Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thoughts from the Lucy Calkins 10th Annual Coaching Institute

Beth and I just got back from attending the 10th Annual Coaching Institute on Supporting Whole-School Instruction in Writing at Columbia University in New York. Wow!  I highly recommend attending this Institute next year if you are a coach, but just a word of advice, it fills QUICKLY..apply the moment it opens or you may not get accepted. Click here if you want more information on TCRWP.

Here is picture of Beth and I waiting to board the plane to head to New York(we love you Starbucks).

Photo: We love you Starbucks!  NYC here we come!!!!!!

Once we arrived in NYC  and we headed to Columbia University to hear Lucy Calkins speak.  Seeing her in person, speaking to us about the importance of teaching writing in education, was definitely a highlight of our visit.She has a true love for teaching writing to children and as the week progressed, we realized we did too! As I type this post up, I can feel the energy that surrounded us during the entire Institute..overwhelmingly it was all positive, student centered, workshop approached. We not only learned the in's and out's of teaching writer's workshop, we also learned valuable tools to help coach teachers in our buildings on writing instruction. I am going do my best to give you an overview of what we experienced during the first days of the Institute in hopes that we can inspire you the way we were inspired by Lucy Calkins and her team.

After listening to our keynote speaker, Lucy Calkins, our next stop was meeting with our cohort group, which was around 29 people. Our TCRWP Cohort Leader, Celena (along with her assistant Lindsay), amazed, inspired and challenged us from the get go. After a LONG day of travel (we left Indy at 5:30 and didn't meet with our cohort group until 5:00 that evening), we instantly realized that this Institute was no joke. Here is a quick snapshot of  the first 30 minutes of this session:

Celina (our cohort leader) began by having us break into the level of experience we had in Writer's Workshop. Once we were divided into our comfort level of WW, we were asked to divide into triads ( we were each assigned a letter a, b, or c), then a cohort group of 6,(we were assigned a number from 1-6) , and finally we had to find a partner within our cohort based on the numbers in our cohort using odd and even. From there we had to instantly plan a jigsaw lesson with our cohort  to teach to ACTUAL students the next day(we were assigned a part of a lesson based on the number we were assigned in our cohort).

Here is a picture of our amazing cohort group on the last day of the Institute:
Photo: Cohort 5 / 6 rocked it!! #tcrwp

It was a great way to step out of our comfort zone and instantly apply what we knew about writing and coaching as well as think about what areas we needed to grow in as a coach. I think this would also be  a great model to use during a staff meeting. It would provide the staff with a new way to learn curriculum as well as create a shared experience where they learn to depend on each other for support and guidance while also being actively engaged in curriculum development.

After the initial day was over, Beth and I left exhausted, overwhelmed, but ultimately excited to learn more. Celena was not someone you wanted to disappoint...she meant business, but was also knowledgeable and extremely helpful at the same time! I began to wonder if that is in fact what all coaches should inspire to be... tough, approachable and knowledgeable?

At dinner that night, Beth and I tried to digest all the information gained from that day and began to try to organize our notes. However, as we began to talk, we realized just talking was really what we needed. Someone to help organize the thoughts, ideas and frustrations that we were processing. This soon became our  theme of the week...TALK, LISTEN, SUPPORT, REPEAT.

We began each morning of the Institute around 5:30, we had to catch a 90 minute subway ride to a school in Brooklyn. So we had a lot of time to TALK, LISTEN, and SUPPORT each other, ironically, our best conversations were during these early morning walks to the subway and on our subway ride to and from Brooklyn each day. The reason I share that is because as a coach, teacher, administrator, etc., I think we often forget how valuable a hallway conversation can be, it is informal, non threatening, non judgmental, instead it is usually a quick chat about a celebration, challenge or simply making a connection with a coworker that you may not have had otherwise.

Here is a photo of our ride to Brooklyn on the last day of the Institute.

Photo: Last ride to Brooklyn.  Leading lab sites today and then back to Columbia University.  Be home at midnight!

Lesson #1 from the Institute to is to really take time to find a coworker who you can TALK, LISTEN and SUPPORT!

Check back with our blog over the next couple weeks as we will begin to dive into the coaching techniques learned, Professional Development ideas and additional resources we discovered while attending the Institute.

We would love to hear from you, let us know what you would like us to share to help you stay Instructionally Fit!