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Nov 24

Chris Smeaton

From the Desk of the Superintendent- November 24, 2013

Well it is Grey Cup day and if the result is best for our neighbours to the east of us, there could be a provincial holiday called tomorrow. Although my Eskimos are not there, I will be certainly cheering green later today! Go Riders Go!

This past week, I’ve had a number of opportunities to discuss leadership and change. Interactions with our leaders and staff showcasing innovative practices either face to face or through technology are extremely exciting. I was also in the teaching (and learning) mode presenting at our own leadership program as well as to the Gonzaga University master’s cohort. Change, which is a constant, must be viewed as a journey or process as opposed to a destination or event. There is no greater evidence of change than within our education system. Inspiring Education, a conversation with Albertans three years ago has charted our course for an improved education system. The 3 E’s, engaged thinker, ethical citizen with an entrepreneurial spirit are required to ensure we prepare students for their future and not our past. Tied to Inspiring Education is the Ministerial Order on Student Learning. It sets the stage for the 21st century classroom in preparation for the educated Albertan of 2030. This wave of transformation is not something that will pass and so I highly encourage staff, parents, community members, business and industry and post-secondary to be fully aware of Inspiring Education and the Ministerial Order on Student Learning. These will guide us to the classrooms of tomorrow!

Over the next couple of weeks the Board of Trustees and Senior Administration and the local executive of our teachers’ association will be gathering to celebrate. The first celebration held on November 26th at 5:30 PM will be to recognize the signing of a memorandum of agreement that has concluded the collective bargaining process. Once the Framework Agreement was signed off between the Government of Alberta and the provincial Alberta Teachers’ Association, our local agreement was negotiated in just two meetings. This quick turnaround is a tribute to both sides who were open and transparent and willing to give and take. I commend our teachers’ negotiating committee for their excellent work and a special thanks to local ATA President Mark Nixon for his leadership. Our second celebration will be our annual joint ATA/Board liturgy and Christmas dinner held on December 3rd.

The Board of Trustees continue their torrid pace since being sworn in on October 30th. Trustees attended the annual fall general meetings of both the ACSTA and ASBA in Edmonton last week and participated in various workshops to assist them in their roles. The steep learning curve (especially for our new trustees) was well supported by a board governance workshop held last week, facilitated by Jim Gibbons from ASBA. The November board meeting upcoming this Wednesday typically has the fullest agenda of the year. The Board will be approving the 2012-13 Audited Financial Statements, 2013-14 Final Operating Budget, and combined 3-Year Education Plan/Annual Education Results Report. Once approved, all of these documents will be on our website. The Board will also be providing topics for their upcoming meeting with the Council of School Council Chairs meeting on the evening of December 2nd. A new wrinkle this year for school divisions and one that caused signficant stress is the conversion of our financial statements from the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to Public Sector Accounting Standards (PSAS). Please note that our board meetings begin at 6:00 PM and are open to the public.

I will be heading out into our schools this coming week and conversing with our administrators about their school plans. These meetings allow our administrators to share what they’ve done in the last 30 days to make learning a priority in their schools and what they will be doing in the next 30 days. To often the “management” of the building/division takes us away from the core purpose of education which is learning! Getting out of my office and into schools reminds me what is most important too!

Taking a look at the calendar of events, some of our highlights are:

  • St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek is having a professional development day on Monday.
  • Our Learning Leadership Team will be involved in professional development on early learning on Tuesday morning. PD opportunities on various topics are offered on a monthly basis to all of our system and school leaders.
  • The first of our faith formation sessions for all staff interested will be held on Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM at St. Basil Catholic Education Centre. Fr. Kevin Tumback will be presenting on the Eucharist.
  • Our Inclusive Education Liaisons will be meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Our senior education leaders will be attending our regular zone CASSIX (College of Alberta School Superintendents Zone 6) meeting this coming Thursday afternoon and evening and Friday morning
  • As we begin the season of Advent, schools are busy preparing for the coming of Christ. Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge has their classroom Advent celebration on Friday at 8:00 AM. St. Catherine School in Picture Butte will host their 1st Advent Celebration at 10:45 AM and St. Joseph School in Coaldale will have a Blessing of the Advent Wreath celebration at 11:30 AM on Friday as well.

Some of my favorite reads from Twitter this past week that I would like to pass along are as follows:

  1. Snapchat is a highly used application for teens. Here is a great article about Snapchat for parents. http://www.snapchat.com/static_files/parents.pdf 
  2. From the author of Drive is a post entitled Dan Pink: How Teachers Can Sell a Love to Learning to Students  http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/01/dan-pink-how-teachers-can-sell-love-of-learning-to-students/
  3. And finally a great article on providing effective feedback for learning. http://www.teachthought.com/learning/20-ways-to-provide-effective-feedback-for-learning/ 

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