We want to open this issue by singing the unsung, celebrating Managing Editors, whose work largely goes unseen yet is absolutely vital to journal publishing. We name our own: Ann Keenan (who was the journal’s ballast when we were a subscription-based, print journal), Stephen Peters (2010-2015), Sylvia Wald (2015-2019), Philippe Paquin-Goulet (2019-2021), Marianne Filion (2019-2021), Catherine Bienvenu (2021-2022), Rahema Imtiaz (2022/23), and presently, Emma Dollery (2022- ) and Isabel Meadowcroft (2023- ). Managing Editors are a main (often, first) point of contact with the journal—its authors, reviewers, and editors/guest editors—even as they are responsible for what happens in the shadows, at the back-end of the journal and, critically, the moving of manuscripts through editing to PDF and HTML formats into publication. Their expert eye needs to range widely, from keeping a synoptic view on manuscripts as they move through the peer review and publishing process, to being well-versed in the minutiae of details tied to editing and formatting and becoming skilled in training copyeditors in the same. They are often tech-savvy, poised on the journal’s digital edge and are instrumental in operationalizing workflows. They become custodians of the journal’s archive while also teaching the next generation. Since 2011, we have largely engaged graduate students in this role; they are people keenly interested in writing and/or publishing. In recent years, they have been helped in their own part-time work at the MJE by part-time English and French copyeditors. They keep the journal’s cogs moving, even when it is most challenging to do so. The shortening years of their tenure (detailed above) tells its own story of the times we have been living, speaking especially to the effects of the pandemic on journal publishing. For their support of the journal and its Managing Editors, especially during this tumultuous time, we extend a huge thank-you to Jessica Lange and Jennifer Innes of Scholarly Communications in McGill Library. Our present post-pandemic Managing Editors, Emma Dollery and Isabel Meadowcroft, comprise a formidable team. We welcome Emma, who started in August 2022 and has done absolutely stellar work; we look forward to more. And now too, we welcome Isabel, who promises the same. Isabel also brings skills and knowledge developed as a MJE editorial assistant and copyeditor. So, it bears repeating! We acknowledge your indispensable place in journal publishing. A huge thank you to Managing Editors!
We slip in a few more thank-yous, a first grateful one to our copyeditors: Zachary Kay, Vanessa Zamora, Rianna Pain-Andrejin, and Charles Dagenais. For their service and contributions to the journal, we thank Melissa McGuire (Copyeditor, 2022-23) and Rahema Imtiaz (Managing Editor, 2022/23). We gratefully acknowledge our supporters—Dean Rassier in the Faculty of Education, Lisa Starr, who has been Chair of the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE), as well as Simona Lupu and those who assist with hiring in the Faculty of Education and DISE. SSHRC’s Aid to Scholarly Journals helps sustain, indeed makes possible, the work of academic journals in Canada. We are very grateful for SSHRC’s support, which funds our vitally important Managing Editors.
It is with great pleasure that we introduce this general issue, which offers an especially eclectic array of ten articles along with a bilingual MJE Forum on being a Cegep teacher and one MJE Note from the Field which invites reflection (in art education) on the contents of the junk drawer. Exceptionally in this issue the articles are all in English even as, exceptionally, all the articles in the general issue to follow (57:3) will be in French. Topics in the present issue range over: mental health and teacher burn-out, especially in the wake of the pandemic (Sokal & Eblie Trudel; the effects of systemic racism and discrimination (Nartey & James; Alvarez); addressing dropout through refining our knowledge of student engagement (Lessard); secondary Math teaching—self-regulatory behaviours (Buzza, Fitzgerald & Avitzur) and “proximities” (Horoks); promoting proactive approaches to classroom behaviour in preschool and elementary classrooms (Nadeau, Massé, Verret, Gaudreau & Leblanc); an epistemological approach to pre-service teacher education (Hill); the practice of action research in the Nigerian educational context (Olayiwola); and re-opening the question of the relationship between grading and learning, here in the post-secondary classroom (Brook). We introduce each in turn.
Research on teacher burnout, accelerated by the pandemic, prompted Sokal and Eblie Trudel to revisit the construct of teacher burnout. Returning to the work of Santoro (2011), Sokal and Eblie Trudel compared burnout with demoralization. Whereas burnt-out teachers tend to withdraw from teaching, Santoro argued, demoralized teachers remain, but agonize, denied the ‘moral rewards’ of feeling ‘good’ about teaching. On closer examination, Sokal and Eblie Trudel argue that demoralization is already integral to the construct of teacher burnout; however, attention to one within the other can yield a more nuanced set of implications: beyond self-regulation to creating environments that conduce to a healthy teaching working force.
Based on interviews with twenty Black Canadian student-athletes from ten Ontario universities (research that comprised part of a larger study), Nartey and James found that the student-athletes showed how they were both athletes as well as academically-successful students. The students thus resisted as well as challenged the stereotypes being foisted upon them as athletes and in particular, as Black athletes. While a combination of factors—social, cultural, historical and socioeconomic—ultimately contributed to their success, Nartey and James attribute the greater part to the student-athletes’ exercising of agency in navigating the educational system, this even as they faced racism and discrimination.
Alvarez provides a fascinating case study of Native-speakerism—covert discrimination against non-Native English-speaking teachers (NNEST) in the hiring practices of online English language schools. Alvarez, from Argentina, is a multilingual speaker of English, Spanish, French, and Chinese with extensive expertise in English language teaching. He studied the online practices of iTutor group (one of the largest education online platforms, based in China), interested to find out how applicant profile influences offer of salary. He found evidence of discrimination and racism and suggests that TESOL International Association (which is committed to non-discriminatory practices) re-examine its partnerships with companies like iTutor.
How can the high incidence of student dropout in Quebec be proactively addressed? Lessard engaged in cross-cultural validation of a self-reporting instrument called the Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) (Appleton et al., 2006), which assesses cognitive and psychological/affective engagement along six factors. The instrument was translated into French then independently reviewed before being administered to 919 French-speaking secondary students in an urban public school. Subjected to Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), the instrument’s validity and reliability were confirmed and, too, its usefulness as a preventative tool against dropout among French-speaking secondary students in Quebec.
Self-regulatory behaviours are strong predictors of academic success. Buzza, Fitzgerald and Avitzur studied the important role that teachers play in developing supports, honing in on a secondary Math teacher’s scaffolding of fifteen low-achieving Grade 9 students in a Canadian classroom. Pre- and post-tests were conducted, looking at variables like metacognition and motivation. Among the most effective support strategies were self-assessment, feedback, and the students’ own creations of study sheets. Buzza et al. suggest that further research is needed on how to balance whole-class teaching with individualized coaching—the how, when, and why of targeted support—so as to achieve the desired changes in behaviours.
“Teacher telling in the mathematics classroom” provides a fascinating analysis of “moments of teacher telling” (MTT) in a mathematics classroom. Horoks’ study looked at the potential impact of teachers’ discourse on students’ mathematical activity and learning. Drawing on Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) as a theoretical lens, this study analyzed how teachers scaffold students’ learning. Horoks constructed a specific tool, called “proximities,” to analyze how teachers explained a new mathematical concept and the ways in which they connected students’ prior knowledge and activities to new knowledge. The study offers a useful tool to operationalize ZPD in a whole-class setting.
To what degree do preschool and elementary teachers in Quebec promote proactive/positive behaviours in their students? Evidence-based practices favour the use of proactive strategies. Or do teachers rely on coercive and punitive, otherwise known as reductive, practices, this in response to disruptive behaviours? Nadeau, Massé, Verret, Gaudreau and Leblanc surveyed 1373 teachers. The study is the first of its kind in providing such a wide portrait of behavioural practices in preschool and elementary Quebec classrooms. The research found that teachers preferred proactive over reductive practices, establishing clear rules and routines and using positive reinforcement; student self-regulation strategies would be an area for improvement.
Interested in how pre-service teachers develop a sense of self as teachers, Hill investigated their patterned ways of knowing. Baxter Magolda theorized four patterned ways of epistemological knowing: absolute, transitional, independent, and contextual, this based on her research with undergraduates. These four ways of knowing manifest across five domains, which Hill adapted to the ‘learning how to be a teacher’ context, considering the roles of: self, peers, instructors, the practicum experience, and beliefs about teaching. Using Baxter Magolda’s theory as a lens, this small-scale study yielded important findings about becoming a teacher. Hill suggests teacher education programs should take a more explicit approach to developing epistemological beliefs.
Olayiwola revisited knowledge co-construction within the Nigerian educational context by analysing issues related to the distribution of power in educational change. Olayiwola argues that action research can be truly participatory only when researchers and participants collaborate equally. The point of departure for the analysis is Nigerian secondary education, which has undergone reforms since 1969, when Nigerians first deliberated on education’s future for a newly independent nation. Policy outcomes resulting from the latest reform still reflect primarily the views of Nigerian researchers. Olayiwola has proposed that if co-operative inquiry with participants had been used, some of the gaps between policy intent and implementation could have been prevented.
What are the relations between grading and learning? This is far being a new question; however, Brook invests it with renewed urgency, tying the issue to the rise of the neoliberal university, which the pandemic has made more acute with its deleterious effects on student mental health. Brook provides a useful perspective on the extant literature related to postsecondary education, including harnessing examples from ungrading or gradeless assessment while weighing the pros and cons. Brook concludes with strategies for effective assessment: detailed narrative feedback unaccompanied (initially) by a grade; guided metacognitive reflection, with pathways identified for improvement; or creating a dialogical context for the sharing of feedback. The strategies may not work for all, or all subjects, but provide effective starting places for re-thinking the relations between grading and learning.
This issue also features a MJE Forum on the subject of being (and becoming) a Cegep teacher. The Forum was initiated by Maggie McDonnell’s thought-provoking piece in which, reflecting on her close to two decades in Cegep teaching, she asked: “Who am I, really?” Cegep, short for “collège d’enseignement général et professionnel,” is the level of higher education in Quebec that follows on secondary school (which concludes with Grade 11) and precedes university. The Cegep system is both an outcome and a legacy of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in which, after la grande noirceure (the ‘Dark Ages’) under Maurice Duplessis, who was premier for almost two decades between 1936 and 1939 and 1944 to 1959, society and education opened up to new ideas and social change. Cegep teaching is thus quite distinct from both secondary and university teaching, even as it shares characteristics with both. McDonnell uses this occasion to critically reflect on what she has learned as well as what she believes the future holds for Cegep teachers.
We posted a pre-print version of McDonnell’s piece on our website, along with a call inviting others to respond. We were especially interested to hear from Cegep teachers. We include two responses. In “On In-ness: What Cegep Teaching Keeps Teaching Me,” Olszanowski (writing in English) reflects on an abrupt entry followed by a “deep dive” into the openness of the Cegep classroom, while Provost (writing in French) considers what it feels like to try to decolonize the curriculum: « derrière le lutrin—place de pouvoir, de vulnérabilité, d’humilité et de transcendance, je me sens quelque peu déséquilibrée, assumant le triple rôle de professeure, d’animatrice et d’apprenante. » A common thread across the three pieces is the emphasis on Cegep teaching as a flexible space—one in which students learn but teachers do, too.
We all have junk drawers. They are places where odds and ends of various less-used or about-to-be-discarded things accumulate. In a Note from the Field, Stendel brilliantly uses the metaphor of the junk drawer to point towards an ethically- and socially-responsible art education. In the interests of climate change, Stendel asks, how might we move beyond “creative reuse” to consider what the junk drawer’s string, elastics, and Styrofoam balls can teach us about our “petrocultural” practices? In other words, how might we instead imagine an “art for art’s sake”?
We hope you enjoy reading!
TERESA STRONG-WILSON, ANILA ASGHAR, AND VANDER TAVARES