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portrait of Jordan Laidlaw. He is wearing a dress shirt, necktie, and has a beard and mustache. He is smiling and standing outdoors.

Jordan Laidlaw explores how COVID-19 forced outdoor physical education classes are beneficial

December 1, 2023 — 

Jordan Laidlaw is a PhD student in the Educational Administration cohort program and a Music teacher in Manitoba schools with over ten years’ experience. Born and raised in Winnipeg, he has been able to grow relationships within the school system and as a student in the Faculty of Education post-secondary programs. 

Laidlaw’s drive to be part of social and organizational change and improvement has informed his research interests during his PhD program including school well-being research. “During the COVID-19 pandemic and music and physical education were very uniquely affected by school-specific protocols,” explains Laidlaw. “Many physical education teachers were displaced from their gymnasiums as their learning spaces were converted to become classrooms. So, they were required to teach outdoors.  I know that the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on our students our teachers and systems as a whole. So, Dr. Johnson and I met a few times and decided to pursue an inquiry and it’s been so far very well received. We have one article currently under review, one article in the works, and are beginning participant recruitment for a UM/SSHRC funded study.” 

Jordan Laidlaw and Kinesiology professor Dr. Jay Johnson wanted to investigate benefits and drawbacks for instructors partially and fully expelled from their gymnasiums. Through recruitment emails, 10 participants were interviewed for the research project. Dr. johnson shared that teachers “had to do frequent spontaneous lesson-planning and focus on finding fun ways to keep kids active outside instead of helping them perfect basketball hook shots and other skills better suited to indoor facilities,” he explains. “For example, after a snowstorm, some teachers assigned students to help neighbouring residents clear their driveways. Others used parking lot snow mounds and nearby woodlands as backdrops for lessons,” he said to the Winnipeg Free Press. 

Laidlaw has been part of several research projects throughout his PhD studies “I just really enjoy conducting original research. I think that research can inform practice and policy and can lead to some pretty significant and important school changes,” he said. “I am also really happy to be included and collaborating with my mentors. I also am happy to be engaged in my school division, in my Local teachers’ association, and at the University of Manitoba. I am very happy honoured to be making contributions in all three of those different sectors in Manitoba education.” 

As an active teacher in Manitoba schools and a current student, Laidlaw’s advice for future Education students is to “take creative risks and really don’t be shy to investigate things that haven’t been investigated or try new methodological innovations. Really, do something that is going to lead to change or make an impact in our communities.” 

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