Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slice of Life: Providing Learning Opportunities for High School Volunteers

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

The week of our annual Summer Writing Academy is upon me, and although I don't love giving up a week of summer to work, I am excited to watch how a week of poetry unfolds. I am also looking forward to working with the four high school students who are volunteering. The first year I ran the program, one of the high school students gave me feedback that she wished she learned more about teaching. Since then, I have carved out time each day to meet with the volunteers and give them an easily explainable teaching move to try out as they work in the program. This morning, I am thinking about what those sessions will be this year. 

As of right now, I am thinking that today I will go over the structure of a conference, giving each of them some of my pink cards that have places to write compliments, teaching points, and challenges. Tomorrow, I will use Responsive Classroom to teach them about morning meetings and then encourage their teachers to allow them to run an activity. Thursday will be a quick review of growth mindset principles and key language using some key pages from Opening Minds by Peter Johnston (one of my favorite all-time professional books), and Friday will be about reading both published and student work with love and respect. I love the work of Valerie Worth for teaching them to read words with emotion and admiration. 

 I'm never sure of the highest leverage teaching points for my high school volunteers or of the correct sequence for them. As with teaching in a writing classroom, I find myself wanting to teach everything all at once, and I know that this is not good practice. 

If anyone out in my wonderful slicing world has other suggestions that high school volunteers who are interested in education could absorb, practice, and appreciate, please share! This part of our program tends to get underemphasized, but I love encouraging their interest in children and teaching. 

Happy Slicing,


  1. What a great opportunity for those high schoolers. And how perceptive of you to ask for feedback. I can just imagine how attentive the students will be to these high schoolers paying attention to their writing!

  2. I applaud you! Talk about experiential learning.

  3. Good luck with your exciting program, Melanie. Working with high school student volunteers is an effort that will reap rewards.

  4. This is wonderful, Melanie, and I imagine the students who work with you love it. They can use some of it in their own relationships too, like ideas from Opening Minds. I've had some of my students study education as their unit topic. They enjoyed some of the philosophy from early educators like Montessori and Dewey.

    1. I wonder if I could work some educational philosophy in--interesting idea, Linda. Thanks!

  5. This sounds like a great learning experience for your high school volunteers and those who attend the writing academy. (I want to know more about the academy...)

  6. What lucky volunteers! Your thoughtful plan will be an incredible help to them. Hope you share more about how the week goes.

  7. Great suggestions for working with volunteers! Would you be able to share a larger picture of what is on your pink 'compliment' sheets?

  8. So my comment is that this is a great mentor move for anyone that is working with students. I can see how I could have a quick chat with new teachers, reading interventionist, parents, etc. to teach them a quick teaching move. Brilliant thinking!