Okanagan Skaha teachers divided over ministry requirements

The inclusion of every student in School District 67 is a common goal, but there’s no consensus over the best approach.

School District 67 Okanagan Skaha

School District 67 Okanagan Skaha

The inclusion of every student in School District 67 is a common goal, but there’s no consensus over the best approach.

Every school and school board in the province is required by the Ministry of Education to develop plans which will improve learning outcomes.

“It’s a lot of work for the teachers,” said Leslea Woodward, president of the Okanagan Skaha Teacher’s Union. “Teachers believe in inclusion and success for all children; there are so many benefits to it. The problem is, the special needs teacher is expected to go and teach with the regular teacher. Teachers aren’t against doing anything that’s to the benefit of kids, but they’re concerned when there’s not enough resources in place. There’s not enough special needs teachers; there’s not enough support systems in place for kids who do have special needs – and we need those supports in the classroom.”

Woodward said teachers are still divided over whether or not it’s the better way. The Okanagan-Skaha district has defined three areas where improvement can be made — literacy, numeracy and school completion. Every school under its umbrella must work to achieve at least one of those goals, but the district doesn’t micromanage – “individual schools are free to select how they go about pursing those goals,” said Don MacIntyre, director of education for SD67.

In the development of an improved approach, the district has come up with a new a framework for response when it’s time to intervene with a student.

“The framework of response to intervention is the idea that keeping as many kids in their general enrolment classroom as often as possible gives them the best opportunity for success, and that’s what we call inclusion,” MacIntyre said.

In decades past, he said, students with special needs were often removed from general enrolment classrooms and educated separately by a specialized teacher – whether periodically or regularly.

“But of course now we understand through significant research over time, is that wherever possible, it’s best to keep those kids included in general enrolment classrooms,” said MacIntyre.

Schools in SD67 will have to work towards that goal without any extra staff or funding, but new tools available will be accessible for school faculties.

“Part of my responsibility is to track the research and make sure that we’re engaging in evidence-based practice, so that we’re not just randomly trying things to see what’s going to result in improvements for kids,” said MacIntyre.

The approach that KVR Middle School has decided to take on is to send a learning support teacher into a general classroom, thereby giving the teacher assistance in support students with different needs.

“Some say OK great it’ll work, others say no we still need that individual one-on-one. The biggest concern is that there’s still not enough support services and teachers.”

“We’re trying to take advantage of the expertise that’s already resident in the district,” MacIntyre said. “So when we decide what that model of inclusion would look like, there are a number of authors that schools can access that have done research studies about what methodology has a tendency to work best. There are hundreds in any one area so I don’t get prescriptive with it. I let teachers know who the prominent authors are if they want to research in a particular area, and then they are free to choose how they want to pursue that.”

The 2014-2015 school year is the pilot year for the new approach being laid out by the district. Each school can experiment with different aspects of the School Improvement Plan this year, and its implementation will become mandatory by the start of next school year.

“We’re excited about the changes because it starts to take away some of the more superficial objective and gives students and teachers a chance to do what we call deeper learning —getting into more sophisticated types of learning such as critical thinking,” said MacIntyre.

He said the district’s focus is to require less memorization of details and fact and encourage more creative thinking and discussion, “which are the kind of skills that we know kids need when they leave the school system.”

 

Just Posted

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Rob and Anthony are the city’s new parking ambassadors who are sharing information with businesses and the public about the new pay parking. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Penticton hires team to inform people on city’s new pay parking system

The pair will spend at least a month helping businesses and residents navigate new pay parking system

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

Emergency crews responded to Highway 97 after a motorcycle incident. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Motorcyclist taken to hospital after collision on Highway 97

It is not known the extent of their injuries

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Most Read