I was back in familiar territory yesterday, in the high school library I have come to love. Over time it has changed with technology and with great leadership and it is the perfect environment to spend a day with teachers.
Social Studies teachers don’t make me shake in my shoes, after all, I began in Social Studies. In college I dreamed of getting a Phd in European history and following in the footsteps of the professors I loved but no way was that dream coming true. In the early 70’s Phd candidates I knew were without jobs, driving taxis or finding jobs in public school teaching to avoid the draft. That’s the boys, of course.
But when I found my way to public school teaching for the right reasons, the jobs were still tight in Social Studies, so I quickly turned to another love, English-that’s literature, not writing or grammar and got the certification I needed and a job back in my hometown.
But enough said, Social Studies is a close cousin to my ELA experience and it’s not much of a sell to offer literacy workshops to SS teachers.
For this Kick Off Day I began my part in the afternoon session, so I sat with the group and participated in the morning and we all sat, and sat and sat, listening passively to a knowledgeable former teacher, now BOCES official sharing the latest in Social Studies Standards. We sat for a LONG TIME listening with glazed eyes. Good thing it’s become acceptable to keep your mobile devices open and in use. It’s not quite rude anymore. I spent some time revising my workshop slides, checking email and free writing. I wondered what she saw as she looked out at the 9 of us, well situated to be engaged.
Like the teachers who hate to write, presenters who refuse to really engage their participants are not doing the job of modeling.
I was getting exhausted just sitting there and wondered if I could get the group back from its stupor of boredom at not being engaged. Not that she couldn’t, but she didn’t. Still Sage on the Stage operating here.
But with a nice lunch break and change of scenery the group returned to start again. It did help to have with me, 3 vets from previous PD projects there. AND my experience presenting with the National Writing Project/ Hudson Valley Writing Project models of engagement.
So we like the Saturday Seminar Tara and I traveled to New Paltz for last week, I had the tools to get the group moving and sharing and active.
We wrote into the afternoon with lots of help from the exercises of Peter Elbow and then borrowing from my good buddy, Joe Bellacero of the New York City Writing Project I could share with them great activities to lead kids to prepare for academic argument. Of course there’s that issue of writing. As we wrote and shared and reflected some confessed that they hate to write. I wonder, how can you fake that in the classroom?
A challenge ahead for this new PD Project.