Curriculum Development for Most People Might Just be Like Making Sausages

Curriculum Development for Most People Might Just be Like Making Sausages

Superintendent of Schools – Last week the Board hosted their fall joint meeting with trustees and school councils. In addition to trustees, about 70 people were in attendance with a combination of division administrators, school administrators and school council representatives. The two-hour event included a casual pizza supper and information about resources for school council leaders and information about the ward boundary review, but the main focus was about the Alberta curriculum development currently underway.

Two Directors from Alberta Learning walked the group through a 75-minute presentation mostly focused on the “why” and the “how” of the curriculum development project. Looking around the room the group was nodding appropriately and when we had table talk opportunities there was plenty of discussion. We had bursts of questions/comments at certain points. When talking about the development process a couple key question were asked – “How are students being involved in this process that will impact them?” and “Have you talked to recent graduates about their thoughts about what they needed to learn?” These questions resonated with people and a conversation spun-off about when and how that could occur.

About 60 minutes through the presentation a parent made a comment that really hit home with me. The parent stated (very politely) that most of what had be presented did not really make any sense to her. Some other parents quickly vocalized similar sentiments. My mind raced through the previous 60 minutes as I tried to process her comment. I came to the realization that the talk was too much about the “why” and the “how” whereas parents in this room were more concerned about the “what” this means for their children. The talk had acronyms that parents did not know; it talked a lot about the technical components of the development process, which potentially really did not matter to parents; and a six-year timeline to build curriculum just does not make sense to many people. There was a hunger to talk about how and when the eventual curriculum would be implemented.

I walked away from the event with a reminder that we need to make sure that when talking to parents we avoid the edu-jargon that dominates our language. We consistently make assumptions about terminology that we use in our business is known to everyone. We need to focus on how whatever we are talking about impacts their children. Like everyone, we all want our kids to be successful, get what they need and have every opportunity available to them when they finished our system. We need to listen to what parents want for their children. People generally trust public education, but need to know that their kids will get what they need in the end. Maybe, for parents, curriculum development is like making sausages – we don’t need to know about how it is made, but just that it is good.

Greg

Here, There and Everywhere

Here, There and Everywhere

GregLuterbachwebSuperintendent of Schools – This past week I spent two days in Edmonton at the Alberta School Boards Association’s Fall Issues Forum. We had four of our trustees attending the forum where discussions were focused on big picture issues impacting schools and school boards. Topics included: Alberta’s political environment; communicating your messages in the modern era; legal changes impacting schools; child and youth advocate act review; joint commitment to action on First Nations, Metis and Inuit student success; curriculum development; and a number of other topics. Our Deputy Minister, Dr. Curtis Clarke, joined the assembly to share some highlights from the Ministry and answer questions from trustees. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about the Alberta political environment as it relates to public education.

I spent two other days last week touring 11 of our schools on the east side of the division. These were the beginning of my formal school tours along with the ward’s trustee. The visits are quick, but highlight that our schools are unique and are doing great things for our kids and communities. Whether it was a large high school or a smaller K-9 school, what was clearly evident is that staff care for kids; that people are dedicated to supporting student learning; that our student and staff come from diverse backgrounds; and that each school has programs and offerings to address their local needs. Some tours were led by students, while others were led by school administration. We visited many classrooms and chatted with both staff and students. We were treated extremely well and I want to thank all those involved. Over the upcoming weeks I’ll have the pleasure of visiting every school in RVS along with their ward trustee. Watch my Twitter feed for various highlights from the tours.

Greg