The Institute Two is lucky enough to start off 2015 with an eight-week placement at New Hope Christian Academy. New Hope is a college-preparatory elementary school that is located in the Frayser neighborhood of Memphis and is driven by a Christian worldview. It is a warm and inviting school that Bailey and I quickly grew a ton of respect and enthusiasm for during our one-day visit back in September, and we are both excited to have the opportunity to jump into all that New Hope has to offer throughout our long-term stay!
As a part of our placement here, Bailey and I had the chance to join the faculty in a professional development day on Monday before the students returned from Christmas Break on Tuesday. Now, admittedly, when I heard “in-service” in describing my first day at New Hope, I oozed indifference. I was totally prepared for a day of announcements, maybe some pacing guides, or some policy review. Little did I know that I was about to completely and totally nerd out.
Ruth Ayers, a master and writer of all things Writers Workshop was coming to spend her day talking with New Hope faculty about this instructional construct and strategizing for its implementation in NHCA’s classrooms. Quite honestly, I “fangirled” a bit. In my graduate studies, I have found myself constantly leaning on the work of the lineage of reading and writing workshop advocates and scholars, and Ruth Ayers is amongst the most frequently occurring names in my research. So, like, all of the best practices guides, lesson plans, teaching philosophy papers, and instructional strategies compendiums that I had written and lovingly sprinkled with citations of “(Ayers, 2010)” just sort of suddenly came to life – my exhausting late nights of reading, and paper-writing, and idealizing, and dreaming all suddenly took a turn for the relevant, for the woah-this-is-real-life.
All drama aside, it was great. I loved hearing from Ruth, learning from her experiences, and taking her philosophies to implementation brainstorms with New Hope teachers. I could type for days about all that she shared with us on Monday, but, instead, I’ll share a poem that Ruth presented to us as a writing prompt. She challenged us to use its message in considering how we will develop our own philosophies about teaching writers. Me being me, however, completely overanalyzed the piece’s message and formulated a slew of implications for me personally, for my learning as a student, and for my practice as a teacher.
So, as my students hate to love to hear me say, “Let’s marinate with this.”
A Lazy Thought
By Eve Merriam
There go the grownups
To the office,
To the store.
Don’t grow up
It takes a lot
I'll say it again, "It takes a lot / Of slow / To grow."