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Blog: Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

My Big Three for 2020

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Welcome to 2020.  As is my custom each January, I will lay out my predictions in the world of education for the calendar year.  Each year I am torn about how deeply I should go into this.  As I have mentioned before, things generally move slowly in the education world, and so our sector will not be immediately and dramatically disrupted by technology in the course of the next twelve months as we have seen in other sectors. There are some things which I think should be changed overnight, but there are many that would benefit from thoughtful and evolutionary change.

This year’s big three predictions are things which have been around in education for some time, but in light of where we are going as a district and province, I think these will take greater prominence in our sector.  So…in no particular order:

Teaching SEL/Mental Wellness

My thoughts on mental wellness have garnered some interest in the past, but my thoughts on the matter have not changed much. I think mental wellness has always been important, and as parents and educators we play a vital role in helping our children become more resilient. Our students today are faced with numerous new pressures and we have a responsibility to give them the skills to deal with the stressors that life throws in their path. Child and youth mental health are important concerns, but they are not symptoms of epidemic levels of mental health disorders as some have claimed. Only when we get a better grip on teaching students how to understand their emotions and become more resilient will be able to effectively support the youth who have legitimate mental health conditions. As we learn more about social emotional learning, we will see more classrooms (and homes) equipped with the capacity to teach students about the mindfulness needed to face and confidently tackle the difficult challenges they face on a daily basis.  Most elementary schools are doing a great job with this, and our middle and secondary schools will step up to the plate in 2020.

Equity & Identity

As schools create more personalized learning opportunities for students, they will also begin to interrogate why these aspirations are not universally available to each child in our schools. We have known for years about the various risk factors related to success in schools, the things that make them inequitable in terms out outcomes.  Indigenous students do not fare as well as non-indigenous students; boys do not perform as well as girls; students from impoverished backgrounds tend to struggle more in our schools; students with special needs do not enjoy the same successes as those without. I could go on.  As schools begin to tackle this (in)equity issue, they will run head long into the issue of student identity as a critical factor in the creating more inclusive classroom.  The truth is that students value school more and feel a greater sense of belonging if they can see their identities recognized and acknowledged as part of the ecology of their classrooms. This year we will see and act more deliberately towards building the core competency of “positive personal and cultural identity,” and it will help to make or classrooms more inclusive than they already are.

Learning Places

As our curriculum fully takes root, I think we will also see waves of innovative learning come alive in our schools. Our curriculum has given us license to recognize that learning happens any and everywhere.  More and more teachers are taking advantage of these opportunities and will get students out of their classrooms and into the community, into their backyards, local green spaces, shopping malls, you name it. These spaces can also be virtual. The important point is that the entire world is our classroom. This was one of the themes that I identified in my many school visits last year as more and more teachers were taking positive risks with expanded learning opportunities. I think we will see more of this in 2020.

It is not an earth-shattering list of trends, but an important one no less. What all three of these have in common is an abiding faith in the continued improvement of a public education system that is already one of the best in the world. Happy New Year.

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.


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