Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week One

The first week of school is always very exciting and incredibly exhausting.  This year was no exception….

Tuesday, September 8th came upon us quickly, and though we were ready for Opening Day, I was still unable to sleep the night before.  Like many students, thoughts of what lay ahead and what may have been forgotten kept me up the night before school was to start.  I was very excited to see the familiar faces I had missed over the summer, was curious to see how much some of the students had grown during their time away, and of course, was worried that I would sleep through my alarm.

The first day went relatively smoothly, and once the homerooms were completed our staff had a great opportunity to reconnect with each other.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were incredibly busy (as they are every year).  Our Mini-school group made their way to Strathcona for their annual retreat (they are due to return Monday afternoon and have been enjoying magnificent weather-see photos here).
We now need to prepare for our first PAC Meeting (Tuesday, September 15th at 7 PM), host our Welcome Back Grade Assemblies (on Wednesday, September 16th) and plan for our Annual Grade 8 Retreat (September 22 and 23).

The greatest challenge of the first week was dealing with the new Information system many school districts across the province have adopted.  MyEdBC is an online information system for tracking student records and communicating with the Ministry of Education.  The new system has many advantages and as we become more comfortable with it, I am confident it will be a good thing.  But, as with anything new, there are some significant struggles as people become used to doing things differently. Unfortunately, the learning curve has been exacerbated by the system running incredibly slowly.  Many of us have been forced into doing work outside of regular hours, when the system has fewer users and is more efficient.  This past weekend I spent several hours reviewing our school timetable and getting my thoughts organized. I am feeling much better about where things stand and my awareness of what we need to do first.

On Saturday, my wife and I ventured up to Whistler to watch a friend ride in the Gran Fondo (I felt a little guilty about not having done the ride myself).  I also took the time to review my experiences from the summer.  I recall writing about how I would need to refer to it when work and life got more difficult.  They did this past week, and it was good to be able to look back at all that our family experienced and learned this summer (below is a video of the trip).
It feels good to be back and I am looking forward to this school year.  I also want to thank our Clerical team, Counsellors and Vice Principals who have worked exceedingly hard to ensure all the necessary organizational work of the first few days has been taken care of.  They have had to slog through some very frustrating circumstances, and done so very well.  Thank you also goes out to our students and parents who have had to be patient as we worked through the difficulties of the new information system.  It will get better, and please rest assured that our staff is doing everything they can to make the changes that have been requested as quickly as they can.

It was a good first week.  Let's see what week two brings...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Happy New (School) Year!

It has been almost a year since I last posted to this blog…  I have no excuses, other than to say my first year at Matthew McNair Secondary School was spent getting to know the community (students, staff, parents etc).  I very much enjoyed my first year at the school and am eagerly anticipating my second.

A promise to both myself and the school community is that I intend to write more frequently here.  I will share my views on educational change, inspiring things I see around our school, and what we can do to help each other continue to improve.  The goal is for me to post at least once per month (and hopefully more frequently).

We also will be creating an online school newspaper, something where I enlist the support of students to tell the stories that happen all around our school and community that perhaps don't get all the attention they deserve.  We will look to post updates to the site every two weeks and hope to have the first issue posted before the end of September (check this site for the address).

Hopefully the summer has been enjoyable for all of you.  The weather was among the most warm and dry on record, and you had plenty of opportunities to enjoy our beautiful province.  Hopefully you did!

I got to spend 40 days travelling through Europe with my family and enjoyed every second of it.  If interested, you can read more on the blog I created for that trip.  It was educational, enjoyable and very tiring, so I am very happy to be home and looking forward to the energy that comes with a school building full of excited staff and students.

The video below is one for our teachers on the first day of the year….
For our students...

And for our parents…

Tuesday, September 8th will be here soon.  McNair starts with a homeroom class (10:00 AM for Grade 8-10 students and 1:00 PM for Grade 11 and 12's) on the first day and then we go to regular length days starting on Wednesday, September 9th.

We look forward to seeing you all again, and if you are new to McNair, "Welcome"!  You are going to love it here.

Have a great long weekend and we will see you on Tuesday!