reflective practice

Developing Communities of Practice In Schools

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Author: Milbrey McLaughlin, Joan E. Talbert

Summary: This book chapter investigates what it takes to make teacher learning communities within schools successful, identifying strong design, skilled facilitation, broadly shared teacher leadership, and school culture as significant factors.
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Working Toward Conscious Competence: The Power of Inquiry for Teachers and Learners

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Author: Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

Summary: In this short article, Jeffrey Wilhelm makes the case for inquiry, which he defines as “learning how to solve problems and design solutions by using the stances and strategies of expert practitioners,” as the key set of practices for attaining “conscious competence,” learning that can be understood, passed along, and applied in a range of situations.
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More Than Skin Deep: Professional Development that Transforms Teachers

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Author: Deborah Dean, Melissa Heaton, Sarah Orme, Gary Woodward

Summary: Four teacher-consultants explore how their involvement in the Writing Project fundamentally shifted how they approached writing, both their own and their students’. They each detail how it demystified the apparent magic that produces good writing, drawing them wholeheartedly into the messiness, collaboration, and beauty that the process of writing truly entails.
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Reading, Writing, and Reflection in the Holocaust Educators Network

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Summary: Each summer for the past ten years, NWP teachers, many from rural sites, have participated in summer seminars offered by the The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), a NYC-based organization dedicated to furthering the knowledge of teachers and students about human rights and social justice through the lens of the Holocaust and other genocides. TOLI seminars use an inquiry-based approach to provide educators with tools to heighten their students’ engagement with this sensitive subject matter, guiding students from shock and denial to compassion and social action. Teachers who complete the seminar become part of the Holocaust Educators Network.

Developed by Sondra Perl, one of the founders of the New York City Writing Project, TOLI seminars place writing at the center, both as a way for participants to process their learning and as a key dimension of the curriculum projects designed by participating teachers. If you are exploring ways to address issues of human rights and social justice in your work with other teachers or in your own classroom, check out the resources below to learn more about TOLI.
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(Re)Visioning Site Work: Extending the Reach and Relevance of NWP Sites

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Author: J. Elaine White, Jane Frick, and Tom Pankiewicz

Summary: This monograph captures how two National Writing Project sites, at different points in their institutional lives, used visioning retreats as a strategy to take stock of their work and look forward in order to align programs with capacity, to develop leadership, and to continue to engage teachers in the professional community of the site. By engaging teacher leaders in collective inquiry at visioning retreats, both sites continued to build leadership capacity and support new learning. Of interest to site and program leadership teams, this resource describes in detail both sites’ planning process and subsequent results and includes an extensive appendix with support materials that are adaptable to planning visioning and similar types of retreats.
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The Professional Leadership Development Project: Building Writing Project and School-Site Teacher Leadership in Urban Schools

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Author: Zsa Boykin, Jennifer Scrivner, and Sarah Robbins

Summary: Motivated by a desire to have opportunities for professional development for their teaching colleagues similar to those they had experienced as participants in the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project, teacher-consultants created a structure for building a school-based professional leadership development project. The authors of this NWP monograph describe a flexible model–grounded in participating teachers’ own collaborative inquiry into their work–for promoting teacher leadership within six urban schools. Teacher leaders interested in developing similar models of school-based learning communities will find inspiration in this resource along with a useful planning guide.
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Changing Teaching from Within: Teachers as Leaders

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Author: Ann Lieberman & Linda Friedrich

Summary: For sites and individuals interested in exploring why teachers become leaders in their schools and communities and how they move into positions of leadership, this paper and accompanying slides provide a rich and in-depth look at stories from a research study of NWP teacher-leaders recognized as effective models of teacher leadership. Exemplary in its research methodology and rich in detail and examples of collaboration, coaching, reflective practice and professional growth within school reform contexts, these resources could be useful in study groups and a variety of other contexts where teachers seek to learn about teacher leadership and NWP social practices in action.
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What Student Writing Teaches Us

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this short video, Mark Overmeyer, co-director of the Denver Writing Project and author of the book What Student Writing Teaches Us poses the question, “If you read student writing closely enough, will the student’s writing teach you what the student needs to know?” A thoughtful overview of the value of watching and listening to young writers in the process of writing, this video could be useful in launching a conversation about the role of formative assessment in the development of student writing.
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Teaching in a Time of Dogs

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Author: Tom Goodson

Summary: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  As most teachers will tell you, there may be no truer statement about teaching. In this essay, the writer reflects on an incident that occurred years ago in his middle school classroom that has continued to serve as a guiding metaphor for “the uncertainty that is the beauty and the challenge of teaching.” In seeking to place students, not standards, as our starting point, this article could serve as an inspiration for teachers–in any inquiry group, institute or professional development program–to reflect on the lives of their students and the dynamic of teaching and learning in their classrooms. 
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Sonia Nieto Explores What Sustains Teachers

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Author: Sonia Nieto

Summary: Sonia Nieto, a leading authority in bilingual and multicultural education, delivered this moving address, at an NWP Spring Meeting, about the “What Keeps Teachers Going” Project and teaching in the current socio-political context in general. Exploring the question of what sustains teachers in challenging situations and discussing the implications for professional development, Nieto encourages us to move beyond the “how and what” in professional development in order to explore the our relationships with students and the  larger and more lasting question of “why.” Listen. An inspirational speech that reminds teachers what brought them to the National Writing Project in the first place and what has kept them engaged since.
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