Tools for Teaching

Learning in Style
By Eugene Schwartz

As a Waldorf class teacher, you strive to “teach to your class,” presenting the same age-appropriate content to every student in every main lesson. On the other hand, you work hard to recognize that every child has a particular “learning style,” an amalgam of her temperament, her proclivity to learn more through her ear or her eye, and her unfolding consciousness. The more you penetrate the learning styles of your students, the more effective you are at balancing the universal content of your presentations and the individual needs of the children you serve.

We tend to forget, however, that
teachers evince “learning styles” as well.

For example: This summer there will be several “Art of Teaching” or “Grade Preparation” weeks offered across North America. In addition to the similar grade level content and pedagogical methodology that they will offer, they all share another characteristic – every one of them begins on a one day only, extends for part of a week, and then ends on one day only. For example:
A conference that begins on the evening of June 24
will end mid-day on June 29, and a conference that begins on July 9 will end on July 14, and so on. Conferences for class teachers are always held in late June and early July so that, once they have been given a general direction by the conference presenters, teachers have a good part of the summer in which to continue their own preparation.

The “one size fits all” approach may be suitable for some teachers, but there are at least as many whose learning style calls for a different arrangement. The last days of school in June may be euphoric, but they can be exhausting, frenzied, and stressful as well. And following that last day of classes, the challenging task of writing meaningful reports is punctuated by the demands of the all-school “work week” and long, sometimes contentious meetings in which a host of last-minute decisions must be made about issues that have been ignored all year long. Is this really the optimum time to hop on a plane or set out on a long road trip to arrive at a conference in which you are thrust head-first into the demands of the year to come?

As one who lectured at summer conferences at both Rudolf Steiner College and the Sunbridge Institute for nearly twenty years, I was dismayed at the tired and stressed teachers who appeared at our door every June and July. Some of them hadn’t even finished writing their end-of-year reports and would be working on them as they sat through lectures that taxed their powers of concentration. The conference brochures cheerfully proclaimed their commitment to “renewal” or “regeneration,” but the teachers I met seemed to be in need of

In private conversations, many teachers would say that they needed more time to process the grade they had just finished, to “breathe out” for a week or two, and to spend some quality time with their family before they could direct their attention to a new grade. And what if an important school meeting came up during the weekend, or there was a family crisis, an illness, or an unexpected visitor? If they couldn’t get to the first day or two of their 5-day conference they had already missed 20% or 40% of its content (with no refund given for time missed).

I pledged that, if ever I had the opportunity to redesign the grade preparation conferences from the ground up, I would go about things very differently. For years I pondered how to make it possible for those teachers whose learning style called for out-breathing and a more contemplative pace to co-exist with teachers who liked to get their conferences over with right away and have the summer to themselves. Certainly, there was no possibility that these antithetical groups could occupy the same
physical space . . . and then I realized that, thanks to the rapidly unfolding possibilities of the Internet and “the Cloud,” they would no longer have to be in the same place at the same time! And that is how the Online Conferences were born.

Consider this: every single “live” or “face-to-face” summer conference has only
one starting date. Like the hapless teacher above, miss that day and you’ve missed one-fifth of the conference. Every Online Conference,
however, stretches from June 1st through September 30th, so that you can start your fourteen day-long engagement whenever
you are ready. Instead of providing one starting date, we offer you 122 possible starting dates. If total
immersion is your learning style, make June 1st your start date and take part in our conference while you attend faculty meetings and write your reports! If you want to breathe out, perhaps travel or go camping while you decompress, join us in mid-July. If you learn better “under the gun,” and want to have our extensive conference content fresh in your mind right before the new grade begins, come aboard in August – we’ll be ready for you, as focused and enthusiastic as we were in June. Were you hired by your school at the very last moment? We’ll help you just as much in September as we would have in the early summer – and because you don’t have to travel far to join us, you can teach your class full-time and participate online in the afternoon and evening.

Add to this the fact that the Online Conferences are the most economical of all summer conferences (and require no additional expenses for travel, accommodations, or meals). And add to that the experience to which thousands of our participants will attest: the Online Conferences provide generous helpings of depth, breadth, and practical advice as well as 14 days to take it all in. Join us this summer!

To learn more and access samples of lectures in audio and video form, visit:

To register, visit:

Visit iWaldorf.net