In an article in the Toronto Star on September 23 two respected educators Dr. Andy Hargreaves and Dr. Michael Fullan commented that Canada’s education system, through PISA (an international student assessment), has consistently ranked in the top dozen countries. Apart from two countries, Canada is the highest performer among all English and French speaking nations.
As a province, students in Ontario consistently perform in the top half of Canada’s provinces. The HDSB consistently is in the top five of school boards in Ontario.
Although not an exact extrapolation, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the HDSB is one of the top academic performers in the world. Last year I was asked to be a keynote speaker at a conference in the U.K. to present how and why Halton achieved this in both academics and student well-being. The argument I presented was simple. It is because of the expertise and professionalism of our staff, but more specifically, our teachers and school administrators.
I write all this because I am asking parents/guardians to please trust our staff and have confidence they are trying their best to support your children.
We are obviously in unprecedented times and in six months our whole profession and delivery of education has radically changed. I really do understand and appreciate how difficult and challenging this is for families. As parents, we all want the best for our children and to support them as they try to navigate these difficult times. Anxiety is understandably high.
The teachers in the in-person classrooms are working hard to overcome the obstacles of these learning experiences and doing their best to support student learning. The exact same can be said for those in the virtual classrooms. Teachers want what you want for your children. For them to feel safe, to belong and to be successful.
What is not clear to me and I would suggest is not helpful to teachers or students, is for parents/guardians to be online with their children for entire virtual lessons. We have had some parents interrupt virtual classes to express an opinion to a teacher, and make comments in Facebook groups about the learning taking place in the virtual classroom. Some of the comments I have seen refer to students with foul language, identify a student with special needs and many others to criticize the teacher’s work and interactions with students, including their own.
I cannot see how this will improve the experience or learning for anyone. All it will do is demoralize teachers and send messages to students that to do so is acceptable.
I ask those parents/guardians that rather than spending the time to engage in this behaviour, let's make it constructive and respectful and contact the teacher if you have concerns. If still not satisfied, contact the Principal.
I can assure you, our staff is professional and dedicated to making a difference. They are doing their best in trying circumstances to support your children. We can only get better and learn to live with this pandemic if we do it together.
Director of Education
Halton District School Board