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Voices: Educators and winter blues

Veteran educator turned consultant Peter Huidekoper, Jr., says it’s time for teachers – many hitting the mid-year blues – sign up for summer workshops.

If the new attention on teacher evaluation isn’t wrong, it is certainly misplaced – if the assumption is that the principal/evaluator who never taught your subject (and maybe last studied it in high school, if then!) can come in and assess your teaching skills when much of what makes you an effective teacher is your knowledge of (and enthusiasm for) the content.

Not all professional development for teachers has to be about the three Rs. Here, teachers get help on how to integrate movement into school lesson. <em> EdNews </em> file photo
Not all professional development for teachers has to be about the three Rs. Here, teachers get help on how to integrate movement into school lesson. EdNews file photo

So here’s a reminder of several summer workshops, usually offered and taught by folks who know their discipline. And the time is now, as registration for some of these programs ends mid-March.

Here’s a reminder, too, that principals and classroom evaluators are unlikely to provide deeper knowledge of a teacher’s subject matter, but this can happen through summer workshops, seminars, and classes – in which the teacher is intellectually engaged, and not just for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, or a couple of “P.D. days” during the year – but for a week or two, maybe even six weeks (see the Bread Loaf School of English) or eight weeks (like my summer at the St. John’s College Graduate Institute where my seminars that summer of 1987 included readings of Homer and Shakespeare and Jane Austen, all of whom I was teaching the following fall, enabling me to return to my English classes with a richer understanding of the material along with an abundance of discussion/writing questions I had created.)

I hope this post reaches a few districts and schools who know that teachers can’t teach what they do not know, who appreciate that many teachers love their subject and have a good sense of what else they need to learn in order to serve their students better, and who realize that Colorado’s commitment to teach to the Common Core State Standards for English and math and to new – supposedly higher – standards in eight other academic disciplines cannot be achieved over the next few years without a huge commitment to professional development.

(NOTE: Any mistakes in the information below is my fault. I hope comments (below) can be a place where organizations mentioned can correct any errors.)

Arts integration through Think 360

The Aesthetic Education Institution of Colorado is a nationally recognized professional development institute, offered in June, for educators, artists, and administrators to:

  • Reignite passion for teaching and find renewed joy in the classroom.
  • Discover ways to equip students with 21st century skills such as innovation, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
  • Participate in hands-on workshops with 5 master teaching artists to discover how to integrate arts-based practices into everyday teaching.
  • Collaborate with arts integration specialists to connect and apply artistic experiences to the standards-based curriculum.

AEIC is a nationally recognized professional development institute for educators, artists, and administrators. Partial scholarships are available. Participants will receive 35 contact hours toward CDE license renewal. For any questions please contact Michelle Shedro at (720) 904-8890 Ext. 101 or email

Arts integration through Mapping New Terrain

The Center for Integrated Arts Education announces its seventh annual Arts Education Leadership Institute, called Mapping New Terrain: Arts Applied, June 11 – 13 at the University of Northern Colorado.

You will explore how arts instruction for students can directly apply to various literacies, technologies, and careers and provide deeper understanding of current cultural and ecological issues. This year’s keynote speakers are David Darts, chair of the Department of Art and Arts Professions at New York University, and Kurt Wootton of Hable, the Center for Language and Culture in Merida, Mexico. Workshops and time for facilitated planning with a school will be included with the $25 registration fee.

Invited representatives are selected from Colorado K-12 schools and work with university personnel to develop 5-year strategic plans and curriculum models for arts and arts integration programs.


A collaboration between Colorado Council for Economic Education and Foundation for Teaching Economics gives us An Institute for New and Beginning Teachers of Economics or an Opportunity to Refresh and Solidify Your Mastery of Economics. You can apply online at

The Right Start Institute is a four-day program for high school teachers who are new teachers of economics, have taught high school economics for three years or less or who simply could use a refresher on economic principles. The institute is designed to help teachers identify and learn basic economic content and develop lesson plans for effectively teaching a high school economics course.

English in Santa Fe

The Bread Loaf School of English at St. John’s College in Santa Fe is offered from June 15 to July 24.

Bread Loaf’s program in New Mexico enrolls approximately 60 students. The curriculum emphasizes the texts and cultures of the Southwest, including Native American and Latino/a literatures.

English in Denver

The Public Education Business Coalition offers its Summer Literacy Seminar in June. In this workshop, explore how language choices affect children’s learning and how focusing on learners’ engagement affects their development, individually and collectively, and the qualities of the learning community.


The Colorado Geographic Alliance offers the 2013 National Conference on Geography Education Aug. 1-4, Denver.

CGE and the National Council on Geographic Education present a rare and remarkable opportunity for geographic educators from around the state and the country to come together to exchange ideas, research, resources and best practices in geographic education.

Attendees can:

  • Attend sessions, workshops, and speaker sessions.
  • Network and explore exhibits.
  • Participate in a wide range of field trips that explore Denver and the surrounding areas.
  • Or take classes from groups such as National Geographic, Google, ESRI, and the AAG.


Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior is offered June 10-14. The cost is $650.

How is history shaped by hatred, indifference and denial as well as by caring, compassion and responsibility? Using Facing History’s unique sequence of study, teachers will explore the range of choices that led to the failure of democracy and ultimately the murder of millions of Jews and other targeted groups. The seminar investigates the complexities of human behavior, judgment, memory and how individuals can make a difference in the world today.

International Baccalaureate

IB Association of Rocky Mountain Schools offers its Keystone Summer Conference from June 30 to July 3.

(Personal note: Though I was not teaching in an IB school, the two-day workshop I attended in Boulder a few years ago was enormously helpful to me as an English teacher.)

Liberal arts and great books

This program is offered through St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. Find information on the Graduate Institute.

More details on the Liberal Arts Program can be found here.

Since 1967 St. John’s College has offered a graduate program devoted to an intensive study of the great books of the West: the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts. Students in the liberal arts program explore the persisting questions of human existence by studying classic works of the western tradition, organized into five semester-long thematic segments: philosophy and theology, politics and society, literature, mathematics and natural science, and history.

The St. John’s College Graduate Institute is currently accepting applications for these upcoming terms: summer 2013 (and subsequent terms) at the Annapolis and Santa Fe campuses. Special grants are available for teachers and educators. On-campus housing and board is available.


The Colorado School of Mines offers a multitude of classes in many subjects but especially science.

Just a few examples: Wastewater and Renewable Resources (K-12), Geologic Principles for Educators (Gr. 5-12), Rocky Mountain Field Camp (K-12), Geologic Principles for Educators (Gr. 5-12), Rocks and Minerals (K-12), Grand Canyon of the Colorado: The Ultimate River Expedition (K-12), Using Forensic Science to Solve a Wildlife Crime (Gr. 6-12), IPS Physical Science (Gr. 7-10).


Check out the Colorado State University Writing Project.

The CSUWP Summer Institute is designed for K-16 teachers and specialists from all disciplines who are committed to the teaching of writing. While a minimum of three years’ experience is preferred, they have reserved a small number of fellowships for exceptional early career and pre-service teachers. Summer Institute activities are intended to help participants develop:

  • As writers by writing, sharing, and publishing their work;
  • As teacher leaders by demonstrating their own teaching practices and preparing to share what they know with other teachers; and
  • As teacher researchers by investigating their own practice and studying theory and research on teaching writing.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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