We are just one institute of many, uniting teachers dedicated to improving instruction in American schools and dedicating ourselves to the profession through attendance at Invitational Summer Institutes across the country. The magic experienced in five weeks is impossible to capture in a blog post, essay, narrative, digital story, or analytical report. Instead, the feeling one gets on the last day when teachers reflect with one another speaks volumes about the important work we do.
Early in our institute, I shared that one of my pet peeves is the left grocery carts in parking lots all across the country. Years ago, as a New Year resolution, I committed myself to taking the time to returning my cart to where they belong and taking the harder road - that is, being less lazy and doing what is right. It is simple, but the extra steps to return a cart is a win-win/feel-good ritual. When I shared this, I learned that others in our crew felt the same and throughout the summer I would get photos from participants of carts left by lazier Americans and stories of how they, too, would return carts.
The teachers chose to give me a gift - a Strawberry Short Cake shopping cart filled with goodies (including a new friend adorn in Syracuse University paraphernalia). The smile it brought me was immense.
Why? Well, it's funny. More importantly, the shopping cart is my metaphor for the dedication of all of us in the profession who commit ourselves to the students we teach and the best practices our field has to offer. The easier road is to grow apathetic and to harvest a bad attitude. We could NOT attend professional development during the summer (ah, that myth of summer's off), but we don't. We push ourselves. We dedicate ourselves. We believe in the power of a teaching community to initiate change and we recognize this begins with us. In short, we do what is right.
Congratulations to all the ISIs finishing their life-changing experiences this summer. As I told the cohort with me, "We are only one location. The power of the National Writing Project occurs all year. As fellows, we learn the powers of teachers teaching teachers, because it works.