Thank you to all the teacher volunteers, organizers, presenters, committee members, and coordinators who helped to make #STAConvention2018 such a success! This event would literally not be possible without you and we, your colleagues, are so grateful for the many hours of hard work you put in on our behalf.

This year, Convention’s 150+ workshops were spread out across four sites, each one with its own focus. The Aboriginal strand of convention kicked off with a traditional Grand Entry, drumming the entire group of 300+ teachers into the gym at Earl Marriott. There’s a video on our Facebook group if you weren’t able to be there, but want to check it out. Attendees were treated to a few traditional songs, with a brief explanation as to their purpose and significance before Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell welcomed us to the territory.

When speaking with a couple of teachers afterward, they said that the Grand Entry experience was very powerful. They loved the drums and the singing. “Being part of something like this helps us to feel connected. It brings us together, and makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger”, one said.

Charlie Demers was the keynote at the other three sites (Primary, Intermediate, Secondary). The presentation focused on childhood trauma, a heavy topic, but addressed issues and shared information through personal anecdotes interspersed with jokes and humour. To say that teachers LOVED it would be an understatement! Some takeaways from the keynote include:

  • Know that childhood trauma can have an impact many years after the fact.
  • Just because the child didn’t experience the trauma while in your classroom (or while being your student) doesn’t meant that they won’t process it, or be affected by it while in your classroom.
  • We don’t know when the trauma is going to manifest.
  • When a child is acting out or misbehaving, it is so rarely about us.
  • Teachers need to help advocate for the kids, and it’s important to try to be aware of what’s going on (outside of the class).
  • Front line people (teachers + others) are being impacted by vicarious trauma.
  • Mental health is important! Take care of your mental health so you can help support others!

After the keynote, many teachers lined up to speak with Charlie. Some simply wanted to say thanks, others to make connections and share their personal anecdotes. The presentation was very well received, with teachers saying things like, “This was the best keynote I’ve ever attended!! (And I’ve been to a lot!)” “It was good to laugh a little, we needed that! Especially at this point in the year.” “Amazing + funny! Loved the joke about being from Newton!” “It was full range! An excellent balance of serious and funny. The joke about the Union made everyone laugh.” “It was a really powerful presentation. I was touched and saddened, and even cried! But then the reality was balanced out with some comedy, and I laughed. Really good job of lightening a very serious topic with comic relief.”

If you had the opportunity to attend an excellent workshop, I would love to hear about it! I managed to connect with a few teachers during the day on Friday, but would really love to speak with more people, and share some of the wonderful highlights from #STAConvention2018. Please reach out, send me an email, and I’ll come bring you a coffee (or tea!) during your lunch break on Thursday or Friday.

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