An idiom: Stick your neck out means to give an opinion which other people may not like or which other people are frightened to give. It means to take a risk.
Perhaps a typical stance for a strong, confident entrepreneur.
However, as my new walking asana, “stick your neck out” is an unaccustomed pose. I am doing just that literally, for example, when I am driving my car. I remind myself to untuck my chin and lean into the steering.
In work, I have taken risks and stepped out to do things differently with my intervention schedule and the ways I’m teaching reading with my at risk students. It is stick my neck out and be the master of my job.
With my local writing project, we were awarded another SEED grant to support teacher PD in two high needs schools in my district. Time for that pose again! Today I presented a slide show I’d written at the NWP Resource Retreat this summer to one of the “high needs” schools. I titled it, “Writing Changes Your Teaching.” It is a brief on why one option for PD needs to be teachers forming writing groups and sustaining their personal writing over the duration of the PD.
It was persuasive and provocative. I would pause and ask teachers, “What are you thinking?” and have them talk about the effects of writing together might have on their practice.
There are other parts of the PD, but I am very glad to have articulated this part. I am trying to take what works so very well in intensive summer institutes and plant it in school cultures. That’s sticking out my neck.
If you are a teacher wanting to encourage teachers to write together, I’d be happy to send you the link to the PPT in DropBox. The plain Jane pdf of the outline, without animations and photos is included below.
The weird thing about sticking out my neck is that it eases the stress on my shoulders and I feel better.
Writing Changes Your Teaching
UNDERGIRDING A YEAR- LONG INTENSIVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE TEACHING OF WRITING WITH WRITING
In light of the Common Core, writing
- TEACHES SYNTHESIS OF IDEAS
- INCREASES COMPREHENSION
- INVITES DIALOGUE AND DEEP THOUGHT
- BUILDS STAMINA AND CONFIDENCE
So why wouldn’t we have teachers write together for professional development?
Teachers writing together transforms teaching because writing provides perspective on issues.
- INCREASES EMPATHY FOR STAFF & STUDENTS
- BUILDS CONFIDENCE
- SHARPENS FOCUS
Positive writing experiences for teachers motivates teaching it well.
TRANSLATES INTO INCREASED, EFFECTIVE WRITING INSTRUCTION
Learn by doing: Write with your colleagues
Phase 1: Build a community of practice by writing together
- COMMIT TO WORK FROM THE POSITIVE
- LISTEN TO ONE ANOTHER
- MODEL THE WORK YOU WANT TO SEE
- PROTECT WRITING TIME
- BE FLEXIBLE
Facilitators model being nice, enjoying the work, and having fun.
How a facilitator might structure writing with colleagues
SHIFT THE GROUPS:
- Meet whole group then in small groups
USE A CLEAR, SIMPLE ROUTINE:
- Model, talk, write, confer, revise.
TEACHER WRITING SHIFTS IN PHASE 2
Prompt personal then professional writing
Make it safe for teachers to write together
Writers are vulnerable. Writing is hard.
- REFLECT ON OUR EXPERIENCES AS LEARNERS THROUGH READ- ALOUD PICTURE BOOK, ISH, BY PETER REYNOLDS.
- REFLECT ON OUR EXPERIENCES AS WRITERS BY MAKING AN OPINION CONTINUUM 1-10 STRESS SCALE.
Building Community: ORAL STORY
Self-introduction with an artifact or piece of “realia.”
Building Community: Quick write credo
Building Community: A family photo prompt
- WRITING FROM POINTS OF VIEW: VISUAL LITERACY, CHARACTER SKETCHES
Writing together encourages teamwork and promotes asking better questions about writing instruction
Honor teacher inquiry:
Questions teachers raise about writing are usually not short answer. Some are controversial.
Teachers keep a portfolio of writing and a journal.
Journal: “What are your strengths as a teacher of writing. What are your weaknesses?
(keep a log of questions in journal)
Phase 2: Writing as a community of practice
- TRY WRITING FOR VARIOUS ROLES, AUDIENCES, FORMATS AND TYPES – ANCHOR STD 4
- USE GENERIC PROMPTS – ANCHOR STDS 1-3
Teachers’ Role: Walk a mile in your students’ moccasins
- WRITE TO PROMPTS YOU GIVE YOUR STUDENTS*
- BEFORE YOU READ STUDENT WRITING, TRY YOUR VERSION
* AGE APPROPRIATE, MODEL
The writing process is messy
- FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR OWN PROCESS
- CREATIVITY TAKES TRUST…
- HANG OUT WITH UNCERTAINTY
- TURN OFF THE SELF-CRITIC (ANNE LAMOTT *)
Continue: Writing as a professional educator
- WRITE ONE-PAGERS ON TURNING POINTS OR IMPORTANT REALIZATIONS IN YOUR TEACHING
WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
WHAT WILL YOU USE?
WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?
Write and discuss responses to presenters and to peer observations
Phase 3: Sustain writers workshop for teachers for the duration of the professional development.
WRITING GROWTH OCCURS OVER TIME
Celebrate Writing & Learning
- MEET BACK IN WHOLE GROUP
- COMPILE PERSONAL PORTFOLIOS
- BRING STUDENT WORK TO SHARE
- ENJOY GOODIES
Writing is a systemic * way to improve teaching as well as student learning.
- TRANSFORMS TEACHERS’ CONCEPTS ABOUT WRITING
- ASSESSES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR PRACTICE
- PROMOTES EQUITY IN THE SCHOOL & CLASSROOM
- PARALLELS THE PROCESS OF 21ST CENTURY LEARNING
* RELATING TO A SYSTEM AS OPPOSED TO A PARTICULAR PART
This NWP resource for professional development was written for coordinators of SEED grants in high needs schools and districts. 2013-2014
Integrated activities and resources adapted from:
The SJAWP Summer Intensive Institute
K-5 Writing Workshop for the Common Core by Lucy Calkins
Laura Romaine Brown, Interventionist at Valle Vista, MPESD, San Jose, CA