Teachers as Students… What?!

YES! Two days living the life of a student and doing what teachers love doing – learning! Teachers from Northern Lights and St. Paul school divisions (as well as others) will be attending the Northeast Teachers’ Convention in Edmonton on Thursday, February 15 and Friday, February 16.  So, while your kids are taking the days off, their teachers are in classes.


Finding ways to reach children from different heritages and experiences is part of the daily puzzle that teachers construct. This year’s convention is emphasizing how first nations truth and reconciliation fits in the puzzle. Melissa Petruk, convention board rep for the St Paul teachers’ association local, says, “It’s so important to learn the background that a lot of FNMI (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) students are coming from; what has happened to these students and how their history has influenced them. The important part is that we as teachers are learning about how (the residential school experience) affected the communities, and how to help each other.”


Charlene Bearhead, who grew up in Saddle Lake and is the Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, will be present, “to inspire teachers and students to further educate themselves as well as to support and facilitate the building of positive and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.”  (http://umanitoba.ca/centres/nctr/staff.html)


Other local presenters who will provide more information related to First Nations education include Dr. Diana Steinhauer, originally from Saddle Lake; Alsena White, who retained the Cree language despite 10 years at Blue Quills Residential School; Lana Whiskeyjack, an artist and a current doctoral student at Blue Quills which is now an accredited higher education centre;  Glenda Bristow, former teacher at Frog Lake and Heinsburg schools, now the Director for Technology and Programing at SPERD; and Lara Ripkens from Cold Lake, a workshop facilitator providing strategies for non-Aboriginal teachers to connect with Aboriginal students.


Other sessions at the convention will provide teachers with ways to meet changes in education, to look after their students’ and their own health and wellness, and to adapt technology to the classroom.  Petruk says that professional development is important, “To help teachers be better at what they do. Teachers’ Convention focuses on staying on top of current trends in education.”


Yes, teachers will enjoy the entertainment. Yes, teachers will meet with colleagues to network and socialize. Yes, teachers will expand and improve their professional skills, and are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. And yes, teachers will return to school after the Family Day weekend refreshed and reenergized, eager to take your kids back into their care