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Convention speakers inspire again this year


March 15, 2022



One of my favourite parts of teachers’ convention, besides getting to see colleagues, is how speakers can challenge my thinking or provide much-needed inspiration. Though there is still one more convention to go before they are all completed (as of this writing), I wanted to highlight a few of my takeaways from the sessions I’ve attended.

Dr. Toni De Mello talked about the importance of acknowledging diversity every day and how it is good for our classrooms. She also emphasized how students, communities and teachers need to see themselves in our schools and the curriculum. A very timely message given the concerns over the draft K–6 curriculum.

Chris Hadfield explained his philosophy of redefining your goals and celebrating your accomplishments daily, questioning where you are headed next, and setting new challenges for yourselves.

Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe presented many strategies for teachers on how to deal with the pressures during what she called “a season of distress.” One comment she mentioned that stuck with me is that you can’t out-think stress. This resonated with me a lot as I know we have all been dealing with many stresses over the last few years.

Jann Arden talked about her family, the early parts of her career and mentioned that “good things come from bad things.” Jann talked about how the many hardships she faced opened the door to other opportunities. Her humour and inspiration were welcomed as the world is dealing with many heavy issues in connection to the invasion of Ukraine. Plus, she introduced me to the term “shacket” (a combination shirt and jacket).

Rick Mercer complimented teachers for the work they do with students, especially after he tried to engage a class on Zoom. He learned quickly how hard it is to engage tiny black squares. I’ve had the fortune to talk to Rick before, and each time he details the importance of his high school drama teacher and the impact she had on his career and life. As teachers, we sometimes forget just how much positive influence we have on our students and their futures.

Of course, there are many other speakers at convention who are equally as profound, and this merely scratches the surface of what teachers heard and learned. Convention always provides inspiration, and this year it did not disappoint. ❚


Entertainer Jann Arden reflects on some of her experiences attending school in Springbank as a girl. Arden delivered the closing session of the South Western and Southeastern teachers’ conventions on Feb. 25. Arden said she had a bad attitude as a student but many teachers encouraged her to make the most of her potential.


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