Sep 02
A Case for Hope

The first day of school on Wednesday was the most significant observation of hope in our students that I have witnessed in a while.

The well-known psychologist and hope researcher, Dr. Charles Snyder, defined hope as a positive cognitive state based on goal-oriented determination with the corresponding planning to achieve those goals.  What I observed in our students was just that – hope in action. So many students were cautiously prepared to embrace new friendships, adapt to new guidelines for school life, and encounter the rigors of the various subject areas of their new grade level. The first-day-of-school experience energized our teachers. Within a few short hours, it seemed as though the dreariness that all the pandemic related restrictions had resulted in was beginning to correct itself.

In the world of business, one can sometimes hear the admonishment that “hope is not a strategy”. In our work with young people, however, cultivating hope is indeed an intentional strategy. In a pre-COVID published article in Forbes magazine (Feb. 2019), hope was credited for increasing productivity, resistance to stress, cognitive flexibility, and social cohesion in the business world. 

Is this not what we seek to accomplish in education, too? Yes, it is – now more than ever.

I wish to share some of the positive assurances that Woodman teachers expressed, as we gathered to formulate a vision for our students before the first day of school this year:

“I am positive that better days are fast approaching!”

« Je suis positive que nous pourrons retourner à une certaine normalité pour retrouver et profiter du temps avec nos amis, ce qui nous a manqué beaucoup durant la pandémie. »

“I’m positive about the opportunity for kids to be engaged in extracurricular activities this year and looking forward to coaching again. Go, Wolves!”

« Je suis certaine qu’en travaillant ensemble, nous pourrons tous nous épanouir. »

Joining you in hope,

Ms. Krickhan, Principal


Jun 29
Last Day

As soon as students exit the building for the last day, staff becomes busy sorting through many stray materials, papers, and equipment.  A lone, unclaimed piece of paper was left on the Learning Commons printer today, and it caught my eye. The poem was entitled, “I am…” and it has no authored Woodman student name on it.  The poem reveals deep introspection, and captures the inner world of an adolescent.  It spoke to me. I hope that that unnamed student will know that teachers at Woodman see who they are, and are also feeling positive about the future of their students:

I am…
I am positive
I wonder, what am I gonna be when I grow up
I hear the wind whistling through the trees
I see the beautiful lunar rainbow
I want to do my best in school
I am positive

I pretend to be a statue
I feel the warm summer breeze
I touch the rain
I worry about next year
I cry for the sad ending stories
I am positive

I understand that success takes time
I say the purpose of our lives is to be happy
I dream that I achieve my goals
I try to do my best
I hope for better days
I am positive

To this student, and all of our students, let me say: What a year you have traversed; you did your best in school!  And now it is time to take a break.  Keep well!  Bonnes vacances!

Ms. Krickhan, Principal​
Jun 25
A tribute to our Gr. 9 students, shared with them on their June 21st Farewell

Despite the challenges of the last school year, you have stayed the course, have come to school when it didn't feel awesome, have logged on to the computer when all you wanted to do was stay under the covers, and have quarantined when 14 days felt like an entire lifetime. 

You are the group that, since March of your Gr. 8 school year, missed out on field trips, a sailing trip, a Quebec and Ottawa trip, athletic teams and clubs.  Oh, and let's not forget – no PATs!  One could say that you have lost out. 

But, let me share that I believe that what you have experienced will last you for a lifetime, in a way that a trip or a club may not.  You have learned to stick it out, get along with people in your cohort, and foster hope that tough times will pass and better times will return.  Fostering hope is an important life skill. These experiences will make you stronger than you could imagine, in the storms of life that inevitably come your way.

Know that life is waiting for you – just around the corner.  This pandemic is ending and there is an awesome world in high school awaiting you.  I do want to say, though, that even though high school is your next step, there is something special about our small middle school - where everyone knows your name and knows YOU - that you will miss.  The staff at Woodman will really miss you.  You are a special group that has been easy and fun to have in the school. You have set an example for the rest of the students.

Everyone in this building is standing by you!  Congratulations!

 

Ms. Krickhan,
Principal

Feb 12
Convention

The annual Calgary City Teachers’ Convention is a time of solidarity for the profession.  It is a time in which teachers, administrators, and support staff take pause, gather in community with colleagues that they may not see throughout the year, and become inspired to be available for their students and to impact their lives in more meaningful ways. Because this Convention is virtual, the best we can achieve at a semblance of togetherness is reading the participant names and messages that pop up within the virtual sessions we attend. Notwithstanding the physical distance between us, members of the profession have much to reflect on this Convention.  We have been supporting students and families during a time of fear and uncertainty, while also tending to our own fears for self and loved ones. Standing strong in the hallways, offices, and classrooms (virtual or face-to-face) during a pandemic - that is taking longer than we dreaded it might - is a great test of our mettle.

Yet, the rewards are ever within easy reach.  The main office staff rejoices in hearing student laughter coming from the gymnasium as students enjoy a few luxurious days of indoor PE.  Classmates conspire on who to send secret Valentine gifts to. They take off their masks in a relieving break during music class, in which they can be well distanced throughout the spacious cafeteria.  They dash outdoors at lunch, even when frigidly cold, just to greet their friends who may be in another cohort.

We always knew that school was a process of socialization as much as it was an academic trajectory. In case we forgot, we receive these reminders on a daily basis.  School is becoming, in some cases, the only semblance of normalcy for us all in an otherwise dull and monotonous daily pattern. Dr. Michael Ungar, renowned Canadian researcher on resilience, spoke to educators during the Convention about the value of accountability, routine, and a sense of control in the lives of our students. We are offering that on a daily basis, whether through face-to-face or Hub learning.  Keynote speaker and bestselling author of the memoire, Educated, Tara Westhover, stated in her address that we do not only educate the mind.  We educate the whole person. The most we can do for every learner is affirm their sense of self, to have them know that we see them as individuals, and to model for them how they should be treated.  Westhover assured teachers that our students will draw on this source at later moments in their development towards adulthood.

We know this pandemic will end, and, if we attend to the right things in the right measure, our students can come through this with increased resilience, improved sense of identity, and a stronger connection to their community.  Let’s all continue to work towards that end together – at home and at school.

Dec 18
A Toast to the End of 2020

Dear Woodman Families:

This final message of 2020 is being sent with awe at our collective accomplishments.  Whether through Hub learning, online learning for Grades 7-9, or face-to-face learning for Grades 5-6, the healthy partnerships between home and school are evident. 

Who could have imagined one year ago, that this is where we would find ourselves?

Through this pandemic, Woodman School is growing as a strong learning community. We have traversed, and are still traversing, a rocky road.  However, what is important is becoming ever more clear; namely, school communities are vital to adolescent social and emotional learning. And, teachers are versatile, lifelong learners themselves, who continually model resilience, flexibility, and joy in the face of adversity.

I am humbled to be part of this work, which is historic in its proportions. I wish to convey, on behalf of all of the staff at Woodman School, that we are well equipped and honoured to continue in the same trajectory in 2021. We will stand strong until this pandemic dissipates and until such time as normal school life resumes.

Until then, your children continue to be our daily inspiration.

With best wishes,

Marlene Krickhan, Principal

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Nov 10
Remembrance Day

This morning was historic, as the 500 members of the Woodman community commemorated Remembrance Day in their classrooms, silently and reverently. Under normal circumstances, important ceremonies are celebrated as one large community, in the main gymnasium of the school. I hope that very soon we will be able to do that again. In the meantime, though, we have still found meaningful ways to honour peace.

I shared the following words over the school PA system before watching our recorded version of the Remembrance Day ceremony with students in classrooms today:

Throughout the history of this land, and after this land became named Canada, there were moments of great conflict. On Remembrance Day, we think about the sacrifices of Canadians who gave of their lives to fight for peace. This was an effort that everyone took on, though. It was not just the soldiers. People across homes and communities knitted socks and mittens, drove ambulances, and delivered messages to the soldiers and their family members. Everyone worked to support the war effort.

Many first and second born Canadians, like me, may never have experienced war in their lifetime. I live a peaceful life in a peaceful country because of the sacrifices of my ancestors. Not everyone at Woodman school has been that fortunate. Some students have personally lived in, and left countries that experienced war. You have personally suffered because of it. Today is a day to remember all of that, too.

Presently, although we are not fighting a physical war, we are facing one of the most significant pandemics in the last 100 years. We do not see the enemy, COVID, per se. But we see everyone’s efforts to keep Canada safe, just like in times of war. When you wear a mask correctly, when you stay home when sick to protect others, when you refrain from sharing food and drink with others, and when you follow rules about keeping two meters of distance – both at school and in your personal lives - you are all contributing to the great efforts that will get us through this tough time.

I know everyone is fighting everyday, in the same way I am. We are fighting to keep Woodman School - and our staff and students - safe, both physically and psychologically. I thank you for all that you are doing.

Let us bless this land and acknowledge all those that have and continue to strive for its well-being.

Ms. Krickhan, Principal

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Aug 27
Staggered Entry Days and More

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Dear Woodman Families:

I am excited to be reaching out to you. I trust that you are all well, and as hopeful as I am to be resuming classes again.  Although some Woodman families have elected to participate in hub learning for September – and will not be participating in face-to-face classes at this time - you are all still part of our Wolf Pack and will continue to receive weekly emails from the school. 

Over the summer months, you will likely have been keeping abreast of the national, provincial, and Calgary Board of Education (CBE) plans for a safe return to school. The CBE has been actively engaged with Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services to understand and execute the many new processes that are needed to set us up for a successful re-entry.  The final details of the Woodman re-entry plan will be circulated to parents on Friday, when we have all of the needed information to communicate with you. In the interim, I wish to share a few important points:

Please see our Back to School page for information on :

  • Staggered Entry Days ​
  • Busing & Transportation
  • School Supplies
  • Office Hours

​Thank you for your continued support, which has been keenly experienced through your emails, calls, and well wishes since the cancellation of face-to-face classes were first announced in March. We are a resilient school community and I know we will get through the next steps smoothly

Sincere regards,

Ms. Krickhan, on behalf of Woodman staff


Jun 30
2020 Year End Message

Dear Woodman Families:

We knew this year would be memorable – 2020 would be a milestone worth celebrating.  2020 est une année marquante qui vaut la peine d’être célébrer. 

 

We could not have imagined what unexpected turns the world and our school life would take.  With the pandemic requiring all schools to cancel face-to-face classes in the middle of March, teachers and students were all thrown into a tailspin.  Learning, as we had previously known it, had changed completely.  Suddenly, we needed to stay home all day, every day.  We needed to learn in front of a computer screen, perhaps happy to “see” each other but also not really feeling the connection that we do when we learn together in real time.  

 

We missed important milestones that we were looking forward to, like the Badminton and Track-and-Field Season, Band Festivals, the Quebec Trip, and the Gr. 9 Farewell.   We even missed out on Provincial Achievement Tests, in Gr. 6 and 9.  From March to June, we may have forgotten what it feels like to be in Physical Education or Options classes.  We might have done anything just to get up early again, pick up our old routines, and come back to school with our classmates and teachers.

 

This school year has ended in the most inexplicable way.  We have been challenged in our thinking and in our capacity to grow and learn.  Students, parents and teachers have all demonstrated exceptional fortitude.  Although physically distant, there is a palpable energy of commitment to, and pride in our school.  Now, we must all commit to safely exploring our province and our neighbourhoods throughout the beautiful summer months.  Doing so will restore us and also help reduce the impact of this world-wide pandemic, increasing the possibilities for a safe and happy return to school.


We are a Wolf Pack.  I am very lucky to be part of it.  Nous sommes une meute de loups dont je suis fière d'en faire partie.

 

With warmest regards,
 

Ms. Krickhan, Principal

Apr 24
​Principalship in the Time of COVID-19

Over the last 15 years in education, messaging has abounded on how we are preparing our students for an unknown future and how, in order to be prepared for the future, we must foster skills such as critical analysis, problem-solving and innovation. Likely, no one in education within the western hemisphere could have predicted to what a rapid extent this messaging would rest heavily not only on students’ shoulders, but also on the shoulders of educators and all those adults who work in schools. We didn’t expect this crisis and nor did we have time to plan for it.

Until now, we relied strongly on day-to-day interaction - in live time - to assess and make continual adjustments to the learning needs of students. We were fierce about establishing a classroom environment that ensured a safe space, trust and equity in order to encounter learning together, providing multiple entry points for each unique learner in the class. We were able to rely on one another as a larger school community to provide students needed change and a re-set in their day – whether within the classroom, Lunch Room, Foods Room, Learning Commons, gymnasium, or in the main office. We excelled at this. It was and continues to be our daily heartbeat. This heartbeat woke us up each morning and compelled us to enter the Woodman School building with renewed vigor in responding to our call to public education.

Today, as a professional learning community, Woodman School is seeking to find new ways of applying those values to a brand-new online learning environment - supporting one another, our families and, most importantly, our students. This environment is not one we are native to. In fact, many angles of it call into question our ability to teach and learn in the same way as we used to. Likely, we cannot and nor should we.

What are we seeking to accomplish, then? 

We are holding on, with heart and mind, to our relationships with students. We are nurturing that through virtual classes, individual, small group and large group online video-conversations. We are building confidence in students to be able to adapt and respond to a crisis. We are modelling for them how to learn new technological skillsets and how to show dignity around how to both fail and recover in that process. We are learning the needed balance between flexibility and accountability. We are promoting a shift from external to internal locus of control. We are exploring the difference between “school” and “the school of life”. And in the process, we are continually analyzing what the lagging academic skills may be, which will need to be more formally responded to once regular, face-to-face classes resume. However, now is not a time to forge ahead with traditional academic learning, summative assessment and reporting as we knew it only a short 38 days ago, when we last had face-to-face contact with our 500 adolescent learners. We will remind ourselves of that, and our students, as we continue in our present state.

We will come out of this with forever changed perspectives around the learning process, who owns the learning, and what really matters for optimal learning to occur.

Our Woodman parents have been key to forging a deep confidence in our collective ability to be able to come out of this stronger and with more positive energy than we ever had before. Thank you, parents, for your stamina in guiding your children at home and for being true partners in learning. Thank you, Wolves, for the lessons you are providing me with as your principal-in-times-of-COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Ms. Krickhan​

Jan 17
Accountability Pillar Survey

Dear Parents/Legal Guardians:

From mid-January to the end of February, Alberta Education will be conducting the annual Accountability Pillar Survey.  Before the end of January, parents/guardians of students in Grade 7 will receive their survey in the mail from Alberta Education.  The envelope includes a self-address return envelope; however, if it is simpler for families to return it directly to the school, we will mail the survey results back to Alberta Education on your behalf. During this same time period, students in Gr. 7 and all teachers will complete their surveys online at school, led by the school administration.

All surveys are anonymous and ask questions about experiences with our school.  All parents/guardians receive the English version of the survey in the mail. Alberta Education also provides the survey in Arabic, Blackfoot, Chinese, Cree, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog and Urdu.  If you would prefer to respond to the survey in one of these languages, please contact the main office for a hard copy.

The Accountability Pillar uses a set of 16 indicators consisting of surveys of students, parents/guardians and teachers on: various aspects of quality; student outcomes such as dropout and high school completion rates; and provincial assessments of student learning.  If you “Don’t Know” the answer to a particular question, please skip that question and go to the next one, unless you want your response to count as a negative one.  It is preferable that you not answer any question with “Don’t Know”.

It is very important that parents/guardians complete the survey and return it to Alberta Education. Alberta Education and the public use the results of the Accountability Pillar Survey to assess satisfaction with the quality of education in our schools.  In addition, the Calgary Board of Education uses the information to improve teaching and learning for your children. Survey results for 2019-2020 will be available to school authorities in May 2020, and will be reported publicly as part of their 3-Year Education Plans and Annual Education Results Reports.  As a point of reference, I am including the Woodman 2018-2019 Annual School Results Report to this email, which is also posted to the school website; it highlights the school’s successes and areas of identified growth last school year:

Your voice matters. Your participation in the survey helps provide important information on the quality of education your child is receiving.  At Woodman, we have approximately 155 Grade 7 families.  A strong survey sample is necessary in order to implement changes based on your input.  The Woodman staff, and particularly the Gr. 7 teaching team, takes our results based on parental input seriously.  We thank you for taking time to thoughtfully respond. 

Sincerely yours,

Ms. Krickhan, Principal

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Friday, Sept 24 is a system-wide non-instructional day so there are no classes for CBE students. Have a safe long weekend and please continue to follow all public health measures #WeAreCBE https://t.co/2BCAzks4jb

RT @UsihChristopher: We all recognize the benefits of in-person learning. We are doing everything we can to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in our schools. We NEED your help! To all employees and students (who are eligible): Please get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Thanks for sharing message!

Thank you @JackJamesHS for sharing information about the history of Treaty 7 on the anniversary of its signing #WeAreCBE #WeAreAllTreatyPeople https://t.co/QeXj9cNonO

RT @Indigenous_cbe: Today is fall equinox - a time when daylight & nighttime share the sky equally. Today is also Treaty 7 Day - the 144th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 7. The 🌞 & 🌙s equality today teaches us how to honour the treaty...by walking together in equal partnership. #welcomeoko https://t.co/7nUdmGVAVL

A number of CBE schools have participated in #StudentVoteCanada last week and today to learn about democracy in action #WeAreCBE https://t.co/XugrIa8ZpC