Slice of Life #8
Speaking of loving our teacher friends in professional development, needing them and learning so much from them, I got to be with one here from southern California this afternoon. A text from Kathi Z. pulled me out of an email I was writing to a teacher I’m doing a demo mini lesson for Thursday in writing intervention. It is a prickly thing because I cannot understand what she’s been doing recently in terms of our calendar of lesson plans. And I’ve got to make my lesson really work for her students.
It was with great joy that I slammed my laptop shut and drove down to Saratoga on the first wave of traffic, making it to Cinnabar in half an hour. Kathi already had cheese, salami and bread sticks out on our table. My job was wine consultant and we went with a petite verdot from Paso Robles. Wow, pretty nice to land in a wine tasting room on a Tuesday afternoon!
Kathi and I began catching up. since we have only had emails since over a year ago. She is great with perspective. She fixes her dark, sparkly eyes on me, laying out the truth of writing being our passion, and writing being the passion of some teachers, but not being the passion for other teachers. “I hope they have something,” she said, “some passion.” And she took a sip of petit verdot.
I was glad to hear the details of Kathi’s successful day giving mini lesson demonstrations in classrooms at a nearby district where she has supported writing workshop for two years. I know the lay of the land, because the first year I was the emcee, introducing them to workshop in the genres and convincing leaders to order the UOS by Calkins and colleagues.
Anyone in the larger pd writing tribe who has worked with UOS knows there’s a huge gap between owning Lucy’s fine TCRWP curriculum and actually using it the way it is intended. Ha, kind of like having an exer-cycle in your garage or riding one in terms of the athletic benefits. Our conversation rambled through stories, situations, and the petit verdot comforted.
We were commiserating a bit on how workshop plus pd requires so much energy and effort. Presenting can suck you dry. “Hmm mm,” I agreed taking a bite of cheddar cheese. We both realized at the same time that we watch for the little inspirations — focus on ways a teacher here or there is moved to try on the new. The students who get excited about writing in those settings. Writing pd does make a difference. But not everyone is going to be exhilarated, enthused, and fired up to do it to the sticking point. Especially when their leadership doesn’t follow through and require them to workshop. Or when it gets hard, which is pretty darn quick in most workshop situations.
I don’t have brains to recreate our entire zig zagging conversation. It had been a real on and off kind of day. The readers who were on were great. The ones who were off were at completely off. Our conversation was a rest and recharge. What a treat to hang out with Kathi Z. and share how much we care about writing and teaching writing.