We are running out of time. This experience that seemed like it might go on forever will end next week. We’re not ready. The community that has sprung out of our passion for teaching and learning feels too necessary to not continue. Really, what will we do without each other? I know I will be a better teacher because of my time with these amazing women. I know they feel the same way.
This week we traveled to George Mason University to meet another Summer Institute group and share a presentation on revision. Mark Farrington, writer extraordinaire, returned to the NVWP this summer to lend a hand (hurray!) and taught us how to revise our own writing. Time spent with other teachers and writers cemented the value of this summer work for all of us.
Later in the week, Mallory taught us how to build voice by using actual shoes! (How clever is that?) Julie walked us through many strategies to help our struggling writers (boys) build fluency and confidence. Meghann taught us how to step out of our students’ way and let them write to a real audience and create real books through NANOWRIMO http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ . We participated in a Socratic Circle with Jennifer’s guidance and it worked! We were abuzz with possibilities by the end of the morning.
Transformative experiences can be hard to articulate. This is a problem. The professional development experience at the Writing Project is not like any other. Our teachers tell us repeatedly, year after year, summer after summer, that it is the most powerful professional experience of their lives. Even though it’s difficult to describe, we need to find a way to do it. We have explain to administrators and superintendents and politicians that what we are doing here matters. Ultimately, of course, the beneficiaries are our students. They will return to classrooms where their teachers are on fire about the year ahead. Don’t you want your child to have that teacher?
The Fellows worked hard this week preparing for the Slice of the Summer Institute; a chance to share their experience with some important stakeholders such as principals, superintendents, and department heads as well as teachers they know who they want to entice into participation next summer. It was exciting to listen to them planning and collaborating, trying so very hard to bring their excitement for the SI to life for people who were not in the room with us. I know they will do it brilliantly because that’s just who they are.
How lucky your child will be to have these teachers in the fall.