be operational, according to the province.