"I am proud of our region for taking the steps to start this very important conversation."
This was one response to a powerful regional collaboration facilitated by PD&RC’s
On March 28th eleventh and twelfth grade English teachers, high school administrators, superintendents, and members of the SUNY Broome faculty began a discussion around the current state of writing instruction in our area. Questions such as
How do we best bridge the gap for high school and college writers?
What exactly are those gaps?
drove a session that engaged a focus on alignment across grade levels, across districts, and across the region.
Over thirty participants, representing fourteen districts, started the session by exploring common ground around goals for all our writers, at any level. The discussion quickly moved from Regents requirements to a greater vision: many in the room voiced the hope that our writers would have the ability to take risks, to find a voice, and appreciate the power of the written word for social change and action. The effect of these shared aims allowed for important and frank conversations around what students across the region can expect to learn as writers.
Other highlights of this work included anchoring the role of writing in state testing, recognizing what it does and doesn’t reveal about writers in our classrooms. SUNY Broome shared details about coursework and writing requirements for their English 110 and 111 courses, and as grade-level teachers compared writing expectations within and then across levels, commonalities and gaps began to emerge.
The day ended with a catalyst of energy for future collaboration, as groups shared next steps in preparing students for success as writers. Participants expressed a need for more collaboration with each other and area colleges, closer study of writing as a progression, and an anchoring of writing traits across levels and districts as possibilities for future outcomes.
Participants’ feedback to the day was positive, energized, and hopeful. Takeaways included:
"The ability to share thoughts and ideas with other English teachers - the access to great minds. I am taking ideas with me
. . ."
"My colleagues in middle and high schools are just as committed to teaching writing as a process and seeing their students as writers as we are at BCC."
". . .it was reassuring to hear and see such commonality in our approaches! We rarely get a chance to get together to share in an environment like this!"
The PD&RC is currently developing future collaborative work around bridges between high school and college.