Writing might be one of the most cathartic experiences someone can partake in. And luckily, many of us can write.
Putting pen to paper, or finger to key, is an integral part of the Greater Madison Writing Project’s (GMWP) weekly online GMWP Connect sessions.
“GMWP is really all about bringing together educators, researchers, writers, etc., to address the issues and opportunities in our education system,” GMWP outreach specialist Bryn Orum said. “While meeting digitally is new for us, we are finding that our community is strong and brilliant in any format.”
These online gatherings serve multiple purposes for participants:
- Bring a sense of community with other educators
- Give teachers a chance to share what is working when teaching remotely and invite critique and feedback to that work
- Allow participants to learn something new and try it out on their own
- Provide a place to bring questions and share them with others
- Take the conversation beyond the “tech tools” or the checklists to engage in the real issues of teaching and learning
“The most surprising thing for us is how good these meetings feel to us, to the facilitators, and to the participants,” Orum said. “We are big on face-to-face gatherings, but are finding these gatherings to be joyful and fulfilling for all.”
A recent GMWP Connect allowed visitors to select roundtable sessions after catching up during an introduction period. Each session featured a different topic, including the theory of listening, cultivating community during social distancing, remote classroom conversations, and how to create engaging activities accessible to all.
“We have had great feedback that has allowed us to tweak events to make them productive gatherings,” Orum said. “Attendance grows weekly; members who haven’t been in touch for years are showing up, teachers are inviting their colleagues, pre-service teachers are joining in, and even folks from outside of Wisconsin have been in attendance. It is pretty cool.”
One reason for their success might be a unique format for an online meeting that includes quiet time to reflect and write, with a chance to share work at the end. A recent writing prompt asked for everyone to take five minutes and write about things seen outside of their window.
Stories of success are shared, as is student writing. One educator talked about the benefit of poetry to share student emotions in a neutral way about life in quarantine.
The one-hour meetings are designed for K-12 educators and open to all. Find the full schedule here: https://place.education.wisc.edu/events/