School Online – Journal – Day 19

It’s Friday, and our fourth day of Online School.  There are still classes without teachers, and teachers without timetables, and students and families who are awaiting emails. With more than 11,000 students and more than 500 teachers, there are few processes that successfully make the transition from traditional secondary schools to our mega online school.

When a communication is sent out to everyone, there is always a potential that it will be misunderstood.  This past week we sent teacher timetables out via email, and did not anticipate the confusion that resulted.  Where teachers did not yet have courses there were placeholders printed, which made little sense to them.  And at the bottom of the timetable was an explanation about our Careers and Civics courses, which are half-credits, explaining that Careers classes would begin with the even numbered sections, and Civics with the odd.  This was needed because the printing of timetables in Quadmesters left no room to indicate first or second half for these two courses.  So, many of the teachers with no courses appearing made the assumption that this message was for them, and that they were teaching Careers and Civics. Not the confusion we needed!

A secondary school of 1200 students would have a Principal and two Vice Principals, one office manager, and three other office staff.  Ours of 10 times the size has the equivalent of five Principals, seven VPs, and as of yet only a handful of office support, most of whom have yet to gain access to our information systems.

Today marks the beginning of three schools within schools, plus a special education team. So we will have groupings of P and VP, organized by groups of subject areas. I, as .5 P, will work with another .5 P, one full VP, and a .5 VP.  Our team is the largest, responsible for MST, or Math, Science and Technology.

Almost all of us are retired administrators, so once we complete our 50 days allowed by our pension board, we will need to be replaced.  My .5 agreement has in practice been 1.0 for almost all the days since we began on September 1.  So it won’t be long until I, and my retired colleagues, will need to transition to a new team.

The days aren’t like the ones I experienced in the past as a Principal.  I can’t see teachers F2F, so I’m using email and phone (and calls through MS Teams), and everything takes twice as long. I didn’t participate in the hiring of our staff, and haven’t had the pleasure of meeting very many of our teachers.  So each interchange requires much more time, to ensure that communication is clear and that my “need for speed” doesn’t offend.

As I write there remain more than 100 emails in my inbox, arriving this afternoon as I was on the road heading back to Sunny Slope. I responded to the 20 or so that arrived after noon, but will only return to the remaining emails in the morning. I know this will frustrate the senders, but there is little action that they will be able to take on a Friday evening, so I’m hoping that tomorrow morning will suffice.


I am looking forward to having our smaller team.  I think that teachers will appreciate it too, having a fewer number of possible contacts.  We should be more responsive, and be able to play to each of our strengths as we smooth out the path for teachers and students.

Tonight relaxing. Tomorrow email. Sunday planning for the week.

I hope all of you manage the first… and leave the other two for next week.

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