Dear Teachers College Reading and Writing Project,
Thank you so very much for extending me an invitation today to attend your July reading institute this summer. I'll admit --- when your name showed up prominently on my school mail feed this afternoon, my heart skipped a beat. I'm excited to meet new people, learn more about effectively workshop instruction, and discover new staff development techniques from your rock-star staff. THIS is a magnificent opportunity!
For people who absolutely adore learning more about reading and writing instruction, the home you've created at Teachers College is like a sacred gathering place where educational gospel is preached. Passion oozes from each session: attendees and staff. I remember the first time I sat in Milbank Chapel two years ago as if it were yesterday... Leader Lucy Calkins ramped up her awestruck audience and then Mary Ehrenworth challenged literacy coaches to be the intellectual heart of any school building. Attendees from all over the world warmly chatted during sessions, throughout your old-school hallways, and while waiting for cabs that speckled your historical campus. Bonds formed, alliances forged, contacts shared. All communication seemed to say, "Hey, we're in this together. How can we help each other grow?" I LOVE THE MENTALITY YOU FOSTER. It's empowering (and highly addictive). I know this summer's event will be no exception.
With a veritable treasure trove of research, experience, and complete instructional know-how, you will truly enlighten each attendee on the workshop method of reading instruction. Even the curmudgeons (one of Lucy's favorite terms). With increased accountability to grow all students, not just the low, not just the high --- but EVERYONE --- and at high rates, we need to learn how to teach to every reader by meeting them where they are and holding them to rigorous expectations. What your organization has done with New York City Public Schools is nothing short of amazing; the proof is in the pudding --- allowing teachers to teach their students in meaningful minilessons and through consistent conferences during independent work time is pure magic. I love it all and I want you to teach me how to hone these crafts with students and teachers in my building.
TC's dynamic, experienced, and personable staff will spread your workshop words of wisdom in methods I can easily translate to the elementary staff I work among. Four corners...lab sites...triads...layering and density...cycles...big ideas. These are all concepts I latched onto, nurtured, and grew after your coaching institutes. I'm almost breathless at the prospect of what I'll learn from you this summer --- in fact, that's my intent --- to use your content to inform our comprehension professional development focus next year. I love how you, as teachers, remember what the classroom is like and what teachers need to know because you're out in schools so often. I love how you, as instructional leaders, are not scared of change and step forward when the hardest kind is what's warranted. I love how you, as inquisitive researchers, are passionate about minutia and push others to notice important details that initially seem tiny but really aren't. I love how you, as capacity builders, affect schools, districts, and entire regions by reaching out to even one person. But, more, I love how you develop relationships --- relationships that inspire growth.
Working with you again this summer is a dream come true. I'll be like a kid in a candy shop being surrounded by kindred spirits, discovering reading instructional methods derived from the latest data, and learning through the talent you're lucky enough to claim. Even though I just heard from you today, I'm already mentally packing my bags and making preparations to return to the Upper West Side. Now, to patiently wait for 114 more days...