Back to School

For the last two days I’ve been back to the school that I wrote about at the first of the month. I’ve been back modeling writing lessons in each teacher’s class. It surprises me how quickly these students accept me. I walk past them in the hall and they greet me by name (I have a name tag on), they stop to give me a hug, they ask,  “Are you coming back to our class today?” with a hint of wistfulness in their voice. When I tell them not today, there is a look of disappointment in their eyes. Sometimes there is a look of disappointment in the teacher’s eyes too.

Today I will meet with the teachers on their plan period. The time will go by too fast. I have too much to tell them, it overwhelms me. I was supposed to do a full day of PD on April 6. I would have the teachers for six hours. I had plans to develop an understanding of the structure of writer’s workshop. They would explore the language of six traits. And maybe we could touch on mentor texts. They need to understand these things and how it relates to teaching writing. They need to understand teaching writing is not a formula. They need to understand . . .  but the day has been cancelled. The district has different plans for the teachers. The decision for the PD has been taken out of the building leader’s hands. I will be going back in May to work with the teachers on their plan period for one day. They will not be ready to teach writing in a workshop next year. I am disappointed.

They will try to get funds to bring me back next year. They want me to come back earlier. I want to go back. My work is not finished in this school. I want to make a difference.


13 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. You are doing such important work. It is so frustrating when there are no funds for a program that works. In 2009 I took one of the National Writing Courses. It changed so many things in my life. I believe we need it in our classes, in our schools, and in our lives.

  2. How awful for you, Elsie, and for that school, its students and teachers. I hope that someone will see the light and find the money for early, early next year. It seems as if it’s so valuable, but clearly someone does not see! Best wishes to you for finding some other way to reach the teachers.

  3. PD around this is so important…a support system, equally important. My school does believe in traits…but are not willing to move to a workshop format. They are so into the modes and have difficulty moving forward in a differentiated way. It is so frustrating…but we just adopted, Being a Writer (developmental studies) and a few are experimenting more.

  4. I’m sure those teachers are feeling just as disappointed as you are feeling. It’s so hard to plan PD for a large group of people. You have the administration wanting to do one thing, the teachers another, and everyone in between just trying to do their best to please everyone. I hope you get to go back and finish your work; make a difference. They are lucky to have you!

  5. So frustrating. So many people want to learn, I wish there was a way to speed it up too sometimes. To really generate an understanding so much time, trial and error and discussion is needed. I hope you are able to reconnect and get more time. I am sure the teachers appreciate what you are able to do.

  6. What a loss all around. And you had made such a wonderful connection with the teachers and the students. Maybe there is a silver lining to this cloud…but, right now, I feel your disappointment.

  7. Argh. Because I am quite sure you could make anyone understand writing workshop and how it’s not formulaic and how we can learn to write from writers and using awesome mentor texts. You go. 1 hour? Nice. “So, writing workshop has a minilesson, writing time, and share. Teachers confer when students write. Mentor texts help show and tell what good writing is like; pick a book you are strongly connected to. Any questions?” I’m sorry about April 6, Elsie. I can empathize; a writing workshop program I was working in for the past two years is over now in favor of other professional movements ;(.

  8. Ohhh, that is so disappointing! It’s really too bad that all of your big plans will be unrealized. I love that you are so passionate and concerned about what those teachers need. Like Terje said though, you have already made a difference. You have already gotten them thinking and exploring and changing things. Maybe you could leave them some resources or a least a list of suggested resources to supplement what you’ve done? Maybe you could even Skype with them, make some kind of wiki other collaborative site where you could work together online, or connect-long-distance in some other way, if you and they wanted to?

  9. Ug… that is so disappointing for the teachers, kids, and for you. I hope they find a way to bring you back over the summer or next year so you can share the information these teachers are needing and wanting.

  10. grade4wizard says:

    This is frustrating for you and for the teachers. Learning takes time. In a long run all of it is a loss for the students if the teachers don’t fully understand the what, how and why of the writing workshop. I am sure that there are some teachers who will be willing to read and explore and find other ways to learn. And may be some funds become unexpectedly available soon for you to return. You already were there and made a difference.

  11. I so envy you. I also feel sorry for you, the teachers, and most of all the students. You have an expertise to share and ways to do it so that writing will grow and flourish…and then others things (money, time, tests, whatever) get in the way. Your posts have wanted me to get back into the classroom A year ago I spent one morning a week during writing in a classroom of an old student’s of mine. What a gift that was to me!

  12. Tam says:

    I feel your passion for this school and what you do. It sounds like an ideal arrangement for you and the school. It’s so sad “funds” put it all at risk. Writing workshop changed my whole teaching method and myself. I think there needs to be a workshop with administrators, state officials, etc., so they can experience what it is that you’re offering teachers/students. After an hour or two of experiencing what it is you do, most people are hooked at least to the point of “Now what’s next?”

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