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Principal Message

Archived Principal Message: July 2014

Michelle Speight, Principal Glendale SchoolSTAFFING CHANGES AT GLENDALE SCHOOL

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward

CBE Values

  • Students come first
  • Learning is our central purpose
  • Public education serves the common good

As our new Chief Superintendent, David Stevenson notes, our organization is strong and clear on its core purpose. We are recognized for our excellent results in student learning and our focus on continuous improvement. Together with families and students our staff play an important role in making the Calgary Board of Education a wonderful learning organization.

The number of staffing changes that occur each year is highly dependent on Alberta Education’s budget, the number of staff returning from leaves (medical, personal and maternity) as well as retirements.  As a result of these factors, for the last five years, teachers in the Calgary Board of Education have not been able to apply for any classroom teaching jobs- with the exception of a few positions that opened as the result of new schools opening.  This year we had “one open round of teaching postings” which included over 350 teaching positions and as a school board, we are experiencing significant staffing changes throughout our system.

The staffing process in all school boards can be complex.  As a unionized environment, the CBE has a number of different processes in place to support teachers and support staff who hold a variety of different types of contracts.  Sometimes this means that staff who do not have seniority may not necessarily be able to stay as part of a school community and should funding or student enrolment change in a school, this can further impact a school’s staffing complement. To add to this complexity, sometimes policies prevent us from sharing the sensitivities around this process directly and transparently with our school community.

Every employee plays an important role at Glendale School. We all contribute to student success, whether we work in the classroom or support the work of our schools and losing staff this year has notably had significant impact on our community.  As one parent explained to me recently, the staff here are truly like “family” and seeing them leave “affects us all deeply.”

Chief Superintendent Stevenson also notes that our students are ethical, contributing and accomplished young people with wonderful futures ahead of them. We know that this is because together with you, the role that our staff have played in the lives of our students is notably significant.

It is difficult to be saying goodbye to our valued staff members that are leaving Glendale School at the end of this year.  Their commitment to continuous improvement, constant focus on student success and dedication to public education are all qualities that the staff, parents and students of their new schools will treasure.

Thank you to all of our families who were able to join us on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 for our staff and grade six farewell assembly. We wish all of the staff the best of luck at their new schools and know that they will take lots of wonderful memories of Glendale School with them:

  • Mr. Vaast
  • Ms. Taha
  • Ms. Ling
  • Mrs. Oliver
  • Mr. Knaut
  • Ms. Schwandt
  • Ms. Rowley
  • Mrs. Williams

WHAT CAN WE ANTICIPATE FOR THE FALL AT GLENDALE SCHOOL?

Alberta Education’s Vision for Learning

As Alberta Education explains, “The world around us is evolving at an unprecedented rate and the speed of change is increasing every day.  The world is changing. Work is changing. Jobs are being crafted around technology that didn’t even exist five years ago.

Today’s students require a well-rounded education to prepare them for the future. We live in a world where anyone can discover the secrets of the Arctic without leaving the house, or peek at the depths of the ocean at the click of a mouse. Knowledge isn’t limited to textbooks anymore.”

For educators, this means a changing curriculum and an evolving and reciprocal approach to learning.  As a result, the role of teachers is constantly changing and shifting.  Rather than holding and transferring knowledge, we are helping our students to build understanding by constructing knowledge with new learning tools and are inspiring them to become ethical citizens and engaged thinkers with an entrepreneurial spirit.

There is inevitably change ahead of us as we move forward.  A new curriculum, new approaches to assessment and a focus on competencies will inevitably force all educators within the province of Alberta to look differently at the work they do.  We have already started to see some of these changes in the Calgary Board of Education.  This has included system-wide expectations to support students with goal setting and innovative approaches to documenting learning and assessing students.  In the fall, we can expect a new format for the K-9 report card which aligns carefully with Alberta Education’s vision.

Inquiry Based Learning at Glendale School

Inquiry-based learning means different things to different teachers and researchers.  Inquiry stands for a fundamental principle of how learning is conducted.  It refers to a variety of processes and ways of thinking that support the development of new knowledge.  Inquiry is essentially a process of active exploration by which we use critical, logical, and creative thinking skills to raise and engage in questions of personal interest.  In inquiry, students are provided with topics that they truly wonder or care about.  Through these passions and curiosities, students make observations, pose questions, examine books and other sources of information to see what is already known in light of experimental evidence; use tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data and finally, propose answers, explanations and predictions and communicate the results.  Inquiry requires identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking and consideration of alternative explanations. Ultimately, learning through inquiry empowers students with the skills and knowledge to become independent, life-long learners. 

We have a great deal to celebrate about the innovative teaching practices that have become an integral part of  how we approach teaching and learning at Glendale School.  In fact, much of the focus on Inquiry Based Learning at Glendale school strongly aligns with the vision of Alberta Education.   As we move forward, Inquiry based teaching methods will continue to be the foundation of the approach we have to learning. On a personal note, in my mind, inquiry is and has always been a cornerstone of my own teaching practice and instructional leadership.  I feel very grateful to be the principal of a school with such a rich history in this work and feel honoured to be given the opportunity to continue this work with this talented team of educators. 

A Strategic Focus on Literacy

At the core of Alberta Education’s plan for Inspiring Education, is a focus on literacy and numeracy. In order to engage effectively in the Inquiry process, we know that our students must be literate and have proficient numeracy skills. As we look at the data available to us at a school level, we know that we have work to do to support our students in the area of literacy.  This is especially evident in division one (K-3).

Judith Irvin notes that an effective school wide literacy plan guides a school’s action on many levels.   As we move forward in the new school year, we seek to create a comprehensive literacy action plan that includes a focus on:

  • Strengthening literacy development across the curriculum
  • Literacy interventions for struggling readers and writers
  • Developing a culture for supporting literacy through our school development plan
  • Building leadership capacity in this work
  • Supporting teachers to improve Instruction

As a school community, we will take some initial steps for this work in the fall.  Through this process, we will also examine how all staff becomes involved in this work.  This will include leveraging all of our resources; our library assistant, lunchroom supervisors, educational assistants, administration and classroom teachers- everyone will be involved.

The Glendale Principles of Care

We will also continue to keep your children safe. Parents can expect that their children are and will always be the most important part of our work.  The teachers at Glendale School have been working together to develop a common set of expectations and language that help to build a culture of trust, respect and safety. This language will also support students in building social skills and a common language to support them in problem solving and conflict resolution. 

In the fall you can expect to hear the following language being used in and out of the classrooms:

  1. Take care of myself
  • I will speak up when I have a concern, problem or worry
  • I will commit to working hard to be the best I can be
  • I will come to school fed, dressed appropriately for the weather and demonstrate clean hygiene
  • I will keep myself safe by making safe and caring choices
  1. Take care of others
  • I will keep my hands, feet and objects to myself
  • I will respect others, taking action as a bystander for what is right
  • I will treat others the way I want to be treated
  • I will be a friend, be empathetic and reach out to include others
  • I will respect all people and I will be there to help others in need
  1. Take care of this place
  • I will be a responsible and caring citizen
  • I keep my space clean-pick up garbage/recycle
  • I will be generous with my words and actions
  • I will respect school property in and out of the classroom
  1. Take care of my learning
  • I will work to the best of my ability
  • I will believe in myself and see the best in others
  • I will come to school ready to learn- by bringing materials, doing homework, having my agenda, with my indoor shoes
  • I will ask for help when I need it
  • I will utilize learning strategies to solve problems independently

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
~Heraclitus

As Margaret Wheatley notes, throughout human existence, there have always been “people willing to step forward to struggle valiantly in the hope that they might reverse the downward course of events.”  As we know, not all succeed.  But as parents, you know that when we face challenges the most difficult thing is often stepping forward to serve, instead of being overwhelmed and withdrawing; the key is to act. 

I am continually inspired by the parents in this community and as educators, much of our work is to help students develop the skills to steadfastly meet the many challenges we face throughout life.  Heraclitus’ quote above also reminds us about the important learning journeys students and teachers experience each day in the classroom.  In this rapidly changing world, we have tremendous obligations to support our children in understanding our failures and challenges and to not be discouraged.  Likewise, we can support our children to be open to opportunities that present themselves and to accept and step forward into the challenges ahead.

I sincerely look forward to the challenges ahead.  Together we will embrace and celebrate everything that is wonderful about Glendale School.  In light of the changing educational landscape, we know that there will be change. We will however always covet the essence of what makes Glendale School a wonderful place to learn and grow.  And we can only do that together.

Have a wonderful summer with your family and friends.  I sincerely look forward to seeing each of you in September.

Most sincerely,
Michelle Speight

Principal, Glendale School
mmspeight@cbe.ab.ca

Archived Principal Messages