And here we are again. It’s early March as I write this, at the tail end of the Omicron winter. We’ve been through sky-high case counts, more school closures, hospitals strained to the breaking point, and truck blockades, but maybe we are over the hump. Of course, we all thought that last spring. It’s beginning to feel like the never-ending story, right?
This pandemic is definitely a longer haul than we first realized. Back in spring 2020, “success” in education could reasonably have been defined as “just getting through the rest of the year.” Now, in our third disrupted year of schooling, things are more complicated. Some kids have missed a lot of school, especially during prolonged virtual learning. Many have become anxious and depressed. Some have experienced family hardships – or tragedies. For educators, the constantly shifting rules and guidelines, continual pivoting, worry over students who can’t access needed supports, and anxiety over their own personal safety at school all add up to a high risk of stress overload and exhaustion.
So how are we doing? How can we even tell how we are doing? What should we consider to be “success” for our students, both in these strange times and beyond? And what do we envision a “successful” school or school system to be?
We asked four researchers to tackle this question from the perspective of their respective specialties. Their feature articles address pandemic recovery (focused on learning and mental health), racial equity, and preparing kids to “live well” in the 21st century. But these articles are just one element of this conversation. I invite you to also listen to their interviews with our partner Stephen Hurley of voiceEd Radio (www.voiced.ca), and to join them in our live conversation later this spring, when our four contributors and webinar participants will have a chance to share their reflections and questions and connect research to practice.
We are learning a lot from the pandemic – about ourselves, about the weaknesses and cracks in our society, and about our strengths and priorities. The challenge will be to gather and process this learning, and then use it make things better.
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First published in Education Canada, March 2022