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Last updated October 12, 2018

This week I had the privilege of attending the Teachers Matter conference that is hosted each year by Karen Boyes, head-honcho at Spectrum Education. The conference is primarily to support classroom teachers, (of which I am not), but given my January is usually pretty quiet, I thought I’d use the opportunity to observe one of my secret mentors at work.

Here’s what I discovered. You can’t put professional development in a box.

Because I’m not a classroom teacher, my primary reason for attending conference was to observe how the conference was put together. Karen has been running these conferences for 10 years, so I figured I’d gather a few tips and tricks for our own conference which is held in November each year. It was primarily a mission in conference logistics, so I wasn’t expecting the content to be particularly relevant or inspiring. How wrong was I?!

The Teachers Matter Conference was not about reading, writing and arithmetic, it was about learning how to learn, building resilience, setting goals, developing relationships and discovering what it takes to be ‘Simply the Best’. The conference may have been developed for classroom teachers, but I definitely got my fill. I left with pages (and pages!) of notes that are completely relevant either to me personally, or to you – the people and organisations I support through Exult.

So here are 3 of my ‘aha’ moments from Teachers Matter 2015:

1. The world is changing fast and it will never go back.
I still see countless community groups resisting digital technology because they don’t think it’s relevant or necessary to their organisation. But here’s the thing – whether you like it or not, whether you understand it or not, the rest of the world is connected and connecting online.  The internet is not going to suddenly disappear, so you might as well jump on the wave now and learn to swim while it’s still in the shallows.

It’s not about using technology or online tools to replace what you do. It’s about using it to refine what your do. Technology can help you enhance your relationships, improve your services and amplify your reach. Why would you ignore that opportunity?

2. We need more than one strategy.
Life is not static or predictable. There is no sure-fire, one-size-fits-all solution to anything. So whether it’s adding up a string of numbers, building personal resilience or raising funds – we need to have more than one strategy and we need to know how to use those strategies ahead of time.

It’s one thing to have a plan, but how do you account for factors that you can’t control? What other strategies can you pull into play at a moment’s notice?  How will you know what strategy to use when? Professional (and Personal) Development is about developing those strategies before you need them.

3. We need to talk more about our mistakes.
For years we’ve been told that mistakes are just an opportunity to learn, and while we parrot it on the outside, most of us still hate to ‘fail’. Why? Because we think we are the only people who do!

If we collectively pluck up the courage to share our mistakes, we might actually have a chance to reflect on them and learn from each other. Bringing our mistakes into the open allows other people to do the same. If we want to tackle depression, loneliness and anxiety in our communities, it’s time we dropped the notion that anyone has it ‘all together’.

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