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Teachers learn new methods
Workshops focus on health and well-being in the North

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Teachers from across the region descended upon Rankin Inlet for professional development during the 2014 Kivalliq regional teacher's conference this past week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tusarvik School principal Aubrey Bolt, right, of Repulse Bay finalizes a sale with artisan Jerry Ell at the arts and craft market sponsored by the 2014 regional teacher's conference in Rankin Inlet this past week. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The teachers were kept busy with a packed schedule at the conference, which came to a close with a community square dance on the evening of Feb. 20.

The conference featured workshops on planning instruction and assessment, making learning transparent to students, Northern context, culture and tradition, and student wellness and community health, among others.

The keynote speaker list was scheduled to include Sandra Herbst, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Dr. Martin Brokenleg.

Grade 4 teacher Elsa Pinkohs of Tusarvik School in Repulse Bay said she found the conference interesting and informative.

She said she found the session on health and wellness to be quite helpful.

"We did that session with Page Marshal of Iqaluit, and she told us about some of the success stories throughout Kivalliq and the Baffin," said Pinkohs.

"It was interesting to hear about schools that have done things really well, focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

"It all focused on well-being, and she introduced us to a number of approaches that are proven to work."

Pinkohs said she was also impressed by the kayak program that's been run for a number of years by teacher Glen Brocklebank at Victor Sammurtok School in Chesterfield Inlet.

She said she was very interested to hear Brocklebank talk of the funding he's accessed to support the kayak program.

"There is a lot of funding available, but sometimes we don't always know just how to access it.

"The Chester program is amazing in that he (Brocklebank) has been able to build all these kayaks with the kids, but, also, teach them to overcome their fear of the water and learn swimming skills.

"I found that really interesting because it revolves around life skills and it's so hands-on.

"I took a lot from health and well-being because it plays such an important role up here."

Pinkohs said although she was really tired at the end of the conference, she's looking forward to applying some of what she learned back in her Repulse classroom.

She said when you try a new method or approach with your students, you often know right away if it's going to work.

"We have more than 400 students registered in a school designed for about 250 kids in Repulse Bay, so we're maxed out to the point where we hold classes everywhere.

"Every room is taken up, even the kitchen, so we don't have a lot of the flexibility that some of the other schools have to do these kinds of programs.

"They're going to build a new school in the next two years in Repulse, so there will be more space.

"We did take over the old health centre and our shop teacher is teaching small engine repair there in the afternoons, in addition to our carpentry program."

Gord Billard of John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat gave the conference a big thumbs-up.

He said he's taken a few things from the workshops he's looking forward to trying in his classroom, as well.

"I've been to a lot of these conferences over the years and this was a really good one," said Billard.

"The variety of workshops was good, and I had a chance to do a lot of different things I've never been able to try before.

"I enjoyed the workshops on yoga, self-help and bullying with the Nunavut Embrace Life Council.

"The council actually contacted us in Arviat to ask us to do an anti-bullying video."

Billard said he intends to try and use what he learned about yoga upon his return to his Arviat classroom.

He said he's also become a "Tweep" since attending a "Twitterology" workshop at the conference.

"Having a regional conference about every four years is good timing, because a lot of people like to have the opportunity to take a break and go south during professional development week.

"During the years we don't have a regional or territorial conference, a lot of teachers look forward to getting out for the week, not just for the southern lifestyle, but for the learning opportunities available down there.

"If they held the conference every year or two, it would probably get a little too repetitive.

"But this one was well-done and, from what I've heard, most of the teachers who came are glad they did, so organizers like Lisa Kresky here in Rankin deserve a lot of credit for that."

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