Educational change and social and emotional learning: Understanding how secondary English teachers have engaged with BC’s core competencies framework




Storey, Meaghan M. O.

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Schools across Canada have increased focus on social emotional learning (SEL) to facilitate students’ development of vital intra- and interpersonal skills that contribute to their mental health, self-awareness, social and academic engagement. British Columbia was situated at the leading edge of curriculum-based SEL with the introduction of the core competencies framework in their wide-scale curriculum reforms initiated in 2015. The framework tasked educators with fostering students’ growth in communication, collaboration, critical and reflective thinking, creative thinking, personal awareness and responsibility, social awareness and responsibility, and positive personal and cultural identity. However, educational change is a complex process in which teachers play a pivotal role. The broad and flexible scope of BC’s reforms positioned educators as responsible for interpreting the framework with limited guidance for implementation. Developing an understanding of how teachers have conceptualized and approached the core competencies is essential to realizing lasting and meaningful change in this critical area. This multicase study examines how five secondary English teachers engaged with the framework, and their perspectives and experiences with implementation. Within-case and cross-case analysis involved triangulating data from qualitative questionnaires, individual interviews, and a group interview. Findings indicate that teachers perceived the framework as aligned with their beliefs and roles but had limited opportunity for shared meaning-making and professional learning. Teachers also viewed the core competencies as expanding the skills that are valued in the curriculum. In practice, teachers differed in their approach to implementation and in their beliefs about how learning occurs in these domains. Adopting the core competencies into class language and assessment was considered essential, as was contextualized and focused instruction. Discussion centered on the need for capacity building and shared sensemaking amongst teachers, as well as the need for additional clarity and guidance from the BC Ministry of Education.



Social and emotional learning, English language arts, Educational Change, Core competencies, SEL, Curriculum