Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Week of Travel

"It must be so nice to be a teacher--having the summers off..."

How many times have you heard this since June?

This week, I was fortunate enough to participate in two workshops for teachers. I've been gone for a week, learning lots and seeing great people. I spent two days in Monterey, California at the Writers At Work Conference hosted by The Culham Writing Company. What a great time. If you don't know Ruth Culham (otherwise known as "The Traits Lady"), she runs an amazing 3 day conference every year. This year, I was able to hear Lisa Yee (who, by the way, is as wonderful in person as she is on her blog), Ralph Fletcher, and James Blasingame (who shared lots of great new YA titles), Many others presented but I wasn't able to hear their sessions. It was a great line up--Ruth Culham, Janet Angelillo, Lester Laminack, Bridey Monterossi, Linda Rief, Laura Robb, Charles Smith Jr., and Janice Wright--a combination of teachers, writers, children's authors, experts in children's lit and more. A great time and lots of learning!

Then I flew to Portland, Oregon for a Choice Literacy Workshop. I gave a workshop for two days on literacy in grades 3-6 and met such great people. Most of the people were from the Portland area but a few traveled far to attend the workshop and enjoy the city. There were other Choice Literacy Workshops going on by The Sisters, Jen Allen, Andie Cunningham, and Ruth Shagoury.

Both of these conferences understand how important teachers' learning is. Teachers learn lots and are thrilled with an hour for lunch! Teachers were in groups small enough for great conversations--groups where they could share and learn from each other. At both conferences, teachers talked about not knowing what to do with a full hour for lunch. We are so used to eating in 10 minutes, rushing to duty, etc. An hour lunch was a much appreciated luxury--as was the time to talk and learn with other colleagues who were thinking about literacy.

After spending four days with teachers at great institutes, I was very energized. (well, after recovering from my all night flight home!) We are all working so hard to make sure we do the best we can for our students. Teachers seem to be the target of so much criticism lately and I just don't see it. Teachers are working harder and smarter than we ever have. We understand more about how children learn and how best to create classrooms that meets the needs of ALL kids. As a profession, we seem to be losing confidence in our own decision making and we shouldn't be. I met so many amazing teachers this week and I learned a ton from them. Thinking together about student learning IN THE SUMMER.

I am tired of the world thinking that we all became teachers because we get our summers off. I admit that summer takes on a different pace but I wouldn't call it "OFF". I so treasure this time in July when I can attend workshops, read professionally, find new children's books that my students might fall in love with, and think ahead for the fall. In every city across the country, teachers are getting together attending workshops, and learning new ways to meet the needs of their students. I loved every minute of my learning this week.


  1. Sounds like fun! I'm hoping to make it to some of these in 2008 (I'm tapped out for this summer... already did two professional development things... now I need the time to synthesize it and plan for the next school year.)

  2. I completely understand! I like to remind people that I don't make the school year calendar and that I would be all for having year-round school. Of course many parents don't want to pay for renovations to our school that we would need to have year-round school.

    Meanwhile I work two summer jobs and take grad classes to supplement my huge teacher's income! All this and my district is still without a contract after a year (even though we had a 4-day strike.)

    Your professional activities sounded wonderful!

  3. Sounds like your summer vacation is filled with teaching!


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