Education through the pandemic

Finding a way to continue education through the pandemic offers numerous challenges, but it also has pluses.

The staff of St. Timothy High School is among those finding some pretty creative solutions to maintaining a connection with their students.

It has involved many extra hours of preparation, and the need to develop new skill sets practically overnight.

Besides becoming accustomed to communication tools, like Zoom, they’re having to script and video their lessons in a palatable manner, while inspiring students to take on some new challenges. 

They've also prepared paper packages for those who don't have access to the technology or for households where several people need to access computers and the internet concurrently.

St. Timothy principal Rhonda Wolske says she’s impressed with how the staff has collaborated to find best practices to meet the needs of each of their students.

“When you consider you have a staff who are at various points in comfortability with technology, they've done a really phenomenal job,” says Wolske.

"Fantastic professional growth has occurred. It wasn't necessarily at the forefront of their growth plans that they do every year, but certainly, it has been a positive benefit.”

Education from afar has received a mixed reaction from students.

“There are various responses, of course, but a lot of them are enjoying it because some of them are saying, ‘I'm an independent worker and this works well’.”

“They appreciate the flexibility of it, and that they can go at their own pace. They say it's not as stressful because they can set their own schedule rather than having the schedule set for them.”

But school isn’t strictly about studies. There's an important social aspect.

“That concerns some of them,” she says. “Their mental health is always a concern. I think it's more so at the forefront now than it has ever been but I think they are doing a fantastic job of reaching out to each other, and our teachers are reaching out to the students, as well.”

Wolske says student counsellor Tonya MacGillivray has been communicating strategies to help students adjust.

“Our counsellor works with a number of students on a regular basis, and she's been keeping in touch with them.”

There has always been more to our schools than academics. It's about connecting, it's about inspiring, it's about next steps. Even though the pandemic, teachers find a way.

“Part of this is we’ve learned that schools are so much more than places to learn. It becomes evident again, and especially during crisis time, that teaching is a very caring profession.”

NEXT: Music in the outdoors and mock classrooms at home