Slice of Life: Hanging Out With Teachers

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

sol16Our students had a half-day yesterday because of teacher professional development session, but the presenter for our afternoon session on literacy was sick so a collection of us teachers in grades four through six spent the afternoon talking about writing in the content areas.

It was fruitful, if only to have time to meet and talk with colleagues in other grades about teaching. We only rarely have time to collaborate with colleagues outside of our grade areas these days, given schedules and district priorities and such. To be honest, we also all have report cards on our mind (they go out on Monday).

After my school day ended, I zoomed off to the second session of a course I am co-facilitating with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project around using the Library of Congress digital archives for primary source and student inquiry projects. It was another great session, even though everyone was tired after a long day in the classroom. We spent a lot of time working on creating primary source text sets and developing lesson plans, as they will be teaching a lesson with primary sources and bringing student work back to our last session in three weeks.

I wrote about this professional development course and the work we are doing with the Library of Congress at Middleweb, if you are interested.

In both cases — at my school and at the PD session — the level of discussions, questions and sharing reminded me of the power of teachers coming together. While the impromptu session at my school could have used more structure, the conversations were valuable. In the evening session, the exploration of something new with student inquiry as the focus remains a spark of celebration. I am grateful to have been part of both.

Peace (and connect),

  1. What a busy, rich day, Kevin! It is a luxury for teachers to have time to meet and share. It sounds like you took full advantage of it. The course you’re teaching also sounds fascinating. I’ll check out your link later. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I often wish PD at school could have an edcamp approach occasionally. We have this rich resource of people and ideas in a school community and then we bring in outside people to impart knowledge. It’s not always necessary. I’m off to check out the work you did with your writing project–sounds fascinating.

  3. Sometimes I think PD is the best when we learn from other teachers. Often the organized pd falls flat. We never have enough time to plan and collaborate with other grade levels, or even our own. We’re hoping our administration will build time for that into our schedule next year. We’re focusing on project work and it takes quite a bit of time to plan together.

  4. I appreciated reading this piece, Kevin. It is true that when teachers come together to share thinking, it is powerful and productive. Often, insightful. I think they give teachers to do this daily in Japan, and didn’t Nancie Atwell talk about this very thing in her book In the Middle where her teachers gathered to discuss students and lessons each day at her school in Maine?

    Also, love the focus on inquiry. The course sounds fabulous! So much to think about – you are a very busy person!

  5. Would love to attend your class on primary sources. Always looking for new strategies. I love using primary sources in the classroom.

    Teaching with Primary Sources Network is one of my favorite websites. It is open to anyone who would like to join. I have learned so much from reading the different posts. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lucky you – there is conversation and collaboration going on in both professional areas of your life. That is wonderful.

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