By Anita Buttemer - Waterloo, Ontario
Recently my colleagues and I from Suzuki Talent Education of Waterloo (STEW) attended the annual student and teacher conference of the Suzuki Association of Ontario (SAO). This year the conference was in Guelph. Bravo Guelph Conference team!
As has been the case every year, the teachers at STEW highly valued our time away together. We had 100% attendance by our faculty.
Since the SAO Conference moves to a different venue every year, the experience is different as well. We are particularly happy that our colleagues from neighbouring provinces and states also attend when travel distances allow.
On the Student Day, we had the opportunity to observe our students in group classes taught by wonderful teachers, and our students were able to reconnect with friends from past Suzuki institutes and workshops. These bonds are special ones – the children skipped to class, ate pizza, and had to chance to play their favorite pieces together.
As teachers, the opportunity to chat with colleagues over dinner and back at the hotel is priceless. The chance to “talk shop” and discuss interpersonal challenges we encounter on a daily basis as Suzuki teachers, and in some cases as “practice parents”, brings home to us how person-to-person communication cannot be replaced by all the wonderful technology we now have at our fingertips.
On the Teacher Day, we very much enjoyed informally meeting and chatting with colleagues. Some were new Suzuki teachers at their first conference. Others we may only be able to see once every few years, due to geographical challenges, and the scheduling conflicts that naturally come from being performing musicians.
The keynote speakers at these SAO conferences are always thought provoking. The subjects are as varied as the locale of the event. Sometimes we are blown away by new ideas and new approaches. Sometimes we are affirmed that our teaching approach is on the right track, and that we are happily on the same page as the esteemed guest speakers. Either way, the experience is invaluable.
I encourage all teachers to find a way to connect in person with our Suzuki community, whether it be attendance at a workshop, conference, convention, or merely driving to a “nearby” town to observe a colleague’s lessons for the day. Although we have geographic diversity and challenges, our commonalities as Canadian teachers greatly outweigh our differences. We can come together with music and make our country a better place!