I think that Tim King said it as well as anyone in this blog post.
I just finished watching the Premier’s daily news conference and was just disgusted when he launched a personal attack on the President of OSSTF’s educational background. Apparently, our Premier is the only person who listens to the advice of doctors and leaders of teacher federations don’t. Despite his repeated claims of “all hands on deck” and “we’ll stop at nothing to make sure kids are safe”, you get a sense that these are the protestations of a gambler and his team who have already decided that there will be an acceptable number of losses.
From my perspective, both the government and the teacher federations have drawn their mark in the sand. Whose mark will be most accurate, of course, remains to be seen.
In the meantime, teachers in Ontario are doing their best to put together the best learning environment for what is about to happen. This varies from classroom to classroom and even the start date varies from district to district. There is no central uniform plan.
I have no doubt that teachers are doing the best that they can with what they’ve been given/assigned, although not everyone has their final teaching assignment yet! Some are sharing their planning on social media.
Heidi Siwak, a keynote speaker at a Bring IT, Together conference shared this.
My heart goes out to Heidi who is just trying to get the job done. I think that, if I was her, I’d have her Plant Department put wheels on her desk so that she can roll it out to the hallway along with a chair. Those half-day classes would be brutal should she decide to stand for the duration in the doorway. Hopefully, she has a data projector in the classroom to address the fact that students won’t be able to see her. I think that we’ve all had that one class that’s overpopulated like this and look forward to a student who isn’t present just for breathing space in the room. This fall, breathing space takes on a different meaning.
Just as the party in charge is using their political might to make this happen, the Liberal Party of Ontario is doing their best to have teachers and parents document what’s happening.
Even though the website has been up for only a day or so, people are populating it with their stories.
While these stories are sickening, and complemented with those on social media, I can’t help but wonder if teachers shouldn’t go one step further. If they have a blog, documenting their process and asking for recommendations from colleagues could result in decisions that would help the cause. If they don’t have a blog, what better time to start one? These pictures may be difficult to collate after the fact but, with your own blog, you are documenting your own progress.
Teachers have been quick to document learning spaces with carpeting, comfy seating, etc. in the past. As we now know, all that has been removed to provide as much social distancing as possible inside those four walls. What does that look like in your reality? I recently went past a day care facility where there normally is a whole fleet of tricycles for children to use. Now, they’re all gone. Their personal asphalt freeway is now just asphalt.
So, yeah, the politics are running deep in the province. And you know what? I hope that the Premier is right. I hope that all these hands that are on deck are making for a safe reality for the fall. I really do and I’ll bet every educator who reads this wants that to happen as well. I hope they return to a school where those screwed closed windows have been allowed to open. I hope that the repaired HVAC system does a good job of filtering. I hope that everyone finds those two metres of separation. Barring that, I hope that the one metre separation works. I hope that the cohorting in classrooms pans out. I hope that buses are able to keep families together and safe.
The province can only go so far in terms of directives and decrees. It will only be successful with the implementation by those professional educators who are running the show in the classrooms. That’s only part of the solution; bus drivers, caretakers, administrators, social workers, nurses, and families all have an important role to play in all this. The biggest players will be the teachers who will be teaching in a new and unfamiliar environment with all kinds of handcuffs applied.
Even if they have to do it from the doorway.