A humanizing school year (or praise for the unfinished)

Our collaborator Marc-André Girard looks back on the end of the 2020-2021 school year and expresses a wish for the year 2021-2022. Will resilience, flexibility, solidarity become values at the center of teaching practices?

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Automated English translation - (sometimes hilarious) mistakes can creep in! ;)

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Last June, many of us proclaimed that an interminable school year had finally come to an end. Several of my teaching or management colleagues claimed to be leaving for the summer vacation with the feeling of having done their duty. In all fairness, at this point, I did not share their enthusiasm. I found that possibilities had remained on the table in favor of the emergency and related tasks that had become too important.

I would have liked to take my team elsewhere, showcase what I can do best, but the needs were completely different then. In short, in June, I was rather animated by the feeling of unfulfilled duty. I wanted to write this text and thus praise… the unfinished.

However, I hesitated for a long time before writing this text and, with a little hindsight, I come to the conclusion that, contrary to my first reactions, we have accomplished great things in our schools during the last one. school year.

In fact, we have been working on what really matters: education. Yes, I distinguish education from what we too often emphasize: education. In our schools, everything is put forward to ensure that our students retain knowledge and develop disciplinary skills. From this perspective, education is learning something from someone.

Education, on the other hand, is much broader: it includes the development of the child as a whole, with an emphasis on what is not necessarily on the program and which also helps him grow.

Human skills and those of the 21e century

Thus, human skills and those of the 21e century have been highlighted. For example, young people have learned to collaborate even more closely than before, and in different contexts. Sometimes there was collaboration in the classroom, but it was also necessary to take into account the fact that a comrade could be absent or that the class could be closed.

We have also developed tolerance for ambiguity in students (and in each of us, let's face it!) By helping them to accept the situations imposed on us and thus accept to live in a changing world. These changes certainly threaten the famous routine, but at the same time, they bring opportunities.

Moreover, these opportunities have propelled the creative potential of each of us. Many of us have used creativity to carry out various projects, to mobilize students, parents and other colleagues so that they use educational resources as a lever for innovation.

The famous educational resources

In this regard, it is difficult to ignore the extent to which educational resources have imposed themselves as essential tools in the pursuit of the school career of students in times of pandemic.

Digital technology will have served, among other things, as a tool for communication, teaching, feedback, evaluation and collaboration. It was used to support the students in their progression towards success. It also created new collaborations between teachers. These spontaneous gestures of mutual aid will have made all the difference in giving confidence to teachers who are more hesitant about digital technology, to enable them in turn to transform their teaching practices.

The year that changed everything

The 2020-2021 school year will go down in history as having been the year of the pandemic, the year of the discontinuity, of the divide between who we were as educators, what our schools were and what we are called to become. Above all, this will have been the year of humanized, humanizing education, the one placing our students in the long term at the center of our concerns.

So, is this a year to forget? No. We learned a lot more about what really matters: humans, their vulnerability, their resilience, their flexibility, their ability to adapt and their solidarity. I now hope that we continue to be a constant concern in our communities.

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About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in humanities education (1999), a master's degree in history teaching (2003) and a master's degree in educational management (2013). He is currently a doctoral student in school administration. He specializes in change management in schools as well as in educational leadership. He is also interested in 21st century skills to be developed in education. He holds a managerial position in a public primary school and gives lectures on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in the school environment as well as on the professionalization of teaching. He took part in educational expeditions to France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book “Le change en milieu scolaire québécois” with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the school of the 21st century with the same publisher. He frequently collaborates with L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and school administrators as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement.

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