Over the course of the last few weeks, schools, literally
across the world, have been forced to reinvent the ways in which teaching and
learning will occur over the next little while.
McKenzie Highlands has been no exception to this new reality. I know I speak for our entire staff when I say
the hardest part of this is not seeing “our kids” every day.
We have, as have all schools across the Calgary Board of
Education, moved to a model of on-going learning that primarily utilizes
technological platforms to support students in their learning during this time.
The primary modes of technology
connecting students, families, and teachers are D2L, Google virtual meeting
apps, and email. I thank our students
and families for their patience and understanding as we work to take up this
challenge. I thank our staff for the
enormous time, effort, and care they have extended in taking up this challenge!
As mandated by Alberta Education, students in grades 4-6 are
to receive an average of 5 hours per week of task work in Language Arts and
Math, with opportunities for Science and Social Studies to be integrated into
LA and Math where appropriate. This
translates into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week. Students in grades 7-9 are to receive an average
of 10 hours per week of task work in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social
Studies, again translating into approximately 2.5 hours per subject, per week.
Learning tasks are uploaded to D2L shells for the week by
8:30 a.m. on Mondays, with an expectation that students will complete the work
by the following Friday. In addition to
tasks being uploaded to D2L and students submitting their work via D2L, a
number of teachers are also using Google Meet apps to facilitate virtual face
to face contact with their students.
Some of these virtual classroom meetings involve teachers teaching
lessons, conducting tutorials, facilitating classroom discussions, holding
class meetings, and answering student questions. Teachers also have formal “office hours” posted
during which students can virtually, either through Google meetings, phone calls,
or emails, connect with teachers for further instruction, clarification, and
support in completing tasks. By no means
are students limited to only accessing teacher support during these formal
office hours. Students and families are
encouraged, when needing clarity and support, to connect with teachers via
We now enter our third week of this new on-going learning
model. The first week was certainly
experimental. The second week likely
involved students and their families finding a “rhythm” in which to approach
their learning. It is my hope during
this third week that the rhythm becomes routine as students develop a schedule
to best support their learning and capitalize on opportunities for teacher
support. Teachers will be closely
monitoring submission of student work and will certainly connect with families
should there be concern about the quantity and/or quality of work being
submitted. Parents, if you are finding
it difficult to have your child commit to a scheduled routine, please don’t
hesitate to contact your child’s teachers so that we can problem-solve
Although we are very focused at this time on creatively
supporting students to get through this immediate time, we are still taking up
our work of planning for next year. One
of those important pieces involves placing students in their complementary or “option”
classes for next year. Students were
given the opportunity, beginning a couple of weeks ago, to select those classes.
We still have a number of students in
grades 6, 7, and 8 who have not yet made their selections. I ask parents to please check in with their children
and see if they have completed their selections and if not, please ensure they
finish doing so by the end of this week.
This process is completed online in PowerSchool. If your child is experiencing any difficulty
with this process please don’t hesitate to call the office and speak with Mr.
Cooper, or email Mr. Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who do not complete their selections
may find that they are placed in complementary classes where there is space remaining
As you are now all aware, our assistant principal, Ms. Tania
Brown, has left our school community in order to take up her new role as
principal of Annie Foote School. We say
goodbye to her with the most mixed of emotions.
She is very deserving of this appointment and will make an exceptionally
outstanding principal. However, we are
selfishly sad for ourselves as we will miss her incredible work ethic, vast
knowledge, deep compassion, and wonderful sense of humour. Every day, over the course of the last three
years, she came to work committed to making the world better for students,
their families, teachers, and this principal.
Thank you! We wish her the absolute
best in her new endeavour!
In the interim, Mr. Danny Cooper, one of our Learning
Leaders, has stepped into the role of acting assistant principal. I thank Mr. Cooper for taking on this added
responsibility, particularly during this terribly challenging time. Over the course of the next couple of weeks a
new assistant principal will be selected and begin their duties, tentatively,
following the May long weekend.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and your families
and never hesitate to contact your child’s teachers or myself in the event you
are feeling in need of support.