This morning I met via MS Teams with my Principal colleagues, in our monthly association meeting. The meeting was structured around questions we had for our Associate Directors, System Leads, and others with central responsibilities. Many of the concerns will also be relevant for us when our students begin online next week, so it was time well-spent.
Cohort B arrived today, for their “bonus” Period 1 day. They will also be in attendance tomorrow, with an identical schedule as today, and then will return on Friday for their Period 2 class. They were new, but the teachers are pros by now, and the day went very smoothly.
The issue of transfers to the online school is a contentious one, with both technical and ethical roadblocks. The deadline was last Thursday, but there are many families who missed the deadline and are now appealing to school staff, Principals and even Superintendents. Not only is this an issue for the timetable, it could potentially impact all of our schools when reorganization takes place for the next Quadmester.
One of the challenges today is the list of 74 vacancies that have yet to be filled. These are long-term-occasional positions for those on leaves of various types. We are “cold calling” in seniority order, and inviting these teachers to join our school. However, the list that we have does not indicate who among them are already committed to similar positions in our bricks and mortar schools. Several have taken this as an opportunity to change their assignment for the year, neglecting to recognize that they are obligated to fulfil the duties of the position they originally accepted. So, some of our Principal colleagues are understandably upset when these teachers inform them that they’re switching jobs. Thankfully there is a consistent message that this is not possible, and they must honour their agreements.
Our numbers are now more than 10,000, and so the timetabling process involves lengthy “simulations”, and is moving slowly as a result. One glitch today was where there were 10 classes of the same subject in the same period, but the program was putting twice the number of students in five classes, and leaving the other five empty. No idea why the program might do this, but thankful that there are software developers able to jump in and remedy the situation.
I am anxious to hear which group will become my “school”. We will be dividing into subject-based groupings, so that we can better support the teachers for whom we are responsible. And I am looking forward to being able to respond to emails about teaching assignments with more information than “we’ll be able to let you know once the timetables are built”.
In the meantime, I hope our teachers are working their way through the Brightspace training materials, reflecting on changes they might wish to make to their courses, and anticipating a year of learning and growth. I hope that the opportunity to work on course teams that could be as large as 10 to 15 teachers will result in stronger connections, better courses, and improved student achievement.