Secondary school teachers in Delta have been meeting regularly over the last several months to learn the curriculum for the new BC First Peoples and English First Peoples courses.
Earlier this year, the B.C. government announced that all B.C. secondary students will be required to complete Indigenous-focused coursework before they graduate, starting in the 2023-24 school year. The new graduation requirement will begin with students who last month completed Grade 10, and students who were in Grade 9 may be able to complete the requirement early.
“We are helping our educators gain the knowledge they need to teach the BC First Peoples and English First Peoples courses,” Heidi Wood, Indigenous education curriculum co-ordinator with the Delta School District, and Janet Thompson, adolescent learning co-ordinator (social studies/English focus), said in a press release.
They said the district has been able to provide schools with a rich selection of local and national resources, and has engaged educators in the process of preparing to teach the new curriculum by learning through experience.
“For example, an impactful way to learn about the length of time First Peoples have lived in B.C. is to build a beaded timeline, as it helps educators — and students — understand why we acknowledge traditional territory and enables them to reflect on this learning,” Wood and Thompson said. “We have also been diving into some sensitive topics, for example, by discussing Indigenous Peoples’ lived experiences.”
Seaquam Secondary teacher Kala Caldecott said preparing to teach the courses has been a “multi-faceted experience.”
“Modelling by non-Indigenous teacher-educators and direct guidance by Indigenous leaders has provided us with a rich experience beyond text and curriculum. It has involved us, first-hand, in various Indigenous ways of learning and knowing that has helped me prepare to lead my First Peoples classes in a more authentic and comprehensive way,” Caldecott said in a press release. “I am excited to implement these important courses. It is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Myles Hulme, a teacher at Burnsview Secondary, said the main takeaway from the experience for him was being shown how to engage as learners on a more human and down-to-earth level.
“These courses will not only leave students with a richer understanding of local peoples and history, but they will also foster a sense of how to build more respectful and productive relationships between diverse peoples and the places they live.”
An overview of the new Indigenous-focused graduation requirement is available online at www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/support/graduation/indigenous_grad_requirement_detailed_overview.pdf.