Why Summer Institutes? An Interview With Timothy Dohrer

Why Summer Institutes? An Interview With Timothy Dohrer

By the MSEd Graduate Assistants

We sat down with Timothy Dohrer, Director of the Teacher Leadership Program, to learn more about Summer Institutes at Northwestern University.

Q: Why should educators attend Summer Institutes? 

A: Summer Institutes are a perfect moment for teachers to dive into a topic because they usually have the most time. Teachers are life-long learners and the collaborative nature of these Institutes can be insightful and rejuvenating. Summer Institutes focus on topics that are of current importance to teachers and school leaders such as equity, SEL, coaching, and curriculum development.

Q: What do you love about facilitating Summer Institutes?

A: Teachers love being connected to Northwestern and to a cohort of other teachers. They also love to grapple with problems of practice. These Institutes give teachers a chance to work with each other to understand the theory and practice of a specific topic or approach in a safe and comfortable setting. There’s a real bond that happens within each Institute cohort!

Q: Describe one of your favorite moments from past Summer Institutes.

A: I teach an Institute called “The Science of SEL” where I bring in Northwestern researchers to present their work and then answer questions from teachers. There is always this great moment when I look at the interaction between researcher and practitioner and realize we need to do more of this in K-12 education!

Q: What's something you learned during Summer Institutes? How did you incorporate it into your practice?

A: I ALWAYS learn something from the Institutes! Last year a Northwestern researcher spoke about her research on how green space and nature have a definite impact on our emotions and mental health, especially in urban areas. I have since incorporated more breaks into my teaching repertoire and encouraged young and old to get outside, even for a few minutes.

Q: What's your favorite Summer Institutes course? Why?

A: I can’t pick favorites! There are several Institutes related to coaching and designing professional development that I think are very needed in schools today. We are also offering several Institutes related to equity, including “Leading for Equity,” “Uncovering Unconscious Bias,” and “Peace Education.” A growing number of Institutes will delve into policy and practice, including “Teacher Advocacy,” “Strategic Planning with an Equity Lens,” and “Inquiry & Assessment in a Post-COVID Classroom.”

Q: Tell us about a Summer Institutes instructor who's particularly great.

A: Alison Gordon co-teaches two Institutes every summer and really understands what teachers need in a summer learning experience. She puts everyone at ease, encourages lots of interaction, and is hilarious! She’s such an amazing facilitator with incredible experience in the classroom and as a leader.

Corrie Wallace is leading the Institute on unconscious bias training, which is not only a critical skill in our schools but also the for-profit and non-profit areas. Corrie brings years of experience as a facilitator and equity expert. I’m so excited we have her working with us this summer!

Paul Goren is a nationally-recognized educator, school leader, and equity advocate. He has led school districts and organizations through the change process and has designed a unique Institute looking at the intersection of equity and strategic planning. Paul is a dynamic facilitator who places teacher voice at the center of his work.

Q: What's something you wish educators knew about Summer Institutes?

A: Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are offering these Institutes in an online format this summer. We hope that allows teachers from all over the world to have access to them. In 2022, we will return to the in-person, one-week “intensive” format so we can once again learn side by side!


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