#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
You Don't Have to Reimagine School Right Now
In this blog post, A.J. Juliani, a district Director of Technology & Innovation, writes, "We aren't in a place to dream up ideas of what school could be, we are in the reality of a situation where all of our time and attention needs to be put into making schools work for the kids that are in them right now, using the tools, resources, and information we have right in front of us." He recommends schools consider the following:
- Social-emotional learning cannot be an afterthought.
- Relationships have always been the heartbeat of learning.
- The curriculum can't be a static document. It has to be adaptable, work in various learning environments, and serve all of our learners.
- Universal Design for Learning has to be at the core of our instructional work.
- The impact that funding has on schools and students.
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
Schools use art to help kids through trauma
In this Hechinger Report article, Javeria Salman writes about using art therapy, which uses drawing, painting and other art-based practices to allow students to express emotions while providing behavioural support and stress management. Salman says that while research on school-based art therapy is sparse, "some studies suggest that drawing while talking about distressing or traumatic experiences helps reduce children's feelings of anxiety, anger and fear, and reveals information about the sources of the trauma." Advocates say art therapy can help students make sense of and cope with events of the past year.
#3: Academic Program
Building a Sustainable Future—One Classroom at a Time
In this EdSurge article, Assistant Editor Hoa P. Nguyen says that teaching students about environmental science has many benefits, including an increased sense of civic engagement. Nguyen writes that students "are signaling interest and passion in areas of inquiry that overlap with the physical and biological sciences, social policy, and ethics." The article looks at four exemplary schools that have successfully integrated environmental education into their curriculum.
#4: School Leadership
Homeroom: I'm Concerned About Wokeness at My Child's School
In this feature in The Atlantic, educators and authors Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer take questions from readers about their childrens' education. This week a parent expresses concern that their child attends a private school that "appears to prioritize 'social justice' over academic excellence." In their thoughtful response, Freireich and Platzer stress that the school's push to weave racial literacy more deeply into its curriculum does not mean the school will forsake academic rigor, saying "if done right, anti-racist curricula will be challenging and edifying, giving children a meaningful, relevant education—not making your child feel bad, as you fear, but giving him the tools and knowledge to navigate a complex world."
#5: Human Resources
For mothers in the workplace, a year (and counting) like no other
As Mother's Day approaches, McKinsey looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged working mothers. According to their analysis, remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the mental well-being of mothers more so than fathers, and housework and caregiving activities have increased for working mothers. The article provides several actions that companies can continue, augment, or refine to help working mothers get back on track:
- Adjust childcare-related policies and programs.
- Take an intersectional approach.
- Reset norms around flexibility.
- Normalize the use of flexible programs.
- Remove bias in people processes.
#6: School & Community
5 steps for building and strengthening students' networks
The authors of this Christensen Institute blog post believe that "For schools to come back better, they must make relationships a strategic priority, as social connections are still too often left to chance and remain unequally distributed. Now is the time that the science of fostering positive, lasting, and diverse relationships becomes part of a bolder innovation agenda across K–12 and postsecondary education." To help, they have designed a new playbook that includes:
- Evidence-based insights on the benefits of students' networks.
- Strategies used in the field to build and measure students' relationships.
- Examples of real-world programs building students' connections.
- Guiding questions and activities to translate research to practice.
You will need to answer a few brief questions to access the playbook.
#7: Enrolment Management
Designing Customer Journeys for the Post-Pandemic World
In this Harvard Business Review article, Gene Cornfield, who leads Accenture's global cross-industry Chief Marketing Officer peer group, writes that as we emerge from the pandemic, "Spending loyalties will be cemented (or potentially lost to others) based on how well companies understand customers' new priorities that were forged by the degree of uncertainty, fear, strife, or loss each individual experienced." He offers three simple but critical factors that will determine whether your post-pandemic customer journeys will help amplify or impede business growth:
- Be customer-centric, not company-centric.
- Create flexible journeys based on need-points, not touchpoints.
- Measure (and optimize) customer journeys and experiences.
Your Board Needs a People Committee
Reshmi Paul is a partner and Jeff McLean is a principal at the leadership consulting firm ghSMART. Writing for Harvard Business Review, they say the board of directors can play a powerful role in creating a sustained talent advantage by creating a board-level "people committee." They write, "Your people committee is on the hook to ensure management delivers today's employee strategy and tomorrow's leadership bench. Think of it as an umbrella committee that helps you create an advantage by setting priorities, tracking progress, and driving accountability in the talent domain." The people committee should have three chartered responsibilities: 1) CEO succession, 2) Driving cultural accountability, and 3) Shaping the workforce of the future.
Statscan to spend $172-million over five years to improve how it captures data on race, gender, sexual orientation
In this Globe and Mail article, Robyn Doolittle details a new initiative by Canada's national statistics agency -- at a cost of $172-million over five years -- to improve the way it captures data on race, gender and sexual orientation. The country's Chief Statistician Anil Arora said that the plan is to expand existing research surveys with questions designed to paint a more complete picture of the population. Arora said, "Canadians have been saying: 'We want to see our diversity, as we see it in our society, reflected in our story – our statistics.' ... Better data, used responsibly, should lead to better outcomes."
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
Health Canada authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents
This CBC article reports on Health Canada's decision this week to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 12 and up. The article quotes Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatrician in Toronto, who said, "To have them vaccinated means the kids can go to school and it's going to be much safer. It takes a burden off for many families." Some key points from the article:
- None of the adolescents in the clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections.
- The vaccinated adolescents experienced roughly the same side effects seen in people ages 16 to 25.
- Up to 20% of the COVID-19 cases reported in Canada have been among people under 19.
- Providing COVID-19 vaccines to children will be an important step in reaching herd immunity.
Read the announcement from Health Canada here.
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
Zombie Ideas in Education
Bryan Goodwin is the lead author of the book, Learning that Sticks: A Brain-Based Model for K–12 Instructional Design and Delivery
. Writing for Educational Leadership, Goodwin looks at several "zombie ideas": dispelled education theories that keep returning to life, despite research showing they don't work, a few of which include:
Students have different learning styles.
Students learn best through unguided discovery.
Students don't need facts, just critical thinking skills.
#12: Boarding Program
Agents report growing demand for study in the US, Canada, and the UK in 2021
This ICEF Monitor article looks at Navitas Insights' research among agents in over 70 countries, which shows how quickly the attractiveness of study abroad destinations can change during COVID. Some key points:
- Canada and the UK continue to gain significant ground in terms of agents' reports of student interest.
- The US is up 39% in positive perceptions since the previous survey -- the strong negative sentiment about the US in 2020 among students "has dramatically fallen away" under President Biden.
- Interest in Australia and New Zealand is falling despite their low infection rates.
- Slow visa processing in Canada is likely dampening demand; if this doesn't improve, it could be a significant issue for Canadian educators.