Over the 1st weekend in September we welcomed a lovely group of teachers from a variety of schools across south east Queensland to the beautiful Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre for the Festival of Teachers.
The dance floor was packed, we shared beverages and speed dating on the first night and the main themes of the conference was to release the inner child and connecting on camp and outdoor educational experiences.
One of the things that I enjoyed witnessing most was watching teachers let down their hair and step into the shoes of their students in a re-enactment of school camp. But, instead of cordial, we had alcohol and instead of lasagne we had rack of lamb and barramundi! The wonderful team at Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre put on a great spread for the teachers.
Key messages from the conference were to not only thank teachers for their wonderful contribution in schools, but also to highlight the further possibilities of meaningful connections with their students outside of school. I am passionate about putting things into perspective and over the conference, one of my goals was to deliver a few perspectives to teachers, which I would like to share with you now.
Perspective #1 –
On overnight camps and experiences I often hear teachers and camp coordinators telling students how grateful they should be that their teachers are spending time away from their families, and giving up their time to be on camp. While I acknowledge this is a wonderful offering, I also challenge the same teachers or camp coordinators to recognise that the students too are giving up their valuable time away from their families. Many of them who have not yet got the resilience, social skills and experience of spending that time away from the comfort of their home.
Perspective #2 –
During the festival, teachers took part in Dragon Boating and a variety of other team building sessions. It was a real privilege to watch teachers approach me in the same manner as students to double check the items they would need to bring for activities even though these were explained just prior. It’s a great reminder to us all that we are only human. We can’t always be aware of everything that is happening around us. I am reminded that patience is not only a virtue but an intentional practice that we all should invest into our character. Teachers are only human and I really encourage the members of the community to not only recognise the great service they offer but also that they are just like the rest of us too.
Perspective #3 –
Among the great group of teachers there were those who found it very challenging to get their feet wet with Dragon Boating, yet excelled in our Domino Construction activity. The creativity of some teachers was matched with the physicality of others in different activities. All in all, it was great to see the variety of characters combining to build one beautiful culture. I believe most teachers by the end of the conference could identify how they as individuals could more intentionally respond to different experiences when they are taken outside their norm, and challenged with new learnings.
We summarised the conference with a viewing of the wonderfully imaginative animation, “Room on the Broom.” It was a wonderful way to summarise the conference, allowing each teacher to connect with one of the characters in the story and to see how they would be challenged when placed outside of friendship groups and comfort zones on outdoor educational experiences.
A message to the readers of this blog who were unable to attend the festival – If you get the chance, access the ABC iView app on your smart TV or interactive phones and watch “Room on the Broom” (if possible watch it with your students to help foster a sense of character development and the inner child – Hurry!! ends mid-September). The story has so many wonderful messages that will help build the right team culture for your classrooms and year levels.
I would personally like to thank the wonderful contribution of all teachers who attended the Festival of Teachers over the weekend, together with the wonderful staff at the beautiful Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre.
Although never easy it was a privilege to be away from my family, to spend a couple of wonderful days with wonderful teachers … and the return home was just as good!