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A lesson from convention


March 17, 2021 Jason Schilling, ATA President

Teaching to me has always been a practice of reflection. Like most teachers, I spend time reflecting on a lesson, my interactions with my students and colleagues, and what I can do differently (or better) the next time. There’s always room for improvement, always something new to learn.

Teacher’s convention this year provided another great opportunity to learn and reflect. I was fortunate this year to introduce distinguished speakers such as Anna Maria Tremonti, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Jesse Thistle and Rick Mercer. Each of these speakers were unique in their presentations, yet they still managed to challenge my thinking. One common theme began to emerge from each speaker — their admiration for teachers and the support you are providing students during the pandemic.

Anna Maria Tremonti talked about the power of conversation, something each teacher and school leader knows is the key to creating strong relationships in their schools. She also noted that change is painful and hard for people, but at the same time powerful. This is a lesson well known by anyone working in education this last year.

Cassie Campbell-Pascal reflected that we need to just do our best and be consistent with how we go about our lives, that perfect is simply too high of a bar for anyone to achieve, that our character is built with how we push beyond our comfort zone.

Jesse Thistle moved me to near tears as he spoke of his life and how everyone deserves a second chance. Jesse commented on how we all have the power to choose, and that those consistent choices provide hope and are powerful even if they are the smallest of choices. His honesty in his presentation was a testament to how far one can come when empowered and supported with fellowship.

Finally, Rick Mercer talked about his love for the arts, particularly drama, and his love for writing, something he would not have explored if it weren’t for the encouragement of his Grade 3 teacher.

With their words of encouragement, support, admiration and love for teachers, each of these convention speakers emphasized and amplified the significance of teachers’ impact on individual lives and on society in general. And that’s probably the best lesson I took away from this convention season: during a year of great turmoil, teachers provide hope.

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