Creating connections between K-12 and post-secondary instructors

A quick look at some of the discussions hosted by local institutions to connect K-12 faculty with post-secondary academic leaders, aimed at improving the learning experience for students transitioning from K-12 to post-secondary education.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

There’s been a ton of commentary throughout the learning community of British Columbia regarding the changes to the K-12 curriculum, and even more so with the full transition for Grades 11 and 12 scheduled for the 2019/2020 school year. To help facilitate discussion between K-12 educators and post-secondary academic leaders, BCcampus and the British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC) partnered to bring together teachers and faculty members from both sectors and enable genuine connections between universities and local school districts.

Last fall, BCcampus provided funding to the BCTLC, who invited applicants from B.C. institutions to apply for the funds to support costs such as catering, transportation, honoraria, or materials for campus-supported K-12 Connection projects.

“We saw this as an excellent opportunity to support the work being done by B.C. higher education colleagues to improve the learning experience for students as they transition from K-12 to their first post-secondary education experience,” said Tracy Roberts, Senior Manager, Learning + Teaching, at BCcampus. “We were happy to contribute some funds to support this and appreciate the work of BCTLC co-Chairs Laura MacKay and Grant Gregson to help make it happen.”

The successful applicants were:

Dr. Maureen Wideman at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) for the Spotlight on Learning event in October, which saw 150 participants from UFV and five district high schools.

“We planned our event to be multi-faceted, with the morning dedicated to dispelling rumours and assuaging fears about the new curriculum,” said Dr. Wideman. “Pat Duncan, the Superintendent of Learning in the Ministry of Education, shared facts and helped create a better understanding of what the impact of the changes would mean to high schools and universities. Dave deWit and several teachers shared their observations, followed by a student panel of high school and university students speaking to the ways that work best for them to learn. The students were clear that they preferred the engaged learning approach, where they could apply what they were learning in a real-world environment.

For the afternoon, we assembled in discipline clusters – math, sciences, career counsellors, etc. – to discuss the new curriculum and examine how it looks for each discipline. The buzz in the room was phenomenal, and we could see connections being made and plans for the conversations to continue beyond the one-day event.

At UFV, we’re not waiting to see what happens – we’re partnering with the school district to develop programs now, and moving ahead with consultations with K-12 instructors so our faculty will be ready for their students when they come through in a few years.”

Dr. Cissie Fu and Heather Fitzgerald at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, with their unconference concept of Learning to unlearn: core competency development among and across primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators in B.C. through the arts. This unconference was held on March 9, 2019, and attended by partners from many of the school boards in Metro Vancouver, including Vancouver, Langley, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, and Surrey, as well as Emily Carr faculty and staff. In total, 30 participants engaged in hands-on liberating structures exercises and activities for the full-day event.

“Our goal is to unlearn some of the patterns of behaviour and biases that enforce and undermine authority, legitimacy, and validation in classrooms,” said Dr. Fu, “to enable the development of new core competencies in our respective teaching and learning environments, and deepen our collective knowledge of – and strategies for – the fundamental and holistic pedagogical transformation at the core of the new B.C. K-12 curriculum.”

Heather Fitzgerald shared, “the notes and documentation from the unconference will be transcribed and organized after the event and made available through a microsite as well as through Emily Carr’s teaching and learning blog, with further information communicated to participants via email and social media. BCTLC members will be apprised of project developments and the public launch of the project website via the BCTLC listserv.”

Dr. Nancy Norman and Dr. David Burns at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) have planned a collaborative event, Building Connections Through the New K-12 Graduation Portfolio: Student Capstone Experiences, to invite graduating students from KPU’s local school districts to share their capstone portfolios with KPU faculty, followed by a panel discussion with K-12 high school teachers and KPU faculty.

In their application, Dr. Norman and Dr. Burns explained their plans to create a collaborative event with five graduating students from the Delta School District who will be invited to a presentation forum at the KPU Surrey campus to present examples of their capstone portfolio projects, followed by a panel discussion with K-12 high school teachers and KPU faculty. The discussion will conclude with a facilitated question and dialogue period with the audience, promoting ongoing connections and collaborations between KPU and K-12 schools in their community.

Notable quote:

“We anticipate that our event will foster and sustain collaborative relationships among educators across K-12, measurable by willingness or enthusiasm to continue gathering and working together beyond the event” – Dr. Cissie Fu, Dean of Faculty of Culture + Community, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

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