Teaching and learning in the times of COVID

This morning, I read and shared this story.

I had an idea about how to turn that into a blog post but there were people who read what I shared and did the heavy lifting for me.

It generated a couple of interesting replies.

I totally get Fiona’s response and it might have been tempered from her original reaction to the story.

Lisa Corbett was the voice of reason.

As Amanda Potts notes, a simple suggestion isn’t always possible.

Going about regular life takes me by a couple different schools, including my old secondary school. And guess what? I saw classes outside at them all. But I’d be lying if I said that every class was out there.

It’s difficult to believe that the classes outside were the result of a missive from the Ministry of Education. Even as an elementary school student myself, I can remember a number of times we had our classes outside. Some, like Physical Education are a no-brainer. But I can recall inspiring lessons from teachers outside under a tree. It was almost like they’d been freed from the shackles of the classroom and more opportunities to do exciting and applied things was possible. Or maybe it was just a chance to get out of a stiffling, humid room.

If I had to bet, many of these outdoor classes would have happened anyway.

In the time of COVID, the outdoors offers another level of safety when done properly.

Of course, this option isn’t available to all classes although you might get that idea from the title of the article. I’m thinking particularly of classes that require the use of equipment that can’t be moved. I would have been one of them in a computer science classroom where access to networked computers kind of puts a limit on things! At the secondary school panel, as we know, not all students are taking all classes in the physical building.

I have to smile when I think of all the time and effort that was put in to keeping the wireless signal inside the school.

But, to Fiona’s response, schools are not living in the good old days where everyone sits in one seat all facing the same direction looking at the teacher dispersing learning from a podium.

As I see it, if a classroom teacher is willing to and it makes sense to shake up the classroom a bit, they’ll be doing it without some sort of mandate. It’s just the right thing to do for good teaching and learning, when it fits.

Now, maybe if a different look about EQAO testing was in the discussion, it could get exciting. Quite frankly, unless that some along, it’s time to move along, there’s nothing to see here.

6 thoughts on “Teaching and learning in the times of COVID

  1. Oh Doug! This post speaks to something that matters so much to me. I’m really trying to think of how to formulate this reply, and my mind is spinning with ideas. I think just I might sit on this for a bit. It will either lead to another comment or a blog post of my own. I’m commenting to remind myself to do one of the two. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s no need for teachers to take their classes outside unless a lesson requires it. Ontario schools are safe, and have been safe for many months. The minister of education has been saying so for a long time. There’s no way he would have made students and teachers cram themselves into classrooms during a pandemic if it were unsafe. If his schools were not safe and taking lessons outdoors was necessary, he would have required it during the cold months of the Canadian winter, but he did not. Suddenly requiring it when the weather becomes nice clearly makes no sense unless it supports the needs of the lesson.


  3. Doug, I love teaching outdoors, but there are a number of challenges related to this. One is that weather in Northern Ontario is often conducive to play outside in the winter, but not to children sitting for any period of time (too cold when they aren’t moving!) We get outside as much as we can, but there are supervision ratios that can get challenging as well – I can’t walk outside the school fence without at least one other adult and we aren’t allowed to have any parent volunteers in the school this year. Even in a “regular” year it can be hard to get a parent (or grandparent, auntie, etc.) to come on a regular basis. Five years ago my school started building an outdoor classroom. It still isn’t finished (no roof) and this is only partly because of Covid restrictions that mean the high school tech class can’t come over to finish building it.

    I wonder, going forward, what Lecce and the Minster of Ed might do to address the difficulty in getting outside for learning. Would they approve enhancements to the WiFi so high school teachers like Amanda could easily take a class out to work on the lawn? Would they pay for outdoor gardens and classrooms and equipment or will parent councils continue to do the fundraising for these (as has happened at my school)?

    My class can take clipboards outside to work if we want, and I try to have outdoor stuff be all about exploration and using what we find in nature. Now that the weather is nice we have about a month to get outside as much as we can before the black flies start harassing us. I’m looking forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

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