This space is dedicated to my adventures in Taiwan. It will continue to evolve and grow and become in the days to come, especially as I spend time reflecting on the professional development course that I co-facilitated with dear friend and colleague, Shiao-wei Chu, and the incredible teachers who welcomed me as their instructor.
You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?” –George Bernard Shaw
Why not: I often ask “why not?” as opposed to the infamous “why?” or “how?” This attitude, I’ve found, often leads to life-changing adventures.
As a facilitator for the four-week Invitational Summer Institute that our Northwest Inland Writing Project hosts, I am blessed to work with amazing teachers as we explore literacy strategies, best practices, and teaching with integrity. In Summer 2011, one of these students was a teacher from Taiwan who was also concurrently a PhD student at the University of Idaho. Deeply interested in the Writing Project model and the professional collaborations around education topics, Shiao-wei applied to our Leadership Team in the fall of 2011 and, I am pleased to say, is now one of our team members. It was during that fall semester after the Institute, however, that we were talking and she expressed an interest in taking this model back to Taiwan. I asked, “Why not?” In response to her reasons, I told her that I would gladly provide whatever support that I could. Why not?
I suggested that she explore options over Christmas break, discuss it with a professor she knew there, and – hopefully – secure both interest & a commitment. Shiao-wei worked miracles. Not only did she collaborate with Professor Yang at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung to have the Teacher Preparation Program host the professional development course, but the two wrote and received grant funding from the Ministry of Education. Working with elementary through high school teachers, Shiao-wei and I co-facilitated the literacy course from July 30 – August 17, 2012. It was a life-changing experience.
The Class: We met daily from 1:30pm – 5:30pm. Teachers came directly from their morning classes, often bringing their lunches with them. While I worried about mental and physical exhaustion, this turned out to be an amazing part of our class: teachers could try strategies and methods out in their morning classes, and then come and discuss what worked and what didn’t work in the safe community of colleagues.
I write more about my Writing Project wonderings, my pre-workshop jitters (all unfounded), and my focus on respectfully balancing between being culturally responsive and gently interweaving the concepts of global competence and student-centered classrooms into the content and expectations in a post that you can find here.