New teaching standard strengthens Truth and Reconciliation in the classroom

Indigenous students in British Columbia will be better supported and be more connected in school with the addition of a new professional standard that requires teachers to commit to truth, reconciliation and healing.

“Education is key to a true and lasting reconciliation, and educators are essential role models for change,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We want to ensure students have the opportunity to learn Indigenous perspectives throughout all subjects in their school career. That’s why it’s imperative our teachers commit to the highest standards when it comes to respecting and valuing the role of Indigenous peoples.”

Under the new standard, all educators are expected to commit to respect and value the history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada, and to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and perspectives, integrating these worldviews into the classroom. Teachers will also bring an understanding of how all people are connected to family, community and the natural world.

This is the first time the Professional Standards for B.C. Educators – set by the British Columbia Teachers’ Council (BCTC) – have included a commitment toward reconciliation. The standards lay out the responsibilities and expectations for educators who hold certificates.  

“Seven of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action are focused on education,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “They highlight how foundational education is to making reconciliation part of the fabric of our society. This new teaching certification means that current and future generations of school children will come through our education system with a firm grounding on why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is so important to the future of our province.”  

In the fall, B.C. will introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – mandating all provincial laws and policies be in harmony with the declaration. The Province has also committed to complete all the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and is leading the way as the only jurisdiction in the country to have an agreement that ensures all First Nations students have equity in education, regardless of where they live. The B.C. Tripartite Education Agreement partnership brings $100 million in federal funding over the next five years.

Quotes:

Jim Iker, chair, British Columbia Teachers’ Council –

“As chair of the BCTC, I was honoured to be part of a collaborative consultation process with the partners and certificate holders, that enabled us to revise the professional standards, which includes a new Standard 9. This standard honours the histories and cultures of our First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. It commits our educators in showing the way toward truth, reconciliation and healing as well as integrating First Nation, Métis and Inuit worldviews and perspectives, ways of knowing and being into our classroom learning environments. The council is proud to have Standard 9 for our educators, students and education system. We hope that educators will be provided with additional support and resources to further implement Standard 9 in an authentic and meaningful way.” 

Rebecca Blair, past chair, British Columbia Teachers’ Council –

“As past chair of the BCTC, I am very proud of the collaborative process we have used to develop the revised professional standards. Standard 9 is a significant addition that recognizes the important contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis to our society. I appreciate the shared commitment of the stakeholders to support the implementation of these standards.”

Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee –

“The new standard sends a strong and positive message that every educator has an important role to play in creating an education system that responds to the needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners, families and communities. This is part of a larger focus on creating systemic change in B.C. public education system that will support improved outcomes for First Nations learners and advance reconciliation.”

Glen Hansman, president, BC Teachers’ Federation –

“The BC Teachers’ Federation is committed to doing its part to act on reconciliation. That includes addressing overt racism in our schools and the systemic barriers that Indigenous students face, including the racism of low expectations. I want to thank the BC Teachers’ Council for adopting the new ninth standard. The BCTF will continue to work with the council, government and the entire education community to ensure its implementation moves forward proactively and thoughtfully across the entire education system. It is crucial that B.C. teachers, regardless of where they work in B.C., have accurate and culturally responsive teaching resources, as well as support to meaningfully incorporate Indigenous content and worldviews into all work in K-12. That includes ongoing opportunities for anti-racism training and professional development about the intergenerational effects of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop.”

Quick Facts:

The Professional Standards for BC Educators were formerly known as Standards for the Education, Competence and Professional Conduct of Educators in British Columbia, and they were in effect since 2008.
The standards extend to about 72,000 educators who hold the B.C. certificate of qualification.
Eight standards were updated to reflect the new B.C. curriculum, and the new ninth standard sets out Reconciliation commitments.
The standards also apply to both out-of-province applicants for certification and to teacher candidates enrolled in approved teacher education programs in B.C.’s post-secondary institutions.
The BCTC also sets teacher education approval standards for B.C. post-secondary institutions offering programs in teacher education, including the certification standards that applicants must meet so they can be licensed.
In addition to changes in the curriculum, students will also have 17 Indigenous languages available to study, with six more on the way. 
To increase opportunities for educators’ professional development, government is providing $3.1 million toward Indigenous teacher training. Beginning 2019-20, one non-instructional day will be designated to focus on Indigenous student achievement.

Learn More:

Read more about standards for B.C. educators: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/standards-for-educators

Frequently asked questions about standards for B.C. educators:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/teach/teacher-regulation/standards-for-educators/edu_standards_faq.pdf

Find out more about the BCTEA: http://www.fnesc.ca/bctea/

Find out more about the new curriculum: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019EDUC0053-001275