Teachers build their skills

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North Otago’s recent teaching and learning conference at St Kevin’s College had something for everyone and will go a long way to developing teachers’ skills long-term.
That is the view of one school principal who attended the event.
The conference has been held biennially since 2008 and this year attracted about 170 educators from around North Otago, Dunedin, South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury.
Waitaki Valley School principal Deidre Senior said it featured about 40 workshops on various subjects, including music, maths, reading and writing, conducted by educators and educational institutions such as the University of Otago and the University of Canterbury.
She said the appeal was that teachers and principals were able to take part in specific workshops they wanted to learn more about.
“We always have a variety of workshops that enable teachers to pick and choose an interest they want to follow, try something they haven’t tried before, or find out more about something they know a little bit more about.”
She said over the years, the conference had moved away from more of an information and communication technology focus.
“Now it’s about learning and how we can engage kids and really think about how we learn and pull it [the school curriculum] all together and make it more effective.”
The conference featured three keynote speakers – Janelle Riki-Waaka, who spoke on culturally responsive practices, Brian Annan, who talked about future-focused learning to prepare children for jobs that do not yet exist, and Marcus Akuhata-Brown.
Mrs Senior said Mr Akuhata-Brown’s presentation on “lifting the glass lid” when it came to expectations of pupils was particularly inspiring.
“He talked about connecting the head and the heart … it was described by a couple of people as being like a good movie.”
Overall, she believed the conference was a success and had enhanced its stature as being one of the highest-quality and beneficial conferences for educators in the lower South Island.
“It started off in 2008 – I think with about 100 of them – and we’re now up to 170, so it’s certainly growing in reputation.”