Memoir Mondays: The SI Experience

I am so jealous.
I wander into the computer lab at UMass and see all of these teachers connecting and chatting and laughing at inside jokes and it brings me back to my Invitational Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. My role now is technology support, but I remember that summer as clearly as if it were, well, this summer.
I was incredibly nervous about the four week program, even though I had an inkling of sorts of what to expect, given that my wife had already done the Summer Institute a few years before me. But I was a brand new teacher and these would be veterans. My biggest hope is that I could pilfer some ideas from them and maybe offer a thought or two.
The writing time was wonderful, and I used every minute. I wrote a collection of poems. I wrote an essay. I wrote a short novella that I turned into a musical play (that was later put on stage when it won a contest) about a little musical note that gets lost in a masterpiece.
And I learned for the first time what a blog was, and used it every single day. We all shared writing, made comments on workshop presentations, shared our research and found ways to use the technology to connect with each other. It was an eye-opening experience that moves me into technology in ways that I did not think possible at the time.
But I saw “a moment” and I pushed into it.
This summer, I am helping the Summer Institute folks learn about social networking (using a Ning site), Google Docs, and other technology that I hope will give them a glimpse into the moment right now and think about the potential for their classrooms.
But I am jealous because although I am part of the experience, I am an outsider to the strong connections being built among them through their long days of writing, sharing, and talking. I know what that feels like and I am grateful that I still have five or six people from my Summer Institute still as part of my personal network.
I am jealous, but I am grateful, too.

Peace (in networks),

  1. The Institute sounds great. Several years ago I did a week-long training in Vermont in web design for low-level readers, and it sounds as though we had a similar experience. Very special and a lot of fun!

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