Edvance Educators Annual Gathering 2019 - Carolyn's thoughts

By Carolyn Van Zwol  |  November 4th

The Edvance Educators Annual Gathering began with communal worship led by the talented members of Momentum Choir. Music is not a large part of my life, yet I found myself taking a moment to catch my breath. Soon I was caught up in the worship and able to forget about my to-do list and focus on spending time with the Lord. What a privilege to be able to invest in my relationship with Him to start the conference! 

As we transitioned to our keynote speaker, my mind pondered the various relationships within my classroom. Dr. Rob Loe and Relational Schools’ research has affirmed that a student’s well-being is affected by classroom relationships. The feeling of being known by one’s peers creates a positive well-being within students. Relational Schools research finds that a positive teacher-student relationship enhances a student’s overall sense of well-being. The general well-being of our students and the sense of belonging that they may or may not feel at school, in turn, impacts their academic achievement.

While many of Dr. Loe’s findings focused on teacher-student and student-student relationships, I could not help but wonder if we could apply these findings to teacher-teacher relationships as well. Will our well-being as educators flourish if we feel a sense of belonging in our staff rooms? 

At this annual gathering, we worshipped together, learned together, shared lunch together, collaborated and even carpooled together. There is a strong sense of being “in this together” that permeated the halls while we rotated through speakers and workshops. I hope that each teacher sees the value in fostering teacher-teacher relationships not only at this annual gathering but also into their staff rooms and beyond. As teachers, I imagine our impact in the classroom would only grow if we too felt a sense of belonging and being known.

This conference provided an opportunity for us to connect with our Lord. It enabled us to network with fellow teachers and foster a sense of belonging. And it served as a reminder of the imperative of fostering community within our classrooms. What a privilege to spend time focusing on the relational needs within our schools and ourselves!

Carolyn Van Zwol is Vice Principal for Student Life and a French teacher at Laurentian Hills Christian School in Kitchener.