NEW ALBANY, IN (July 1,2013) – Dozens of English teachers throughout Indiana recently completed Indiana University Southeast’s Advanced Institute three week summer program and annual Writing Conference.
The program, sponsored by the National Writing Project, is designed for high school English teachers to come together from all over the state to share ideas and gather new ideas for the classroom.
“I always look for things I can use directly in my classroom,” said Tiffany Stansbury, a Floyd Central High School English teacher. “It gives me a refresher for the next year and helps me build my knowledge on what a great teacher looks like.”
This is the writing project’s eighth year in existence at IU Southeast. It was started by IU Southeast Professor of Education Kevin Sue Bailey as part of the National Writing Project.
“The National Writing Project is over 50 years old,” Bailey said. “It’s the oldest supplemental development conference for teachers in existence.”
Tying the Writing Conference in with the Advanced Institute gives IU Southeast professors and special guest educators a chance to incorporate new teaching techniques to help K-12 teachers stimulate writing for their students.
The coordinating and planning done for the conference was all done by the teachers themselves. Amanda Atkins, a Tell City High School English teacher, has been working with others to plan this conference since last year.
“We really start in June and plan for the next June,” Atkins said, “We start coordinating with Dr. Bailey and find out what the needs of the teachers coming to the conference are.”
On one of the days of the conference, a guest speaker will come in and lead the teachers in a workshop. This year, that special guest was Tom Romano, a high school teacher and well-known author of several books on teaching.
“Every year I look for new things I can use, and he did a great job demonstrating things that directly relate to my daily teaching,” Stansbury said.
The conference also has a component for IU Southeast students earning master’s and bachelor’s degrees. For example, undergraduate students of Bailey’s upper division professional development class are required to go to the conference and present research and a visual representation of an author. Taylor Troncin, a senior secondary education major, enjoyed her time at the conference, particularly the guest speaker.
“Listening to his stories was really interesting. He really just talked about his career, his past writing, and his past students’ writing,” Troncin said, “It’s really a good experience.”
According to Stansbury, the experience is not only a good experience but a valuable one that in some ways benefit the students more than the teachers.
“In light of recent reforms, it seems like education is less about teaching and more about courses and data,” Stansbury said, “This conference reminds us all that we need to be more in control of our own classrooms.”
(Photos by David Stoner)