Twenty teachers gathered at Plymouth State College recently for the first annual Summer Invitational Writing Institute. The Institute is part of the Plymouth Writing Project, New Hampshire’s site of the National Writing Project.
Participants included writing teachers from both public and independent schools in New Hampshire, as well as several from other states and international schools. Instructors Dr. Meg Petersen, Dr. Mary Cornish, Carolyn Bordeau and Diversity Scholar Katherine Min led the sessions in which the participants demonstrated and revised teaching practices, critiqued and improved their own writing, discussed current literature on writing instruction, planned various forms of professional development for schools and districts, and studied a new model of staff development using reflective practice groups.
In addition to these sessions on writing and writing instruction, the program was enhanced by readings from writers and poets such as Liz Ahl, Claire Robson, Katherine Min, Emily Moore and Donald Graves; a demonstration by the TIGER theatre group; and two “open mic” events where participants could read their own work.
Participating teachers commented on how impressed they were with the level of talent within the program, the dedication of the teachers and writers, the support for risk taking and the relief from isolation that can plague teachers, especially those new to the field.
“It crosses all boundaries of grade level,” noted Barbara O’Brien, who teaches grades K-2 at Beaver Meadow School in Concord. “I say something and all the high school teachers nod. And vice versa.”
Participants were also pleased with the structure of the program. “Sometimes we’re the teacher, the student, the facilitator,” explained Brian McNabb of Belmont High School, adding, “It validates a lot of things you do in the classroom.”
Matt Cheney of New Hampton School was glad to have the opportunity to interact with teachers from public schools and to see how much they have in common.
Kathy Loring of Moultonborough Academy agreed, saying “I think it’s been an incredible bonding experience in working with other professionals.”
Participants received a $500 stipend and graduate credit for the course “Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing.” For more information about the Plymouth Writing Project programs, contact Dr. Meg Petersen at (603) 535-2684 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.