Currently I am hurtling through space at 478 mph 30,000 feet above the earth somewhere off the west coast of Norway outside it is minus 57 degrees Celsius and I have eight and three quarter hours before I touch down in the United states. As chilly as it may be outside of this plane I will certainly harbor warm feelings toward the kids and teachers I met at Singapore American School. I don’t care how cliché I may sound. Remember kids - I am a professional here – I am allowed to break the rules. So, like the Singapore Merlion, allow me to gush a bit.
The past three weeks have been one of the best residencies I have participated in since going fulltime as a teaching artist over a half dozen years ago. Lots and lots of credit goes to Dr. Nancy Johnson and the whole eighth grade Reading and Language Arts department at SAS. This was the epitome of an author/consultant visit. Here’s the formula: Each Monday Sara and I started with an assembly program that focused on a different facet of our classroom workshops – sharing examples of our and other’s work highlighting some of the strategies we would be teaching – imagery, metaphor, word choice and oral presentation. For some of the audience this was a precursor for others a review – read on and you’ll see how.
Then the rest of the week we divided and conquered one of the three teams of RLA teachers which consisted of a pair of of teachers who taught five classes between them. Two as solo instructors and one as a duet. This meant Sara and I saw each class two times during the week tag-teamed the shared class and then started the pattern again with a new dynamic duo the next week. (It really isn’t as complicated as it sounds in print) So – every eight grader saw three different assemblies and participated in four workshops. I know having this much time with the kids and teachers made all the difference in the world. This is a unique arrangement but if I am ever asked what makes for a successful visit I will always refer to this model as a gold standard.
It was so cool to see the kids employing strategies that Sara taught them the day before while I was teaching my workshops and then taking my lessons into their next session with Sara. We developed a writer’s vocabulary that we shared during our classes and we got to know many of the kids by name and even almost figured out the block schedule before it was time for us to go.
Of course this couldn’t happen without teacher buy in. Thanks so much to Nancy, Brian, Crystal, Scott, Erin, Rebecca and Brenda for letting a couple crackpot poets loose on their classrooms. I know a lot of schools might think they could not get away with such a schedule – but I really believe we got some super work done and didn’t fall behind at all of classroom goals. Plus, I know Sara and I learned a lot, pushed ourselves and are better teachers for the experience.
Honestly – this one is going to be hard to top. At least until the next time…
as promised kiddo – you made my blog