Write about one way you "meaningfully" involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don't yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.
I used to do a poetry reading for 8th grade classes at the local coffee shop. They had a basement stage that was perfect, and parents and community members packed in to see their kids perform original poetry. It was amazing and nerve-wracking and an authentic and entertaining opportunity for my poets and their loved ones. A few kids even boldly used the opportunity to express feelings they'd never admitted to their parents before. But the coffee shop closed down their basement operation, so I haven't tried to do it there anymore. Reading today's prompt made me feel those guilt pangs again...that feeling in my stomach when I encounter areas where I'm failing as a teacher. I don't involve the community enough in my classroom. Aside from the poetry, I've never really reached out for something that's only my class (we do school-wide community outreach all the time). My students create content for our online school "newspaper" but I don't consider that involving the community as much as it is simply placing work out there for those who wish to read it.
I talked before on this blog about how I want to experiment this year with using Lulu.com (or some other self-publishing website) to create an anthology of student writing each year. I'm wondering if that might also be a way for me to connect to the community. Maybe I could release copies of the book for sale, or hold a public reading for those who might be interested?
Maybe I could contact the local newspaper about including creative writing content from my classes in issues once in a while. A kind of "writer of the month" type of thing? I guess I could always ask. It's not like rejection is going to harm anything.
I know I've read articles in the past where English teachers have brought in community members as responders or readers for student writing. I wonder how this would or could work in my classroom? Maybe I could set up some kind of response group of adults from the community that could anonymously respond to student work to give them more of an audience without creating panic over who's looking at their work?
I would love to hear what other English teachers do to meaningfully involve the community in their classrooms as opposed to just sharing out what we have done recently in newsletter format. It's definitely a weak area for me as a teacher and I want to know what others do to strengthen this connection. If nothing else, now I have some ideas floating around, and that's always the beginning of something new.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.