Pondering changes to teacher training and standardsNovember 27, 2013
There’s been plenty of action this year at the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB), as the independent commissioner works to clear a backlog of discipline cases left over when the B.C. College of Teacher was disbanded.
But that flurry of activity hasn’t been duplicated at a sister organization, the B.C. Teachers’ Council (BCTC). The council was created in early 2012 – the same time as the TRB – with a mandate to set standards for teacher education and for conduct and competence of members.
But progress has been minimal.
While the College of Teachers did leave a list of written standards for the profession, they’ve been described as imprecise and vague. (This was one of the criticisms in the factfinder’s report that led to the college’s dissolution.)
The 16-member BCTC is reviewing those standards, but the work is slow. Some say the council, now almost two years old, is still trying to find its footing.
According to a report last month, the council has been asking education stakeholders* – including the BCCPAC – to respond to several questions, such as what does the education system need, and does teacher education meet the needs of modern K-12 classrooms.
The feedback produced three key themes:
– Standards need to be rigorous, measurable and attainable.
– Standards need to reflect the knowledge, skills and attributes of a 21st century educator.
– Professional development needs to be linked to the goals of a professional growth plan.
But these are still subject to debate.
TRB commissioner Bruce Preston is also pressing for action from the BCTC. In his annual report, he urged the council to improve teacher training on classroom management and student boundaries, and consider making on-going professional development a requirement for certification.
Possible changes to teacher training is also being discussed by the Education Ministry, the Association of B.C. Deans of Education (ABCDE), an SFU task force and a teenage researcher who is on contract with government to study the Finnish model.
Kris Magnusson, SFU education dean and ABCDE chairman, said the most passionate leadership is coming from the ministry – not the BCTC – but he expects any changes will “be more of an evolution than a revolution<”. That's because the nine B.C. universities that provide teacher training have been revising their programs to ensure graduates are prepared to deal with the types of K-12 reforms anticipated in the BC Education Plan, he said. But they have acted independently, with no provincial direction, and are learning from one another, he added.