Long Island Writing Project Resources

Teacher Inquiry Groups

So you and your colleagues have a burning issue you'd like to look at. Or maybe there are some school-related readings you've been meaning to catch up on, and would, if only you could find some like-minded people to read with. What ís happening in your schools that you would like to read, think, write about with your fellow educators? Brenda Miller Power has the following tips for you to consider:

Setting Up After-School Inquiry Group Meetings

  • Choose a location that most teachers will pass (the teacher's lounge; the cafeteria, if it's on the way to the parking lot; a room near the office).
  • Set the date well in advance so people can arrange for rides, childcare, etc. Use a poster or e-mail message to remind people in advance.
  • Set a definite start and end time so everyone knows how much time to commit. End early, rather than late, and people may come back to finish the conversation.
  • Order pizza — food is a great draw, and the smell may attract more people.
  • Don't limit your invitees to full-time, on-site faculty; welcome instructional aides, student interns and itinerant teachers.
  • Appoint a facilitator with enough influence to nudge the group beyond negativity if the discussion edges there.
  • Leave charts up or post minutes in a public place to intrigue those who didn't think they were interested; maybe they will come next time.

And one more, from the LIWP

Don't forget the writing. Not as homework — see how fast your group dwindles then! — but for thinking.  Use it to start your meetings, to respond to texts, to write notes to each other in all the varied ways you know as teachers to invite people to think a bit before they start to talk, to allow that space and time to gather ideas and set them down, to make sure everyone has a chance to attend to a personal, quiet voice.  And maybe, incidentally, to model the infinite variety of ways writing can be used in our classes. From:  Mills, Heidi, et al.  When Teachers Have Time to Talk:  The Value of Curricular Conversations.

Language Arts 79.1 (September 2001): 20-28