We understand that the school year is hectic, and your WITS visit is planned around your school’s scheduling needs. When you request a WITS workshop, the program director will initially ask you which month you would like to schedule a visit. Then, an assigned trip leader will contact you to determine the final two-day block. Because visits may require coordinating up to six staff members’ individual schedules, we do ask that schools provide the trip leader with 3 possible two-day blocks within their requested month.
Two Consecutive Days, The Same Students
WITS is run as a consecutive 2-day workshop, and we request that we work with the same students on the second day as we did the first. On Day 2, students generally feel considerably more comfortable, demonstrate a greater sense of authority with their writing, and take more risks.
Each WITS team is limited to 4 hours of total teaching time each day. WITS is a labor of love and each WITS team member rearranges her own teaching and course schedules at the university in order to visit your school. We would sincerely love to spend two full days with your students, but that would likely cause our own teaching and coursework commitments to derail. We appreciate your understanding.
We Teach in Teams
Our lessons are designed to be taught by a team of two instructors and schools may not split the team apart for any reason. However, if multiple classrooms want to workshop simultaneously, schools can request more than one team for a single visit.
Teachers Must Stay in the Room
In the event of an emergency or a behavioral issue, we require classroom teachers to remain inside the classroom at all times during WITS visits. To learn more about the classroom teacher’s role during WITS workshops, visit our What To Expect section.
Common Core Alignment
We can certainly build and plan our lessons to align with Common Core Standards, but we do ask that teachers communicate their specific needs and special requests with their assigned trip leader at least two weeks in advance of the visit. This allows us to tailor our lesson plans and choose exercises that will meet your classroom’s needs. Please visit the Common Core Alignment section of our site to see the ways in which our program can serve your grade level.
Feedback on Poems
Sometimes teachers ask why we don’t begin Day 2 by providing feedback for Day 1 poems. The short answer is that we don’t want students to be discouraged. We also don’t want students to be preoccupied with feedback and focused on making a “correct” poem that pleases us. We want them to be taking risks and gaining a sense of authority over their own work. What we see over and over again is that many students don’t fully grasp WITS on Day 1 and find themselves suddenly thriving on Day 2.
The above answer helps to explain why we try to refrain from commenting or marking on student poems while we are reading them. We don’t want students to measure their feedback against another student’s feedback. We hope that students will feel proud of the work itself, and not our assessment of its value.
Disturbing or Harmful Content in Poems
Creative writing can offer students an opportunity to try on a persona with which they are unfamiliar. Sometimes, when students think of poetry, they think of depression, loneliness, or unrest, and so they try to represent these states of mind in their own work. But sometimes the act of creative writing gives students permission to express truths about their private lives, their inner worlds, or hidden aspects of themselves. If we notice a disturbing pattern (violence, isolation, self-harm, etc.) in a student’s poems, we will notify you as quickly as possible. You know your students better than we do and you can decide how to proceed.
Suspicion of Child Abuse
If a WITS staff member either witnesses or is directly told about any instance of physical, mental, or sexual abuse or neglect, as a University of Arkansas employee, she is mandated to contact the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline as well as local law enforcement.
In advance of your WITS workshop, your assigned trip leader will send you an evaluation form. After our visit, please take a moment to fill this out and mail it back to us. Your feedback is vital to our growth and success. We won’t know how we’re doing otherwise.
There is no charge for WITS to visit your school or institution, but we do request a donation to help offset travel expenses and to also help make visits to underfunded schools possible. Many schools choose to donate $100 per team or $2 per WITS student. Some schools donate on behalf of their school and choose to sponsor a school in need as well. If your school cannot afford to make a donation at this time, don’t let that stop you from requesting a visit. We would be pleased to visit you and work with your students.