Professional Learning Philosophy
The Lake Michigan Writing Project (LMWP) is an organization of, by, and for teachers of writing at all grade levels and in all disciplines, dedicated to improving the teaching and uses of writing through a variety of programs.
Working from a firm belief in the power of classroom-tested knowledge, LMWP chooses as consultants successful practicing teachers who have participated in the Invitational Summer Institute on the campus of Grand Valley State University. These teacher consultants work with teachers in all subject areas, sharing best practices and working with teachers on their own writing.
Throughout the year our teaching consultants conduct professional development workshops and consultant services in school and district-sponsored programs. Each series is designed to meet the needs of the teachers in the district involved. Crucial to the success of these programs are the following assumptions:
- Teachers are the best teachers of other teachers. Successful practicing teachers have a credibility unmatched by outside consultants or packets of "teacher-proof" materials.
- Students need daily writing experience from the early primary grades on through the university years.
- Writing is as fundamental to learning in science, in mathematics, and in history as it is in English language arts.
- Teachers of writing must write. Teachers must experience what they are asking of their students when they have students write. The process of writing can be understood best by engaging in that process firsthand.
- Real change in classroom practice happens over time. Effective professional development programs are ongoing and systematic, bringing teachers together regularly throughout their careers to test and evaluate the best practices of other teachers and the continuing developments in the field.
- What is known about the teaching of writing comes not only from research but also from the practice of those who teach writing.
- The university and the schools must work together as partners. The "top-down" tradition of past university-school programs is no longer acceptable as a professional development model.
Professional Learning Communities
Once a school has one or more Teacher Consultants who have attended the Invitational Institute, we support for the first year, Professional Learning Communities. Some of our PLCs in recent years have studied books on Genre, Assessment, and Writing Across the Disciplines.
We have conducted school-specific workshops on Writing on Demand (MME and MEAP preparation), Writing Across the Disciplines, and Writing as Thinking.