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  Weekly Feature (May 2, 2008)


What Teachers do on Professional Days
by Jennifer



What do teachers do on Pro-D days? Students get the day off from school; do teachers get that too? No. But what we do get is pretty cool: we get the chance to grow, to learn, to refresh, renew, and reconnect with our profession and each other.

We use this time to go to conferences which offer well-known speakers and skills workshops. We get the opportunity to be inspired by a powerful speaker, discover a new perspective, learn something new, and bring these things back into the classroom to you. Recently, most of the team attended the April 24 – 26 Science Teachers’ Catalyst Conference in Kelowna.

I asked several teachers if they would share an important idea, perspective or skill that they took away from the conference. Many spoke about the opening speaker, Simon Jackson, a young Canadian who’s made his life remarkable by his passion for the environment. He opened the Kelowna conference, and spoke about “the power of one."

At 7, Jackson helped to save the Kodiak bear and discovered what he calls “the power of one”: “one person no matter their age, no matter where they live can make a difference for all life.” At the age of 13, he headed the successful popular movement to save the rare white bear called the Spirit Bear and its habitat. Both Brad and Helen spoke of a significant change in perspective, and how inspirational “the power of one” is. I find Goethe’s words inspiring too: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, do it! Boldness has power and genius in it. Begin it now.”

Paul and Renuka take us from the opening message of empowerment to a perspective on skills. Paul attended a computer workshop. “I learned some new technology and that’s what I wanted. I want to be able to use computers to be a better teacher.” And Renuka takes us from the often-frustrating field of computers to other classroom struggles with reading and writing. She attended a workshop sponsored by the National Geographic Society and says, “I learned some useful activities using content-area texts (such as Science texts) with students who struggle with reading and writing.”

I went to the TEAL conference where I discovered how Socials and English teachers can work more closely together, sharing material, benefitting students. Dina and I are going to try that in September.

This is what we do on Pro-D Days.

For more information on the Spirit Bear and Simon Jackson

For the text of a Jackson interview

To browse The National Geographic Society website


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Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens)

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