Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer Institute

Oddly, I've been in the Writing Project Summer Institute and haven't had time to write....on the blog at least. We HAVE been writing, and writing, and writing. But mostly its been reflective, fictional, or deeply personal, but not on the blog.
The Writing Project philosophy is that the best teachers of teachers are teachers. And that's what we're doing: teaching each other what we've learned from our work with students.
The Writing Project espouses that the best teachers of writing are those who write. So we are doing that too. And it ain't easy. And the philosophy goes on from there - the best history teachers are historians, the best chemistry teachers are chemists, the best reading teachers are readers. Walk the talk.
Though I am ostensibly leading the group, I am learning alongside them, something I try to do in the 'regular' classroom as well - continually learn.
Here's some big aha's from this group of teachers:
One teacher asked us to list what we would buy for our classrooms if we had an unlimited budget. No one struggled to come up with anything: books for reading, comfortable chairs, more computers, money for field trips, money to hire someone to coordinate the field trips, and on and on until the sharing sheet was too short to hold all the ideas. If teachers are so positive about what it is they need to enhance learning, why aren't they ever asked?
Another big idea: learning happens from the inside out. You can't pour learning onto someone (child or adult) like pouring ketchup on a hamburger. The hard part is getting the student into the position where they are asking and searching for the answers to their own questions. Real learning looks very different than what we claim as learning when we are giving students tests.
More to come. We are in week three of our five week journey together.