While students were away from the classroom on Friday, May 5, more than 1,000 secondary teachers hit local movie theatres—to learn. District 24-Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) members participated in a TED talk-inspired session, delivered by their colleagues and community members as part of a day of learning on a range of topics.

During his Human Curriculum talk, Bob Kline, teacher at Huron Heights Secondary School, reinforced the idea that teachers can demand excellence and have fun at the same time. “Powerful and personal connections with students encourage learning on a daily basis,” he said.

Each session was unique and provided timely information for staff to use in their schools on a daily basis. “Over the last year, opioid-related incidents have gone from 20 per month to two per day,” said Sloden Lackovic, staff sergeant with Waterloo Regional Police Services. “People are unaware of the Fentanyl crisis and we need to educate about the dangers.”

A quote displayed during Look Deeper Than a Smile presentation.

A teacher from Waterloo Collegiate Institute presented Look Deeper Than a Smile, which was an autobiographical presentation on the presenter’s personal journey with depression. She explained what it is like to with depression, along with some of the personal struggles that our students may have to deal with on a daily basis.

Each morning session touched on the importance of student and staff well-being, whether it was cognitive, emotional, mental or physical. The morning sessions included:

  • The world is your classroom: Pack your bags and go travel!The presenter shared how travel has molded them into the teacher they have become.
  • The Fentanyl crisisAn overview of how the opioid crisis has developed, current trends, facts and dangers associated with the drug, presented by a Waterloo Regional Police Services’ staff sergeant.
  • What I’ve learned from you: The human curriculum and contemporary teaching – Fostering a positive school culture through storytelling.
  • Look deeper than a smile – The presenter shared their journey with depression and the struggles kids may be dealing with on a daily basis.
  • Education reform for dummies – The presenter allowed teachers the chance to consider new ways to deliver the curriculum.
  • Safe spaces to brave places – Using theatre, acting and improve techniques, the presenter shows how teachers can create powerful, positive spaces in any classroom.
  • Understanding your digital footprint – The presenter showed teachers how to embrace the use of social media, how to use it effectively and how to control your digital footprint.

During the afternoon, staffs picked from one of 30 subject-specific workshops, run by the Education Services Department of Provincial OSSTF and Waterloo District School Board Subject Associations.

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario—Waterloo Region members spent the morning working on assessment, planning and collaboration activities. In the afternoon, members attended a workshop on creativity, hosted by musician David Usher. Professional development opportunities were offered to designated Early Childhood Educators, and Educational Assistants and Child and Youth Workers, at their home schools.

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