Katie Lin, Staff Writer
Typically, teachers’ convention is a super-long weekend for students to relax and take a break from loads of schoolwork. But has anyone ever wondered what teachers’ convention is actually about? What do the teachers do?
Out of curiosity, Macsource has decided to interview four teachers (Mr. Zdunich, Mrs. Petrovic, Miss Williams and Mr. Kriese) on what they think teachers’ convention is about, what they like and dislike about it, and their favourite memories or experiences associated with it.
Teachers’ convention, as described by all of them, is a great opportunity for teachers to become “students” again and explore new topics, selecting the sessions that they wish to attend. In other words, the concept is similar to what we call “flex sessions” at Mac; the only difference is that teachers’ convention lasts for two days, and is located at the Shaw Conference Centre downtown. Once a year, teachers from Edmonton, Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park and Fort McMurray gather at the conference centre and attend this convention. Although this event provides a wide variety of sessions and topics, some of the main objectives are professional development and learning new teaching techniques. This is achieved by inviting speakers in to talk about their personal experiences, and giving teachers new insights on teaching, or even humanity and world views. It is also a chance for them to relax and meet with their colleagues and other teachers.
Teachers’ convention may sound a little more familiar now. But what do the teachers actually think about it? What do they like and dislike about convention?
All four teachers responded that they enjoyed having the choice of what to learn about, and reconnecting with old colleagues. Taking a break from teaching was also a very popular advantage. According to Mr. Kriese, “Teachers’ convention is a great time to recharge our batteries, get away from the stressful teaching environment, and get inspired by some interesting speeches. It makes us less cynical toward students. Instead of asking, ‘Why didn’t you do your homework last night?’, we can learn to understand students’ lives better and become more sensitive.” Perhaps convention is as much of a break for the teachers as it is for us students.
As for the dislikes, the teachers came up with some different answers. For example, some teachers like Mrs. Petrovic are used to a structured routine of coming to school, teaching, and then going home. When teachers’ convention rolls around, it sometimes puts them off their schedules and can be a bit unpredictable. On the other hand, Mr. Zdunich, Miss Williams and Mr. Kriese commented that sometimes there’s nothing interesting on the list of sessions, and it can be fairly difficult for them to fill out their schedules. Especially for Miss Williams, who usually finds about two drama-related sessions each year, while there are eight blocks to be filled. There are some other concerns regarding convention. For example, Mr. Kriese feels that sometimes it is not appropriate to have teachers’ convention when he is busy marking students’ exams or preparing for more lessons. But in general, it’s said to have many positive effects on the staff.
Finally, the teachers were asked to share their favourite memories about teachers’ convention. Mr. Kriese really enjoyed Lieutenant-General Roméo Antonius Dallaire’s speech, which looked at peacekeeping missions, humanity, good versus evil and other inspirational topics. Miss Williams particularly likes the fact that she gets to meet famous authors and listen to good speakers. A few years ago, she met Joseph Boyden, a famous novelist, rode a Segway and won a free submarine sandwich. On the other hand, the best memories of Mr. Zdunich and Mrs. Petrovic seem to be relaxing and reconnecting with their teacher friends.
I hope you now have a better understanding of what goes on during teachers’ convention and appreciated the two extra days of break, for staff and students alike.