The other day I was asked about my perspective on this last school year. At its core this is a really simple question but it warrants a really complex answer, especially when I feel like I am still standing neck deep in the current year.
This last year has been relentless and difficult for teachers, administrators, students and their families. It’s stressful and frustrating to think of what this last year has done to our classrooms and way of life. We have mourned the loss of traditions we hold dear. We stayed home, we waved to loved ones through screens and did what was asked of us in the hopes that our efforts will make for a better future.
Personally, and professionally, I have seen changes to my own life that I will more than likely carry forward into the future, and not all of them are necessarily negative. The resolve and appreciation I hold for public education, my colleagues and my students are even stronger now than they were before the pandemic.
I believe that a “return to normal” will never happen. We can’t go back — only forward. The pandemic amplified many inequities in our society — poverty, funding issues, access to supports, racism, hate. Conversely, the pandemic also highlighted a desire from many to do better, to create a more inclusive, respectful and diverse future.
Just look at the response to the draft K–6 curriculum. Teachers, parents, school boards, Indigenous and francophone groups have all said that this draft is a step backwards, and we don’t want this for our children and their future. In order for us to move forward, it will take vision and political will on the part of our elected officials.
I believe the ATA has a chance to reimagine a better, stronger, more inclusive future for our students and public education in Alberta. We have the expertise, the will and the desire. I believe that teachers and the ATA can and should lead this opportunity. We can reimagine what would truly make a great school for all.
As the year winds down, and we reflect on what has passed, and where we are going, I wish for you a restful and mute button–free summer. You deserve it and you have earned it. Be well and stay safe. ❚