Connecting Hearts - 2022 Toronto Children Dharma Class Teaching Team Workshop

July 3, 2022

On July 2, the beautiful afternoon sunshine warmly welcomed teachers and teaching assistants (TA) of the Buddha’s Light Children Dharma Class to the FGS Temple of Toronto for a two-day long “workshop” style training. The participants were delighted to have the opportunity to experience Buddhist cultivations and life styles throughout the training. The workshops aim to equip everyone with the tools and skills needed for facilitating Children Dharma classes suited to children’s needs. 

The workshop kicked off in the Main Shrine with learning about Buddhist etiquette, focusing on introducing the proper ways of paying respect to buddhas and bodhisattvas. The detailed demonstrations allowed TAs to build confidence and put “learning by doing” into practice. 

Besides being dignified role models, teachers led various discussions sharing different know-how of teaching Buddhism to kids, such as teaching strategies and classroom activity planning. At the end of each discussion, the TAs shared their insights on designated topics to improve their presentation skills. The teaching team agreed to createa mindful learning environment instead of duplicating the method of delivery inregular schools. Everyone shares the same values and is determined to help children develop healthy habits and connections with Dharma early in life. 

On the following day, the Children Dharma Class advisor, Venerable Ru An, gave a presentation on the life of Buddha based on Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Biography of Shakyamuni Buddha. Tracing the footsteps of the Buddha on maps encouraged the participants to link various events from Buddha’s lifetime to some of his profound teachings, including Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths. The TAs were then asked to communicate key events in Buddha’s life in a way that interests children according to the age-appropriate level of comprehension. 

As an exercise, the participants were given the task of introducing the Temple through photography. Looking through the photos taken, the TAs and teachers reflect on how the Temple community motivates them to be diligent in their spiritual cultivation. In the afternoon "Heart to Heart Meet With Abbess" session, the teaching team met with Abbess and all Venerables of FGS Temple of Toronto. The Abbess, Venerable Chueh Fan, emphasized the importance of leading by example, as the youngsters look to their teachers as a role models. All participants were presented with souvenirs and booklets of Dharma words from the founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun. 

The TAs and teachers were grateful for the memories made, especially the opportunity to reconnect with the Temple community. All that had been learned over the two-day workshop are put to use in efforts to propose a 3-year curriculum planning. 

 By Angel Hsieh