This is an excerpt from the Elementary Family Life Education Curriculum Policy issued by the Institute for Catholic Education. This is Ontario’s official curriculum policy for teaching Family Life Education in our Elementary Catholic classrooms.
CARFLEO have added numbers in front of each separate responsibility to help teachers reflect on their practise using the reflection question at the end of this post.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION: Teachers
Teaching is key to student success. (1) Teachers are responsible for using appropriate and effective instructional strategies to help students achieve the family life education curriculum expectations, as well as appropriate methods for assessing and evaluating student learning. (2) Teachers bring enthusiasm, addressing individual students’ needs and ensuring high-quality learning opportunities for every student. The attitude with which teachers approach family life education is critical, as teachers are important role models for students.
Teaching family life education provides unique opportunities and challenges for teachers. …discussions related to health topics will be closely tied to students’ personal lives. (3) These factors allow teachers to learn about their students in different ways and also require that the learning is structured in a way that protects the self-respect and promotes the well-being of all students.
(4) Teachers should follow the principle of “first, do no harm” and ensure that the learning setting is always physically and emotionally safe. It is important to be aware of and carefully observe how students feel about various requirements of the program… It is also critical to student success to create an atmosphere in which students of all body shapes and sizes, abilities, gender identities and sexual orientations, and ethnocultural, racial, and religious backgrounds can feel accepted, comfortable, and free from harassment. (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised), p. 11)
In Ontario Catholic schools, the family life education curriculum attempts to reflect both the learning needs of students and the special roles of parents and teachers in family life education. (5) Classroom activities should be student-centred and attempt to draw upon each student’s unique life experience. (6)The teacher needs to ensure that there is a careful balance between inviting students to share their special perspective and respecting family privacy. Activities that involve the participation of the home should be a regular feature of the family life education program. These are intended to support and enhance communication within the family.
(7) As a part of good teaching practice, teachers should inform parents about what their children are learning and when various topics are to be addressed. Such practices allow parents to work in partnership with the school, providing opportunities for discussion and follow-up at home and for reinforcing the student’s learning in a family context. (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised), p. 11)
In Ontario Catholic schools, parent letters have been provided to educators to be sent home prior to the commencement of each strand in the family life education curriculum. These letters provide an overview of the content to be discussed in the particular strand and provide parents “Working together at home and at school” suggestions so that parents may support and extend opportunities for family life education. Parents and educators may access these letters on the ACBO website and, as such, the home, school and church provide a mutually supportive framework for young people’s education.
Learning in family life education can play a key role in shaping students’ views about life, relationships, healthy development, physical activity, and how they learn. Teachers can reinforce this learning in many different ways. (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised), p. 11)
(8) In Ontario Catholic schools, teachers can integrate family life education with aspects of learning from other areas of the curriculum. (9) They can acknowledge each student’s dignity by providing praise and encouragement to help students achieve their personal goals. They can remind students of the need to practise in order to improve skills and attitudes – appreciating their personal qualities and gifts, and those of others; demonstrating open and respectful communication; recognizing common sources of stress; recognizing that actions have consequences for ourselves and others; and practising a process for decision making – and they can provide students with opportunities to do these things within instructional time.
(10) By using all of these strategies, teachers can help students develop a positive attitude towards family life education, and support their understanding of the role of healthy active living concepts in their lives. (11) Teachers can help students see connections between what they learn and their ability to make important decisions related to various aspects of their health and well-being, and they can remind students of the importance of thinking carefully about decisions that could have a major impact on all parts of their lives – physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual.
(12) Teachers provide students with frequent opportunities to communicate, practise, and apply family life education concepts and, through regular and varied assessment, give them the specific, descriptive feedback they need in order to further develop and refine their learning. By assigning tasks that promote the development of critical and creative thinking skills, teachers also enable students to become thoughtful and effective communicators. Opportunities to relate knowledge and skills in family life education learning to wider contexts – across the curriculum, within the context of a healthy school, and in the world beyond the school – motivate students to learn and to become lifelong learners. (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised), p. 12)
(13) In Ontario Catholic schools, the family life education curriculum serves as an opportunity for students to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values identified by the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations – that each will be a discerning believer; an effective communicator; a reflective, creative and holistic thinker; a self-directed, responsible, lifelong learner; a collaborative contributor; a caring family member; and a responsible citizen.
(pages 6-8 of Elementary Family Life Education Curriculum Policy , 2012)
Reflection Question: Of all of the different responsibilities laid out for teaching Family Life Education, which three will be most difficult for you to meet? Why? How do you plan on overcoming these challenges?