By Torin M Finser, PhD
During this most tumultuous year, the pace of adaptation to new realities has quickened each month, with the result that the “new normal” appears to be “constant change”. Institutes for adult education have had to innovate as never before. As a result, new program models have been implemented, new skills have been learned. Educators have had to look afresh with “beginners’ eyes'' at long-held practices and traditions, holding on to relevant core principles while transforming everything else.
As a consequence, the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) and Antioch University New England have made significant changes to each of their Waldorf programs. A brief summary of these changes follows:
Elementary Teacher Education at Antioch, both the Summer Sequence program and Year Round programs now feature hybrid courses with a blend of virtual and face-to-face classes. Courses have been revised, adding more time for advising, for math and language arts, as well as for parent/teacher collaboration and engagement with the social issues of our time.
High School Teacher Education Program through CfA now features a high school introductory series of weekend seminars online led by its seasoned high school faculty, beginning April 3 prior to the intensive summertime teacher training program, which will now be offered online over five weeks in June-July.
Explorations (formerly foundations studies) has offered a lively series of virtual weekends all school year on topics such as social/emotional learning, phenomenology, decolonizing the curriculum, stress, meditation and self-development, and healing the hurt. Each weekend has featured artistic practice as well as conversation groups. A new cycle begins April 3.
Renewal Courses, now in its 22nd year, is once again offering week-long courses for all the elementary grades as well as exciting specialty courses, starting June 27 and running through July 9, once again all virtual and “live” for Summer 2021. We had over 600 participants last summer!
A new course in Waldorf Administration and Leadership Development, completely re-designed, now features guest speakers from all over North America, as well as study, conversation, and two face-to-face residencies planned for the next school year.
Waldorf EdD – Antioch University is launching the first-ever Waldorf doctorate program next September.
This past summer we accepted our largest ever cohort in Antioch’s Masters in Waldorf Education, Transdisciplinary Focus on Healing Education Program (TSHE) (for advanced practitioners seeking an MEd); we will welcome another group in the summer of 2022.
One aspect of the Waldorf scene, however, remains the same: At this time of year, school leaders are writing, calling, and even texting with urgent appeals for new teachers. This year alone, several established K-12 schools are seeking simultaneously three or more class teachers and specialty teachers. As a result, new teachers are hired without adequate preparation, since schools find themselves competing for candidates in a dwindling pool of trained teachers.
Far better would be a pay forward approach or what could be called an educate forward practice: If a school community plans ahead by sending potential future teachers to our Year Round program, or gives them a chance for two summers of teacher education first, then there will be a larger group of potential teachers when we begin to receive those urgent calls.
We are in this together. Please cast an eye over your parent body and wider community and encourage friends to take Explorations online and then apply for Waldorf teacher education.
In addition to being a long-standing full member institute of AWSNA, CfA/Antioch and its faculty enjoy widespread international recognition; our adjuncts mostly teach children in classrooms when not teaching adults. Our alums can supply references, but in the meantime let’s continue to transform and innovate together!
Photo Credit: Center for Anthroposophy
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