Event included launch of professional learning communities for Christian school educators
About 800 delegates at the recent Educators Convention presented by the Ontario Christian School Teachers Association (OCSTA) heard about the importance of taking time for Sabbath rest from keynote speaker Marva Dawn.
A teaching fellow in spiritual theology at Regent College, Dawn emphasized the need to inject opportunities for renewal and refreshment into one’s daily life as an educator.
“She reminded us that as very busy educators, we need to take time for worship, time to play,” says Diane Stronks, OCSTA executive director. “(We need) to take time to enjoy life with our families and our friends and to take rest, Sabbath rest from our very busy tasks.”
Keynote speaker Peter Schuurman, professor of World Religions at Redeemer University College, also offered a stirring message on hospitality, challenging listeners to explore whether they are as welcoming to people outside their regular community as Jesus was of the Samaritan woman at the well in the New Testament story.
“He particularly mentioned Muslims. Do we have a place where we can dialogue with them?” says Stronks.
An annual event, the fall Educators Convention provides an opportunity for attendees to be refreshed and renewed by connecting with others in the field, learning new skills and knowledge and listening to inspirational messages.
A highlight of this year’s event was the launch of professional learning communities for Christian school educators by OCSTA and the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).
The launch included a series of workshops which involved educators in either like grades or like disciplines gathering to begin the process of formalizing an ongoing professional learning community.
Teachers Cyndy Regeling and Kevin Huinink both say they found these sessions particularly valuable.
“This is my second year teaching third grade, so I loved the networking and know it will be useful in the future while planning and preparing,” says Regeling, who teaches at Timothy Christian School in Barrie.
“It was comforting to know that other teachers struggled with implementing a math program or developing a writing curriculum.”
Huinink, Woodland Christian High School teacher, notes the Educators Helping Educators sessions had been well planned and supported from both OCSTA and the OACS, and included “some very productive conversation as well as a desire to continue in formal contact.”
Huinink adds he very much appreciates the opportunity the annual convention in general provides to get together en masse with educators from like-minded schools.
“It allows me to feel connected with a huge group of people when at many other times through the year I feel quite alone. The (relationships) I’m able to revitalize are very valuable to my sense of belonging as well as further connection.”
— More to come