As I sat with my pen poised, ready to take notes during our weekly check in with our Director and Senior Team, my mind was racing as to what our school board’s next steps were going to be in reaction to the Minister of Education’s announcement, late last Friday afternoon. Stephen Lecce took to the airwaves and shared that it was always the Ministry’s expectation that teachers were providing synchronous (in real time) learning opportunities. I found myself going back to mid-March, when the Ministry modeled the first Learn at Home learning experiences. At no time did the Ministry offer synchronous opportunities. As I recall their offering was a list of websites. I couldn’t help but wonder, if it was “always” an expectation that such synchronous learning was an expectation, then why didn’t the Ministry model how they wanted that to look when we first started down this path.
I had no doubt that this announcement placed our school board in a precarious position, as our educators had been provided with the flexibility and support to connect with families in a manner that met student and family needs. At no point had we been mandated to offer synchronous learning in the form of Google Meets or Teams meetings ~ although many educators had gravitated towards those platforms, if they made sense for their learners.
So, as Director Fisher boldly and confidently shared that Thames Valley’s definition of synchronous learning encompassed phone calls, emails, videos and active time on platforms you could sense a huge sense of relief on the part of the administrators who knew that they could continue to support our staff in doing the amazing job that they’re already doing.
Kudos to Director Fisher and the senior team. We are stronger as a system when we all feel supported in the work that we’re doing during these unique and challenging times.