Teachers as Writers as Inquiry

Facilitating the Teachers as Writers course over the summer was a completely new experience for me.  I have taught adults and facilitated face-to-face workshops, but creating an online community is quite different.  The experience was overwhelmingly positive, with just a peppering of anxiety that came from some technological issues.  The internet is a wonderful place where I spend a lot of time - and I think perhaps my own presence in all different corners of the internet became a bit confusing.  Despite some technical confusion, feedback from participants was wonderfully positive.  Some wish the course would go on longer - and as I reflect on the course, it was really structured as an inquiry into writing, with opportunities for each participant to make her own meaning from the resources available.  An inquiry journey cannot be overly scheduled - that misses the point.  Some may have felt closure, excited to move forward into the upcoming school year.  The participants who were "just getting started" as the four weeks came to a close were able to leave our online space with resources and connections that can help fuel their inquiry further, outside of the four week window.

 

As registration approaches for the second session, the feedback from the first has been invaluable.  Right from the start of the first session in July, I was thinking about what small tweaks I would make for the second session, which I also promised I would create, right from the get-go.  My take-aways from the first session are the reason that you should consider joining in the upcoming session!  Keep reading, ask any questions you may have in the comments, or email me. Then, register to join the inquiry!
 

Why sign up for the Teachers as Writers online workshop?

 

I support inquiry based learning in Early Childhood settings, and I believe that adults can learn in the same way.

 

There were some narrated presentations in the first session, and there will likely be one or two in the second, but a quick realization was that my beliefs about education in general apply to learners of all ages.  When I want to learn about something, say, how to grill a perfect steak, I use a variety of resources to learn that skill.  Sometimes I look something up and it does not seem like it will help me (an old cookbook, too wordy).  Then I talk to my partner (a chef) and learn something new; I visit some other resources (Kenji Lopez-Alt!) and I try to apply those ideas.  I don’t expect it to be perfect the first time, but when I use the right resources and have the right support, I can explore on my own with a bit less trepidation.  

 

With writing, or any topic of inquiry, we can use the same skeleton: we live in a world with diverse resources at our fingertips.  Just as a chef has to follow some of the same general rules for making a juicy steak, if teachers want to be “better” writers, we need to use some of the same ideas and tools as people who write for a living.  As I write more myself, I see how there is no possible blanket formula to being a better writer, but we need to like writing more than we already do.  This workshop is a personal inquiry, helping you find that sweet spot as a writer.

 

We come in with different goals and expectations.  

 

Rather than shy away from that idea, or try to create content that answers every tiny question, I act as supporter, facilitator, structure-maker, and thought provoker.  The upcoming session will be more focused on group dialogue and individual inquiry at the same time.  I’ll be gathering more information about individual wants and needs when you register so I can be aware of your inquiry questions and needs, supporting each individual journey.

 

This is a workshop, not a course.

 

There are so many terms that we can use to describe an educational experience, and “course” seems a bit closed off.  In this inquiry, I am to help you find  balance between structure and exploration.  There is nothing that you “have” to do in this course.  This course is chock full of resources that you may want now, and you may want them in the future.  Your writing practice is not the same as anyone else’s.  Your questions, your ponderings, your needs: these are all things that are individual.  The experience of Teachers as Writers does not prepare you to take an assessment on writing.  It aims to make you more comfortable as you press those keys or grab that pen.  We will all use the same skeleton to outline our inquiry, but the workshop mentality allows freedom to explore.

 

The experience is deep and rich, and can easily extend past four weeks.  

 

This is something I heard from numerous people: it felt like we were just getting started!  I agree with that sentiment.  Inquiry is hard to pin onto a timeline.  Perhaps some participants felt it was too long, or that not everything applied to their personal experience.  When we are open-ended and process-based, we let things unfold.  I, personally, cannot create a “10 easy steps to amazing writing” list, even though more people would probably read my writing.  Again, there is no magic formula, but there is a magic lens: inquiry.  Through inquiry, you drive the boat, with my support and guidance.  I bring along resources, life jackets, and definitely snacks.  You steer, with a whole crew of fellow educators interested in the same big topic who are in their own boats, finding their own currents in the same river.  

 

Signing up for the Teachers as Writers workshop is a commitment to spending some time inquiring about the role that writing plays in your work as an educator, and how you can enhance your writing practice.  The course is happening in the fall in the Northern Hemisphere, where many people will just be back into their classrooms.  Teaching is demanding, but this inquiry will not find you slaving over reading and writing assignments into the wee hours of the morning.  The resources are accessible and relevant, and you do the work that makes the most sense to you, that speaks the most to you.  As with children’s inquiries, depth of learning is greater when children have more experiences to explore and play with ideas and concepts, with their words and ideas respected and heard.  I want the same for you.  You can spend 20 minutes each day, or 3 hours every Saturday, or an hour a day: your choice.  You are a grown up, and making your own schedule is one of the many perks of that.  This writing inquiry is a natural compliment to a teaching practice, not a separate chore, and this workshop aims to slip naturally into your teaching life.  Most participants in the first iteration of the workshop spent between two and five hours a week with the content.  

I hope you'll join me!