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COVID Lessons from School: Teacher Research in the Pandemic

April 8, 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021 – 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Please join the McDowell Foundation for this special Salon Series focusing on research from three of our teams funded through the directed call.

Presentations will include:

Lessons Learned Upon Returning to School During COVID-19 (Suzanne Zwarych presenting)

The purpose of this study is to garner information from teachers returning to school and use that information to create a valid questionnaire to determine whether practices and interventions put in place by school divisions and government can reduce the anxiety and stress of teachers upon their return to school during a pandemic. The main objective is first to identify processes and policies that helped teachers to overcome the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. The secondary purpose of this study is to attempt to understand the experiences of teachers throughout Saskatchewan, and through that understanding, create a valid survey to document which processes and policies reduced anxiety toward returning to school during a pandemic.

Reducing Student Stress During COVID-19 (Angela Csiki and Brent Keen presenting)

The objective of our study is to pursue strategies to reduce students’ stress about returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will pursue three strategies and measure their success. The first strategy is to have students spend part of their school day outdoors. The purposes are twofold, to reduce the possibility of transmitting the COVID-19 virus and to have students work in an environment conducive to reducing stress. The second strategy is to have students practice mindfulness daily. Students in Turtleford Community School have some exposure to mindfulness and meditation. This will expand on their knowledge and build a regular practice. The third strategy is to empower students to take ownership of classroom routines and school practices intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. We will measure the relative success of each of these strategies and adjust them on an ongoing basis.

Strengthening Schools to Support the Needs of Refugee Students (Kirsten Cavanaugh presenting)

Strong relationships between families and schools must take place to support our learners. Never have these co-operative relations been as important as they are during Covid, when our students were expected to attend to learning with the help of their parents. As a country and province, we have seen an increasing number of refugee families in recent years.

Recently arrived refugee children face many challenges when adapting to their new country and schools along with their parents who may be looking for work, attempting to learn English, and adapting to different cultural norms. For these families, the lack of familiarity with the Canadian school system and implicit expectations and norms can be a struggle. Without strong in-school supports, these children are at risk of failing socially or academically. The purpose of this project is to understand the refugee experience with at-home learning to strengthen our supports for student success.

Breaking Out of the Textbox – Increasing Outdoor Learning

February 19, 2021

The McDowell Foundation’s virtual Salon Series Breaking Out of the Textbox – Increasing Outdoor Learning took place on March 4, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to understand the value of outdoor learning and how it can help improve the lives of students, foster reconciliation, and connect to one’s grass roots.

Hear from Saskatoon teacher and McDowell Researcher, Nicole Turner, as she shares her findings on solutions and supports in addressing the barriers and challenges of incorporating outdoor learning into the classroom. Also, join the conversation and listen to a panel of teachers who will share their experiences of integrating outdoor learning into their lesson planning. The event was facilitated by Nicole Turcotte from Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Professional Learning.

Women in Educational Leadership: A Conversation

January 7, 2021

Join the McDowell Foundation’s virtual Salon Series, Women in Educational Leadership: A Conversation, on January 21, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. to hear and discuss the experiences of women in educational leadership in Saskatchewan. Two female researchers, Amy Orth and Amy Korver from the Prairie Spirit School Division, will share their experiences along with highlights and challenges from nine other female administrators in education. They will identify trends in female leaders, the barriers they face as they enter administration positions, and the impact it has on their school culture.

The researchers will also be joined by guest panelists: Angela Banda, STF Senior Administrative Staff; Samantha Becotte, STF Provincial Executive; and Lori Jeschke, Director, Prairie Spirit School Division to further the discussion and encourage more women to pursue leadership in Saskatchewan.

2019-20 Annual Report

December 1, 2020

The Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research Into Teaching Inc. Annual General Meeting was held November 27th, 2020. The 2019-20 Annual Report was presented to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive.


November 4, 2020

Join the McDowell Foundation in our first virtual Salon Series event on November 18, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. to learn the importance of parent engagement in times of COVID-19. Three teachers from the Sun West School Division will share highlights of their recently completed research on how both teachers and families can build and maintain relationships during these unprecedented times.

To register for this upcoming salon series, please email

October 2020 Newsletter

October 9, 2020

Please check out our October newsletter for the latest updates from the Foundation.

We are saddened that the project “Understanding the Emotional Impacts of COVID-19 on Teachers’, Administrators’, and Professional School Staff’s Health and Well-Being from School Re-Opening Until the End of the School Year” has withdrawn for this Special Directed Call. We hope that they will continue their research in the future.

Directed Call for Research 2020 – COVID -19

June 17, 2020


No single event has impacted teaching and learning in the history of the province like the 2020 global pandemic. Given that we don’t know when a COVID-19 vaccine will be available or when restrictions around large public gatherings will be fully lifted, the fall return to school will likely present challenges and opportunities for Saskatchewan educators.

Like many of you, McDowell Foundation is curious about the fall and the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on Saskatchewan classrooms and pedagogy. The Foundation wants to continue to support teacher-led research the best way we know how, by providing access to funding, research and networking opportunities. As such, the Foundation has developed special research grants to support teacher-led research to explore this specific topic.

Saskatchewan PreK-12 teachers and other educators are invited to submit an application for McDowell Foundation’s directed call for research 2020. Grants of up to $5,000 per project will be awarded for research projects to explore the impact of COVID-19 on Saskatchewan classrooms.

Call for research applications for the 2021-2022 school year will occur starting in September and are separate from the Directed Call for Research – COVID-19 process.

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge

June 11, 2020

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is a National public contest to benefit any registered Canadian charity. An initiative from CanadaHelps, it encourages Canadians across the country to donate to charities throughout the month of June.

Every dollar donated to the McDowell Foundation by an individual in June via, or, is an automatic entry for The McDowell Foundation to win a $20,000 donation from Individuals are also encouraged to share socially to encourage their friends to participate as well.

Every $1 donated IN JUNE is an automatic entry for your charity of choice to win (minimum $3 donation required). Challenge begins June 1, 2020 at midnight Newfoundland Daylight Time (NDT) and ends on June 30, 2020 at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Grand prize draw is on CANADA DAY, July 1, 2020 – $20,000 will be donated to the winning charity. Only donations made on or through the website will be entered for the prize draw.

In 2019, the fifth annual Great Canadian Giving Challenge, over 109,000 Canadians participated, donating more than $14 million to over 12,000 charities, representing a 25% increase in donations compared to June 2018’s annual Great Canadian Giving Challenge.

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