In 2005, the Department of Education launched the Summer Curriculum Writing Institute (SCWI) to support MAT graduates through their induction years (years 1-2) and beyond. The week-long workshop is designed around the central task of curriculum development and invites graduates to return to the university each June to write a unit of study and reconnect with one another and the MAT faculty.
MAT graduates completing years one and two of teaching are given a priority registration period, after which graduates of any year may attend if space allows. Participants may also bring a colleague from their school with them to write curriculum (e.g., two teacher from an interdisciplinary team or two third-grade teachers). This supports graduates while building capacity within schools traditionally outside the realm of the university.
Units written during SCWI are housed online via the Understanding by Design curriculum collection. The collection is the most popular site in the Digital Commons garnering 40,000 downloads per month and is used regularly by organizations such as the US Department of Education.
The genesis of SCWI grew from concerns voiced by MAT graduates regarding the lack of time to write quality curriculum, their resulting feelings of ineptness, and the desire to reconnect with like-minded colleagues on collaborative and emotional levels. A strong and extensive literature base substantiates the needs of beginning teachers during the induction period and provides direction for identifying goals toward teacher quality. The development of SCWI rested on four goals- curriculum writing, teacher efficacy, connectedness, and teacher retention.
This is the most useful professional development I've been to all year. It gave me a deeper understanding of UbD that I can continue to use on my own. (2009)
I came into this week not sure if I was going back to my school in fall - hope that was okay. Now I feel like I have a purpose and a plan for starting the year. Thank you for this. (2010)
As a first-year teacher, I struggled to put one foot in front of the other. There was no time to plan for more than the next day. This week has given me the time I needed to pull back and think about the curriculum and my students and their needs. It has been like a vacation for the mind. (2008)
Writing units - oh my gosh - there just isn't time for anything like this, at lease not the quality, during the school year. I left this year feeling so guilty because of all the things I wanted to do but didn't have time for. At least next year, I'll have this one good unit. If we do this every summer, I'll eventually be an awesome teacher - maybe (2006)
One of the best aspects of the week was getting back together with other MATs, sharing first-year experiences, and being able to talk honestly about teaching and learning with others that "speak the same language." The week is like a family reunion. This helped all of us psychologically. We feel supported and encouraged by each other and are ready to go back to school in August (2007).
The value for me in this week was not the money but in the rejuvenation that I feel in continuing to teach next year. After a stressful and often overwhelming year, it became easy to lose sight of my own dreams and hopes when I decided to teach. This week has restored my energy and refocused me around high expectations and best practices for teaching. (2010)
For more information, contact Laura Van Zandt Allen, Ph.D., at lallen [at] trinity.edu.