NYCWP Blog, Past Events

From the Director’s Notebook: Post-July Update

August 4, 2016

Last Updated on by Jane Higgins

NYCWP Director's Notebook

August, 2016


Dear NYCWP Community,


For many reasons, 2016 was another great summer at the NYCWP. This July saw a shift in thinking about how we structure our summer programming and what we offer teachers; I continue to be amazed not only by the flexibility of this community, but also by everyone’s willingness to reflect on their practice, to grow as an organization, and to expand our understandings of who we are as educators, writers, learners, teacher-leaders, and teacher-consultants. There has been so much growth for the NYCWP over the last few years, and none of this would be possible without the hard work of so many dedicated people.


Each year I say that the participants in the Invitational Leadership Institute (formerly the Invitational Summer Institute) are increasingly exceptional, but I think this is in large part due to the incredible efforts of Jen Ochoa and Priscilla Thomas, who again facilitated the ILI this year. This year, the program saw substantial revision, and Jen and Priscilla’s willingness to constantly re-think, re-write and re-create the summer experience constantly amazes me. This shift stemmed NWP encouragement of Project sites to reconsider the ways “summer” could exist in digital spaces. We combined this idea with a school-year component, so that we could continue to engage Fellows in their classrooms. As the program continues into the school year, Fellows will create and put into practice classroom inquiry projects to be shared with the NYCWP community at the Teacher-to-Teacher Conference in the spring.


The Second Year Fellowship, now in its third year, was also revised. This year’s 2YFs were supported by the tireless efforts of Grace Raffaele and Christy Kingham. Grace coached the Fellows and engaged them with cornerstone NYCWP workshops; the Fellows all agreed that Grace’s ability to share the work of the Project was a great example of the type of mentoring they will now engage with. Additionally, Grace and Christy supported the 2YFs as they co-facilitated professional development workshops for teachers and student-leaders in the Peer-Enabled Resource Classroom (PERC) summer schools at Lehman College and Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn. PERC’s is a fascinating model that engages students and adults as co-teachers, and we were excited to be a part of helping these teachers and students think about their pedagogy. We also established a strong connection to a program within the Lehman College community. The 2YFs will also continue their work throughout the school year; they will support the first-year ILI Fellows as they craft their inquiries and plan their workshops.


This summer again saw the facilitation of Open Institutes for teachers of grades K-5 and grades 6-12. In the summer of 2015, the NYCWP revived the Open Institutes in response to the need to provide summer PL to new and novice teachers.This year, Marina Lombardo and Mayra Negrón co-facilitated the K-5 Open, while Christy Kingham and Melicca McCormick worked with the 6-12 Open. The feedback for these programs has been very positive, and, through the efforts of these teacher-leaders, the NYCWP’s approaches will now enter many classrooms and schools in the fall. Equally excitingly, many of these teachers have already expressed interest in participating in the ILI next year!


In addition to the K-5 and 6-12 Opens, we created an additional Open for teachers of New Language Learners. This emerged out of feedback received in 2015, when participants expressed a need to further explore how the NYCWP’s student-centered literacy practices could be used to specifically support NLLs. The NLL Open was facilitated by Jenny Adelman and Molly Sherman. Like the grade-band specific Opens, the feedback for this program was very positive.


This summer we added an offering to our summer programming for teacher-writers: The Summer Writers’ Residency. In the style of Bread Loaf and Yaddo, we brought together seven NYC teachers who spent two weeks with Mallory McMahon workshopping their writing and  studying the work of established writers in a variety of genres and forms. Our teacher-writers responded to the two weeks by asking to expand the program to three weeks next summer. The writers capped the experience by reading their work at KGB Bar to an enthusiastic audience.


Everyone’s hard work has more than paid off. Participants across all programs were so happy about everything they learned; the feedback has been incredible; and we met the needs of record numbers of teachers and students, which means we will change learning for so many NYC children. We can move into September knowing we’ve provided opportunities for teachers as writers, teachers as learners, and teachers as leaders, reflecting the NYCWP’s core beliefs. We facilitated workshops both established and newly-designed, identified the things we continually do well, and, in the reflective practice that is foundational to the Project, continued to move forward with new innovations and make shifts where needed. To everyone who made these developments and this summer possible, thank you so much. To everyone in the NYCWP community, have a restful August, and stay tuned for more updates in the fall.

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Jane Higgins