Local teachers Trish Fushtey

Local teachers Trish Fushtey

Educators brush up on teaching skills

Local educators were reminded how hard it can be to decipher poetry during a summer institute held in Williams Lake.

Local educators were reminded how hard it can be to decipher poetry during a summer institute held in Williams Lake at Thomson Rivers University this week.

For two days more than 90 teachers and administrators were immersed in tools to help students with literacy comprehension under the leadership of workshop facilitator Debbie Miller.

“We’ve been remembering how hard it is to analyze a poem,” Miller said. “I’m here giving them some ideas for literacy comprehension.”

On Wednesday afternoon participants had spent time looking at the Rich Lizard, a poem by Deborah Chandra.

In the poem, the lizard sheds its skin of silver coins and warms his blood to grander things.

When it was her turn to talk about the poem, teacher Diana Kershaw chuckled and said in her younger days a lizard was someone who hung out in lounges.

“I had to realize that my older process of thinking could stop me from going forward,” she explained.

One of the summer institute organizers, Lori Kelly, said the exercise was a reminder that the end isn’t always important, but what’s done to get there.

“Debbie’s been reminding us about that,” Kelly said.

During the opening session Tuesday, the group made manifestos for students and staff.

“In ours we said we wanted to be a risk-taking place that was willing to fail,” institute organizer and teacher Tanis Stewart said. “We also said we wanted to be authentic and learn about real world activities. Students today are so savvy and knowledgeable, we have to be.”

Aside from Williams Lake and its outlying district, teachers and administrators also came from Port Hardy, the Nechako School District, Prince George, Quesnel and Kamloops.

There were also vendors from Vancouver and Salmon Arm.

“The community is always very supportive of us,” Stewart said. “They give us donations for door prizes.”

Frances Bisaro, also part of the organizing committee, said the institute is always a great way to rev up for the new school year.

“It’s an amazing way to get us going as a team of teachers.”

Based in Denver, CO., Miller is an internationally known educator, consultant, and author of Reading with Meaning, Teaching with Intentions, No More Independent Reading Without Support.

She has taught primary grades in the public schools for more than 30 years and works with schools and districts on long-range planning and development of literacy programs.

“These guys are already doing some great things in the schools here,” Miller smiled as she looked around the room.