Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Workshop Way

Well I have had a very busy summer, between working (mostly) full time at a day care as a full time float teacher (just for extra summer $$$ :)), and switching to a brand new school, attending the required trainings, setting up my new classroom, and just trying to wrap my mind around the philosophy of my new school.

That's not to say that I do not agree with it, or that I do not wish to incorporate the ideals, because it is actually quite the other way around.  I really find the whole thing to be very powerful in theory, beautiful even! It is just that it is very different from many things that I have learned in college, and it is CERTAINLY different from what I saw at my previous public school.  But as I have said in previous posts, I am teaching at a Charter School so they can be a bit more "Out of the Box" when it comes to this type of thing.

It's called Workshop Way (r), and it is based on the work of Grace Pilon.  I just finished a five day training on it, and immediately searched the world wide web for anything, ANYTHING about this program from teachers who have embraced it.  What I found was very vague, limited information that seemed to leave readers more confused than when they started.  Even when I took to the blogging community, it was essentially unheard of.

However, I understand it, at its core, and while it is somewhat confusing at first (and still can be-at times) I really do believe in what the message is here behind this program, and that is that you can't leave Human Growth up to chance.  Meaning, you have to teach students how to live their lives as "fully dignified, intelligent human beings" as Grace Pilon would say.

"It is a way for students to learn how to learn, how to think, and how to manage their lives"

The easiest way to explain this is to take the words straight from her mouth from a quote in an article called The Workshop Way to Student Success.  She says that Workshop way is

"a way for a teacher to organize time, content, and materials so human growth is not left to chance.  It's a way all teachers can give all students the condition that release their remarkable human potentials.  And it works with all students because it does not depend on where students start.  Neither does it depend on prior learning of students or on the background of teachers."
I highly recommend anyone to read the full article above, as it will give you much more information than I can at this time.  Admittedly I still have such limited knowledge on the subject because I have not  taught, or lived rather, this philosophy.

What I can say about it is this.  In my classroom I will be hanging six of the philosophy signs:

Everyone has the right to time to think.

It takes COURAGE to be willing to risk.

We are FREE to make mistakes while learning.

We RESPECT the rights of others.

We don't have to know everything today.

It is intelligent to ask for help.

My students will be familiar with these mantras, and understand them as universal truths inside our classroom.

I will also be setting up tasks for students to be doing independently while I meet with each individual student to listen to their homework, which is a list of vocabulary words and phrases that they read fast in order to develop fluency, word meaning, confidence as a reader, and accountability for studying the list each night.

The homework comes in a pack that my school ordered from the company, as well as the ideas for the tasks.

You can order these items here. 

I will be posting more information about the tasks, homework, and overall climate of my new classroom as everything progresses.  I have a feeling that this year is going to go a lot more smoothly than it has in the past because of this program.  It's all about taking the fear out of taking risks while learning.  We will see how things go!

Please let me know if I have violated any copyright laws with this post, and I will do what I can to fix it!  Like all of my students, I am still learning too!!

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