The WHY behind Summer Institutes

The Why Behind Summer Institutes

Tina Hargaden

Details about 2021 Summer Institutes are below the "back story."  Scroll down or check this shorter doc to cut right to the chase.  You can also hear "My Life Story" in this video, in which I talk more about the various trainings I mention in this article.


Summer Institutes are truly the most impactful training I know of for World Language teachers...and I have taken a LOT of teacher professional development.

My goal in designing Summer Institutes was to create a training for World Language teachers that is as impactful as the summer institutes I attended at Teachers College, Columbia University, to learn how to teach Reading and Writing Workshop.

Those trainings CHANGED my life! Not just my career, my LIFE, because I was probably going to give up on teaching after one short year...I was just so overwhelmed trying to teach English Language Arts to kids who were reading all the way from kindergarten level to college level, in one middle school class.

And, like World Language, ELA is just so wide open. It's like, the standards were no help at all...the textbook was literally shoved into the back of this dusty old cabinet where the previous teacher had left them (plus they were from, like 1998), there were so many possibilities for how to give grades...I was totally lost. All I knew is that I wanted to have a big impact on my students, and help them to develop a love of reading and writing. Yeah, no small task. But that was my goal.


And, my first year, let's be real. I totally sucked at it. Sometimes, I just want to go track down all the seventh graders from 2005-2006, and personally extend my heartfelt apologies for basically being totally lost all year long.

Then I was so, so lucky that after my first year of teaching (or, shall we say "teaching" LOL), I was able to attend the summer institutes.

They CHANGED my life, maybe even saved my whole career...and they gave me a roadmap, a sense of direction, tools to assess kids that were designed to CELEBRATE what they can do, and show them a clear pathway to the next stage, with actual TEACHING POINTS and things I could do to HELP them get there. They gave me a framework for daily lessons, a framework for the whole year, and all the units of study, and a way to check to see if we were on the right track for kids to make progress, from WHERE THEY STARTED, not where some artificial pacing guide said they should be. With so many different ability levels, in one class. And they did this in such a way as to actually drastically reduce my planning time.

I mean, they did not actually reduce my planning time that first year, or maybe even the first part of the second year, but over time, I was able to understand HOW TO TEACH English Language Arts. Like, really, really GRASP what high-quality, standards-aligned, differentiated literacy teaching means. And exactly what it can look like.

After about a year and a half, I felt something SHIFT. It was like everything went "click" and I knew how to just go through a unit, how to craft it on my own, how to find my own voice, and how to basically get to that Teacher Shangri-La of "no plan lesson planning that is still super-structured and high-quality teaching."


So, I'm not exactly saying that Summer Institutes are going to pack you up and move you right to Easy Street in ONE WEEK. I'm saying that they will get you STRONG and set you in a DIRECTION, so that all the learning and planning and hard work you do will have a PURPOSE and lead somewhere, instead of the hamster wheel of new ideas that don't actually move the needle in your job satisfaction.

You know, that feeling of always being on the lookout for some new idea that will somehow make it all make sense.


It's not as if Summer Institutes are going to stop all the running...there's still work to do. But it sure feels different when you stop going round and round reinventing the hamster wheel, and get on a PATH with a PLAN and a DESTINATION, and you know that all the work is taking you somewhere in the end.


That's what I designed Summer Institutes to do.

Also, Teachers College literally GAVE us a whole bunch of materials and resources and example lessons. So, I am paying it forward by giving YOU the same. All last year, Alana and I worked hard, with the rest of the curriculum writing team, to produce a Free Year of Curriculum. Yeah, free. Yeah, in multiple languages. Yeah, a YEAR. Because that's what Lucy and her team did for ME. That's what we did for YOU. So, you can be assured that all the stuff you will learn and all the demos at Summer Institutes are aligned like 110% to the free materials. And that means that not only can we help you get OFF the hamster wheel, and ON to an actual road, with a map...


...we will also give you all the supplies you need to get there, too!


So, that's why I am **SO EXCITED** for you!

Please, let us know if there is anything at all you need to make Summer Institutes a reality for you this year. We can help with ideas to get funding, logistics, anything at all!


Here's some more resources that might help!

βœ… This flyer is good for a quick overview of Summer Institutes, and is good to share with your administrator if you are using school funds.

βœ… This is the registration site for Summer Institutes 2021.

Here is some background information on the strands:

βœ… People, Places, and Stories (PPS) is lesson demos from Cycles One and Two (Description and Narration) from the Stepping Stones curricular framework.

βœ… Culture, History, and Issues (CHI) is lesson demos from Cycles Four and Five (Information and Opinion).

βœ… This document gives a good introduction to what Cycles and Phases are, and you can learn more in this PDF as well.

(Note that both sessions are designed for teachers with all levels of experience with communicative or comprehension-based (also known as "comprehensible input" or "CI" or "standards-based" or "proficiency-based" teaching...personally, I think we could just say that we teach like ACTFL says we should, and call it good. Cause that's what we DO, actually. No need for some fancy brand name!)

βœ… Below are the specific lineups. Click the links to see the schedules for each week. Also please note that we ⏰change time zones from Central to Mountain ⏰ for the July sessions, to give our West Coast pals some "sleeping in" time!

June 14 - 18

9 AM to 5 PM CENTRAL time
PPS: Scots Gaelic with Jason Bond
CHI: French with Tina Hargaden

July 19 - 23

9 AM to 5 PM MOUNTAIN time
PPS: French with with Tina Hargaden
CHI: Spanish with Cecilia Cummaudo

August 2 - 6

9 AM to 5 PM CENTRAL time
PPS: Spanish with Jodi Stokdyk
CHI: French with Nissa Quill


Want More Support?  Curriculum Club might be just the ticket!
Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers store to get the Year of Free Curriculum in Spanish, French, English, and German (and partially completed in Latin and Italian).
Resources on the Cycles and Phases
Visit our Online School!

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