What do you think is important for our education system in the future?

Summary to date:
Here’s a summary of what you’ve said so far. Click on the links beside each theme to read supporting examples.

  1. Change is necessary (1, 2, 3)
  2. Change is already happening (1, 2)
  3. System is fine as is (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  4. Stick to the basics (1, 2)
  5. Resources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  6. Technology (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  7. Parental involvement (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  8. Class size and composition (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  9. Concerns about inequity (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. BC Ed Plan lacks substance (1, 2, 3)
  11. Online portfolios (1, 2)
  12. Teacher training (1, 2)
  13. Online learning (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Modified calendar (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  15. Independent schools (1, 2, 3)
  16. Curriculum (1, 2, 3)

Please leave a comment below if you’d like to contribute to this topic.

353 Responses to “ What do you think is important for our education system in the future? ”

  1. Colleen says:

    Smaller classrooms and schools are an easier way to focus and learn. It is a happier and more relaxed environment and less stressful on the students that have anxiety. Who wants to walk down a hallway with thousands of kids bumping elbows, pushing and shoving, then walk into a classroom with 30+ students staring at you? You are being judged as soon as you walk in and you’re trying to find a seat but there’s none left. It’s a scary thing you have to deal with day to day for most people. I myself, if I was going to a big school and was a few minutes late, I just simply would not show up for it because I have anxiety and so do half of the other students that go to school. Some of them just don’t show it and some of them just don’t show up.

    Once school becomes too hard to handle students switch to online and let me tell you, it’s very hard. You don’t have one on one support and your sitting in front of screen for hours at a time when in a second you switch to facebook and there goes your day of work.

    I should be graduating soon but I dropped out in middle school because of anxiety then when I decided to go back and finish. I failed the next year, I couldn’t handle so many students around me, and the looks you get in the hallways. School can be very overwhelming going to five days a week.

    I am very happy I found a school like Westshore. The teachers are great, the students are more excepting and the class sizes are smaller. The school has helped me towards my future and I enjoy going to school every day.

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  2. Erica says:

    Different students need different learning options to successfully grasp and take charge of their future and career. Every student has their own way of living. This may include waking up early or waking up late. They may prefer morning classes while others strongly prefer night classes. Whichever they may prefer, a night class for each grade would be strongly appreciated and may make students feel more comfortable dealing with their education system.

    Different ways of learning I would suggest would be more electives and choices for the alternative school system to help us to decide our future careers such as criminology, cooking, cosmetology and debate classes. As a grade 10 student, the regular mandatory classes do get exhausting especially while your interest lies in another subject. I personally think classes that spark interest in today’s students should be available in every school for every grade.

    In higher grades, I don’t believe all the core subjects (English, Math, Science and Socials) should be mandatory. I think we should have more choice to choose classes that are linked directly to where we want to go in life. A lot of students do badly because they are in classes that don’t interest them so they don’t really try. Also, a lot of information and material can seem old and not relevant to our lives and interests. For the career path I’d like to follow, criminology is a subject I’d like to get a feel for while I’m young than start later in life and decide I’d rather not go into this occupation

    In addition to different learning opportunities, things like smaller classes are a small change that can create a huge impact on the way students learn. Smaller classes create more one on one time for the student and teacher, which means better attendance and achieving a higher success rate for a more comfortable, educated and willing graduation.

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  3. Mathew says:

    I feel that the school system’s physical education system should change in some of the following ways by introducing specialized sports programs such as doing irregular sports in school such as:

    • Martial arts, because it gets kids active, teaches self discipline and good ethics, and helps with self confidence (And not just the martial arts of Asia, but also archery, boxing, fencing etc.).
    • Swimming, because many people love to swim, and it boosts self confidence.
    • Yoga, because it is very healthy for those who practise it and can teach a child to manage their emotions.

    Also, with the specialized sports program, you could have focussed P.E classes. The student could choose either the standard mixed P.E program, or the focussed sports category, and choose from those sports so they can get help making a career out of it without the requirement of outside help. With this program, they could be more serious about the sports so that P.E could make a more serious impact on the student’s lives if they choose to. With that, it could open up more options for the student and if you give the student more choice they will attend P.E under their own volition rather than because they have to do it to pass.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Great suggestion, Mathew. Moving forward we support more choice for students in what they learn – including P.E.

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  4. Keyanna says:

    I am a 15 year old student at an alternative school in (location removed by moderator) BC, and there are a few important things I would like to talk about: Hot lunch, better online courses/materials, and teachers treating students with respect.

    As a student in high school, I have noticed that many of my friends and other students do not get a lunch because they do not have time or they do not have money. Hot lunch served at school would be a reasonable solution to this problem. The hot lunch program would have to be cheap or we would not be helping the problem.

    Next thing I would like to talk about is the online program we have. We need more teacher to student interactions because it’s tough to stay motivated when you aren’t interacting and applying the materials. Teachers could do this via Skype or another video program on the computer. We also need more videos in the materials; the amount of reading is tough to go through and you can’t really absorb it all just by reading it.

    Lastly I would like to talk about respect in the classroom. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such, too many teachers forget this. We could get this by doing the following: before a teacher is hired they are put through a week where they are put into a class and teach for a week to see how they treat the students. Another solution to this could be letting the students choose which teacher they would like to have rather then just putting them in classes without choice.

    In conclusion we need a hot lunch program, better online learning and respect in classrooms.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Hi Keyanna – we really appreciate hearing from students such as yourself, as you are the ones this is all for! We all want your education experience to be a positive one. Thanks so much for your comments!

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    • Tiffany says:

      Keyanna, Thank you for this comment. I am taking your comment to heart. You make excellent points. -Tiffany.

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  5. Cassandra says:

    In the future, children need to learn about, and put to use their strengths, which include how they best learn, how to work around their issues, and how to deal with the stress of not having enough time in the day along with the stresses of school life and friends, which also means that in educating kids about those stresses, the people teaching that need educating about it themselves. I also think that there needs to be more reliable, reputable sources for teachers and students to use in learning, teaching, and creating assignments/doing them. There needs to be less stress on homework and reputation, and more stress on knowing one’s self.
    Another area I think needs improvement in many schools is the student to teacher ratio. Many classrooms are stuffed full of students who don’t want to pay attention and think they have better things to do. I believe that reducing the amount of students to teachers would help this issue. I don’t know how realistic this ratio is, but about 20 students to one teacher with a helper works best.

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    • Moderator Chrysstena says:

      Those are great suggestions Cassandra. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

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  6. drop D says:

    Im my classroom students are currently engaged in creating multimedia projects as part of their study of musical styles and genres. They are using I movie, Powerpoint, Garageband, Logic studio, Guitar Rig, Ampfarm, Youtube etc in the creation of these projects. I look forward to viewing their presentations this fine crisp November morning. Students in my Music classes have the equipment to do the job in a 21st century world, thanks to the support of my SD. However, not all kids in the province have the same level of access, nor do all kids in my school, to such hardware and software. In the future, all students need access, and I would say that has to be a high priority,this points to a huge capital expenditure, and/ or the facilitation of students using their own devices in the classroom. A second need is smaller class sizes to facilitate individualized learning. In a day now I currently see close to 100 -120 different students, some classes have over 30 kids in them, which when you do the math, does not mean a lot of one on one time with them. Third, we need to pear down the curriculum in terms of PLO’s. I like the idea of competencies in the areas of critical thinking, group skills, etc etc, but still we must teach a core curriculum, in which our students use these competencies and demonstrate their ability in the solving problems in a project based environment. That would allow for easy assessment of learning which could be published as a class blog, Google doc or w/e. I think many teachers are already doing these things at my school, taking best practices from the past and adapting them to modern content, increasing student engagement. Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, the BC government and BCSPEA need to work with the BCTF in a respectful manner, bargain a fair contract and get rid of the adversarial relationship between teachers and these groups. Many teachers right now feel that we have become the enemy, when perhaps we are the second most important part of the system. We need to feel valued, supported, respected and engaged as well, and the only way this will ever happen is if the government decides to drop its decades old approach to contract negotiations. We need to forget about legislated agreements and start modelling what we teach in the classroom, if not, how can we expect our kids to act when our leaders model the opposite value system towards their teachers? Sorry, but after 26 years of this stuff, its getting old. It’s time for a new era of cooperation and respect between ALL educational partners, one which upholds and extolls the values, ethics and competencies which we expect the kids to demonstrate.

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    • Moderator Chrysstena says:

      Your comments are very thoughtful and you bring some really great ideas to your classroom and to the learners you work with. How do others feel about the techniques used in this classroom? Do you see them working in your own classrooms? Do you have your own ideas you wish to share? Thank you for your comments!

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  7. Tiffany says:

    This forum has been amazing to read–part of positive change in education will be connecting the various voices, identifying common themes and responding with action.

    Amidst the media and “power voices” it can be hard to get a sense of where the general public sits on the issue of education reform. I was wondering, how ARE people currently reacting to the notion of personalized learning?

    I’m a BC teacher, M.Ed. of Leadership student and parent and I’ve been doing my own casual research in my own backyard. It’s been interesting chatting with my teacher colleagues, university classmates and professors, family and friends to get a sense of where things are at on the ground level.

    Here is the range of responses I’ve encountered concerning the broader personalized learning discussion happening in my own region in British Columbia.

    The question is, “How would you characterize your general attitude towards the current personalized learning movement as you’ve experience it?” This is what I’v been hearing…

    POSITIVE REACTION:
    For example,
    •Enthusiastic: “I love it!”
    •Relieved: “It’s about time! This is what we’ve waited for.”
    •Hopeful: “We need change—this could be it.”
    •Curious: “I’m intrigued! I want to learn more.”
    •Put-off but largely accepting: “This is nothing new, I’ve been doing this for years—they can call it what they want as long as they hop to it!”

    NEGATIVE REACTION:
    For example,
    •Annoyed: “Ugh, Please tell me I’m not going to have to re-write my lesson plans again!”
    •Cynical: “Yeah, fire up the ol’ education bandwagon! We’ve seen this before.”
    •Critical: “This isn’t being implemented correctly.” “This is the wrong direction.”
    •Afraid: “This will be the ruin of education.”
    •Morally Outraged: “Those neo-liberalists are trying to privatize education with no regard for class disparity!”

    INDIFFERENT:
    For example,
    •Passive: “I go with the flow.” “Well, I’ll look into it if they bring in some pro-d.”
    •Embedded but detached: “What the media/school board office/ministry says or does isn’t going to change what I do in my classroom.”
    •Disconnected: “I’m not interested in what goes on in public education.”

    SUSPENDING JUDGMENT:
    For example,
    •Cautious: “I’ve been looking into this. I’m watching to see how it all pans out…”
    •Academic: ”I’m committed to researching more before I’ll make a decision.”

    UNAWARE:
    For example,
    •Surprised: “Oh, what? I’ve been so caught up with report cards/marking/family I haven’t noticed/looked into it.”
    •Confused: “I can’t keep up with or figure out this stuff. There is so much information out there.”

    I’m running this poll on my blog, and I’d love to hear where YOU fit in. Please visit personalizinglearning.com and let me know what you think. You can click here to see the poll and results directly:

    http://personalizinglearning.com/category/political/

    Thank you so much for posting this! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Debate is great!
    -Tiffany.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Tiffany, it’s nice to see that 62.5% of the people who’ve taken your poll so far are supportive of personalized learning. Do you know how many people in total have taken your poll? It’s also really interesting to read some of the comments you’ve received. All of these them are important to us and will help us better understand how people are feeling about PL and what work we need to do moving forward.

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      • Tiffany says:

        Quick response from government and thoughtful feedback like this feels like a welcome change…this is an example of how technology can improve education. I find that this is true of parents as well: sometimes they feel disconnected from schools, but even just having a teacher’s ear for a moment can make all the difference (even when no other action is required…just being heard is valued). Of course, taking it to the next level of action is where we want to get.

        An idea (similar to what I’ve heard recommended on this forum already): one thing parents would appreciate in education would perhaps be a responsive forum like this for each school. It could be moderated by a teacher, principal or someone else in the know.

        But, as you know from your experience in this, Moderator Mike, giving constant meaningful feedback is–although rewarding for all involved–kind of a full time job …one that a teacher alone could not be expected to fulfill on her own in the evenings when she needs to be marking…or maybe even having dinner with her family. (Still, many teachers do offer this kind of parent interaction now through email and phone calls).

        Perhaps if there were a teacher’s administrative assistant in each class to help with things like this….ah, but I am only dreaming….only in a private school could/would they afford this…or maybe not(?). Change is on the way! How can we get creative with reshuffling resources? What would it take for teachers to have the time and ability to be immediately responsive to parents? Being really well organized in their personal time is one thing…but what else?

        In any case, thank you for keeping the dialogue going! This is a wonderful experiment in promoting engagement in politics…and, if we work hard and are committed, it will lead to results.

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  8. Michael Maser says:

    As a 24-year innovative educator and administrator, I agree much of our present system of conventional schooling remains mired in outmoded practices. These practices themselves are grounded in previously held assumptions about learning and human development. In light of a veritable explosion in the past 15-20 years of new knowledge about human learning and development from neurobiology, cognitive sciences, positive psychology, multiple intelligences, holistic learning and other domains, it’s crystal clear these previous assumptions no longer serve progressive educational goals, like those minted in the new BCEP.

    So, for any future-oriented, progressive education program (on any scale) to have a snowball’s chance of succeeding, it’s vital that the key agents of learning – kids, parents, teachers, mentors and administrators – have a thorough grounding in these new assumptions.

    Without such an orientation on the part of the latter four agents I list, future learning will just continue to mirror the past. In other words you can’t get “there” from “here”.

    And this is not a theoretical posturing; today, professional therapists and coaches, to cite two examples, are years ahead of conventional schooling, in practice, based on new knowledge they have incorporated. And their results are significantly different.

    Of the agents I list above, teachers and administrators will need the most support to help make such change possible. And this will need to be a coordinated effort that doesn’t make the same mis-steps as the rollout for the much-vaunted and then-maligned Year 2000 Plan, from the early 1990s!

    Yes, those mis-steps should be re-visited, because the goals of the BCEP bear much resemblance to the goals of the Y2K plan unveiled by the Socred government of the day, on the recommendations of BC’s last Royal Commission on Education in 1987.

    In 1994 the Y2K was defeated politically and scrapped, with most eulogizing suggesting the Y2K plan was ill-conceived and unnecessary.

    That was then. Now is 17 years later and conventional education – today needing to serve learners of all ages – simply must adapt or risk becoming totally obsolete and an irrelevant experience for those it purports to serve.

    In closing, I find much to like in the newly-minted ‘BCEP’ as I admired the Y2K plan. For the BCEP to succeed, however, requires we collaborate in creating a much different outcome than the last time we went through this.

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  9. Paula Schmidt says:

    Regarding Pillar #4 (High Standards) action point #4. “Effective intervention strategies and supports will be available…”

    How will parents know/learn how to access these supports? Many parents are currently unaware of what is potentially available for their child. They watch their child struggle but do not know the questions to ask or the avenues to explore for support.

    How will parents be involved in monitoring the effectiveness of such supports? Teachers are often overwhelmed with formal reporting and the informal (and formal) reporting that accompanies an IEP or special support gets lost in the shuffle. How will parents know what to expect in terms of monitoring for these supports? How can they be involved?

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  10. Kristina Leidums says:

    I am learning consultant (certified teacher) with an organization called SelfDesign Learning Community which has been supporting personalized learning for years. We are a class 1 independent school.

    I notice other references to different academic programs on this blog and elsewhere on the site, so I trust that this brief mention of one government funded academic option in BC will be accepted. Watching the video, it is clear that this new plan supports increased options for learning, including independent options.

    I think the most important thing in the world, beyond any academics, is for learners to make into adulthood as happy, confident and caring people who have experienced safe, nurturing, positive learning environments. Learning in math and Science and core subjects can follow. How can it truly be said that a learner has learned anything if they are bullied at school, or lonely, or hungry, or the lessons move too fast for their pace, or their family environments are hurting. Happiness and love first, academics after– according to a child’s passions, natural inclinations and goals.

    Our learners are happy, engaged, motivated, and pursuing incredible learning opportunities at their own pace. First and foremost, their feelings and passions are heeded, supported and nurtured by loving adults in their lives and their learning consultants.

    Thank you!

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  11. Denyse says:

    I am an elementary teacher in a BC Distributed Learning school. The new plan reminds me of many things I do currently. I have personalized learning paths for all my students. This means that I meet one-on-one for several hours at least 5 times a year to create, modify, assess and communicate the strategies and progress of the plan. I use the student’s learning styles, interests and assessment data to help create the year’s learning path. I use variety of resources to enable instruction, including multiple technological tools. The parent is essential and a team member. There is flexibility and choice at every turn offered. I do think these things are important and great goals for BC’s education system.

    But for the regular classroom teacher, there are huge areas of concern:

    First, time: The personalized approach would require a recognition that teachers need more prep time. At least 1 hour every day. There would need to be more time to become involved with parents, more meetings, more in person discussion (not more report cards).

    Then resources: All teachers would need access to the latest computers, scanners, etc. More money would need to be devoted to better and more resources at the school (variety of textbook programs, online course options even for elementary).
    Flexibility and choice requires more and up-to-date engaging resources.

    There should be common instructional courses provided by the government in an online format (individual teachers should not be required to create online instructional resources – which in my opinion is like asking every teacher to write their own Social Studies textbook).

    The curriculum will need to be tightened. The PLO’s feel sloppy and vague to me. A look at the intermediate PLO’s especially always makes me feel exhausted.

    There needs to be a safe and common Ministry provided online portfolio system that students can use for artifact collection. All teachers will need to be able to access these sites.

    And class sizes! No human can personalize learning in a truly meaningful way with 30 students. And I can’t get my head around what that would look like at the high school level.

    The best way for success is for the government to allow keen teachers willing to find a way for this to work at an individual school, rather than mandating from above. I think a pilot approach will work better.

    It would be good for the ministry to have a look at what works well and what doesn’t in places like DL, and various alternate programs where lots of personalizing is already occurring. And get feedback from those teachers on whether it seems likely to succeed in a bricks and mortar setting. And other countries further down this path must have ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

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  12. Reid Findlay says:

    This is in response to Moderator Mike

    First off, I’m glad to see that you have encouraged the #bced community to read this article. There are a few things that struck me as I read it:

    1) Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins have identified the “twin sins” of education. As a former high school biology teacher, I was frequently covering curriculum at the expense of students understanding it. This “coverage orientation” often leads to students being able to recall factual information for the test but forgetting it immediately after. I can say with confidence that my principal of the day was very happy with my results and the Fraser Institute looked favorably upon our efforts. However, I’m not sure that my students learned very much during those years. A respected colleague described this as a form of educational bulimia. I’m hopeful that the BC Education Plan will steer the system away from that twin sin and allow teachers to “uncover” their curriculum, teach fewer outcomes, and allow students to explore things in depth (particularly if there is a constant interaction btwn. what they are “thinking” and “doing”.)

    2) My current school just so happens to be one of the 150 schools in Canada identified in the article that are using the Tell Them From Me (TTFM) instrument to monitor social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. The authors outline how over half of the students in their sample are experiencing low levels of intellectual engagement. These are not just numbers for me. I know who these students are by name in my school. The system is clearly not meeting their needs and must change.

    3) There is widespread agreement on what people consider to be 21st century competencies for students. What is far more important to consider as we contemplate educational renewal in this province are the following questions from the article:

    - “What are the concomitant 21st century teaching competencies?”
    - “What changes in educational practices do we need?”
    - “What strategies at the school and district level are most likely to result in changes in classroom practices?”
    - “How might we enhance instructional leadership in our schools?”
    - “Will our students, teachers, and communities support new directions for teaching and learning?”

    And I might add:

    - How will we do this in our current climate?
    - Given this climate, how can we engage in a meaningful and purposeful conversation around educational renewal?

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  13. Lori says:

    I have had two boys graduate from BC’s education system, with the youngest having graduated this past June. Here is my wish list:

    1. Secondary curriculum that is relevant to kids today. I am sorry but just because Lord of the Flies was a classic at some point in time, kids hate it.

    2. Course options. We are in a small rural community and due to the small enrolment course selection was extremely limited. Grades 10-12 electives such as Foods, Mechanics held students from all three grades and if you took it one year and then the next you did no learn anything new that second year. It was simply a repeat of the previous year. I would have thought the learning outcomes would be different each year, but this was not the case.

    3. Support for small rural schools to be able to offer DL courses. Provide funding for these schools to offer teacher support in one block each semester to allow students to learn in a classroom atmosphere yet on their own. This would open so many more opportunities for students to select courses. I found over and over again that the school was not supportive of students taking DL – they simply wanted them to take what was being offered at the school and nothing more. As a parent it was impossible to get information and support to help my child sign up with DL – we gave up.

    4. Allow kids to use technology as part of their learning if they choose. When my oldest was in grade 12 (2006-2007) he had one teacher who allowed him to use his laptop for History Class. My son hated writing reports and did the bare minimum, but let him use his laptop and PowerPoint and he would spend hours doing the same report. My son’s marks increased dramatically once he was able to use his computer. Unfortunately, that was the one and only time. My youngest was never allowed to bring his computer to school or do his reports in a different way.

    5. Teach the kids how to learn rather than what to learn. Instil a love of learning in them rather than a dislike for what they have to learn. What they are learning is not preparing them to move on to further education/careers. Talk to the middle and high school kids and many will tell you that they are disengaged from school as it no longer seems relevant to them and their interests anymore.

    I could probably come up with other things for my wish list, but these are the main ones. I have been very involved and supportive of the school system in BC, and it saddened me to see both my boys and many friends so detached from learning. They do not seem to have the love of learning that I hoped they would.

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  14. Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

    In the Fall 2011 issue of Canadian Education, Jodene Dunleavy and Penny Milton look at the factors that are contributing to low levels of student engagement across Canada. They also talk about the things we can do system wide to make things better, including embracing 21st century teaching and learning principles.

    http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/sorting-students-learning

    I like the following quote from their article. To me it speaks to the importance of an inter-disciplinary, integrated approach to learning and to allowing students to pursue pathways of learning that are most meaningful and interesting to them:

    What if the curriculum anchors their learning, but ceases to anchor the students themselves because its aim is the development of important competencies through diverse learning experiences that value and extend young peoples’ knowledge, interests, and capacities across all curriculum domains?

    Anyone care to comment on this or any other part of the article? It’s a thought-provoking read.

    Thanks to @readfindlay for sharing this article on our @bcedplan Twitter page.

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    • Special Ed says:

      Thanks for the link, that was a thought provoking read. I agree that changes like this are needed at the high school level in order to address the roughly 20% of students who do not complete high school. How do you think these principles apply at the elementary school level, where education is focussed on giving students a solid foundation in all subject areas, and not on individual streaming?

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      • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

        Wow, Special Ed, you’d make a good moderator! A good question you’ve asked here.

        As you’ll see in the Plan, reading, writing, numeracy and oral language will be emphasized throughout all grade levels – including the early grades. As students progress, teachers will be encouraged to increase choice for students in what and how learn. There will be fewer outcomes to cover and more emphasis on competencies which are important for students to learn before they graduate. The intention is to allow for a truly customized learning experience tailored to each student’s interests, aptitudes, and goals.

        Does anyone else in this community have anything to add? What does PL at the elementary level look like to you?

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  15. Arvid says:

    My concern about the “education System” in BC is that it appears to be moving in the wrong direction. We are and have been a mechanical, left hemisphere driven system for along time. It has worked well on one level but it is time for a real change. This model appears to be more of the same at a new level. Everything about competency based learning suggests an even further journey into the mechanical, Newtonian way of thinking. All we seem to be doing is adding technology, the tool, to try and accomplish more left hemisphere thinking.It is more about improved instruction than about “Education” …all about instruction and marks and very little about why or purpose. When ever you set high standards/measurements, you have to wonder who sets them and how will these higher standards facilitate anything more than an intense race to where? Iian McGilchrist and others seem to be suggesting a very different approach to whole brain learning. They are not suggesting we drop left hemisphere learning but strongly / passionately promote a more balanced model. See also works by Danah Zohar.

    I hope we counter the Western business worlds approach to success. If we follow them you can already see the results of their kind of bottom line thinking in our self-destructing economy.

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  16. Carly says:

    I have another interesting article I would like to share with you http://report.heritage.org/wm2996 Produced by the Center for Data Analysis – Charter Schools: A Welcome Choice for Parents says in part – A study published by the Department of Education, highlights the many benefits of charter schools. The results show unambiguously that parents are substantially more satisfied with charter schools and the academic and social development of their children who attend compared to public school parents. What the study found: parents reported substantially greater satisfaction with their children’s academic and social development. Reported much higher levels of satisfaction with their children’s schools. Charter schools were rated excellent by 85 percent of parents, while non charter schools received the excellent rating by just 37%. It also showed test scores little statistical improvement. It is the culture of the school that makes the happy people. The Big Picture – In summary the DOE study uses the gold standard of scholarly rigour and reliability, and it’s findings corroborate past studies. Parents want choice in education, and the overwhelming majority of parents who choose charter schools are happy with that choice. As the DOE’s evaluation makes clear, charter schools can offer real benefits to students and their families – I just only hope that the Ministry of Education is really hearing the voice of the people and using these other countries studies, models and expertise as a role model for change in our own! Let our Province/Country be the hero in education reform and implement.

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    • Moderator Chrysstena says:

      Hi Carly and thank you for sharing this link as well as your comments. The Ministry of Education is listening and we want to hear the voices of as many people out there as possible. Please continue to provide your thoughts and ideas and encourage those around you to do the same.

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    • Special Ed says:

      Please also read the following article on charter schools.
      http://professorronaldgcorwin.com/20801.html

      I think the article does a good job in identifying some of the difficulties associated with charter schools that have been experienced by some jurisdictions.
      A quote taken from the article is as follows:
      “The Center for Research on Education Outcomes’ (CREDO – Stanford University) 2009 report found that only 17% of charter schools outperformed their public school equivalents, while 37% of charter schools performed worse than regular local schools, and the rest were about the same. A 2010 study by Mathematica Policy Research found that, on average, charter middle schools that held lotteries were neither more nor less successful than regular middle schools in improving student achievement, behavior, or school progress. Among the charter schools considered in the study, more had statistically significant negative effects on student achievement than statistically significant positive effects. “

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  17. Leanne says:

    I think what is important for our educational system for the future is to do something about the epidemic of child suicide and bullying in public schools. This is a insidious problem affecting our children world wide and something needs to be done immediately.

    Prevnet – A solution for Canada says: As a national network, Prevnet is now bringing together for coordination and implementation researchers and national organizations to enhance awareness, build research, assess bullying problems and promote evidence based programs and effective anti-bullying policies legislatively across Canada.

    The tragic cases of Canadian children who have died or been seriously impaired by bullying raised awareness of the seriousness of bullying problems for both children who bully and children who are victimized. Canada ranked a dismal 26th out of 37 countries on 13 year old students reports of bullying and victimization. Our positions on the international stage across all categories has slipped relative to other countries. The countries that rank higher than Canada such as Norway and England have had national campaign’s to address bullying problems. The high proportions of Canadian students who report bullying or being bullied confirm that this represents an important social problem for Canadian schools which in a lot of cases the policies are non existent or ineffective.

    A conference hosted this spring by the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education, a team of psychologists and lawyers presented a paper titled “Education’s Perfect Storm” which advocates more lawsuits against schools, “What we want to do is hold someone responsible who has the resources to act and dampen bullying, that is the school board and the school, “says Bob Konopasky, a psychology professor at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, and co-author of the paper.

    Parents want to be heard and they want their children safe, and it’s the dollar amounts that make them heard, and no other” 300,000 children per month report bullying in Canadian schools and are not being heard. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in Canada. This is a civil rights problem of our time – Bullying Lawsuits Surge as Parents Aim to Protect Their Children (in part)

    Parents are taking the fight against bullying to court. Youth suicides are common among picked-on teenagers and children. Kathy Fong, associate director of youth empowerment group Community Matters, explains that parents of bullied children are resorting to legal action because they are frustrated that schools have failed to implement safeguards to minimize or prevent bullying.

    There is no excuse that school districts have not adopted a comprehensive anti bullying programs and or policies in this day and age. In Europe it is different. In the past 30 years, Norway has reduced bullying in schools by 40% after the government commissioned a psychology professor to develop a preventive program and it is now being used in over 7,000 schools in the USA. Since the first school in Canada adopted this program in 2006, over 12 schools in Alberta, four in Ontario, two in Quebec and one in Labador have used it. There is no excuse that B.C. schools other than the ‘Code of Conduct’ (one paragraph long that doesn’t even mention the world bullying in my school district) are not in place and reviewed and updated yearly. I realize that the Ministry has done the ‘Safe, Caring and Orderly School’ A Guide but there is not accountability that school districts are implementing this guide, who is checking that this is guide is being implemented, because I’ll tell you right now it is not being implemented in my school district – Bullying is the crime of the 21st Century and you are risking your child’s health, safety and well being every time they walk out that door and you send them into school!

    The Canadian Safe Schools Network is creating programs to train students and teachers to intervene and stop bullying. If someone intervenes, bullying usually stops within 10 seconds. Cindi Seddon, principal of Seaview Community School in Port Moody, B.C. has written two books on bullying. She is an advocate of schools adopting better programs and policies, “we say to parents that if you think there’s something wrong with your child, you’re dead right”. Every day that you send your beloved child off to school, you are taking a big risk on your child’s safety, health and well being.

    Please watch the “Bullying Project” a documentary on bullying in our schools – 4200 deaths last year directly related to being bullied – 15% consider suicide – Source: Centre for Youth Social Development, UBC Faculty of education. The Record.com – March 20, 2010 – Lawsuits show bullying problem hidden ‘under the carpet’ Elizabeth Witmer, the Kitchner-Waterloo opposition MPP who once worked as a school teacher say’s that parents, teachers and students have convinced her that schools have been dealing with bullying in a way that was ‘totally inadequate’.

    In too many cases, persistent bullying has caused parents to pull their kids out of classes, switch school boards and even start home-schooling, she said ‘We have been hiding this under the carpet”, “it’s time to bring this out into the light of day, It’s a big problem – “Four lawsuits filed against local schools over bullying are symptoms of a system that is broken and is frustrating parents,” Ontario’s former education Minister says. There is a high level of frustration that children have been bullied and do not feel the situation had been handled appropriately. Parents are using the legal system as a tool to force school districts to protect students from bullying. The costs of fighting and a good chance of possibly losing these lawsuits puts additional financial strain on school districts already suffering with budget cuts. How much better spent those lawyer’s fees and court fees would have been if school administrators had invested in programs and policies instead, which in turn would help countless victimized children. It is the law and every child’s God given right to safe education and the system is seriously dropping the ball – please force school districts to adopt anti-bullying programs (see Norways model) in schools and like mentioned above is ‘Educations Perfect Storm” and is not going away anytime soon, until there is some accountability to the safety of our most vulnerable precious resource.

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    • Moderator Chrysstena says:

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. Could you please provide us with a link to the documentary you mention?

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      • Leanne says:

        http://www.thebullyproject.com – The Bully Project is a grassroots movement to educate and empower kids, parents, teachers and all school staff, to build stronger communities where empathy and respect rule – they are building an alliance to turn the tide on bullying – Please join.

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        • Moderator Chrysstena says:

          I appreciate you sharing this link Leanne. It is a very important project. There is so much to learn for all of us about bullying.

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    • Special Ed says:

      The following article is reposted from http://www.bctf.ca
      The link is:
      http://bctf.ca/NewsReleases.aspx?id=24262

      The recent suicide of Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley has once again shone a spotlight on the often catastrophic impact of severe homophobic bullying in schools. A bright young person facing an unbearably toxic environment with little hope of respite except through ending his life: sadly, BC teachers have seen this tragic drama before.

      That’s why the BC Teachers’ Federation has been at the forefront of the effort to challenge the stigma and discrimination LGBTQ youth face in schools and society. Despite the controversy that can accompany these initiatives, BCTF members are determined to continue this work to make schools safe for all students, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation.

      On November 1, 2011, the BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments from the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers’ Association regarding a complaint that the majority of school districts in British Columbia have failed to implement important human rights requirements.

      The BCTF and its locals gathered evidence that school districts and their schools have failed to fully implement Ministerial Order 276/07, the Provincial Standards for Codes of Conduct Order, which was introduced in the fall of 2007. These standards were established in the wake of the Azmi Jubran vs. North Vancouver School District case and the province’s Safe Schools Task Force, which found that harassment on the basis of sexual orientation was a serious concern in school districts around the province.

      “Homophobia, racism, and other forms of harassment and discrimination persist in schools throughout British Columbia,” said Susan Lambert, president of the BCTF. “Teachers and students have been willing to take a stand on these issues, and so have trustees in some school districts. Now it’s time for the ministry to enforce its well-intentioned, but so far rather toothless, order.”

      The Ministerial Order specifies that boards must ensure their codes of conduct contain one or more statements that address the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in the BC Human Rights Code. A Freedom of Information request by the BCTF revealed that a handful of school districts have codes of conduct in place that address the anti-discrimination requirement, the majority of boards do not.

      The matter was brought to Arbitrator John Hall in June 2010, but earlier this year he decided he did not have jurisdiction. The issue of jurisdiction is what is being brought to the Court of Appeal to review. The BCTF is asking that the courts recognize that the arbitrator does have jurisdiction.

      “BCPSEA is opposing our ability to enforce the codes of conduct standards,” Lambert said. “We should be able to enforce the provincial ministerial order, and the grievance/arbitration process is a logical place for this to occur. It is unfortunate that BCPSEA seems reluctant to tell districts to do it right.”

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  18. Madeleine says:

    A recent article in the Economist may be of use to policy makers: http://www.economist.com/node/21529062

    It focusses on Bill Gates’s educational poster child: Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan in 2006. Khan’s business model is simple, yet impactful. As The Economist noted, it flips education on its head. Rather than filling the day with lectures and requiring students to complete exercises after school, Khan focuses on classroom exercises throughout the day and allows students to download more lectures after school.

    When students arrive at their Silicon Valley suburb classroom with their white MacBooks, they begin their day doing various online learning exercises. The teacher, aware of what her students are working on based on her own monitor screen, approaches students and provides one-on-one feedback and mentoring, tailoring her message to students’ particular learning paces and needs.

    But Khan goes beyond the computer and customized feedback. It emphasizes critical thinking and idea creation, where real learning occurs, and downplays rote lecture learning. Active problem solving makes learning much more fun and engaging for students. As The Economist notes, students at institutions like Khan can huddle together and solve math problems around their laptops as if they were trading baseball cards or marbles.

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    • Madeleine says:

      Here is Salman Khan talking about this approach on TED:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html

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      • Leanne says:

        Thank you so much for that link – wow, that was fantastic – I urge every school district to watch that – I home school my children so I can’t wait to get started and learn more about. Canada does relatively well in reading in the world ranking but math and science are another question.

        Question: Is this site that the Ministry has developed being advertised to the general population, so everyday taxpayers are aware of it and can comment? It is very refreshing and very much welcome that the governmentis giving the People a Voice – well done!

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        • Leanne says:

          This model would bring some fun back into the classroom, children realizing that learning can be fun and have kids looking forward to school, not in dread but actually excited. High school drop out rates are something that our country can not afford to have and we need to start turning out engineers, doctors and teachers for example. I would like to see school become less institutionalized, not like a warehouse for children but a place of fun, acceptance and understanding and I know with a government really bent on change – this can happen and Canada could become #1 on the world rating for education.

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        • Moderator Chrysstena says:

          Yes this site is open and being advertised to the general public and anyone is welcome to provide and share their comments. Please feel free to share this link with anyone you wish.

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          • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

            Check out this great comment from T-West about why we all need to play a role in our kids’ education.

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      • Tiffany says:

        Thank you so much for this great video link—this brought up some things for me I had never thought about before. Here is what is sticking in my mind about this idea of putting more instruction into video.

        MEETING DIFFERENT LEARNING NEEDS: Video lectures allow students to pause, rewind and fast forward instruction to suit their learning styles. Amazing! This could be a great equalizer for students!

        FREEING UP CLASS TIME FOR PARTICIPATION: Teachers can “use technology to humanize the classroom” as the video noted by having instruction happen at home via the video and thus free up class time so that participation and engagement can happen there. Then, students will have had time to process and formulate questions as well as have time to get a response. This is another amazing point!

        MAKING VIDEOS AUDITS TEACHERS’ SKILLS = GOOD, BUT INTIMITADATING: I believe creating an online instructional video is a very valuable process for a teacher to go through; after all, a good instructional video is efficient and has a good “story arch”. You can’t make a good instructional video without being an absolute expert on the topic—if you’re not, it is obvious to the viewer. This I believe would bring transparency to teachers’ abilities in teaching. It would put teachers’ skills on the public stage, up for greater scrutiny of their teaching skill than teachers have now when teaching behind closed doors. This is a great thing for students! This is also a great thing for confident teachers who are reflective and want to constantly improve—I personally welcome the exciting challenge, and would find it rewarding! But it is also a scary thing for anyone–I know many teachers who would stop teaching if they had to make or be in instructional videos regularly…not because they are not amazing teachers, but because being in or making movies is not their thing. It’s a very self-conscious act to put yourself out there this way. Also, some teachers would also have to hear more criticism of their teaching; but of course, this could lead to improvements. In a system where video instruction is the norm, only the best, strongest teachers would be able to survive and would choose to stay in the profession. You would be left with only the cream of the crop—then at this point, you’d have to pay them as the movie stars they are or you’ll loose them! George Clooney and Helen Mirren aren’t going to make you instructional videos for 50k a year! ;)

        INCREASED DEMAND ON TEACHER TIME AND A NEED FOR GREATER TECHNOLOGICAL SKILL: What new skills would teachers be required to gain to put all of their instructional content online? When would there be time to create these videos? I have made instructional videos in the past and I personally estimate it took me more than 8x the time to make a video as it did to prepare a straightforward lesson with all of the editing of clips and enhancing with images and demo. Perhaps this is a process that could be streamlined by having onsite technology support so that teachers can focus on teaching as opposed to writing, directing, starring and filming their lessons. I actually think this is quite feasible to assemble an in-house instructional video production teams…you just need time, money, creativity, talent and the will.

        VIDEO LEARNING DOESN’T SUIT ALL LEARNING STYLES: Remember, while many people are audio or visual learners, others are may be kinesthetic or other types of learners. Not everyone learns by passively watching TV programs. (How could video lessons be made more active? Hmmm? Wii? Could there be a physical component?)

        BRAIN/HEALTH ISSUES: Before we could make watching videos regularly a mandatory thing for children, it’s a matter of health that we have data on how regular exposure to this kind of media impacts the brain and brain development. You can’t tell kids “Don’t watch so much TV—it will rot your brain.” And then force them to watch school TV shows! If all key learning happened in video, then those who don’t, can’t, or prefer to not watch are at a disadvantage.

        ***Overall, I think Salman Khan’s message is powerful in shifting the ways we think students need to “receive learning”. As with any new idea, we need to think through the bugs, but we can, and if we do it right, this could be amazing! Thanks again for this link! I love this forum! :)

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        • Moderator Chrysstena says:

          Hello Tiffany – you raise some really great points in your post. Are there others out there that would like to add to or comment on these points about lesson plans on video? What are your thoughts?

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    • David Wees says:

      There are some issues with the Khan Academy approach to learning which we would do well to note:

      See this video from Derek Muller, which he debunks the idea that watching a content based science video leads to deep understanding of science.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVtCO84MDj8

      In my opinion, the same is true in math. I tried using the Khan Academy videos and exercises with my own students and quickly abandoned the approach when I realized how little actual mathematics my students were learning. They could “master” rote exercises, but then couldn’t apply their ideas to the most basic of other exercises that weren’t like the ones they had seen in the videos. See http://davidwees.com/content/i-tried-khan-academy where I talk about my experience using the Khan Academy.

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  19. Clyde Hertzman says:

    There are several important things missing from the Plan that I think need to be seriously considered.

    1. there is no mention of the expansion of the education system to younger years; full-day K; Strong Start; or any of that. It strikes me that a commitment to the idea that children are ‘Born Learning’ is fundamental here.

    2. there is no mention of the role of the school in the community; the role of school administrators as partners in community development, etc. despite how important this is for student success and retention.

    3. we now have the capacity to use population-based data systems to see how whole cohorts of children are developing; not just school and classroom groups. These systems will allow us to keep track of all the children who are weakly attached to the system. Our research shows that a lot of the inter-provincial and international comparisons are basically biased by differential attendance rates, even before the legal age at leaving school. If we are going to effectively use new technology, then building a population-based system for tracking and evaluating human development among all children, not just those showing up at school, is very important.

    4. we need to find ways to incorporate physical and social-emotional development into our tracking and judgement of success of children and schools.

    5. if schools are to be judged using student data, we must end the regime of ‘statistical malpractice’ wherein raw test scores are used to judge schools without taking into account the developmental state of the children coming in and the socioeconomic context of the school. Proper data analysis shows that, when these factors are taken into account, the schools that are doing the best and worst with what they have are NOT the schools that end up at the top or bottom of the raw score tables. A commitment to modern technology means a commitment to analyzing data properly.

    6. we should also be using world class data resources to track the influence of policies such as parental choice. From past evidence, there is reason to be concerned that some elements of parental choice might actually damage the overall outcome of the education system. We need to set up data systems that can evaluate policies and be adult enough to admit when they have not worked, and change course accordingly.

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    • Moderator Angie says:

      These are important questions that we’ll all need to tackle when designing an education plan for the future. What are the thoughts of the members of this blog community?

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      • Gordon says:

        I agree with Hertzman’s thoughts and thinking. If we invest hundreds of thousands of dollars or so to incarcerate an adult individual each year, it would be great to invest in them as little folks where we can help support and provide opportunities to build their potential and contribute to society. Either way society pays, but investing in little people is more likely to provide a credit rather than a debit over a lifetime. It is a matter of priorities with what we do with our tax dollars. Education is a private and public good.

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  20. Kelownagurl says:

    I have some questions and comments about the plan.

    1. Re: http://www.bcedplan.ca/actions/pl.php

    I really like the part about fewer outcomes at higher level. How do I personalize for 24 kids though – will I have each on an IEP?

    I already work hard to make sure all my students needs are met – the "highs", the "lows", and the "in betweens". Are you planning to provide me with more prep time and support so that I can do an even better job at personalizing the curriculum? If so – yay!

    2. Re: http://www.bcedplan.ca/actions/highstandards.php

    In what ways are you changing the performance standards? Does that include Reading/Writing? I'd like to see some kid-friendly language if possible, and perhaps 5 levels instead of 4.

    Will we be able to do away with letter grades for Gr 4-9 and use the performance standards instead?

    What new supports will be available to me so I can more quickly ID struggling kids?

    4. Re: http://www.bcedplan.ca/actions/flexibility.php

    If SD's have choice in their calendar, what happens to students who move from one district to another during the year?

    5. Re: http://www.bcedplan.ca/actions/qualityteaching.php

    why does this page suggest that in most cases Pro D days are not being used to enhance knowledge and expertise? In the VAST majority of the cases, Pro-D is very effective, pertinent, and useful for teachers. When I choose Pro-D workshops to meet my needs, I buy in and learn more than if someone else tries to determine my needs.

    why does it say Principals WILL BE evaluating teachers? All Teachers in my SD are evaluated on a regular basis (every 3 years). You are suggesting that teacher evaluations will be a new thing! That's very misleading to the general public.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    ~Barb

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    • Moderator Angie says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. The questions you’ve raised are really important and I am glad you have surfaced them. The reason for engaging with the public and teachers like you is to get your specific feedback on these issues. We would like to hear your and others opinions on the what and how we move forward.

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      • Kelownagurl says:

        OK,I can do that. In reference to my questions above:

        Re: Question #1

        * Please provide teachers with additional prep time so we can do a better job at personalizing learning for each of our students.

        * Please retain class size language in the teacher contract so districts aren’t forced to make large classes when they have tight budgets.

        * Please retain class composition language so I don’t have more than 3 special needs children in my class without additional support.

        * Please put additional money into the budget and re hire the many support staff who have been let go in the past few years – primarily CEAs.

        * Please don’t ask me to write a personalized IEP for each and every student. I already personalize learning in many ways in my classroom.

        * Please provide me with inservicing (not pro-d) so I can learn new ways to provide personalized learning.

        * Please make the PLO’s less content related, and more skills based so I can teach the skills related to the subject but have the freedom to choose topics that the children are interested in.

        * Please provide me with support so that I can more quickly learn to ID kids with learning needs (although in our district we have an early learning screener that works very well. I’d like release time so that I am able to actually do the screener without having the supervise the rest of the class at the same time.)

        Re: Question #2

        * Please create new performance standards with 5 levels instead of 4.

        * Please create kid-friendly versions of the performance standards for both primary and intermediate.

        * Please change the grading system so that intermediate grades 4-9 match the performance standards that we are using. Teachers struggle with translating ‘fully meeting’ etc to a letter grade and there is little consistency on this from teacher to teacher.

        Oops there was not Question 3. :)

        Re: Question #4

        *Please don’t allow SDs to change the calendars so drastically that different schools are on different calendar, making it challenging for parents with children in more than one school.

        Re: Question #5

        * Please stop suggesting to the public that teachers aren’t evaluated on a regular basis. We are all evaluated using clear criteria on a regular basis.

        * Please allow growth plans as a form of evaluation. We do them in our district and I love them.

        * Unless they are struggling, please allow teachers to determine their personal goals.

        * Please stop suggesting that Pro-D is not used appropriately. Apart from a VERY few cases, 99% of Pro-D is excellent, especially in my school district.

        * Please separate Pro-D from Inservice. We have excellent Pro-D which we asked to be added to the school year, without pay. What we need is more inservice from the govt and the SD.

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        • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

          Thanks for following up with more details. All of the things you mention here are fantastic ideas and show how committed you are to your profession and to doing an even better job for your students. Awesome – passing your ideas along! Anyone else want to add to this list?

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  21. lisa says:

    I think it is exremely disappointing that there is absolutely no mention of environmental education in the new plan. What kind of educational panel creates an education plan that doesn’t address the current state of our planet? Students are being expected to prepare for the future, but what kind of future will we have when many of them are becoming so disconnected from nature and the role we all play in protecting an ecosystem we all rely on? Please don’t tell me they cover that in science class because that is not enough. I teach high school students who don’t understand why we “can’t kill all the insects”. It is time the government recognizes the importance of environmental educational in our school systems.

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    • Moderator Angie says:

      Thanks for the comment Lisa. We agree that environmental education is important for learners of all ages. You’ve raised the point though, that some important areas (like environmental education) are not visible in the BC Education Plan but it is an important part of education in the future.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Teaching our students to respect and protect our environment is key to our planet’s future health and survival. That’s why we’ve identified environmental stewardship as one of the core competencies students will need to acquire.

      For more details please check out page 14 of our Personalized Learning in BC: Interactive Discussion Guide.

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  22. Linda Stromberg says:

    I think, in order for the changes that are being proposed to succeed, they should be implemented over time, from the lower grades and then progressing with those students through to the higher grades. I would also like to see more input and consultation with parents. I’m not aware of any consultation with parents in my community and many are concerned and want to be heard. I also believe for truly individualized learning to succeed there will need to be a flattening of the bureaucracy with more decision making at the school level in order that individualized learning can truly take place.
    Additionally it’s critical that public education be truly equitable for all B.C. students.

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    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Hi Linda – This discussion forum is one of the ways we’re reaching out to parents (and all others) across BC to share their thoughts and ideas with us on the BC Ed Plan. You know your kids better than anyone and should have a say in what they learn and how they learn it. With that in mind, we encourage you to keep sharing your opinions with us, and to invite your friends and neighbours to do the same. The more voices here the better!

      I’m also curious what you mean by flattening the bureaucracy. Are you suggesting that government needs to grant more autonomy to schools around personalized learning? If so, we hear you. Our vision is to help schools facilitate this new approach, not to prescribe exactly how it should be done. It’s a conversation amongst all of us about what PL is, how it can improve our kids’ learning experiences and future successes, and then how schools of their own accord can enable this type of teaching and learning.

      Thanks for your comments. It’s great that so many parents like yourself are passionate about their kids’ education and making it better in the future. It’s what we want too!

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  23. Monika Rose says:

    We need enough funding for all the programs that the government has asked teachers to cover. I don’t understand why more keeps being added to the curriculum when there is already too much to do with far too few resources. We need to pay SPECIAL attention to the students who have special needs… like new English learners, children with physical and neurological disabilities, children with mental health or behavioural challenges…etc.

    In a perfect world, we’d have a school system where EVERY school had enough money to fund the standard programs (Math, Language Arts…etc) plus the speciality programs like Art, Drama, Music…etc. That would mean enough text books and novels for everyone, enough computers for everyone to use, enough paper, paint and art supplies, safe playgrounds and plenty of gym equipment.

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  24. Ruth Vandenbor says:

    The plan states: “Public and independent schools, including speciality programs like traditional schools and academies, will continue to be options for parents and students” (BC’s Education Plan, p. 4).

    My response: Will independent schools increasingly take the students with higher SES (who usually have the parents with the highest education and economic status) while public schools hang onto the students from lower SES whose parents are least able to support them? Will the publicly educated students then be the ones who show up in ABE? Independent schools are not really an option for many students. Is this a two tier education system?

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    • Moderator Carrie says:

      Hi Ruth
      Our government is a strong advocate for public education, but it also respects the rights of parents to enrol their children in independent schools. These schools serve a diverse range of students, communities and interests, including First Nations schools, Montessori, Waldorf, university preparatory, faith-based schools, special education, and many others. Independent schools are not solely for wealthy families.

      Our ministry funds a lot of these schools but not all of them. For example, each student enrolled in a certified and funded independent school is currently funded at either the 50 percent level for Group 1 schools or 35 percent level for Group 2 schools. We do not provide funds for independent school capital expenditures.

      If you want more information about our independent school policies, such as what determines Group 1 or Group 2 status, please visit our website at http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/independentschools/bc_guide/group_rqrmnts.htm

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  25. Molly says:

    This is interesting and I’d like to share with you – Alberta’s education system the envy of the developed world ( Published by the National Citizens Coalition In Part) “Here is an interesting question: which province has the most progressive education in Canada? I mean in sheer numbers: highest test scores, highest parent satisfaction, those indicators which always should form the backbone of the meaning of progress. It’s not Ontario, or British Columbia, or Quebec, it is in fact Alberta. Where conservative values of choice and competition have been implemented with the context of state funded education. The OECD has openly acknowledged it as true, citing Alberta as a leading model of education reform the world over. Our Canadian ranking numbers are buoyed by the glowing success of Alberta and according to OECD rankings, Alberta emerges as the most successful education system in the English speaking world. Alberta is sitting on a secret of success thanks to a voucher system that was unlocked decades ago. The old model forces the student to follow the money, and is forced by law to attend that school no matter what the quality. The option of private schooling remains, but with little or no state support for tuition only the very rich can afford it. Alberta’s more effective approach is the voucher system that state financing for schools follows the student rather than vice versa. Parents and children can then choose which school they wish to attend. In an enlightened policy move, Albertan schools are encouraged to complete with one another for students. Public schools are looking for students and provide a multitude of programs available for students to choose, such as specialize in social sciences, trades, mathematics and a variety of other programs, which allows students and parents engage fully with their own education. This attitude of competitive excellence shouldn’t be unique to Alberta. This should be a model for Canadian school districts across the county. Children everywhere should have the opportunity to have the education they and their parents want. It is this simple model, of choice, for families that has made Alberta great. It is the same model that could make other provinces great as well.”

    I home school my child due to in my opinion substandard public school, with $8,000 per year, I could pay for a lot of top one on one tutoring and it is my right to have that choice, I have very high expectations for my child’s education and the only way I am assured of that is if I do it myself, and I want my portion of money to come with my child, that is my chose and my child’s right. Take away the monopoly and our province could have just as great of education system – I applaud Ministry of Education for this open forum!

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  26. Carly says:

    I like what was published in the Telegraph Sept 39 2011 – England. Parents will be given new powers to anonymously report schools for failing to give their children a decent education, it is revealed today – Parents will able to trigger inspections of schools if they fear a drop in teaching standards, behaviour, exam results and the quality of leadership. The change is being made as part of a major reform of schools in England to crackdown on under-performing institutions. Also, part of the reform, parents will be allowed to complete new on-line questionnaires on the district website to report fears about particular schools and teachers. They will only be required to submit email addresses – not full names or postal addresses. This watchdog said this could trigger a full inspection if large number of complaints are made. In my history if a parent is transparent in making a complaint about the teacher it does not in fact make it better, it gets worse for the student, it makes it worse. If you complain, then the child suffers, so we have all learned to keep our mouth shut!

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  27. a parent says:

    I think our system needs to remember education is about helping a human being to develop. In order to do that, we not only need to teach skills and concepts, but also provide diversity in experiences to aid neurological development. Sitting in front of a tablet, computer or smartphone doesn’t cut it. Anyone can learn how to use technology quickly and effectively. I, however, also want my children to learn how to think and interact with other people in a respectful, caring, thoughtful way. By working co-operatively with groups of people in a safe and mentally stimulating environment (which, by the way, can be had without technology too!!!), children gain communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills much more effectively than sitting in isolation at a computer, even if they may be communicating with someone else online.

    The values driving these changes – are they necessarily consistent with developing citizens whom are socially just, cognisant of the well being of others, themselves and our planet? How is education for sustainability being brought into this picture? What about the other geographical resources available in our province? Why not try to enhace some of those outdoor experiences?

    I am looking forward to seeing how this plan logistically comes about, keeping in mind the value of the human resources involved in public education and the value of our children and their potential for growth and development.

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    • Noble Kelly says:

      As an educator in BC for over 18 years, I agree with these comments! I run educationbeyondborders.org which works with educators in developing countries and we facilitate a peer-led teacher training model that empowers teachers with a learner-centred model to engage students and support learning. We need to look at promoting and modeling the behaviours that develop the skills and a love for learning to create solutions and opportunities by being able to apply the appropriate tools and information in a local and global context.

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  28. Ralph Olds says:

    Teaching the fundamentals very well.

    Honesty, on the part of the ministry.

    I have a relative who was a top student in his high school, and got the Governor General’s award for academics. When he got to UBC he found that he was way behind students from other schools. His school was telling him how well he was doing, when in fact he was not. They were lying to him.

    Transparency is the only road to improvement and greatness.

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  29. Devin Byrka says:

    I’ve been thinking about this question a lot, having just completed my Education degree at UBC, and having spent a lot of time reading about education, technology, history, and science. I think the facts that this site exists and that @bcedplan is on Twitter are great starts. The Ministry of Education is trying to join the 21st century, and is encouraging us to join the conversation. I hope that our voices are heard and genuinely considered.

    Whether it’s hype or not, the digital age (home to smartphones, Google, and ever-present Internet connections) is drastically different than even fifteen years ago. We’re undergoing a massive transition that parallels what happened when the printing press arrived on the scene over 500 years ago. The difference is that this transition is happening much faster, and as a result it’s hard to keep up with changing technologies and to make decisions about policies, curricula, and teaching/learning methods. There are so many things to consider in answering such a broad question – I don’t really know where to start.

    One thing I’d like to see is the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLO’s) organized visually in a more holistic approach which allows for overlap between subjects. Because sometimes biology is actually chemistry, physics is math, history is science, and language arts is… well, every “subject” is the study of language. Why do we have subjects segregated into lists of PLO’s in ancient PDF files? Perhaps I’m naive, but I think they’d be more usable if they were visually appealing and developed perhaps in some type of wiki format.

    Lastly (for now), on the topic of “The Future of Education” I think that this essay by Marshall McLuhan and George B. Leonard is quite a fascinating read. http://learningspaces.org/n/files/mcluhanfs.html

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  30. Aunt Leah's Place says:

    I work for a non profit organization that supports youth leaving government care. This demographic consistently fail in the education system. We work hard to promote education to youth in care, however we feel we face many practical and attitudinal challenges. I beleive that this demographic need to be a focus in the same way an ethnic minotiy group or students with disabilities would be. A collabrative approach with Education & the Ministry of Child & Family Development to provide an holistic ‘Children’s Service Model’ would be a good place to start.
    [link removed by moderator]

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    • Moderator Catherine says:

      Thank you for your comment Aunt Leah – The Ministry of Education does recognize the unique challenges and needs of youth in care. Please take a look at the BC Ministry of Education Children in Care webpage for more information. If you have any suggestions to enhance this work, please share them.

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  31. Lynn says:

    As a parent I’m interested in two very important subjects for the future of education. The first subject is a concern, which was mentioned in an earlier comment, I believe full time kindergarten, as it is currently implemented, will be very detrimental to our children if it remains as it is. I realize the government was looking for an answer to day care shortages and ways to help working parents but putting four year old children in a 1 to 22 situation is, in my opinion, going to be a terrible impact on our society. In day care at this age the ratio is 1 to 8. Putting children into school at a 1 to 22 ratio for a full day will have terrible emotional impacts as these children grow up. More teachers are required for these classrooms. The other subject which is related to this emotional side of children is the implementation of the MindUp program (http://www.thehawnfoundation.org/mindup) in schools. Many teachers have been trained in the program but I don’t believe they are implementing the ideas. These ideas seem critical to the future of learning and come from some of the best researchers at UBC. A few minutes a day can improve the mind for concentration, empathy, kindness and the ability to learn. Shouldn’t this work be a priority today?

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  32. Lois Bouchard says:

    We provide 12 years of free education to every child. Post-Secondary education of every kind cripples them with years of debt and no guarantee of employment. We need to find a way to resolve that: i.e. Could primary/secondary schooling be condensed; post secondary education integrated into the public school system somehow? Brilliant young Canadians are not getting the education this country needs in it’s populace because it’s just not affordable for so many. Thanks for this opportunity to express my thoughts, and I hope there will be serious explorations of this dilemma.

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    • Special Ed says:

      While I don’t agree that K-12 education should be condensed, I do agree that more should be done to support post secondary education. I think that there is a perfect opportunity for the use of technology in the post secondary environment. Much of the costs/debt associated with post secondary comes from living expenses related to being away from home in order to attend school. If more post secondary courses were offered online, that would help more students to live at home while attending post secondary. Another idea would be to have industry support more students through the co-op/apprenticeship model.

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  33. Gordon says:

    If anyone looks at the research, we can help kids when they are young, with adequate resources, or we can pay later. When you pay later you forfeit human and fiscal capital at the expense of government increased costs in lack of productivity, poverty, increased health costs and reduced incomes and taxes thereon. You increase crime, poor health and social services expenses. If you work in public schools, you struggle each day with children who lack social and readiness skills. Increased expectations for education need to have compensatory resources infused into the system. Health, Children & Families & Education ministries seem to work more as silos in separate jurisdictions when all these resources need to be holistically combined for student health, well being, academic competences and support of families.
    My other strong recommendation is to encourage and support a culture of expertise to be valued within the profession of teaching…not conforming to routines that we are prepared to do but demonstrating progress against a challenge. Shaping the system to stimulate this to happen could be done by combining much more than we do now of the “scholarship of practice” with the “practice of scholarship” This could perhaps be done by creating a provincial teaching research council similar to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Scholars and scientists apply to this council for grants to support their research. Similarly, teachers within a school could apply to the provincial teaching research council for operating expenses to inquire and apply certain instructional techniques or approaches keeping in mind there are diverse best practices connected to context and student needs. Teaching is a creative act. Based upon such research, which like NSERC, would be peer reviewed and published, we could acknowledge and recognize teacher expertise. In this way, provincial teacher networks based upon examination of practice and collaboration would provide support to more teachers. Often we work too much alone.

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  34. Monica says:

    Change can sometimes be good however I do believe that the current system needs to be revamped to keep up with the rest of the world. It is imperative that schools be adequately equipped with the resources to meet the needs of the learners. There is a growing demand in the schools for more staff. Unless this problem gets rectified, our efforts will result in minimal successes. We cannot be dismissive of all the old practices. Some of these practices still fare well in today’s society. Computers will not replace the personal assistance that students need in order to be well rounded individuals. I do believe that we need to have a more diverse, student centred technologically based, learning environment to meet the needs of all learners.

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    • Chrysstena says:

      Thank you for your comments Monica. Do you have any suggestions about how to provide the kind of learning environment you speak of that will enable the needs of all learners to be met?

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      • Monica says:

        Government cannot change the way in which teachers deliver the curriculum. Therefore, teachers must change the way in which they deliver the curriculum. They no longer teach to a homogenous group. Government can provide more funding and support for teachers and students . Teachers also need more opportunities for professional development.We need to appreciate and pay teachers so that the profession can attract the best and brightest.

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  35. Elizabeth says:

    I know most teachers are professionals and work hard to educate their students. I also know there is a minority of teachers that are not professionals, ranging from simply not caring about their students’s education and just keeping their job to keep their paycheque and pension, to actively harming their students emotionally/educationally. I want to feel confident that this minority is dealt with and removed from the public and private school system, so my child and all other children will not have their education compromised by such individuals, and we’re not paying these people when we could be paying quality teachers. I am hoping that the recent changes to the College of Teachers will take care of this.

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    • Special Ed says:

      To say that there are teachers who are “actively harming their students emotionally/educationally” is a very strongly worded statement. It sounds to me as though you and/or your child had a negative experience with a particular teacher. Do you feel it is fair for you extrapolate your experience to include the teaching profession as a whole?

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  36. Chuck Bloch says:

    I know the importance of Mentoring for early career teachers.
    Is there any thought at the Ministry level to providing targeted funds to support mentoring programs, to support the Mentoring Network already in place across lower mainland school districts, and even to making mentoring mandatory for new teachers as is the case in many jurisdictions in North America (with the support of both the Ministry and the BCTF)?

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    • Corey Vink says:

      Mentoring is going on in many districts, but the problem again is funding and the lack of it. Funding to education has declined substantially over the last 11 years, regardless of what the government publicity machine says. Any new plan cannot succeed if the funding is not there. Districts cannot funnel money to mentoring, an incredibly worthwhile endeavour, without taking from somewhere else.

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    • Special Ed says:

      I agree that a lack of targeted funding is the biggest barrier to a successful mentoring program.

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  37. Karen Daigle says:

    School scheduling still reflects the rural/farming lifestyle of Canadian families over 100 years ago. The whole school year and school days need to be revamped to reflect the reality of family/community needs of today. Additionally, many other nations, (eg. Australia, Japan, China, France, Germany) children go to school for more days per year and more hours per day than children in Canada do. Classroom sizes are smaller, their educations are broader and more subject areas are offered. Long summer breaks in our current system lead to learning losses, which require lengthy review of last school years material when children return to school (not very cost effective).

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    • Special Ed says:

      Karen, You seem to suggest that school days need to be revamped due to child care needs. Is that your contention? In addition, do you have any data to support your claims of learning loss over the break periods?

      Korea and Finland top the OECD’s latest PISA survey of reading literacy among 15-year olds, which for the first time tested students’ ability to manage digital information. The survey, based on two-hour tests of a half million students in more than 70 economies, also tested mathematics and science. The next strongest performances were from Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

      Funny that Australia, France, and Germany are not in the top, and that Canada beat out Japan in two of the three categories. Maybe what we’re already doing is working just fine.

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  38. Change is Good says:

    Our system needs to be diverse – it needs to be representative. We can’t build a successful education sector without representing the many different walks of life we have in BC.

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    • Special Ed says:

      Your post seems to imply that schools in B.C. do not do this already. What are some of the changes you’d like to see?

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  39. Josephine says:

    I would like to see that teachers actually get the education to teach. I do not think a general 4 year degree with either Science or Arts, with an additional year for the Teaching degree, prepares any teacher for actually teaching students. I think the teaching degree should be a separate 4 year program, with many many more practicums placed throughout the program. The university degree program for Teaching needs to be revamped.

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    • Corey Vink says:

      As a teacher, I feel well prepared by the University program I took. However, I would encourage the Ministry to provide more funding for professional development of teachers, and more preparation time to prepare lessons, and assess learning.

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    • Special Ed says:

      Josephine, what you are saying is that a high number of the teachers currently teaching in BC are not prepared for actually teaching students. That assertion flies in the face of the OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance, which places Canada’s education system in the top 5 in the world. I think the results bear out that teachers are actually very prepared to teach after receiving their relevant degrees.

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    • Kelownagurl says:

      Josephine, that is not true for elementary teachers. I had 2 years of Arts base then 3 years of teacher training which included 3 practicums. I think teachers are generally well prepared for teaching although we sometimes struggle with new govt led initiatives when we are provided with little or no inservice.

      ~ Barb, Teacher AND Parent

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    • A concerned citizen says:

      Interestingly, PISA scores in BC have declined since 2001. Now what happened in 2001? Oh right, the stripping of class size and composition language from collective agreements. If there is to be truly personalized learning in BC schools, than class sizes must be reduced!

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    • J.D. says:

      Josephine, secondary (subject specialist) teachers require adequate background (like a 4 yr degree) in their subject. This is not really arguable. Am I to take it that you are asserting that all teachers must have a doctorate-level amount of education? If teachers are to have a minimum of 8 yrs of university education I would love to see the government pony up the money to pay them equivalently to other professions requiring 8 yrs minimum.

      I would agree, however, with more practica integrated in prior study. If an English major knows they will be a teacher, they should have teaching opportunities throughout their undergraduate years.

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  40. Richard says:

    Current research in children points to a direct correlation between increased “screen time” and decreased physical, emotional and mental health. In the future, I think it will be important for teachers to consider curtailing or eliminating the use of technology in elementary school settings. By returning to proven teaching methods for teaching the basics of printing, reading and math, teachers would create sustainable futures and academic success for all children.

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    • Change is Good says:

      Richard – I really think this depends on what the “screen time” is actually used for. Technology is a significant enabler for people to be successful; therefore, it’s important that students learn these skills at a young age. However, in speaking to your point about physical, emotional, and mental health… a right balance needs to exist.

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      • Special Ed says:

        Please see the following: “Impact of media use on children and youth”

        http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/CP/pp03-01.htm

        Children should definitely NOT be learning to use these technologies at a young age.

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        • Change is Good says:

          Thank you for the article, however, it is for the most part irrelevant to my comment. A right balance of using technology versus not using technology in a learning environment needs to exist. This doesn’t mean that a child sits in front a computer or television all day long – it’s the constructive use of technology in learning that I am referring to. Parents, educators, and children themselves will play a significant role co-creating this environment.

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          • Special Ed says:

            Change is Good, I feel that the information referenced is highly relevant to your comment. Perhaps as children get older the negative effects of technology overuse can be mitigated by a more balanced approach as you suggest. However, technology overuse by young children is associated with aggression, developmental delay, obesity, ADHD, poor academic performance, sleep disorders, social isolation, mental health disorders, and use of psychotropic medication. The younger the child, the worse the effects seem to be. Remember the Baby Einstein DVD’s? We all know how that one turned out.
            http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html

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  41. Loren says:

    Watch ‘Waiting for Superman’ and you’ll see the change that needs to take place – the union is ruining public education – there is no accountability from the teachers right to the top of the food chain – it’s called the ‘dance of the lemons’ just move ineffective teachers to another school, give them to another class – does anyone realize why private and homeschooling is gaining every year because the people have higher expectations for their kids and are not settling for second best – waiting lists for private school are three years long in my community, they do a great job of educating because they are ACCOUNTABLE for their job. Glad to see our government finally seeing the problems and reforming education, the union has more power than the employers (ie taxpayers) this needs to change immediately – a good start just needs alot more!

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    • Moderator Virginia says:

      To learn more about “Waiting for Superman”, the movie that Loren is referencing, visit this site:

      http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/

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      • Corey Vink says:

        I would encourage people to have a look at what the union has fought for over the last several years – smaller class sizes, increased funding of public education and more support for special needs students and ask how is this ruining public education? As a teacher in the public school system, I hold myself accountable to my students and their parents each and everyday.

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    • Special Ed says:

      The public system is not “second best”, despite what the Fraser Institute and other elitist groups claim. Canada’s public system ranks in the top 5 in the world according to the OECD’s latest PISA survey (you can look it up yourself).

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    • Devon says:

      Hi Loren, please consider that “Waiting for Superman” is a documentary based on the USA’s education, NOT Canada’s. As the USA places 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math on the PISA (out of 34 countries)and Canada is in the top 5, I don’t see the relevance of the movie. In fact, attempting to emulate a country that is struggling in education seem unreasonable. For more information on the PISA, please go to http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/60/46619703.pdf

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    • Kelownagurl says:

      “Waiting for Superman” is about the American education system is it not? I don’t see how you can compare BC’s education system to the States. And I’m not clear on how you can say teachers are not accountable? We are accountable to our students and their parents all year long.

      Teachers are the education systems’ biggest advocates and BC scores higher than the US on nearly every assessment there is.

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      • Loren says:

        Yes ‘Waiting for Superman’ is a documentary made for the USA school system but many of the same problems arise – like ineffective teachers just being passed along and not being held accountable and protected by a union that puts the interest of teachers ahead of the children. As far as public schools being second rate: Quote – “A new edition of PISA in Focus (Programme for International Assessment ) on the benefits and disadvantages of privately run schools over public schools has just been published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Results from the PISA study indicate that privately managed schools, whether or not they are funded by public money, in general enjoy a more advantaged student enrolment, more resources, fewer teacher shortages and a better disciplinary climate that public school. Students who attend private schools tend to achieve higher scores in PISA international assessments. Students from private schools do better than those from public schools and the difference is larger than the OECD average. In Canada, private schools have a higher index of social, cultural and economic status and a higher index of disciplinary climate.” Rest my case!

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        • Devon says:

          Hi Loren, the problem is in what a more “advantaged student enrollment means.” This means that students that attend private schools come from higher social economic backgrounds (I.e. more advantaged). There is already substantial research showing the correlation between social economics and academic standing. In other words, if a human is well fed, has a stable home life and isn’t living in poverty, they do better in school. A public school system teaches all children, not just those from families who can afford annual tuition. Offering education to all children is our greatest endeavor as well as our most challenging. Are you suggesting another option than a public school system accessible to all children? If so, what would this look like, especially for children coming from a lower social economic background? Do you have any Canadian examples that we might look at to better understand?

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        • Special Ed says:

          I agree that private schools may have a higher index of “social status” for the parents who choose to send their children to one. Unfortunately, the rest of your post says it all: private schools “in general enjoy a more advantaged student enrolment, more resources, (and) fewer teacher shortages.

          Why do you suppose that is? Could it possibly be that there is a causal link between higher socioeconomic status and school achievement? Or possibly that many private schools have admission tests, and exclude many students who don’t make the cut? Or maybe that private schools enjoy per capita funding of up to $22,000 per student (St. Georges tuition of $14,000 plus government contribution of $4,000) while the public sector has to make due with only $8,000 per student and are therefore able to offer smaller class sizes? Perhaps these schools rely on “teaching to the test” in order to obtain high scores and offer a less rounded education to their students?

          Imagine what the public system could do with $22,000 per student!!! But that will never happen in today’s political climate and race toward privatization.

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        • Kelownagurl says:

          And…

          Private schools also have lower class size, and in general, fewer students with special needs (depending on the school of course).

          I rest MY case.

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        • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

          Here’s the link to the report Loren mentions above, if you’re interested in reading it.

          PISA: Private schools: Who benefits?

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        • Claude says:

          Quote form the PISA report:

          “after taking into account the socio-economic backgrounds of the students who attend (private) schools, the small performance difference between public and private school students that remains is associated with higher levels of autonomy over curricula and resources among private schools. in fact, PISA has found that when public schools are given similar levels of autonomy as private schools, and when public schools attract a similar student population as private schools,the private school advantage is no longer apparent”

          Clearly, the perceived performance gap between public and private schools has very little to do with the “union members not being held accountable”. The socioeconomic background/status of the students is by far the biggest factor in a school’s performance.

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    • CMiller says:

      Actually Loren, it is this government that is the main cause of the erosion to public education in this province, and not teachers that have ruined it. If anything, teachers are the ones keeping it afloat and trying to make it work for as many students as possible. Since 2002, they have increased class sizes, decreased support for special needs students, closed schools, decreased library time and the list goes on. With more students in classes, teachers have less time to spend with students. They make policy in terms of curriculum, and in the the new plan make reference that present curriculum doesn’t work for many students, stifling creativity and flexibility for teachers. It was an intentional plan so that down the road (which seems like November 2011) they can cry “the system does not work” and can implement a “new system” ….
      The current system needs change, but much of this plan is “window dressing”. Where will the government get the money to implement their plan when they keep saying there is no money? There is more “behind the scenes” change that is coming, and don’t be surprised when a proportion of this province’s education is privatized.

      I do hope the change to the College of Teachers weeds out those teachers that truly should not be teaching. However, there is a difference between professional standards determining whether a teacher is fit to teach or a parent/student determining whether a teacher is fit to teach or not.

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  42. Peter Mare says:

    If Commonwealth governments are not ready to reform English spelling (to make it a more phonemic and logical spelling system), they should provide adequate support to students trying to crack the code (or rather, crack the exceptions to the code)! If you think I am a nutbar, then Carnegie, Websters, Shaw, Twain,… and many others (current or not, authorities in their fields or not), supported in one way or another this initiative. Many languages in the world have had reforms since their inception, English being an exception (in the last 400 years), which is why English spelling is such a mess! This measure alone would improve by 2 years the ability of students of the whole Commonwealth. If one person can name one measure that would do this, post a comment. And, if you think it is impossible to do? Read above. Other countries have done it and will. (More info here: http://www.spellingsociety.org/)

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  43. Lindy says:

    I like the potential of the new conepts of personalized learning because I strongly believe that every student is an individual with individual learning needs. Further to this belief I also believe passionately that each and every student is a student with special needs! There are no students that are regular students! It would be unfortunate and short sighted if in the government’s quest to build and prommote a new education system for BC if they continue to identify students as having a “disability”. When we identify “disabilty” we perpetuate the practice of categorizing students into those who will succeed by gaining a Dogwood certificate at the end of their education program and those who get an Evergreen. We need one graduation certificate- I suggest a “Dogwood” for all accompanied by a transcript that lists the courses taken and passed either in an adapted or modified manner or in a regular manner. I am not naive enought to think that the new education pathway of personalized learning will “fix” all students now identified as having a special need but I do believe that this new pathway will allow teachers and students to review their competencies and skill sets and improve on those competencies through a personalized and supported educational program.The support will need to continue and how we determine support needs to be based less on the medical/deficit model and more on competencies that need to be further developed in the individual students. I also believe strongly that students with significant learning challenges can participate meaningfully in regular education programs that allow for personal choice. These students who may have a medical diagnosis of autism, or FASD or ADHD, or cerebral palsy, hearing concerns or visiion concerns etc, etc, can succeed in an education program that is more rigorous and skill based if the teacher is free to adapt the program to the student’s individual needs with the suppport of qualified specialists and appropriate technologies. It is important to me that our new personalized learning system have opportunities for every child no matter the learning challenge to succeed at their own pace and on a program that suits their individualize needs and interests. I envision an education system that bases support for all students on needs that are related to their individualized educational program plan. We will need to work together province wide to determine how to move away from our categorical idenification system.

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  44. Melanie says:

    I have a question for any front line educators or administrators regarding the issue of access to technology for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Is it possible for the ministry, the school districts, the schools and families to find a way to distribute this technology to all students?? Here are a few ideas:
    1. Can we focus the funding to secondary schools and implement a system where younger grades receive recycled equipment from older grades (because technology becomes outdated relatively quickly)
    2. Is there a way to receive technology at a lower cost than bringing it in in “dribs and drabs” (Our PAC is buying 1-2 Smartboards per year at a fairly high cost – I am concerned that the technology will be outdated by the time we get all of the boards in)
    3. One of the main concepts we teach younger children is to SHARE. Can’t there be a system in place to share tablets or technology?
    4. Can we keep schools open after hours so that children have access to techology outside of school hours, if they don’t have the technolgy at home.
    5. Can we add a small tax to tech equip at retail stores to go toward funding tech equip for kids who can’t afford it – or a donation program at the point of purchase.
    I just can’t help but think that this is a barrier that we CAN overcome. After all, we managed to find ways to provide text books to lower income kids.

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  45. Change is Good says:

    Technology is an enabler and a tool that supports learning… it’s like learning how to write. The use of technology is becoming a foundational skill – there are very few jobs that don’t require some use of technology. I believe that by integrating technology into learning students will be better prepared for success.

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    • Ken says:

      Oh, here we go again….

      Education, as an item of political leverage, is always being “reformed”. In fact, in education the only constant seems to be change, and many who work as administrators, consultants, ministry bureaucrats and others have based their entire careers on the popularity of education reform.

      This continual reform is either a great opportunity for students (“keeping up with all the great new ideas”) or a disaster, as funds keep being spent on reform rather than some degree of constant vision.

      In my experience, the latter is unfortunately the reality.

      Yes, the system does need to change, but those changing it need to know what changes to make. Many do not. And those should follow the “do no harm” policy of medicine.

      Consider the typical student in grade seven math who has but one teacher for all his subjects…what chance will he have to be properly instructed, never mind inspired, by his generalist teacher who neither loves nor knows math well?

      Many other countries (i.e. Austria, Germany, France, etc.) have seen the folly of such an approach, and have demonstrated that proper use of existing human resources can permit an elementary system where specialist teachers are the norm by grade four.

      Many teachers with expertise end up teaching as a generalist or worse, in a subject they neither love nor know. This is unfair to them, and more so to their students.

      This is pretty obvious, and not hard to fix, but who in BC realizes this, other than the poor students?

      A second example of common sense: the ministry has done a good job of establishing learning outcomes and criteria, but staff do not always follow these guidelines. How many schools meet, for example, any of the outcomes for music and art? The outcomes are ignored on the basis of “local choice”. A universal curriculum has been established (with opportunities for differentiation) but few professionals seem to have the time to read it (perhaps preparing tomorrow’s math lesson), never mind implement the content.

      It would be common sense to follow the suggested curriculum, and this could be another easy fix.

      Education is not that complicated….you need an environment where the student (and parents) have a sense of belonging, and staff who have subject expertise, and staff who have proper initial and ongoing teacher training.

      I suggest focusing on a few of these constants before stirring the pot yet again.

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  46. Rita says:

    If I have a problem with a teacher who do I have for support – NO ONE – the teacher on other hand has the administration, the school district, the teachers federation, the cupe union, the school trustees – where is my union?

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    • Moderator Melanie says:

      Hi Rita, thanks for your comment. We agree that students need to feel supported. What are some other ways we can help students feel supported?

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      • Rita says:

        If teachers were held to a higher standard and were accountable would help alot, if they had to worry about being evaluated by the students, would help, they know they can get away with bad behaviour and they are protected, they know nothing will ever happen to them, they can get away with humiliating and degrading in front of peers – if you go to the principle with a problem nothing is never done – there is never any support for the student. It’s always for the smartest, most athletic, most popular and best looking – schools are a culture of bullying, rudeness, fear and intimidation and the teacher sets the tone early on.

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        • Moderator Virginia says:

          We all want schools to be safe places for learning. What ideas do people have to ensure that our education system now and in the future provides for this?

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  47. Ron Sherman says:

    What is important for our education system in the future is courageous leadership and teachers who are willing to change. No matter how you look at it, or which sources you listen to, we cannot continue doing what we’ve done and be successful in the coming years. We need to move with purpose into the future, embracing technology, collaborative project-based approaches, personalization of learning, and a culture of child-centered education. All of these have been topics on the periphery, now we need to gather them all together and build a vision that will guide us for the next decade.

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    • JT says:

      Well said, Ron. I know your brother in the Ministry of Education, so you definitely know what you’re talking about!

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  48. Glenn Staunton says:

    It also occurs to me that in reforming education, there needs to be action at all levels – the student experience, the classroom and school, the Board And the Province. Experience is clear. It tells us that change will only occur where all levels of an organisation are involved. I don’t see this in the proposed ‘plan’ (or is this, seriously, a ‘blueprint’ ?)

    . For instance, if we want change at the school level, if we want parents to have an increased say, then how about we remove the Boards, increase the responsibility of the Principals, who together with an elected school council or board, have the task of achieving the provincial learning outcomes in all curriculum areas. Remove the distance and complexity and put the decision making much closer to the point of implementation. Look at the references. This has worked in other places, why can’t we develop our own BC Version?

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  49. Glenn Staunton says:

    The BC system needs a Ministry that is able to provide professional leadership to this exercise. Given that they use the limited technology of flash for the introduction to the plan, one could not be confident that they have a firm grasp of the latest developments in the ICT world or the impact on schools.

    Further, to not have a set of learning outcomes for ICT is a disgrace that further casts doubt on the ministry’s capability to plan, lead or implement a modern, systemic educational reform plan.

    Good luck BC!

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  50. Rola Priatel says:

    What we need is more respect for our teachers! A definite way to achieve this respect is by making their profession more accountable! It is unacceptable that their college and association (BCTF) are not independent entities! It is more unacceptable that on many of the committees within the college, especially the discipline committee, there is any representation of the union whatsoever! This is not the case in other respected professions! The College of Physicians, Pharmacists, Dentists, Law Society….do not have this very obvious conflict of interest! Once transparency and accountability are put in place, respect for the teaching profession will become more evident! then teachers will get more and will in turn give more…

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    • T- West says:

      Absolutely, we need to elevate the Teaching Profession.

      Teachers need to be paid more.
      Teachers need to be more accountable.
      Parents need more input into who would best teach their children.
      Classroom assignments need to be about more than just ratio’s of gender and disabilities.

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