To say that the school year 2019-2020 was unique would be a gross understatement. If it’s not the “worst year ever” in education, it has to be at least in the top two.
It was a school year fraught with difficulties between the Ministry of Education and Teacher Federations. As we know, job actions moved from work to rule to much more disruptive ways to let the Ministry know that collective agreements needed to be put in place.
Then come the March Break like no other. It started as a two week extension and then that extension was extended to the closing of school buildings for the balance of the year. Education didn’t stop; education workers were expected to move their teaching online. The list of challenges there is long with a great deal of advice and insults thrown from people who had never been in a classroom since they graduated school.
Locked into their homes, there was no alternative but to find ways to make it work. And make it work, they did. But it’s still not the same. We all know that.
In schools, the spring of the year is a reminder of how social schools are. I started a list of things that didn’t happen or happened differently …
- basketball tournaments
- baseball tournaments
- spring concerts
- parent/teacher nights
- track and field events
- school year end trips
- recesses with playground activities
- Friday afternoon staff get togethers
- cancelled or modified professional learning events
- end of year parties and goodbyes
- and it could go on endlessly
Perhaps the saddest event lies in the hands of those educators who will call it a career at the end of this week and move on to something else. Imagine not being able to say goodbye to colleagues and enjoy a retirement party to mark this momentous event.
The bright spot is that they won’t have to worry about a new Mathematics Curriculum for the fall.
Despite all this, education workers at all levels have ensured that education has continued with the best intentions for students in mind. They worry about covering the curriculum and support for student well being – physical and emotional. They’ve made the end of the year special for students; I know of people who are driving to each student’s house to drop off year-end gifts and teams are delivering lawn signs for graduates.
This didn’t have to happen. Education workers could have gone through the motions and pointed their fingers at COVID as an excuse. I suspect many people would understand. But, education workers make a difference; they’ve always made a difference. They didn’t want to make this year any different.
So, I sit here and express my admiration for all that they’ve done to make it work. Enjoy a well earned summer break.