Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer Institute 2014

Bill Tucker

If anyone wonders how you hold a "Writing Teacher's Leadership Institute" with four teachers, here is the answer: teach together. Gather the witnesses from years gone by and let teachers collaborate. There was very little design in this, just a faith that teachers are stronger together than apart. The new teachers came together the same way as their predecessors had.

The 23rd summer institute of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project soared into the sunset, trailing clouds of witnesses.

This could be the smallest teacher's institute in the annals of the National Writing Project with four new teachers graduating. However, it also brought back two teachers from 2013 (Kevin English and Erin Umpstead), one from 2012 (Shari Hales), one from 2011 (Cynthia Andrews) and one from 2010 (Karen Chichester) to relive the glory of those previous institutes and make it wonderful for the other four.

It also featured guest speakers from days of yore, on family literacy (Chelsea Lonsdale’13), on classroom research (Jessica Kander ’11 and Kris Gedeon ‘03), on writing (Angela Knight ‘05 and Kris Gedeon ‘03), on professional development (Mitra Dunbar ‘04), on school improvement (Dawn Izzi ‘09), and on literacy coaching (Julia Keider’99). And on the penultimate day it featured our published authors of poetry (Kathy Churchill ‘98), of professional inquiry (Sarah Andrew-Vaughn ‘00) and of children's fiction (Marquin Parks ‘11). From this point of view, this was the most widely-attended Institute we have sponsored at Eastern Michigan University.

Teaching isn't about a competition; it's about learning and conversation. It's about resource sharing. It's about the real work of teaching: asking question after question until you find a method, resource, or approach that works for your context. It isn't about being the best. It's about building the reflective capacity to know when you have to seek help and change what you're doing. (Kevin English, Teacher Consultant, 2013)

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