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Teacher to Teacher: Continuity Sessions Offer Surprises, Support, and Serendipity

By Lynne R. Dorfman

Saturdays are busy days for teachers, right?  They are catch-up days for sleep, chores, reading and writing time, and quality time spent with spouses, children, friends, and relatives. Regardless, there are certain Saturdays – the first Saturday of every month – where we carve out time to join our PAWLP friends in a comfortable hour or so to participate in a Continuity Session.

We all have networking opportunities written within our school and district, but often these are limited to our grade level team or faculty. It is possible that kindergarten teachers will have little contact with fifth grade teachers unless special partnerships are formed that pair their students for reading and writing purposes. Many schools have greatly reduced the number of teachers who can attend conferences, and this means that strategies, procedures, and resources are reduced to what the district has to offer.

The Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project is a K through university network of educators offering limitless possibilities of ideas and support in the form of feedback – group and individual. Consider the first Saturday in October when PAWLPer Chris Coyne Kehan shared an extensive list of new and noteworthy books that she divided into categories or themes. Her enthusiastic endorsements and annotations sent many of us to bookstores – online or otherwise – to purchase her suggestions. What a wealth of books to add to our classroom and personal libraries!  Author/educator Frank Murphy also joined us to talk about his experiences co-authoring his newest book, A Girl Like You, with his wife Carla.  Frank, also a PAWLPer, has a new book coming out this spring, A Teacher Like You. It was wonderful to feel his energy. For Writing Project fellows who dream of publishing a book one day, Frank is proof that hard work, determination, and belief in your idea can materialize into something quite wonderful!

 Poetry is a favorite way to experience literature – whether it is writing it, reading it, or hearing it performed. Terrence Sanders, guest speaker on the first Saturday in November, is changing his name to Poet in the near future. He shared one of his poems with us called, “I want to be a writer.” It was a beautiful spoken word that was quite mesmerizing and inspirational to hear. I think that hearing his poem performed in that way brought life to the words and the language that might not have been as apparent if we were reading the poem silently. 

The focus of Poet’s slide share and talk was about writer archetypes. We learned about what each of the archetypes were, their guiding principles, and selected which one(s) we identify with the most. Poet explained that you may not just be one single archetype, but a mix of a few as well. Later, we discussed how we, as writers, could take on the characteristics of a certain archetype and experiment with that writing style as well. For teachers of writers, this idea would be very insightful work with students to develop and practice their writing style. The archetypes were: the Chimera, the Lover, the Artist, the Warrior, and the Shamanist.  

Archetypes I identified with the most were the Shamanist and the Artist. Our next task was some writing and could choose from any of the prompts for other archetypes as well as the one we identified with and use that. The Shamanist is described as “A complex wounded witness whose work attends both to the conscious and to the unconscious unhealed hurts of humans– the literal and personified.” The Artist is someone coupled with intense feelings and longs to paint pictures with poetry or prose. The Artist is often the most rebellious archetype, caring more for writer’s craft than publishing for mass audiences. The prompt for Artist was, ”How and what can you write to bring more beauty into the word?”

Here is Chris Kehan’s booklist. Enjoy, and please join Catherine, Warren, Pauline, and me every first Saturday at ten a.m. for Continuity. Check our website at West Chester University for Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project and scroll down the page for Continuity Sessions for the link.

Books about being true to yourself:

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles Be You! by Peter Reynolds

Fantastic You by Danielle Dufayet

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes I Believe I Can by Grace Byers

My Heart by Corinna Luyken

Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate What If by Samantha Berger

When You Need Wings by Lita Judge You Are a Beautiful Beginning by Nina Laden

Books about kindness:

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold Because of You by B.G. Hennessy

Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham & Charles Waters

Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan   Verde

Love the World by Todd Parr

Most People by Michael Leannah

Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind by Jessica Hische Chapter Books 

Books in Verse:

All He Knew by Helen Frost

All of Me by Chris Baron

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling

Catching a Story Fish by Janice Harrington

The Colors of the Rain by R.L. Toalson

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

Swing by Kwame Alexander

This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce   & Debbie Levey

Books about emotions:

I’m Worried by Michael Ian Black

Love by Matt de la Peña

The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliott

Today I Feel by Madalena Moniz

Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische

The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore

When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller

You Are Your Strong by Danielle Dufayet

Books about in the moment:

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

Happy Right Now by Julie Berry

Here and Now by Julia Denos

I Am One: A Book of Action by Susan Verde

I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong

I Promise by LeBron James

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

Someday by Eileen Spinelli

That’s Life! by Ame Dyckman

Books That Stay with You:

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Blended by Sharon Draper

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Look Both Waysby Jason Reynolds

 Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Stay by Bobbie Pyron

Sweep: The Story of a Girl & Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

What Lane by Torrey Maldonado

Wink by Rob Harrell

Lynne R. Dorfman is a 1989 PAWLP fellow. She recently co-authored Welcome to Writing Workshop with Stacey Shubitz. Lynne and PAWLPer Brenda Krupp have written a manuscript called Welcome to Reading Workshop for Stenhouse Publishers and hope to engage in revision and editing work in the coming months. Happy writing! See you this Saturday for Continuity!

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