Summer Institutes Here We Come!


All packed up and ready to go! Now, if I can just get this suitcase zipped...

All packed up and ready to go! Now, if I can just get this suitcase zipped…

Just before writing this post, I was putting the final touches on my plans for my week. I’ll be teaching a weeklong summer writing institute, and I have a feeling that many of you, dear readers, will be attending institutes in the coming weeks and months. Whether it’s an institute put on by your own district, or an expert is coming to town, or if you’ll be traveling many miles to take part, I hope that you are as excited about attending your institutes as I am about teaching them.

One of the reasons I love summer institutes so much is that people, generally, are happy to be there. Not that people aren’t happy to be in professional development during the school year, but it is different during the summer. No substitute plans to worry about, no looming deadlines for report cards. Often the teachers I work with during the summer chose to come to the institutes when they could have been sitting poolside, playing with grandchildren, or gardening. Once there was a woman in one of the sections I taught that had just gotten married, and instead of a honeymoon, she came to NYC for the TCRWP July Reading Institute! Now, that’s dedication!

Another reason I love the institutes is that we get to focus, usually, on just one topic. Reading or writing. Take your pick. Having a focus allows us to take more time. During the school year, I often feel like a chicken with its head chopped off, trying to do everything all at once. During the summer institutes, I can set aside the stuff that usually needs to be squeezed into a day, a week, a month, and just focus.

Lastly, the biggest reason that I love the institutes is that I make so many wonderful new friends each summer. Over the years I’ve met participants from around the world. One year, there were teachers from Australia, Sweden, and Chile all in one advanced TCRWP Summer Reading Institute section. I’ve kept in touch with one woman, a literacy coach in New Jersey, for about ten years! Every few months I get an email with a question from her about running records, or reading levels, or post-its versus notebooks–and I love it.

If you’re going to be attending any conferences or institutes this summer, leave a comment here and let our community know where you’ll be! If you’re not attending a formal event, let us know what kind of professional reading or other learning you’re doing. You would be surprised how many people don’t realize that summers are the time when teachers are busy at work learning, studying, preparing, and creating.  Help dispel the myth that teachers have the summer “off.”  Leave a comment and share what you’re doing this summer!