At Last – a Multigrade-Friendly(ish) Curriculum

When school re-opens this fall, teachers in BC will be at the helm, implementing a re-designed, new curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 9.  Its a time of excitement – and, yes, a bit of nervousness – as we prepare to set sail this September.  We are entering uncharted, but not untested waters; we will be working together to discover new ways of “doing” school, and the possibilities are inspiring.

But as I wade through the many  pages and  links, I am also wondering: how well will our new curriculum serve multigrade teachers and learners?  So often, our unique configurations – along with their strengths and needs – are not acknowledged.

So I was surprised to read this on the Ministry’s Curriculum Info page:

The focus on personalization and the flexible structure of the curriculum support the configuration of combined grade classrooms.  Classes of students of more than one grade provide opportunities for teachers to develop a mindset that sees all the students as a group of learners with a range of needs and interests. Multi-grade programs should find a comfortable fit with the curriculum.

And it gave me a glimmer of hope for three reasons:

  1. The existence of multigrade classrooms is acknowledged, not in an isolated section titled “Multigrades” but with other possible options under “Flexible Learning Environments”
  2. One of the benefits of multigrade teaching and learning is specifically mentioned
  3. Multigrade configurations are a good fit for the type of teaching and learning defined in the new curriculum; the inference is that they may even be advantageous.

Its not exactly an outright endorsement of multigrade  learning, but its the closest thing to it I have read in a Ministry document.  Perhaps we are getting closer to the day when multigrade education – whether it be school-wide, a few classrooms, or one subject area – will be considered a positive way to enhance learning.

The new curriculum will officially be launched this September, but in reality, many teachers have been navigating their way through these changes for a number of years. This shift from the “what” of teaching to the “who” of learning is fundamental, and now mandated.  In multigrade classrooms, that emphasis is present out of necessity, but was at odds with former curricula.  Will the new curriculum make our complex jobs easier?  Time will tell.  Will it make our teaching better?  It must.

As multigrade teachers, we are in a good place from which to continue our voyage of discovery.  Now, however, we have the advantage of company!






About Heather Johnson

Mutligrade teacher in BC, Canada. Am currently in a Masters program in Curriculum & Instruction through UVIC. Wife, mom, fair weather gardener, foul-weather knitter, ponder-er and pray-er, new to technology, but through it, am discovering a new way to learn and express myself.
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