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Principal's Message

Behind the Scenes: School in 2021

It has become a much-used word in schools through the 2020-21 school year, attempting to capture the sometimes whiplash-like changes that have occurred (and most likely will continue to happen) as school boards, governments and families grapple with the constantly-changing situation that is our current COVID-19 pandemic reality. In schools we use the word pivot within the context of the pandemic to describe teachers moving swiftly - sometimes in a matter of minutes or hours - to shift between online and in-class learning. This sounds much more innocuous than it actually is; shifting between online and in-class learning requires a significant investment on behalf of all staff members to ensure productive, positive learning encounters.  
I thought I would share some of the behind-the-scenes efforts that afforded our whole school an online learning experience the week of January 5 - 8, 2021 as a way of acknowledging and appreciating the tremendous efforts of staff and students as we all work together to manage the many aspects of the pandemic situation.
Our preparations for online learning really began much earlier in the fall when teachers established new Google Classroom environments and collaborated together to generate plans for teaching and learning that correlated to a previously non-prescriptive scope-and-sequence for learning that aligned with learning in the Hub online school environment. A plan for providing learning encounters in the event of student isolation or extended at-home illness was also developed. Students were re-introduced to their google passwords, Google Meet and Google Classroom over the first several weeks of school - a 'just in case' preparatory move in the event of a COVID-19 related event requiring cohort isolation.  These steps laid the ground work for any pivots toward online learning for in-school students and teachers. 
When the announcement was made in late November that all students - including elementary - would be engaging in online learning for the first week of January, preparations became focused on that particular situation. The CBE presented timetabling expectations and guidelines and staff worked to collaboratively develop schedules for cohorts that were reasonable, varied and would meet students' learning needs. Once the timetable for the whole school was established, teachers planned collaboratively for instruction in anticipation of January 5, 2021. Information was shared with parents, as well as opportunities for accessing school-based technology as needed. And winter break began.
The weekend before school re-opened online, Mr. Strand spent several hours preparing digital devices for families to pick up for use through the online week of school so they would be ready for parents to pick up on Monday morning. Last minute plans and preparations were finalized on our PD day, Monday, and teachers set up stations either at home or at school complete with resources, headphones, laptops, etc. On Tuesday morning, January 5, we were ready to go 'live' with online learning - again. 
From our perspective, focused preparation resulted in a successful week of online learning - there were a few glitches for sure (there always are!) but overall, the week unfolded relatively without incident and both students and teachers pivoted and adjusted effectively. We are also prepared to continue to support students going forward through the next few months when the opportunity for periods of cohort isolation will continue to be very possible, with the potential to cause students and teachers to pivot between online and in-person learning on very short notice. And teachers do have plans for modified support for students who might be isolated or quarantined at home due to exposure to a positive case outside the school or in their families. 
We have adjusted to the concept of pivoting from an educational perspective, with full realization it takes the collaborative effort of a whole school, supported by the school system, to make this happen effectively for students.
From a framework for expectations related to instructional minutes, planning, teaching and assessment established at the system level, to the communication with families, decisions related to online formats and platforms and ensuring access to internet as well as digital devices that includes the necessary signatures and inventory tracking, and the actual unfolding of the daily teaching and learning that also includes opportunities for extending learning as well as specific support for students who require a little extra attention to continue to grow as learners, the robust nature of our pivot to online learning reflects an amazing level of collaboration and cooperation across our staff. 
And I am the most fortunate of principals to work as part of this outstanding team!
There is no doubt the pandemic restrictions are taking a toll on all of us - our patience levels, our frustrations with endless restrictions on our personal movements as well as our professional practices, our reduced social interactions that sustain a school on so many levels, and the recognition that the success of our teaching and our students' learning is being impacted by all the layers of restrictions, changes and constrictions of learning experiences are draining energies and impacting our emotional wellness every day for staff, students and families. 
Collaborative practices and checking in on each other helps immensely; it does not diminish the pandemic situation nor relieve any of the vigilance and perseverance required by all of us to continue with schooling through the next few months. Collaboration and support does mitigate, however, some of the more overwhelming effects of feeling like we can never rely on the previous conceptions of school, teaching, learning and living we believed were foundational to successful educational experiences. 
We hope your child's online learning experiences were positive and accessible - they were the result of a tightly woven web of multiple levels of support and effort by everybody at the school as well as the CBE - and of course was the result of our families' extremely strong support of the school in every possible way. 
Together we will weather this storm too!  
Lorraine Kinsman, Principal 
Eric Harvie School 


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Eric Harvie School

357 Tuscany Drive NW Calgary, AB, T3L 3C9
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School Contacts

Lorraine Kinsman
Assistant Principal
Benjamin Strand
Education Director
Prem Randhawa
Trina Hurdman

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Morning Start
8:20 AM
3:05 PM
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