Thursday, January 10, 2008

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

My first professional development presentation as a Teacher Consultant with the Ozarks Writing Project was exciting, scary, and refreshing. I presented a shortened version (one hour instead of 90 minutes) of my 2007 SI demonstration on using read alouds to inspire genre writing with students. I offered the demo three times during a Professional Development day with the Willow Springs School District, and the attendance for my session varied from as few as six to as many as 24. The teachers ranged in background from kindergarten to high school computer lab, but all were receptive and cooperative, and claimed to have gleaned at least one thing that will benefit their students from the session they attended with me.

The main question or concern that was asked of attendees was if I found it difficult to obtain copies of the read alouds I needed to do these units with my students. I explained that it did require some of my own investment on eBay or Amazon to find bargain books to supplement my collection, and that if I looked carefully, I could get a copy of a book I wanted for very little money. The most difficult part of the experience was trying to fit all the writing activities and information into what ended up being about 55 minutes, allowing for a few minutes to elaborate on the Ozarks Writing Project Summer Institute and encouraging participants to apply. A few participants did comment on the rapid speed of the presentation, but I provided the full demonstration packet with all of my contact information to all who attended so they knew they could go back and review any aspect of which they felt unsure at their leisure. A librarian in the audience commented as she was gathering her materials to leave that she was thrilled she had attended the session because she was going to use the demo in her library lessons with students, and that meant her plans were done all the way through February!

I felt an overwhelming desire to do well as I represented the Writing Project; more specifically I felt compelled to positively reflect on Casey, as Willow Springs is her home school district—my attendees are her colleagues, so doing my utmost best was the only option I had! Needless to say, I did not sleep much the night before, and the drive home required caffeine and good music to keep me from getting drowsy. I just knew going back to my students the next day would be grueling and I even considered making sub plans to spend the day recovering. Surprisingly, though, I went back to school the next day energized to work with my students again, almost as if sharing my passion with others refueled me in that all-too-familiar mid-year slump. I would gladly and enthusiastically participate in professional development in other schools and school districts; I hope those opportunities can be developed in our TC’s home districts, as well as those districts that are only presently unfamiliar to us. What a thrilling day of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Loss of Students....

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go to all of our teacher family at Glendale and Kickapoo High Schools this morning.

Bless you as you grieve yourself and handle the grief of your students and colleagues.

Hang in there Hayley and JoAnn. And now that I think about it, I imagine Barb might have had these students a few years ago also. Prayers for all of you.