One of the reasons I started this blog came from my experiences in attending The New York City Writing Project’s Satellite Institute this spring. One Saturday a month I meet with 20 other teachers and we work on our own writing, we learn new strategies to teach writing to our students, we read about teaching writing, we learn strategies to teach reading about writing, and we share best practices. It has been amazing.
As much as I have studied and written about curriculum in the past few years in order to finish my dissertation, I have had little time to focus on my teaching practice. I have dedicated hours and hours to lesson planning, teaching, and typing up units of study that I created, but reflection had fallen by the wayside. There was no time to reflect. My school was in a constant state of emergency and the remaining elements of my life (my toddlers, my marriage, my dissertation, my friends, ME!) were all engaged in combat over my remaining head space. I can honestly say I was still a good practitioner of teaching, but I was not a reflective teacher. And we need those moments of reflection to grow and to help our students grow. We need those moments of reflection to be great.
This semester with The New York City Writing Project has been the reflection time I desperately needed. It has given me many great ideas that I can’t wait to use in my classroom. It has given me a community of smart, reflective, creative teachers who wrestle with the same issues I do (even though we teach 6th through 14th grade!) and who can offer support (either in our class or through their awesome listserv which you gain entry to upon taking an institute with them), and they have made me realize how much I love writing again. It has given me a much-needed new start in my brain.
And, maybe most importantly in this educational climate, the NYCWP institutes are run by teachers (not consultants or “experts”) under the belief that teachers are the leaders and experts in teaching about writing. Can I get an Amen? Amen!
They are an arm of the National Writing Project, an organization so awesome I have only begun to understand the depths of its awesomeness.
Applications are currently being taken for their Summer Institute for 2012. Any teacher in NYC who can should do it–doesn’t matter what your content area is as long as you’re dedicated to working on writing across the curriculum.The link to apply is here.
If you need to jumpstart your teaching practice, I highly recommend it.
Note: The image attached is a Milton Glaser poster (the guy who make the I (heart) NY posters) from the 70’s, when the NYCWP was founded. I have had this postcard for more than half my life. I bought it when I was 17 from a little store in Chapel Hill with friends in high school. It has been on my desk or in my classroom since then.