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Graduate Certificate: Teacher-Consultant in Writing

The importance of high-quality teachers in every classroom is a recognized priority in American education.1 The teaching of writing, in particular, has been identified as a high-profile concern in our schools and colleges.2  The National Writing Project was founded in 1974, and the University of Maine (UMaine) became a site of the National Writing Project in 1997.  Since that time, both organizations have come to be identified not just with quality writing instruction, but also with developing professional development leaders for writing and literacy generally in their own schools and at the state and national level.

Each year, two key insights of the National Writing Project are enacted in the annual institute of the Maine Writing Project — a six-credit course sequence at UMaine.  First, effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write as well as to examine literacy theory and teaching practice together.  Second, teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation.  Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.  This teacher-led approach to professional development has been shown to be effective at achieving long-term, systemic improvement.3 Accordingly, there is value to participants, administrators, and communities at every level in a certificate that recognizes those who have completed the full, twelve-credit complement of courses within the writing project program at the University of Maine.

Educational Objectives:

  • To understand the role and nature of writing in the personal and professional lives of teacher-leaders.
  • To understand the nature, methods, and challenges of mentoring colleagues.
  • To understand the role, methods, and challenges of teacher-leadership at the local school and district levels, including the demands of being an agent for change.
  • To understand the importance and opportunities for teacher-leadership beyond the local level, including the Maine and National Writing Projects as well as governmental and trade organizations.

    (All work here is based on the national NCTE and NWP standards.)

Program Course Sequence:

Students achieve the graduate certificate for Teacher-Consultant in Writing by completing four, three-credit courses in sequence.  For example, a student beginning the sequence in Spring 2014 would proceed as follows:

  • Spring 2014: ERL 545, Introduction to the National Writing Project (NWP)
  • Summer 2014: ERL 546, Maine Writing Project (MWP) Institute in Teacher Leadership
  • Spring 2015: ERL 547, NWP Seminar in Mentoring
  • Summer 2015: ERL 548, MWP Advanced Institute in Teacher Leadership

ERL 545: Introduction to the National Writing Project (online – Spring 2014)

Course Description:  This course is an introduction to the principles and practices of the Maine and National Writing Projects.  Fellows (i.e., those enrolled as students in the course) explore the role and importance of writing in their personal lives and in their professional lives as teachers of writing, and they consider questions and issues related to writing and the teaching of writing.  Activities include informal writing, writing for publication, peer response in writing groups, and online discussion of various topics based on multiple readings.  Fellows also begin to consider the nature of teacher leadership in professional development in anticipation of the Maine Writing Project Institute in Teacher Leadership.

ERL 546: MWP Institute in Teacher Leadership (on campus – Summer 2014)

Prerequisite: ERL 545 (Introduction to the National Writing Project)

Course Description:  Fellows continue to explore writing and the teaching of writing with particular attention to their role as teacher leaders in classroom practice and systemic professional development.  Fellows read and write about questions and issues related to teacher leadership and support each other in discussion and cooperative activities.  A central element of this institute is the teaching demonstration, a workshop-style presentation based on Fellows’ educational philosophy and teaching practice.

ERL 547: NWP Seminar in Mentoring (online – Spring 2015)

Prerequisites: ERL 545 (Introduction to the National Writing Project) and ERL 546 (Institute in Teacher Leadership)

Course Description:  Students enrolled in this course mentor Fellows enrolled in the Introduction to the National Writing Project.  Together, mentors consider their own experience as mentors as well as resources related to peer mentoring.  Mentors read about writing, the teaching of writing, and the mentoring of those who write and teach writing, participate in discussions with each other and with Fellows, and write in various ways.  Participants also explore in practice the particular demands of mentoring in an online context.

ERL 548: Advanced Institute in Teacher Leadership (on campus – Summer 2015)

Prerequisites: ERL 545 (Introduction to the National Writing Project), ERL 546 (Institute in Teacher Leadership), and ERL 547 (NWP Seminar in Mentoring)

Course Description:  Participants in the advanced institute mentor one or more Fellows in the concurrent Institute in Teacher Leadership, specifically by coaching Fellows in developing and delivering the teaching demonstration.  Through reading, writing, and discussion, mentors also continue to study issues of policy, practice, and procedure related to teacher leadership.  Mentors investigate what it means to be both rhetoricians and agents of change in various settings and develop a specific proposal for change applicable to their own school or district setting.

 

How Courses Will Meet Objectives:

This focused collection of three-credit courses is carefully sequenced to take participants from skilled classroom practitioner to competent and confident Teacher-Consultant in Writing.  The introductory ERL 545 begins this sequence with teachers’ examining their own writing, considering how others’ literacy experience may differ from their own, and undertaking peer response to writing and in discussion.  ERL 546 then places students in the context of peer mentoring.  With the exchange of teaching demonstrations, participants experience what it means to be both experts and critical friends in a community of essentially equal practitioners.  Next, the NWP Seminar in Mentoring, ERL 547, initiates the direct study of mentoring along with advising new Writing Project Fellows as they begin the path toward teacher leadership.  The Teacher-Consultant in Writing sequence concludes with the Advanced Institute in Teacher Leadership, ERL 548, in which mentors continue to advise Fellows in preparing their teaching demonstration while themselves preparing a proposal and plan for systemic change in their own school setting.  Altogether, the Teacher-Consultant in Writing sequence progresses smoothly from self-reflection through peer interaction to actualization of teacher leadership.

 

For More Information, Contact:

Ken Martin, Ph.D.

Director, Maine Writing Project

UMaine Lecturer of Literacy

(207) 483-4734

kenneth.martin@maine.edu
Notes

1a. “Ensuring that every child is taught by a highly qualified teacher is a central feature of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).”

US Department of Education (2007). Teacher Quality under NCLB: Interim Report.  Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/teaching/nclb/execsum.html

1b. “The nation’s growth and the strength of our democracy are dependent on the educational success of all of our students.  Fully-prepared and effective teachers are a prerequisite for assuring that success.”

National Council of Teachers of English (2012) Coalition for Teaching Quality advocacy letter.  Retrieved from http://www.ncte.org/action/updates/qualified.

See also policy Schools Matter statement of the Coalition for Teaching Quality, 89 local, state, and national organizations representing civil rights, disability, parent, student, community, and education groups.

2. The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges (2003). The Neglected “R”: The Need for a Writing Revolution.   Retrieved from http://www.collegeboard.org/prod_downloads/writingcom/neglectedr.pdf

3. National Association of Secondary School Principals (2008). Teachers Take the Lead.  Retrieved from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CC8QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nassp.org%2Fportals%2F0%2Fcontent%2F56712.pdf&ei=QCVwUO34GLKH0QGDrIDYAg&usg=AFQjCNFXLAJgx938PE31s-atzgJFpnHamA

3b. “…we propose that the norm in professional development should be teachers within the district or school conducting workshops and seminars.”

Marzana, Frontier, and Livingston (2011). From “Opportunities to Observe and Discuss Expertise: Teacher-Led Professional Development,”  in Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching.  Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.  Retrieved from http://edge.ascd.org/_Opportunities-to-Observe-and-Discuss-Expertise-Teacher-Led-Professional-Development/blog/3661463/127586.html