My name is Greg Paziuk and I’m choosing sides. That’s a big deal. I’m not a registered member of a Canadian political party. I’ve been known to bet on both red and black. I even stayed out of the whole Team Edward/Team Jacob AND Team Peeta/Team Gale. But this time I’m taking a stand and picking a side (sort of): while GATAcademy is a rite of passage, I really look forward to GATA Winter Academy the most. Here’s why:

1.) Smaller Groups. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’ve never liked large crowds. That’s one reason the intimate, round-table feel of GATA Winter Academy is more my style. Less space means fewer participants, which often means more opportunities for questions and interaction.

2.) Make Your Own Schedule. It’s easy to get excited about GATAcademy and the hugeness (hugeocity?) of that event, but there is so much crammed into one day that I sometimes get overwhelmed. Winter Academy is much more spacious, laid-back, luxurious even. With more time and space between workshops, you can pick and choose what works with your schedule.

3.) Second Chances. As per the point about schedules above, there just isn’t enough time to be everywhere at once for GATAcademy, nor is time-travel perfect enough to try. If you were forced to choose between two workshops being offered at the same time this fall, Winter Academy could be your chance to have your cake and eat it too. Many of the workshops offered at GATAcademy will be repeated at Winter Academy, which means y0u can sit in on those you missed, or even repeat the ones you enjoyed most.

4.) We All Need Refreshers. You’re a totally different GA or TA today than you were in September. That’s not molecular biology, that’s just a fact of being a student teacher growing and learning in your field. By now you’ve learned a little about what works well and what’s not for you. Workshops like those offered at Winter Academy are an important part of healthy reflective teaching and learning practices. Because the previous semester is still fresh in your minds, Winter Academy is the perfect opportunity to focus on developing the skills you found you needed most in the fall.

5.) We All Need To Vent. No one understands the struggles of being a GA/TA like other GA/TAs. Winter Academy is to connect or re-connect with a support group of fellow GA/TAs and discuss the highs and lows of being a student teacher. Whatever challenges you may have had in the fall, you’ll find they appear less terrible when you share them with others.

So, have you registered for GATA Winter Academy 2014 yet?


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