29 July 2012

Why I Struggled to Write About My Visit to the Bread Loaf School ofEnglish

Relaxing in an Adirondack chair outside the distinctive yellow buildings at the Bread Loaf School of English, I soaked in the atmosphere of my surroundings while contemplating the excellent blog posts I would write following my visit to Vermont.   I returned home over a week ago and--Nope, nada, nothing.   My weekly blog post didn’t happen.  A number of excuses could be to blame, but ultimately, I just wasn’t satisfied with my attempts to write about my amazing experience.  Since I didn’t want to let the occasion slide without noting it as part of my own learning (to muse) experience, I decided to share pictures and a few anecdotes.

When my invitation to spend three days at the Bread Loaf School of English arrived in my inbox, I immediately grew excited knowing the opportunity would allow me a chance to renew, refresh, and relax.  This is one of those times when I felt proud to represent my state in conversations about teachers and professional learning.  The Bread Loaf Teacher Network arranged for me to stay in Maple during my three day visit.

Since I thrive on conversations, my appointment with the directors was a highlight for me.  Strategizing about how we can create more opportunities for Kentucky teachers to be involved with Bread Loaf was thrilling because I know this means more teachers will have the opportunity to learn from distinguished professors, to hone their own close reading skills, to create digital literacy projects, and to participate in collaborative exchanges with fellow educators from around the nation and around the world.

Knowing my interest in English academics and digital literacies, Kentucky’s coordinator of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN) worked with the director of the Bread Loaf School of English and the Director of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network to design an energizing itinerary for me.  We practiced our own close reading skills in a modern British and American poetry class where we discussed poems by Robert Lowell and Geoffrey Hill.  I heard presentations by BLTN teachers during a network meeting--these presentations focused on how youth in English classrooms link literature to current events and public service using the digital literacies they bring to school.

At Bread Loaf there is a literal breaking of bread and connecting with others around meals served by Bread Loaf students in the Bread Loaf dining hall.  My hosts arranged for me to dine the first night with BL faculty and to enjoy other meals with groups of students who are English teachers during the school year.  The conversations were an excellent way for me to learn more about the potential for leveraging the voice of Bread Loaf teachers (who see themselves as agents of change) in our state.

I’m grateful for my three day retreat to the Bread Loaf School of English nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  I feel rejuvenated, relaxed, and reconnected.