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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 1, September 2004

Wellness is seeking BCTF support

by Julia Johnson

The summer is over. The long, hot, lazy days of reading, interspersed with barbecues and family vacations will soon be forgotten as the onset of autumn calls us from our varied resting places to step into the rhythm of school, where myriad challenging circumstances await.

In June, we left our workplaces eager to be away from it all, eager to empty our minds of the refrain Too much to do and too little time. We sought respite from the expectation Do more with less. We left behind classrooms overcrowded with desks and lacking resources. We stepped into summer seeking restoration and renewal. We hoped the slower pace would give us an opportunity to dream that maybe teaching could once again be satisfying and inspiring. We hoped to store enough energy to last another school year. And we wished that our fairy godmother would come wave her magic wand to resolve the social, economic, and emotional issues of our students that leave us heartbroken. With anticipation and renewed vitality, we crossed the threshold of another school year, only to realize that our dream that things would be different was indeed only a dream.

The issues and the circumstances we left behind did not go away when the school year ended and now we must continue "to fight the good fight" by seeking creative solutions to whatever is before us. How to do that is the big question. A good place to start is by enlisting the support of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the many workshops the BCTF provides.

In August 20–22, the BCTF Training Department held a summer institute for PD associates and leadership trainers at BCIT. The theme of the summer institute was "Teacher Leadership Supporting Learning." Over the last 26 years, the BCTF has acknowledged classroom teachers’ expertise and the skills to teach other teachers. PD associates and leadership trainers are chosen from teacher applicants who respond when a call is made by the BCTF.

Classroom teachers and PD chairs can request BCTF workshops in Aboriginal education; French programs; global education; social justice; student behaviour; health and safety; teachers on call (TOC); engaging conversations (teachers mentoring teachers); school culture including sensible school planning and strengthening relationships in schools; performance standards for numeracy, reading, writing, and social responsibility; teacher wellness in personal wellness, workplace health, and stress; and parent workshops.

Teachers who are already overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks that are part of a working day may not see that the answer to their turmoil is their participation in a workshop. However, being in the company of PD associates and leadership trainers who understand the working and learning conditions of today’s classrooms, who have empathy for the issues teachers face, and who are passionate about their role to support teachers and learning can indeed be uplifting.

Where else in an educational setting can you be valued for your diverse training, your experiences, and your opinions?

In a BCTF workshop, you have experiential learning activities; you can explore what you know, as you learn about other structures and strategies regarding teaching and learning. The interactive, social approach used in BCTF workshops creates a safe environment for risk taking and encourages conversations where meaning is constructed. This type of workshop facilitates the transfer of learning to the classroom enabling you to use what you have learned.

It is the mission of BCTF professional development to nurture the mind, body, and spirit in all learning activities. Knowing the intent of these workshops and considering that the job of teaching isn’t getting any easier, it would be worthwhile for you to access the lifeline being offered by the BCTF when you become dissatisfied with working and learning conditions and feel you are drowning in teacher expectations and responsibilities. Attending a workshop may be the solution to maintaining your personal well being.

To book a BCTF workshop, call 1-800-663-9163 (local 1857) or 604-871-1857, or check the web site pdonline.bctf.ca.

Julia Johnson, a learning resource teacher at Red Bluff School, in Quesnel, is a BCTF-PD wellness associate. E-mail johnsonj@abccom.bc.ca.



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