The New Reality Sets In

Schools all over the world are learning what it means to try and offer education at a distance. While some schools have grown up with this model and become experts at it – like Australia's School of the Air, Ontario’s Virtual High School and many of the faculties of education across Ontario who provide additional qualifications options for teachers – for most, it has been a steep learning curve. Parents are also coming to terms with what it was to have a school for their children to go to each day and just how much more than academics those schools provide. Children are realizing how important the social and emotional aspects of their school community are and what it is to be without. In these times, we have lost something, and as anyone who has grieved knows, you never really know what you have lost until it’s gone. And as a school, we are trying our best to mitigate some of these losses and keep to what is familiar.

Dr. Brene Brown’s podcast this week was with an expert in grief, David Kessler. He recognizes that what children are experiencing right now is probably the greatest loss and, therefore, the greatest grief of their lives. This is why we all need to be kind and patient enough with ourselves and each other to help us all get through this.

After a week of making the switch to e-learning, the realization that tech cannot simply be used to do what we would do in a classroom has set in. Some learning communities are seeing the signs of burn-out, communication fatigue and non-participation. Meets, office hours and one-on-ones are the new reality of providing the camaraderie students and teachers need and also providing the care, instruction and feedback they are accustomed to. Some parents want more work for their children to do, some want less so that their newly found family time isn’t eroded by school work. Our constant reflection and revision of delivery reflect multiple perspectives.

As we all learn this new normal, we ask for your support and feedback; you know your new context and how you and your child are managing. Let’s recognize that baking together is as akin to math class, an hour of working in the garden is like the outdoor classroom, and reading the news and talking about its source and how we can check its validity is similar to what would happen in an English class.

With almost every news media source running the daily COVID-19 stats like a ball game or the stock market, we will need to help our children understand how many people are recovering from this and share some of the positive stories that are to be found; heroes can be found in our hospitals, grocery stores, delivery services, neighbourhoods and communities, and in partnerships where parents, teachers and children all over the world are united by this experience.

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