On Tuesday, April 14, 2020 we asked our #WCDSBAwesome community this very important question:
And the response was extraordinary!
The tool we used is called ThoughtExchange. Here’s how it worked:
1. Specifically, respondents were asked to answer the question:
As you consider Waterloo Catholic’s response toward learning at home, what questions or concerns do you have?
2. Once respondents shared their thoughts, they had the opportunity to read the thoughts of others and assign *STARS* based on how much they agreed (5 *STARS*) or disagreed (1 *STAR*). This rating system allowed the school board to identify the key areas of success, while also flagging the areas of greatest concern
Between April 14 and April 21, 2020 a total of 1,925 respondents provided 1,635 thoughts – which generated 36,941 *STAR* ratings.
The full report is available on pages 141 to 160 — via THIS LINK.
So, what did we learn?
At the highest level – it is clear that our community values the work our teachers and system have done. There were a number of comments acknowledging the efforts of teachers to connect and to ensure the well being and engagement of students.
There were three key points of further feedback.
First, the need for connection remains high. There is a desire for engagement between educator and family, between students and their peers, as well as a desire to have some “live” engagement.
Secondly, there is a concern about issues connected to equity – which invites us to be very thoughtful in providing choice and multiple entry points for students.
Finally, there were many comments related to learning tasks — with a desire for consistent expectations and routine as educators engage their students.
We have used the feedback, which is further detailed below, to continue to improve our service to our students, our parents and our staff. We have already taken steps to support more consistency and a clear understanding of expectations, to strengthen our collaboration and to further ensure that each student is feeling a sense of connection.
Elementary Students told us they value the collaboration among teachers, so that they have a clear sense of expectations. Further, they value regular check-ins and are looking for a sense of connection. They are feeling isolated and are sometimes having difficulty navigating learning platforms without the assistance of a parent. They desire more descriptive feedback and want some consistency in learning tasks.
Secondary Students told us they too want clearer communication of next steps in distance learning. Some require more technical support, and they desire more consistency in the communication from different teachers. Some are also balancing personal or job responsibilities. They are looking for synchronous video conferences or lessons to assist with their learning and/or pre-recorded videos. There is a desire for a stronger sense of connection. Finally, they are very concerned about their assessments and the possible impacts to their post-secondary plan.
Elementary Parents articulated most strongly a sense of both gratitude but also a sense of being overwhelmed by balancing their own responsibilities. Further, elementary parents would like some consistency in terms of understanding expectations. They are not feeling fully clear on what is mandatory and what is optional. They would like further attention placed on wellness and on providing support to students that is more flexible and accessible. Equity is a concern for elementary parents.
Secondary Parents are valuing the continuity of learning that is happening. They are looking for communication to be clearer and wish to be involved in monitoring their children’s progress. They want communication to be more flexible and innovative, with a nod to desiring live lessons or video-conferencing. Not unlike elementary parents, they are finding it challenging to motivate their children to engage in the learning at times. Not unlike their children, they are also concerned about how assessments will impact post-secondary plans — and they are wondering about how assessments will inform final report cards.
Elementary Staff shared that the learning curve to embrace distance learning has been significant and that they are struggling with their own demands to balance work and home responsibilities. They are concerned about issues of equity and about what the gap may look like once students return to the classroom. They are also concerned about their safety when the time comes to return to the classroom. Finally, they are seeking further clarification on how optional subjects will be reported on the final report card and have general questions about writing report cards in this new landscape.
Secondary Staff are also concerned about the impact of the closure on the next school year and student readiness for the next grade. They expressed concerns that some students are struggling with the new learning format. Equity was also a concern for secondary staff and Administrators. Staff also commented on being concerned about mental health and wellness, and its significance to being able to positively engage in distance learning. There remain concerns about how to write an effective report card in light of the closure.
“The WCDSB’s Senior Staff – and, indeed, all WCDSB staff – have been listening and responding. We are proud of the work our system and staff have done to mobilize, we value the thoughts offered, and we will continue to work with this feedback to refine both our care and our processes in this challenging time.
Our stakeholders clearly value the many efforts of staff thus far — and our central team, principals, teachers and support staff have responded to this unprecedented challenge in remarkable ways. We are so grateful to them. We are in this together.”
~~ Loretta Notten, Direction of Education
Please follow us @WCDSBNewswire on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit www.wcdsb.ca to see the “Heart of the Community” in action.
The care for our students is core to who we are, and it will inform our decisions and actions as we move forward through this time of change.
Thank you all for your participation in helping us make WCDSBLearn@Home a success!
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 184-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.