Slice of Life 9: KSRA, an Opportunity for Collaboration and Mentoring
By Janice Ewing
I’m in the process of collaborating with two former grad students in writing up a proposal for the Keystone State Reading Association Conference. The conference is not until October, but the proposal applications are due April 1st. (Rose and Aileen, if you’re reading this, we’re getting there!) The KSRA conference is always enriching and enlightening, and this year, with Rose Capelli at the helm and Aileen Hower on the team, it promises to be stellar. Last year, I was a co-presenter with PAWLP fellows and friends Lynne Dorfman and Gaetan Pappalardo. Planning and presenting together were energizing, as anyone who knows them can appreciate!
This year, I’m especially excited to be working with my grad students because the process is a continuation of a collegial relationship that we had already established, and now can continue and deepen. They each bring areas of expertise to the table that will hopefully be stimulating and relevant, but even if our proposal is not accepted, it will have been a valuable experience for us to share our ideas. The three of us are all in different stages of our careers. In addition to the variety and length of our specific teaching paths, we have a wide range of experience with articulating and sharing our ideas with other teachers. My professional life, including active membership in organizations such as KSRA and PAWLP, has led to numerous teacher leadership opportunities. However, like so many other wonderful teachers, my co-planners have a comfort level with their students that does not extend to sharing with other teachers. This is where my mentorship has come into play. I believe that my confidence in them and in our work has buoyed them. They want their voices to be heard, and, maybe even more so, they want their students’ voices to be heard. They are ready to take the daunting leap from the classroom to the conference room. I’m proud to be their colleague and guide.
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.
Thanks for the shout-out to KSRA, Janice. What a wonderful gift you have to share with the students. Presenting to different groups affects me in different ways. I am usually terrified in front of parents, and although I have presented to a room full of teachers many times, presenting to colleagues in my own school was always hardest.
While I have become comfortable sharing my thoughts online and in small meetings, I have never been able to talk myself into giving a presentation or workshop for other teachers. Just the thought makes me nervous! I have been teaching for five years full-time now, when does this nervousness go away!?
It never goes away completely, but gets much easier, especially if it’s a topic you care deeply about and are comfortable with. Another thing that helps a lot is to co-present with a trusted colleague.
What a wonderful opportunity to be working again with former students. That is something that I would love to do some day. That’s really giving back in a positive way!
How wonderful! I hope you are successful but you have such a positive outlook on the situation, even if your proposal is not accepted.
Janice, you have given me something to chew on:
“However, like so many other wonderful teachers, my co-planners have a comfort level with their students that does not extend to sharing with other teachers.”
Even after twenty years I still feel that way–depending on my audience. If I am with you, Mary, Diane, Brenda, Lynne, Judy, et al…I am fine. And I think that has something to do with a mutual respect that has been (and continues to be) earned. I’m not so sure I (or ever our colleagues across the state) always feel that sense of mutual respect. Maybe that is something I need to work on for myself…but maybe it is something bigger…and maybe it is an aftershock of the climate in education over the last decade or so. I wonder…does your (evocative) statement still apply when we talk ten year ago, twenty years ago, etc…is it always this way?
Brian, I know what you mean about the current climate, but from my experience, many teachers who have much of value to share with colleagues have had a hard time finding their voice outside of the classroom. I think it’s more important now than ever.
Good luck to you on your proposal…what an awesome and creative idea!