Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Student Led Differentiation

Occasionally we actually get some good ideas from PD in-servicing. I previously wrote in praise of Paul Gorski's anti-grit (possibly now anti-resilience) stance. Today we watched a video that, in a nutshell, asked us to better understand how stats work, which is a very necessary concept for everyone to grasp in order to recognize that the average of a group isn't reflective of each individual. The more interesting bit here, though, is instead of teachers differentiating instruction for each student, we might be able to teach students to figure out what they need to be their best learners, I think possibly by offering weighted options, challenging them to adhere to time limits, and helping them figure out the difference between true limitations and failures due to educational barriers. This is a bit round-about, but it all comes together in the end.

In my social science classes, I belabour the implications of population data falling on a normal curve. What we take as "normal" is typically just 68% of the population, and the other 32% is... something else. If we can really wrap our heads around this idea that only 68% will be one standard deviation from the norm, then we can better understand how stereotypes form, and how terribly simplistic and inaccurate they are as a way of understanding any group of people, thus beginning to dismantle prejudices and discrimination.  

Monday, March 21, 2022

Not Dead Yet!

This pandemic feels like living in a horror movie that just keeps going on and on. We think the killer is dead, but then they come back for yet another attack. Is this one finally the end? Is this one?? When is it over?? Checking our watch is a bad sign for any movie: it should have ended ages ago. But every horror film has a cast that does the stupidest things that make us yell instructions at the screen. Don't split up! Don't go in there alone!! Take off your high heels to run, you idiot! If only they'd have listened to us, they would all still be alive.  

And here we are: Yelling at our screens (and on our phones and at meetings) to keep protections in place for at least a few more weeks after March break, but the cast running the show isn't listening. We have been abandoned to our own risk-analysis, and, in our schools, the choice that will make or break us is left in the hands of children

Politicians appear to be placating people who want to come to schools and stores without a mask to get things to feel normal again, but they're completely ignoring the real fears of the people who are now wary of entering these buildings because they don't want to get a brain-invasive virus. Make it make sense!!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

On Removing Mask Mandates

I'm gobsmacked by the recent move to remove the mask mandate for schools starting March 21st, at the start of spring. In the words of Dr. Genevieve Eastabrook, it's premature demaskulation! The Hamilton Board dared to face down the ministry, but my board only had one trustee, a former nurse, willing to go on record as voting against the new rule that students must be allowed to go to school without a mask. A few voted in favour, but most abstained. The special meeting and vote took place from the safety of their private homes, of course. Hamilton's decision, if it sticks, will provide us with an excellent control group in this macabre experiment on our children. One argument my board's trustees made in favour of following the ruling was that, since the trustees aren't medical professionals, they don't have a right to make a medical decision and therefore have to follow Dr. Moore's lead. They do, I would counter, make calls on pedagogy, ventilation, urban planning, etc. despite not being specialists in those areas because they've been voted in to make informed decisions that affect the well-being of our students. And they could have made an effort to look to other specialists' views for some advice:


We appear to be following behind Denmark's lead as they dropped mask mandates on February 1st. This graph shows how closely our fatalities aligned until their mandates were dropped, and then their rate of fatalities soared. Canada is bound to follow that trajectory. We're significantly less vaccinated than Denmark, so things could be even worse for us. So why are we okay with this?? 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

On Masks, Ventilation, and Contact Tracing - Yes, Again!

On Monday I presented to my school board to try to persuade them to keep masks even if (when) Ford removes mandates and to allow me to keep my Corsi-Rosenthal filtration unit in my classroom, dammit! Here's my 8 minute presentation/plea. They said "thanks" very politely, then the Associate Director started talking about nearing endemicity (at 101:15-23 here), which isn't remotely the case but more on that later, and then a trustee reported on the harm caused by masks both from the ingredients in the material and the restrictions on talking while eating during lunchtime, as they harkened to our pre-pandemic lives. 

But at least I tried. I don't mind trying and failing, but nothing feels worse to me than not trying at all then always wondering what might have happened had I done a little more or at least done something. Nobody tried to suggest it's a mental health problem to wear masks this time, although I was prepared for it since that was the Associate Director argument at a previous meeting. Current studies show that the strongest correlation to mental health isn't tied to mask wearing but to levels of the virus in the community. If we wear masks to keep levels low, then it will improve mental health in the region!