Three summers ago, I decided to take a break from sipping Bloody Marys poolside (which is, of course, a teacher's typical summer activity) to participate in the Red Cedar Writing Project. One of my former professors suggested I should apply, and since I hold her in the HIGHEST regard (you know who you are Sue:), I figured I'd give it a try despite the serious dent it put into my leisure schedule.
Our first day, I was convinced I had gotten in way over my head. There was no way, I was sure, that I could possibly keep up with all the amazing teachers I had somehow managed to get myself mixed up with. These people were phenomenal. They published articles, taught honors classes, understood that hyperbole is the BEST thing EVER. This was a room full of the people I want to be when I grow up; how could I even hope to fit in?
Turns out, I did fit in, because this wasn't a cut throat environment; this was heaven. A group of people - educators - that wanted to grow, wanted to share, wanted to learn. And we did. I don't believe a single one of us left that summer as the same teacher who entered.
I have since participated in two more Summer Institutes as a Co-Director with the Chippewa River Writing Project, and am about to plunge into another season of learning, sharing, and growing. Those Bloody Marys will still be cold in July.