Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Students For the Summer; When Teachers Are At The Other End of the Whiteboard They Discover Writing Processes

We are almost halfway through the summer institute @CWPFairfield and, as the ebb and flow usually goes, the teachers become like their students - full of questions, fears, wonders, worries, angst, frustrations, and ideas. I think this is inevitable as the first weeks are spent writing, thinking, writing, thinking, writing, sharing, editing, writing, etc., but then the baton slowly comes their way and asks, "Now what? What can your professional leadership contribution be?"

We did a workshop yesterday on writing OpEds and I carried them through samples, a way to use political cartoons, and discussions to get to the heart of what students are thinking. I love/d seeing the lightbulbs go off and hearing the brilliant insights each and everyone had. Our day was packed, however, with little time to process all the possibilities, so the institute ended a little overwhelmed and, well, full. My take away is the importance of community reflection and processing - which we failed at yesterday due to time.

Still, the ahas were plentiful as teachers discussed the ways an on-demand writing prompt caused jitters that didn't jive with what they knew as best. Several remarked that the institute is helping them to realize what students must feel and how instruction can leave many feeling worried and/or lost. This is great stuff, although I understand the territories they are treading. Teachers like to achieve and those who are drawn to professional development like they are - giving up their valuable summer time to become better practitioners - also tend to be high achievers with a desire to institute change. The trepidation makes total sense.

So, now it is time to calm nerves and to REALLY discuss writing processes and building a community who is willing to grow as a group, but also individually. The differentiation is also a natural part of supporting all writers.

Although I felt the same pit in my stomach of "Is this really going to happen? Will we make to where we want to go as professionals," I also have ease from the routine of the summer work and what it takes to make everything happen.

I return to a card my mentor Sue McV gave me when I was student teaching: Slow down and enjoy the journey - everything is evolving at exactly the right time.

And so I am thankful to be part of another evolution of phenomenal individuals. I will do my best to help them as they do their best to help me.

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