mentor/thinking partner

A Work in Progress: The Benefits of Early Recruitment for the Summer Institute

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Author: Anne-Marie Hall, Roger Shanley, and Flory Simon

Summary: This monograph from the Southern Arizona Writing Project describes site leaders’ process of restructuring their recruitment and pre-institute experiences for their summer institute. By starting recruitment efforts earlier and building in deeper pre-institute events focused on the development of demonstration letters and related mentorship, fellows were able to get a better start in preparing their demo lessons. An additional benefit was that this new sequence offered the site to increase the diversity of participants.

Building the Capacity of Writing Project Site Leadership

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Author: Karen Smith, Lucy Ware, Lynn Jacobs, Paul Epstein

Summary: These stories of teacher leadership from NWP’s Vignette Study provide examples of structures and processes that sites can examine as they seek to expand leadership and create their own opportunities for teachers to lead. As Lucy Ware writes in the introduction to this collection, “We hope that leaders of local NWP sites will discover that challenges they face are not unique and will see adaptable strategies to apply in their own specific settings. By sharing these stories, we also hope that individual teacher-consultants will recognize the importance of their leadership to their local sites and will see ways that the NWP network might support their ongoing professional development.

Community Literacy: Can Writing Make a Difference?

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Author: Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck

Summary: This resource describes the process emerging from a Community Literacy Collaborative (CLC) initiative that enabled youth to use inquiry and writing to enter into a policy discussion about increases in school suspension and for their university mentors to enter into the discourse of urban teens. The approach is designed to promote intercultural discourse across race, class, gender, age, and economics barriers. Remarkably current (the school to prison pipeline comes to mind), this piece provides real world examples undergirded by a strong theoretical rationale and could be a useful resource for those framing community-based projects aimed at advocacy and civic engagement.

The Birth and Death of Portfolio Assessment

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Author: Pauline Sahakian

Summary: Although this short article is ostensibly about portfolio assessment, the author warns that promising teaching practices will only endure if mentors facilitate ongoing conversations about the hows, whens, and whys of practice. In other words regular practices cannot be taken for granted; mentors and facilitators cannot assume new leaders will simply take up time-honored practices.

Stories of Impact: The On-Site Work of the New York City Writing Project

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Author: Elaine Avidon, et al.

Summary: This e-book includes powerful chapters written by teacher consultants about the individual and collective impact of their work and its alignment to their site’s mission and beliefs about professional learning. Reading select chapters would support fellows in imagining different kinds of school coaching; alternatively, the book offers a powerful model for site leaders who want to pull together leaders to collectively evaluate and write about the impact of their site’s programs.

Working With New Teachers: Building Networks and Allies (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Kira J. Baker-Doyle

Summary: Are you building programming for new teachers? Listen to this podcast for a fascinating discussion about the role that social networks play in new teachers’ early professional path. The participants offer conceptual and practical thoughts about what happens when new teachers gain access to and strategically gather resources from various networks (face-to-face and online).

Literacy Coaches Explore Their Work Through Vignettes

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Author: Carrie Usui

Summary: What is the work of a literacy coach? Twelve UCLA Writing Project teacher-consultants serving as literacy coaches in the LA Unified School District spent a weekend retreat exploring that question by writing vignettes as a way to illustrate what it is they do as coaches. Here they share some of what they do and how it makes a difference for students and teachers in the schools where they coach.

Coaching and the Invitational Summer Institute

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Author: Susan Bennett

Summary: This is a succinct overview on the role of coaching in the Summer Institute at the Redwood Writing Project. The document describes the relationship between the coach and the person being coached, carefully laying the groundwork for a supportive and collaborative, non-evaluative relationship. While the piece is based on coaching in the Summer Institute, the description of roles and the set of guide questions could be useful to anyone entering a coaching and/or mentoring relationship.

Coaching Guide and Protocol

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Summary: This coaching guide and protocol from the Southern Colorado WP may be helpful if you are looking for ways to support teachers in presenting their work to colleagues. While the protocol lays out a schedule and rationale for meetings between presenting teachers and their mentors, the guide provides a framework for establishing roles/relationships/responsibilities and provides a set of questions that can be used to guide the thinking partners through the stages of identifying a question, researching the question(s), and creating a demonstration/inquiry workshop.

Sustaining Work with New Teachers

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Summary: Sites and/or educators interested in supporting early career teachers may find this resource useful: a description of how several sites developed and integrated their programs for new teachers—which were originally supported by NWP New Teacher Initiative grants—into the ongoing work of the site. Whether you are considering starting small (Southern Nevada: Study Groups), going all in (Houston: Intensive Summer Institute), or experimenting somewhere in the middle (Delaware: Workshop Series), there is something here to help you devise a program that can provide the support, collaboration, and collegiality new teachers need to thrive during their early professional years.