Saturday, February 14, 2009

The need to inspire and to motivate...

Another local teachers' convention has passed and sadly, I can barely remember what took place when reflecting upon yesterday's event. This meeting is a fantastic and expensive professional development opportunity to have as a local organization to inspire and excite teachers about their profession. Unfortunately, I left feeling tiered and unexcited about the pile of work I had lugged home to complete during my long weekend.

The local leaders at the convention made no use of the screen lit up behind them during their speeches. The screen remained blue in the background, ready to show a video at some point in time about the 75th anniversary of our provincial association. They spoke at one point about being a profession for the 21st century, yet used no technology at all in their speeches. How hard it is to have a few power point slides with images or words that highlight what it was you wanted the audience to remember? I find it funny that we as teachers do what we can to incorporate all multiple intelligences into our classrooms, yet at convention, we model what we are told not to do as educators; stand at the front of the room and talk to the audience with no interaction. Our board provide teachers with laptops and most have cell phones. It would have been easy to have teachers participate in audience polls, a rolling blog discussion or comments up on the screen. Much more engaging, and a model for classroom participation.

I feel disappointed to read on other teacher's blogs from other provinces and countries about their sharing opportunities that take place at their local conventions every year. I question why this type of sharing doesn't take place at our convention. The only time it does occur is when our provincial organization organizes as "Showcase" every few years that replaces the local teachers' convention. Why doesn't our local organzation ask its teachers if they would like the opportunity to present or share something during the breakout sessions?

I know you are probably asking yourself why I don't just join the organizing committee instead of blogging about all of the problems with the convention. Perhaps that is something I will do next year. But I do know that I'm not alone in my opinion of the local convention. So I want to hear other's opinions. What would make a great local teachers' convention for you? What would you like to see or experience at this yearly event? For those of you who may read this from other parts of the world, what makes your local conventions great? It can only get better. Please comment and share your ideas! Let's work together to make this a fantastic PD opportunity for all!

On that note, let me share a couple of inspirational type videos that I have seen a few times at a number of workshops that I've attended in the past few months. There must be a reason that more than one presenter has chosen to include them during their session. Maybe I will feel inspired to get started on that pile of marking I need to get done this weekend... enjoy!

First, a video from Joshua B. Bloom for Teachers at the Foothills College in Los Altos, CA and then posted on YouTube:

Second, a video from Tom Woodward of Henrico County schools in Virginia on YouTube:


  1. Joanna, Regina Teachers' Convention was just another symptom of a profession in crisis. We are in a period of a death spiral until a new generation of educators are confident enough and/or passionate about their profession and its governing body...the STF.

    About a decade ago, as an executive member on the RPSTA, I believed that I could make a difference in my organization, participating on committees such as the Teachers' convention planning team. I was young and passionate about teaching. Less than a decade out of university, I was excited to contribute to everything my profession offered me. On a weekly basis, I spent most of my waking hours in meetings, and even spent voluntarily part of Easter at Spring Council.

    But times have changed...we have changed. I still love teaching. I will defend this profession when called upon. My days are still filled with meetings that seem to never end, and I choose to have a life outside of school. So it is with those who put on this convention.

    Our colleagues who dedicated their time, talents, and energy to planning the convention never intended to have Rex Murphy put me to sleep. I imagine that, like me ten years ago, they wanted to inspire and to energize us. However, I speculate that they probably could have used another 10 enthusiastic, progressive members on the committee, people with fresh new ideas and are risk takers.

    Idea #1: Change the venue. Try another convention centre or the Brandt Centre.

    Idea #2: The idea of an expensive keynote is getting old. The most enthusiasm I saw yesterday (apart from the mass exodus at lunch) was during Letterman's video. Teleconferencing in a keynote in the proper environment will work also and free up some budget.

    Idea #3: Bring in contemporary displayers such as SmartBoard, Elluminate, Apple. Highlight some other local businesses/restaurants.

    Idea #4: Bring in student performers. The Mandolin Orchestra, albeit talented, has nothing to do with me as a teacher.

    It's time to start the next 75 years as an organization on the right foot.

  2. Great to see you blogging. I always appreciate when teachers, particularly Saskatchewan teachers offer to share and reflect. It's the possibility to start conversations that can lead to change. I'll be your newest subscriber.