The Bulletin

AWSNA Great Lakes Teacher's Conference

Thursday, March 2011

Chicago Waldorf School supports teachers’ professional development in innumerable ways through its membership with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).  Most recently our school hosted the Great Lakes/Ontario regional AWSNA conference that welcomed teachers from over 30 Waldorf Schools in the surrounding 9 states. Keynote speaker presentations, community resource sharing and an offering of over 15 independent workshops provided diverse opportunities for teacher & administrator training, community building, and institutional development.

Chicago Waldorf School hosts 120 teachers & administrators for Regional AWSNA Conference

While our students were off enjoying a midwinter break, our teachers and staff were busy hosting the AWSNA Great Lakes Regional Conference. Over 120 participants from the Midwest braved a Chicago winter to gather together for lectures, workshops and conversation. Keynote speaker and Waldorf science teaching expert, Michael D’Aleo, spoke on a theme he called, Riding the Tiger.

In presentations over the course of the three day conference, D’Aleo explored the challenges of collegial relations in a fast paced, ever changing world. D’Aleo characterized our “tiger skin” as our inner world of emotions and offered that when we move beyond our own self interests we can meet change with equanimity and courage. Then we not only survive, but we thrive. He challenged us to look at what he referred to as our generic relationships. Do we behave in certain patterns within our families? Do we see co-workers only in specific roles? Are we afraid to challenge each other? Are some people authorities, others subordinates? D’Aleo also explored how a Waldorf curriculum develops courage, a necessary virtue for living in the modern age.

In the Early Childhood program the children are given many opportunities to meet the physical world. They run, climb, jump, fall. They meet the earth and courage grows. In the grades, courage wells up as a true inner experience of soul life. The rich imaginative pictures that come out of the curriculum enliven the child’s sense for how the outer world can resonate in one’s own being. In the high school, students develop the courage to think their own thoughts while searching for the universal. Alongside courage, they also develop the ability to love the other. How inspiring!

We began every day by singing with our own Mr. Spade. There was also group eurythmy with former CWS teacher and friend, Barbara Richardson. Several of our faculty and staff led workshops on topics as varied as the meditative life of the teacher and school governance issues. During the delicious meals there was plenty of time for talking about our school communities and the common issues we all are facing. At the end, many participants said that they not only loved the conference, but they also loved being in our beautiful school.

Thank you to our hardworking teachers and staff members for making this conference possible!

Submitted by Carol Triggiano