September 1, 2020 was a day unlike any other since I began “school” at age 5 in 1965. While students remain at home, our teachers have begun the first of three Professional Learning Days. But, unlike other years where we have met prior to the Labour Day Weekend, this one began online.
We were all online, viewing a welcome message from our Director of Education. Then we completed COVID-19 training and WHMIS training, with choices of video, slide presentation, or text.
Those heading back to “bricks and mortar” schools were then permitted to attend a staff meeting… but only 50 at a time in a physically distanced space. Next week that all changes when our elementary colleagues welcome classes as large as 30 into very small classrooms! ….but I digress.
Our online teachers didn’t yet know that they are our teachers. They found out that they are “excessed” at the end of today, after they had already met with half the school staff, and then with their departments. And they know little beyond the fact that they will now be leaving their school as of Friday. We have 8200 students joining us, so you can imagine how many teachers headed home to share with family that all that they had planned for this fall has changed.
Those of us who do know that we are working online, along with those who are occasional teachers, then headed on for more online learning: Anaphylaxis, Concussion, and Asthma. The last two are provided by a central organization whose servers could not keep up. So I did that training before bed.
I am excited at the prospect of working with teachers to extend their skillset in this new online environment. I wish I could whisper “it’s going to fun” to each of the teachers who learned today that they are “excess”, so that they don’t spend their nights worrying.
And I’m excited that we will be working with new tools, in a new way, and will be learning together.
But, in the meantime we have to wait until timetables are built, teachers are assigned, and we figure out how we will work as a team to support them and their students.
So, I’m awake at night as well, imagining scenarios, and brainstorming ways to utilize our technology in service of learning, connection, and growth.
I’m hoping to document our journey in a series of blog posts: three this week, and then daily after the Labour Day Weekend. Please comment, or contact me directly, to add your perspective, or to ask any questions about the new path we are building for our students.