Alberta Minister of Education David Eggen announced Oct. 24 the release of lesson plans for teachers of kindergarten to Grade 9 across Alberta to use to teach Indigenous issues to their students.
“It is critical our students understand the history of residential schools, along with the histories and vibrant cultures of Indigenous communities and the role we all have to play in reconciliation,” Eggen said.
“It’s equally important teachers have the tools they need to feel empowered to teach this important material in the classroom as we work to prepare our students for success.”
The provincial government has developed lesson plans in English Language Arts, Fine Arts, Science and Social Studies.
According to Chelsea Jackson, Rocky View School’s (RVS) learning specialist, First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Diversity, the lesson plans will help keep the conversation going in classrooms across the division.
“It really is a starting off point for teachers who aren’t sure where to start with this work. Teachers are always looking for concrete resources so these can definitely benefit them,” she said. “It’s kind of one more tool in the toolkit our teachers can use.”
Jackson said she felt it was “imperative” the Province develop these new resources for teachers.
“A lesson plan is good and it’s something concrete. I always say, in order to do a good job at this, teachers need to educate themselves first,” she said.
“When they educate themselves first as teachers in their professional learning, then that can inform their teaching practice.”
According to Jackson, RVS has had a position like hers for a number of years, which works with teachers across the division.
“I’m there to help teachers implement some of these Indigenous perspectives in the classroom. I offer professional learning opportunities for teachers and I also work collaboratively with not only our division but other school divisions, as well,” she said.
Indigenous students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit make up approximately three per cent of the student population in RVS, according to Jackson.
“As we’ve heard in the news lately, we’re seeing more and more people self-identify and that’s probably due to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. People are starting to be proud of their Indigenous backgrounds,” she said.
“The difference this year, I think, is the teachers’ commitment to taking on this work and seeing that it’s important for all of us as Canadians, not just our Indigenous population.”