Over 900 educators from across the territory gathered in Yellowknife last week for the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association (NWTTA) second Territorial Educators’ conference.
From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, teachers were invited to attend over 140 plenary sessions and keynote presentations in an effort to continue their professional development as educators in the North.
“It’s important for teachers to stay on top of the latest research in a number of broad areas, especially with the quick advancements in brain research and how that connects to learning and the developmental aspects of learning,” said Gayla Meredith, president of the NWTTA.
“To have all of the teachers in one location to connect, as well, that was a very important part of professional learning and engaging with colleagues, finding folks teaching different subject areas and different but similar streams, and working in similar types of community settings. It all really strengthens the network of support that educators can reach out to.”
Both local and southern speakers attended the conference. One of the most attention-drawing names was Dr. Gabor Mate, a physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction as well as Attention Deficit Disorder with the firmly held belief in the connection between mental and physical health. He opened the conference with a keynote focused on strategies teachers could use to restore a healthy balance in adult and child relationships.
The presenters were selected following a territory-wide survey, asking what topics teachers wanted to address.
“The sessions that I attended I found to be of great value,” said Brent Kaulback, assistant superintendent for the South Slave Divisional Education Council, who both presented and participated in the discussions.
“From a position of supporting Aboriginal language instructors, the sessions I attended were both on film making – integrating technology and filmmaking and animation into Aboriginal language programming is really an area we’re trying to emphasize this year. That fit very nicely with how we’re evolving.”
The conference was a followup from the last gathering, held in 2009, though Meredith said she hopes the event becomes a more frequent learning opportunity for teachers.