Calgary schools were closed yesterday and will remain closed today for the Calgary Teachers’ Convention. Although there are those people who believe that this constitutes a two-day vacation for teachers, in reality it is a wonderful opportunity for professional development, idea exchanges and inspiration for educators. Having just presented at the nctca convention in Edmonton last week, I can tell you that conventions are coveted opportunities for most teachers. Where else can you find dozens and dozens of presenters speaking on topics relevant to your classroom and life in one building? I haven’t seen the convention booklet for the Calgary convention, but I assume it resembles the nctca one, which was most impressive. I did manage to attend a few sessions outside of my own, and spoke to many teachers there, and I left inspired – inspired to share my knowledge so that teachers can do a better job of educating our children. After all, that’s what conventions are all about – sharing knowledge and ideas, discussing strategies and trends, and walking away inspired and motivated.
When I first began teaching, I naively contacted our Language Arts Coordinator and requested that he send me all ideas and lessons he had compiled so that I might use them in the classroom. I was stunned to discover that no such "ideas bank" existed. And so I set about inventing my own lessons, and formulating my own strategies, as does every new teacher. And I drew on colleagues for ideas and attended conventions. There are thousands of teachers in the same boat, with precious little time to fine tune all they invent. That is the reason I love to present at these conferences. Why should teachers reinvent the wheel when it comes to teaching writing? For the past twenty years as a teacher. writer and writing consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to fine tune writing strategies and make them work in a classroom setting. If I can share those with teachers, who can then share them with students, why not? I would have loved it if someone had done the same for me so long ago. Judging from the feedback I received and the evaluations teachers left behind, they truly appreciated my shared knowledge and, according to the dozens of e-mails I’ve received since, telling me how much their students enjoyed the ideas teachers implemented after my session, they truly benefited from that knowledge. If that isn’t worthwhile, what is?