By Karen Atkinson
It’s early fall in New England. All around me are signs of summer going to sleep. Gazing upon the goldenrod in full bloom and the maple leaves turning red along the edges, I observe just how magnificent the transition between seasons can be.
On this day, I’ve just returned from an outing along one of my favorite walks at this time of year. A soft, wide path meanders through a meadow lined with hundreds of hydrangea bushes, all in the process of turning a beautiful dusty rose. On one side of the path runs the Green River, on the other an open meadow leading to Owl Mountain. Stepping onto this peaceful path, I am lifted into a mood of both relaxation and focus. My thoughts begin to fill my heart with gratitude as I reflect on this past summer before it completely slips away.
In June and July, over 375 participants joined together to engage in our week-long professional development courses designed to offer inspiration and renewal for teaching and leading. During the first week, teachers from across multiple time zones and countries gathered online to practice and fine tune their preparation for teaching––each focused on a specific grade––and to develop the capacities needed to serve as school leaders.
Renewal participants began each day by engaging in the arts of eurythmy and singing before listening in on insightful conversations that explored decolonization and offered fresh perspectives on teaching through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. Small group breakout sessions focused on how to bring these new inspirations into meaningful experiences for Waldorf students today.
By the end of the week, a multiplicity of perspectives had been woven into a tapestry of cultural renewal, infused with fresh ideas designed to meet our Waldorf students of today and into the future. As one participant shared:
I appreciated CfA allowing room for these conversations. As a fairly new teacher to Waldorf, these have been living in me. Seeing so many people in the community having these conversations brings me inspiration and faith in the future, reigniting my love and reason for choosing Waldorf education.
This sense of community was palpable even across multiple time zones and spanning different countries over zoom. Many participants in these grade-specific courses have continued to meet and share new ideas and resources as they undertake their teaching journey together into the new school year. I continue to be in awe of the unique relationships cultivated among participants during their time together during these online Renewal Courses.
The second week of professional development courses at Renewal brought participants together in person on the idyllic campus of High Mowing School in Wilton, NH. These week-long Renewal Courses included topics, such as:
* Living in Transformations with Henrike and Craig Holdrege
* Teaching the Physical Sciences with Will Minehart
* The Art of Storytelling with Irine Richardson
* Teaching Special Subject Classes with Jason Child
Each course, imbued with anthroposophy, included practical elements designed to support each individual, and included daily opportunities to engage in the arts. Special events during these summer evenings included talks with Christof Wiechert, a lecture by Bernd Ruf, and an evening of open mic where participants could share their talents in community. Fireworks lit the sky on July 4th, and an alumni reunion––complete with a live dance band––contributed to a rich week of arts, anthroposophy, community, and inspiration.
Both of these weeks of Renewal brought forth meaningful community connection for all those who attended. I am filled with gratitude for the highly talented Renewal faculty and the enthusiastic participants who took time away from their busy lives to find Renewal for themselves and for their year ahead.
Shifting my gaze towards the next summer of Renewal Courses 2024, I am excited to share the dates, along with some leading highlights currently in the works.
Inspiration for Teaching Grades 1-8 will take place online, through live and interactive sessions with our Renewal faculty dream team, from Monday, July 8, through Friday, July 12, 2024. Participants can tune in from the comforts of their own chosen summertime location.
Deepening Connections with anthroposophy, the arts, and each other will take place a week earlier at High Mowing School from Sunday, June 30, through Friday, July 5, 2024. Courses during this in-person week will include topics, such as:
* Cultivating Gems through the Grades
* Differentiated Instruction and Project Based Learning
* Teaching through Art
* Teaching Subject Classes
* The Art of Storytelling
* Enrichment for Waldorf Early Childhood Educators
* Inspiration for Waldorf High School Educators
* Meeting the Different Learning Needs of Children Today
* Creating Communities of Belonging
* And more!
I greatly look forward to seeing all of you again next summer!
With good wishes for a wonderful year ahead,
Director of Renewal Courses