Alberta Education’s new code of standards for teachers, principals and superintendents was given high marks by a pair of Central Alberta educators.
“I think it’s awesome that we’re putting standards vertically across the board, so all the way up to superintendents to administrators,” said David Martin, Notre Dame High School teacher and the president of the Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention taking place Thursday and Friday at Red Deer College.
“My only worry is it just another hoop we have to jump through.”
Martin said there is much support for ensuring there is competence at every level of the education system.
Education Minister David Eggen announced the overhaul of the code of standards earlier this month. Teacher quality standards are updated and new leadership excellence standards have been set for principals and superintendents.
The changes take effect on Sept.1 2019 and will affect about 50,000 teachers, principals and administrators.
Holy Family School principal Mike Cellini has taken a look at the new standards and approves.
“What’s nice about it is the standards are clear and easy for teachers and administrators to read and see where the benchmark is and how we can hit those,” he said.
He was also pleased to see a focus on Métis, Inuit and First Nations, which was not in the previous standards set 20 years ago.
“It brings in that Truth and Reconciliation piece and makes it part of our profession. So that’s important.”
The standards also talk about making connections between students, parents and educators.
“Building relationships with our students is a clear piece in there.
“It’s the first item, building relationships with children, their parents, the staff, which is a cornerstone of education.”
Cellini said most teachers have not had an opportunity to go through the standards, which take effect in September 2019.
“I think it’s a little early in the game to say what the rank and file think,” he said.
Martin said the convention has been attended by more than 2,200 Central Alberta teachers.
Among key themes is teaching in an increasingly diverse province and how to manage in the digital age, when youngsters are more distracted than ever by their electronics.
Martin said diversity is an important topic right now.
“We’re seeing in Alberta huge changes,” he said, pointing to the increasing number of immigrants choosing the province as their home.
“The diversity in the classrooms is going through the roof.”
Diversity is not only about different ethnic backgrounds. Students also come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and different starting points in terms of education.
Teachers also learned about the challenges of teaching in our digital age, where youngsters are often glued to their smart phones or iPads.
“The iPad may not be inherently wrong but if you’re giving the kid the iPad instead of spending time with them, playing with your father or speaking with them there’s the issue.
“The issue is what are you replacing with these devices.”
Dr. Michael Rich, of the Harvard Medical School, spoke to teachers on Thursday about the latest research on technology and children. Rich is an expert on the health-based impacts of youth technology use.