The end of a challenging school year is in sight. To all the teachers, EAs, support staff, principals, school superintendents, school board employees, and trustees who worked so hard to adapt to shifting conditions and requirements and keep students both safe and learning – thank you!
And I know, it’s not over yet. But we have reason to think that we will start the new school year, in most places, with a return to many of the pre-pandemic aspects of schooling. We’re not out of the woods, but we’re getting there.
So it’s time to take stock of what we’ve learned, and ask: How will things be different when we return to school in the fall? How can we deal with post-pandemic challenges? In “Learning Our Way Out of the Pandemic” (p. 23), Karen Mundy and Kelly Gallagher sum up global lessons on the impacts of school shutdowns on students and ways to alleviate them.
We also need to consider where we are aiming to land. Is the goal to return to the status quo, or is this the time to address the inequities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic, and strengthen our education system’s ability to prepare all students to thrive in the rapidly changing world that awaits them? There’s a reason this issue’s theme is “Back to Normal?” with a question mark. Not everyone is convinced that normal was all that great. In this issue, Christine Younghusband (p. 19) argues that now, more than ever, we need to intentionally make space for students to exercise agency in their education. Sarah Leung and her team (p. 26) share a model for inviting more meaningful parent participation in school life and decision-making, while two prominent Canadian education thinkers, Charles Pascal and Paul Bennett, present their differing visions for what our educational priorities should be in the coming school year (“Plotting a Post-Pandemic Course for Public Education” (p. 13).
As you read through the magazine, don’t overlook the valuable web-exclusive articles on our website! In this issue, Danielle Lapointe-McEwan and her colleagues discuss challenges and strategies for formative assessment of online or blended learning in “Navigating New Territory.” John Chan and Nicholas White present an effective program to support students with reading difficulties (“Overcoming Reading Deficits,”), while Susan Drake and Joanne Reid describe their “Story Model,” a way for students to broaden their understanding of an issue and then create their own vision for a positive future outcome.
What’s your vision of what school should be? What do we need to do to get there?
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First published in Education Canada, June 2021