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Blog: Friday, June 26th, 2020

Toti:ltcha - Our Future Learning Plan

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

What a spring! As parents, students and staff in the district now breathe a sigh of relief that the 2019-20 school year has come to a close, I would like to start by expressing my sincere gratitude. I share appreciation with all of us in this learning community the support, kindness, and resilience we have demonstrated in navigating what will go down as the most remarkable school year in our lives. I hope that our staff and families will take the time to safely relax and enjoy this beautiful province in which we are all blessed to reside.

It was part of my goal as superintendent this year to host a series of meetings with staff, students and parents about things we needed to do in order to improve what is already a fabulous environment to work and learn. However, like so many of us, I had to adjust my plans when the pandemic hit. Instead, I hosted meetings about how COVID-19 was affecting teaching and learning, and ways we could improve our response to create a brighter future. In addition to may meetings with administrators, I hosted five focus group meetings this spring: one with students, three with teachers, and one with parents. 

Here are the Top 10 takeaways:

  1. Teachers genuinely missed their students and vice versa.
  2. The pandemic reinforced the fundamental importance of positive relationships in student learning.
  3. Parents valued their time with their kids, especially in working with their teachers, to better understand how they learn.
  4. When you can't do it all, focus on the essential things... as well as the things that bring you joy!
  5. Flexible scheduling allowed students to learn optimally, at a time and place that worked for them. 
  6. Some students who struggled in the face to face environment thrived in the online learning environment.
  7. We do not become experts at blended learning overnight, but we can learn to be so with support.
  8. We are reminded that for some students, school is the most stable, nurturing and positive force in their life.
  9. Teachers multiplied their collaborative capacity by sharing successful ideas with colleagues.
  10. There are a host of ideas we have learned through the pandemic that we can and should use to create our own new normal for teaching and learning.

So now what? Where do we go from here? Now comes the most fundamental of all challenges: The task of building a school system this fall that can flexibly respond to the pandemic conditions, regardless of how they are manifested. This is our most important call to action. We are called upon to restart our schools in September under uncertain conditions, but with an aspiration for re-inventing schooling where it is most needed.

This is the focus of Toti:ltcha (Halq'eméylem for "Future Learning"). We have collected our thoughts about what 2020 and beyond may bring, and we are inviting our community to share their perspectives on our future learning plan.

I firmly believe that the 2020-21 school year will be our most memorable. This is not because we will have lived through a pandemic, but because together we will thrive in our mission to provide the best and most hopeful education for our students when they need it most.

With great resolve,

By Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.