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TEACH! Conference 2012

By Daniella Favis

The second annual TEACH! Conference was held at Kingswood College in Grahamstown in March 2012, attracting some 160 delegates from independent and state schools from all over the country.

“The emphasis was on teacher motivation, teacher resilience and helping them cope,” says Theuns Opperman, head of studies at Kingswood College and organiser of the event.

Dr Jonathon Moch, CEO of SuperSmartTeachers, used his experience in raising the current standard of teacher capabilities to kick off the conference with a seminar on teacher resilience. He emphasised the impact of time, relationships, rest, diet, exercise and finances on how teachers teach, as well as how to manage these areas effectively to improve the practice of teaching. “Educators found this workshop quite valuable, because burn-out is a big problem,” says Opperman.

Relevant, exciting presentations and workshops

“Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is also very topical because we all have kids in our classes who suffer from this,” says Opperman. Dave Pughe-Parry, who was diagnosed in his mid-40s and who formed the ADD coaching service called Living ADDventure, offered teachers advice on how to deal with learners who have the disorder.

There were presentations on career guidance, how to prepare for the future, leadership in schools, empowering teachers and learners to use technology and social networking in the classroom, and on giving knowledge value, as well as exhibitions of books and interactive whiteboards known as SMART boards.

Bringing big ideas to Grahamstown

The Kingswood College Council, during a forward-planning lekgotla, recognised that there were very few local opportunities for ordinary teachers to develop their skills, and developed the TEACH! Conference as a solution. Opperman says: “We find that the Eastern Cape is quite remote. These kinds of workshops always happen in Gauteng or one of the other big cities and then there is only one person who can possibly go. So we decided to bring the speakers and the presenters here, make a big conference out of it and open it up to other schools to make it more accessible to everybody.”

Opperman explained that the conference fees paid by independent schools were used to provide some state schools with complimentary tickets. “Educators attended from public schools in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and parts of the Eastern Cape, like Port Elizabeth. Next year, we hope to host more Grahamstown public schools as well.”

Attendance issues aside, Opperman feels the conference was a success and the response very positive. “What was heartening is that I had a number of schools who came last year who came again this year, my favorite being Transkei Primary School,” says Opperman. “They came down in two buses last year with 20 teachers and they did the same thing this year, so we must be doing something right.”

Category: Winter 2012

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