For the last several years, The Lutheran Schools Partnership has hosted a professional development day for teachers on the Friday before Presidents Day. It has provided a needed opportunity for teachers to learn and grow as educators, but has also served as a wonderful time to worship together and be reminded we are blessed to be a part strong community of Lutheran educators here in northeast Indiana. After many months of online professional development, I had hoped that by Feb. 12 of 2021, we would be able to have this event in-person. By Thanksgiving, it was clear that an in-person event would not be possible, and so we did what we have learned well the last year - we adjusted our plans, and saw how God works good out of all things. We found that there were actually multiple benefits to having our event happen on Zoom!
Knowing how meaningful worshipping together is, we desired to maintain that in our online event. Rev. Dennis Goff of The Lutheran Foundation planned and provided a live Zoom worship, with a well-timed message about “lagniappe” (you can watch his message here) that reminded us of how the Lord is always blessing us with more of his goodness and grace. Mr. Tavis Schlicker, director of choral programs at Concordia Lutheran High School, provided video of the A Cappella Choir. Their beautiful music was provided both before our devotion time, as teachers logged into our Zoom event, and during our time together as the choir led us in song. While these students would likely have not been in attendance at a live event, we were thrilled to have them as a part of our online worship!
Had we been in-person on Feb. 12, we likely would have been able to host only a few local speakers. Because we met on Zoom, we were able to have speakers from greater distances, including outside of Indiana. Our presenters for the day included local experts like Dr. Jeanne Zehr who spoke on how neural hijacking affects the brain, Michigan school counselor and Nurtured Heart Approach trainer Lisa Dykstra speaking on how to support students with ADHD as they deal with the effects of virtual learning and changes due to COVID, and Mary Widenhofer-Heyse, a teacher retired from Holy Cross, who spoke from Alabama on supporting large motor development in early childhood.
Normally, when teachers attend a conference, they must choose a sectional, and miss the other offerings of the day. Because this event was held online, and our presenters allowed it, we were able to record the sectionals. This will allow teachers to watch sectionals they could not attend live, learn more, and earn more professional growth points for licensing.
While we missed our time of in-person fellowship between schools on Feb. 12, each school was encouraged to participate in our online professional development together as a faculty at their own building, so they could discuss what they were hearing and learning, and enjoy each other’s company. We also know that teachers have been missing eating lunch together each day due to COVID protocols in schools, so our food budget for this event was shifted to offering schools some reimbursement of their lunch if they shared it together. We pray that our teachers still felt a strong sense of being a part of God’s family of educators in northeastern Indiana on February 12!
The Lord continues to show us His goodness, mercy, and love in all things in extra measures - the word “lagniappe” is very fitting. So far, the year 2021 has already provided ample opportunities to continue to make adjustments and learn new ways of doing things- our TLSP Winter PD event was no exception. I am so grateful for presenters and participants who were willing to adjust to make this event happen, and for all the ways it blessed us as workers in His kingdom.