Rarely has there been so much doubt, fear and uncertainty around the launch of a new school year. We can only guess at the immense challenges and difficult choices that confront all educators, parents and students as they attempt to navigate this temporary (or not) paradigm shift. To add context and perspective, we offer a range of brief articles and studies, from a survey of how each education system across Canada is responding, to teacher experiences to date, to the benefits of taking classrooms outdoors.

  • Tracking Canada’s education systems’ response to COVID-19People for Education’s COVID-Tracking website is organized by provincial school-opening plans, protocols, in-class/online learning and the availability of additional funding, through which it compares,“…differences in educational policy and approaches during the pandemic. It will provide an opportunity to understand more about the successes, challenges and evolution of each region’s response.”
  • National teacher survey reveals that all is not well in education during the time of COVIDFew would be surprised at this headline, which is based on a Canadian Teachers’ Federation survey done this summer. It “…provides a look into how the closure of school buildings and an emergency transition to distance and online learning have affected teachers and students in every province and territory. The responses, from nearly 18,000 teachers from coast to coast to coast, show how current solutions are potentially detrimental to health, safety, and learning.
  • How Did COVID-19 Change Your Teaching, for Better or Worse? See Teachers’ ResponsesFor a look at what teachers south of the border have learned to date about teaching under these conditions, the online publication,  EdWeek “…reached out to K-12 teachers across the country and asked them to answer this question: How has the shift to remote learning changed you as a teacher, for better or worse? Their responses range from heartening to hopeless, and everywhere in between.” 
  • What has the covid-19 crisis taught us about online teaching? – From Europe, a survey of the successes and failures with “synchronous” (online) higher education learning. It asked questions that touched upon: the advantages and disadvantages, providing a sense of community via online learning, tips for organizing students around lessons, security, motivation and more. Most of these could also possibly apply to secondary education.
  • What has the COVID-19 crisis taught us about strengthening education systems? – The dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Bridget Terry Long, answers questions about technological gaps in learning (“What we have learned, even as we’ve made this quick transition, is not to get bogged down with the technology, but to really think about pedagogy and engagement”); online learning as a silver lining for teacher education…the bar is actually fairly low to get started with the basics. Finally, she was asked about the future (There’s the optimistic and the pessimistic side. The more optimistic side is that everybody stuck at home allows us to think much more about personalized learning… On the more pessimistic side, this has pushed us to adapt very quickly, and whether it’s mindset, disposition, or just resources, not everyone has been able to make the switch successfully.)” 
  • Resources for K-12 staff teaching and working through the COVID-19 pandemic You’ve doubtless been inundated with suggestions for resources and are likely using them daily. If not, the EdCan network offers “A compilation of carefully curated external resources and original content to support K-12 staff who are navigating working from home and, most importantly, finding ways to support their well-being and staying connected to family, students, and colleagues.” EdCan notes that this list does not constitute an endorsement of these resources.
  • COVID-19 and schools reopening: Now is the time to embrace outdoor educationThe Conversation features an article by Queen’s University professor Jennifer Davis in which she argues the merits of outdoor education, starting with an historical look at outdoor classrooms one hundred years ago, during a tuberculosis pandemic. She suggests the benefits are many: “Moving classes outside deserves serious consideration not only for better ventilation, but also to introduce more public education devoted to learning on, from and with the land.”

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