Letter to new participants

IMG_0009Today at our follow up session for the Intensive Summer Institute 2012, teachers wrote letters to the incoming 2013 participants.  Since I have been co-directing for 8 years, my letter wouldn’t work as a participant, but I wrote anyway.

Dear ISI 13 fellow,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this summer’s intensive institute, which continues the “unwavering commitment to respectful professional development for teachers” that began with Jim Gray in 1974 at Berkeley’s Bay Area Writing Project.  For whatever reason you applied, whether arm-twisted by the Director himself, or badgered by an overly enthusiastic colleague, you are in for the treat of being respected for your expertise and being listening to for your insight.

I suspect that you were moved by much more than the 6 units of credit or the puny stipend to put half your summer on hold to commit to be with us.  You deserve time to write.  Time to talk.  Time to reflect.

When you are in the middle of the intensity; let’s say the day before you give your demo and the week before the portfolio and anthology writing is due, you may well question why you applied to ISI 13.  However, in retrospect, when you go back to, or on to your next teaching or coaching assignment, you will be more of the teacher you want to be.  It will be a systemic effect that will continue.  You will respect the other side of the writing desk your students occupy.  You will likely listen to them more deeply.  And, no matter what reforms or administrative things come down the pike, you will be confident that you are indeed a professional.

Your voice for what matters most in teaching and especially the teaching of writing will be heard.  You will grow as a leader.

I’m suspecting that none of these are reasons you applied.  Maybe you just want to see some new strategies and get a sense of refreshment in your teaching.  I’m just saying, I’ve seen how it works.  It happened to me…and many teachers I’ve known.

You belong.  Welcome to a community of people who care about education, who value teacher expertise and who will challenge you to be your very best self.

Breathe.  Get comfy.  Enjoy the ride.





3 thoughts on “Letter to new participants”

  1. You so perfectly captured the wonder and value of a Writing Project Summer Institute in your letter, it made me long for the days when I was a lucky participant.

    Truly a transformative experience that every teacher should have an opportunity to experience, I treasure my memories of my writing project summer.

    Thank you for the reminder. I know your new fellows will be in for the experience of a lifetime.

  2. Your letter is compelling and so accurate. I have had the same experience when attending summer institutes at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. It is life changing.

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