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A new school year, a new curriculum: Edmonton schools prepare lesson plans

While the new school year doesn’t start until next week, Grade 4 teacher Meaghan McKinney is already back in the classroom.

On Tuesday, McKinney attended Edmonton Catholic Schools’ second annual summer summit.

The professional development event is geared toward giving teachers a chance to learn about implementing new curriculum.

“It’s a really great way to jump start the school year and kind of put my best foot forward and try to see what’s new, what should my focus be,” McKinney said.

She signed up for sessions about the new English language arts curriculum being brought in this fall for students in grades 4 through 6.

“I’m looking at morphology, breaking down words into many parts, looking at morphemes and graphemes and prefixes, suffixes, all that really nerdy language arts.”

This fall, teachers across Alberta will be delivering new science and French (first language and immersion) curriculums for students in kindergarten through Grade 3.

All K-6 students will be learning the new English language arts, mathematics and physical education curriculums. 

A woman with long blond hair smiles at the camera.
Meaghan McKinney is about to start her eighth year as a teacher. She teaches Grade 4 at Christ the King School in Edmonton. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Trisha Roffey, manager of elementary curriculum at Edmonton Catholic Schools, said attending the summit is optional.

Other supports and learning opportunities on the new curriculum will be offered to teachers throughout the year.

“I think there’s been a few hard years in education with COVID-19 and curriculum changes. But really, we all love what we do,” Roffey said.

“And so to have a buzz and a joyful building today with 300 people is just going to make it a great year.”

Edmonton Public Schools has had teachers attend professional learning sessions this spring and summer and will continue to offer that support throughout the year, the school division said in a statement.

Some teachers ‘feeling rushed’

Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said that when some elements of the new curriculum were implemented last year, he heard from teachers that the process had been too fast. The same timeline was repeated again this year.

“Again, teachers are saying not enough resources, not enough time for professional development … to make sure that they are getting a really good handle of what this new curriculum is asking them to do,” Schilling said. “So they’re feeling rushed.”

Schilling said the association has been calling on the government to slow the process down so teachers have more time to do that work.

The back of peoples heads in a classroom. Looking at a powerpoint presentation.
More than 300 teachers registered for the 2023 Edmonton Catholic Schools summer summit. (Travis Mcewan/CBC)

The province is investing $47 million to support curriculum implementation, Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said in a statement.

“Over 1,600 learning and teaching resources are designed and readily available online in English and French to support the implementation of K-6 curriculums,” the statement said.

The long-awaited and controversial social studies curriculum is not rolling out this year. Last month Nicolaides said he has plans to consult with teachers, Indigenous leaders and francophone representatives. 

The province has not given an implementation timeline yet, but Schilling said the teachers association is eager to work with them on it.

“Social studies — which has come under quite a bit of heat and crossfire — we really need to get that right for the sake of our students and their future.”

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