By Katherine Evatt, Lower School 3rd Grade Teacher
NOTE: Each year the Parent Association uses the funds raised at the Blue & Gold Auction and other initiatives to support professional development for our teachers. With the PA support, Lower School teachers Janie Kendrick and Katherine Evatt attended the prestigious Summer Reading Institute at Columbia University last summer. Below, Katherine shares some of her impressions about the opportunity.
I was fortunate enough to spend a week at Columbia University’s Teacher College in New York City last summer for a once-in-a-lifetime experience every teacher should have. Thousands of teachers from all over the world apply to attend the Reading Institute, led by Lucy Calkins, an internationally acclaimed professor and author who is focused on helping young people become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers. At the Institute, we joined educators from across the globe to study methods and plan curricula, revitalize our thinking, and most importantly, encourage our students to lead rich and literate lives. We listened, participated, and collaborated each day with Lucy, her team, and other teachers on best practices and how to set students up for success.
The workshop is unique because it was modeled for us, and we participated as both students and teachers instead of just listening to someone speak for five days about the curriculum. We could ask questions directly and experience what our students would experience each day. We also received feedback when we were “teaching.” Through my week, I made connections with other teachers who inspired me and made me better.
This year, as we have implemented the Lucy Calkins reading units of study into our Lower School curriculum, I was able to directly translate what I learned into my classroom, as well as provide support for my fellow teachers. I had direct instruction from the curriculum author, Lucy Calkins herself. Being surrounded by so many teachers who are passionate about teaching and teaching reading, I made connections with teachers from all over with whom I continue to collaborate about the best practices for implementing the units of study. If a Charlotte Prep colleague or I have a question, I have a huge database I can tap into for different points of view and insights about how to teach the lesson or unit. I am so thankful that the Parent Association provided this opportunity for me to attend the Reading Institute and to bring back what I learned to our Lower School classrooms.