I had one of those random summer teacher meetings today. Scheduled at the odd hour of 1:30, it cleaved the day into lopsided portions for the twelve out of fourteen people attending who were actually on summer vacation. Even so, I dusted off my calendar, dug up a legal pad and my trusty pen, and headed out to one of the annexes of the Ed Center. I knew I was out of practice when I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle, but I forged ahead anyhow.
I grouse... but this was actually kind of an interesting meeting. For the next school year, our English Language Arts department has decided to allocate our required meeting time to Professional Learning Communities. Secondary teachers can choose from six different offerings: Differentiated Instruction, Reaching Reluctant Readers, The 90 Minute Block, Teaching Literature, Teaching Grammar through Writing, Vocabulary Their Way, and Writing Project Continuation. I was at the meeting because I was asked to co-facilitate the WP group.
As usual, our ELA department's heart is in the right place, but when they say "facilitate" they mean "create from scratch." That's just how we roll, and it's good and bad. Teachers have the autonomy to design their own program, but... teachers have the autonomy to design their own program. See what I mean?
So, this afternoon my co-facilitator, Phil, and I sat down together and brainstormed what a "writing project continuation" might look like for teachers in our district. (Whatever it is, it's already wildly popular: pre-registration has it close to filled.) We have one two-hour session in September, and then five one-hour sessions over the course of the year, and we started with the question, "What did you wish there was for you when you finished the summer institute?"
Of course, my answer to that question is that, personally, I wished the SI never had to end. Imagine my delight this afternoon, then, when I noticed that Bonnie Kaplan was kind enough to link my blog to the HVWPSI '09 site; I nearly jumped for joy. Thank you, Bonnie-- it's awesome to have such a connection to your community!
As for the continuity project... I have a positive feeling about it; I think we have a chance to put together something good. I'll keep you posted.