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“Finding a Space for Professional Development: Creating Thirdspace through Writing Groups” describes a teacher/reseacher study group which focuses on: “After school Writing Circles for elementary students as a site of Thirdspace professional development. Borrowing Thirdspace form postmodern geographer Edward Soja, the authors argue that professional development works best when teachers engage in the dual work of imagining and making real opportunities for education that connect with learners’ emerging passions” (NCTE Website).

Soon after Deb Coyle and Connie Healy presented the Writing Circle project in the NeWP Summer Institutes, nine veteran teachers formed the Southeast Nebraska Study Group on Teacher Research for Public Engagement to study the Circles as Thirdspace: students learning to write; and for teachers looking for new model of professional development and advocacy. For students, after-school Writing Circles provide a space driven by “the eruptive energy of writing, claimed by each individual child.” For teachers, it is a space to “engage in the dual work of imagining and making real opportunities for children to use writing to explore their lives,” a space “existing both within our current educational setting and at the same time as anal alternative to it.” The project has proven to be a “a practical model for the ongoing work of professional development”.

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