Recently, I had the pleasure of attending two professional development events. At the first, the majority of the Pearson ALC staff travelled to Seattle for an international conference jointly sponsored by Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. There, we enjoyed workshops on a variety of topics that will help us to be better, more informed and up to date teachers.
One that was particularly interesting for me was focussed on how teachers can assist students who have experienced trauma (think of the Syrian refugee crisis as an example of a traumatic event). Besides enjoying the discussions among us veteran teachers, I learned how a person might behave in a classroom if they had experienced trauma. Lead by two UBC professors, it was a fascinating and useful 90 minutes.
The Pro D in Seattle also meant that my colleagues and I had a chance to chat together at one of the many daytime snack breaks. An American conference is a delightful experience if you’re a fan of good food. The generosity of our hosts was overwhelming at times (and tasty, no doubt!), but, not to worry, we Canadians dutifully ate our share. Along the way, we shared ideas and, often, discussed our school and how we might improve our programs in positive ways.
Last Friday, I went solo to the Vancouver Writers’ Festival. Teaching writing is a constant challenge and finding new ways to engage my students was one of my goals for the day. In the morning, I listened to six poets and learned more about modern approaches to this ancient form. Most memorable to me was a Danish poet who, before she read in English, performed one of her poems in her native tongue. I understood not a word, but her voice carried me away nevertheless. The eerie mask worn by a local First Nations poet while he mixed sounds on his Mac and mixing board capped an entertaining and enlightening hour and a half.
My final event on Friday had six writers reading work based on the theme of “belonging.” Their comments on process, editing and inspiration will give me more to share with my students about the writer’s life, particularly since I do a unit on memoir writing every fall, with the workshop helpfully featuring four very different styles.
So, that’s what, at least for me, constitutes an interesting and enlightening month of October and, I hope, gives you some idea of what Pro D can mean to a teacher and to the students he serves.