Saturday, July 14, 2012

Great Teachers and "Pretty Woman": Day 9 of TSI

Our day was very emotional today.  Perhaps it is because it is the half way point in our journey.  Perhaps it is because we are really focused on all of the tasks which need to be done.  In any event, I did some crying today because the discussion focused on teaching and what makes a good teacher.

Morning and Lunch Discussion with Peggy O'Brien

Peggy is the person who started TSI way back in 1984.  Today we got a handout that gave the basics of what the Institute would look like and how they choose who will attend.  They choose teachers from all around the country with varying school structures and experience.  It is not an AP institute.  Shakespeare is for all students and getting all types of teachers to come and study is holding true to their mission.

Peggy also believed that the library should be used by teachers.  Presently, unless you are in TSI, you can only get into the Reading Room at the Folger if you are working on your doctorate or some other specialized field.  In short, it is quite difficult to get in.  This is due to the fact that we are able to access every item in the collection.  Peggy believed teachers should be able to use the library and do some of that special research as well.  Now, it is very daunting to be in this room looking at documents that are hundreds of years old, and I do feel like everyone is looking at me like I don't belong.  I feel like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" when she goes shopping on Rodeo Drive.

Making a reference to "Pretty Woman" shows how unworthy of rare documents I really am.

After Peggy's talk, we made a list of things that great Teachers do.  I have reflected on this question pretty deeply lately especially after reading Todd Whitaker's Book, What Great Teachers Do Differently.  Our lists brought up so many emotions.  It is after an Institute like this where you are changed that you begin to wonder how you will be when you return to your school.

How will you handle the complainers that are prevalent in every faculty?  How will you handle administration that does not share your passion?

Very intense stuff for a Friday morning, but a much needed mini-catharsis at the half-way point.

I spent two sessions in the library doing research on Venice.  I found so many things that now I need to get myself a game plan.  You feel so pressured to be smart when your surroundings look like this:

I mean, really, are you going to check your Facebook while you are in here?

We also did a tour of the Conservation Lab today.  The Folger has an amazing state-of-the-art lab where they can repair anything.  This lab was the scene of some serious CSI work when a kooky guy came into the Folger with a First Folio which had been stolen.  More details here

Curriculum Session with Sue Biondo-Hench

Today we learned how to dance like they did in Romeo and Juliet!  Really fun and not that difficult.  I believe the lesson is on the Folger website.

We also chunked a scene and then chose lines to represent that scene in tableau.  Again, it gets kids to do close reading without knowing it.

Well, I am off to the library to do some research and get some filming done for our video project.  It is going to be a busy, bustling weekend.

Blessed to be Teaching,

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