By Heidi Glaus
St. Louis (KSDK) - Instead of assigning homework several teachers from all over the country recently gathered in St. Louis to do their own homework.
"This work actually began in 1974 with the National Writing Project and it was a group of teachers asking the question, 'what could we teach each others in ways we don't normally get in our professional development,'" explained Ralph Cordova, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Missouri Saint Louis.
So for five days they challenged each other and themselves to think differently.
"On Tuesday we painted a building with latex," said Patti Swank, an English teacher at Highland High School.
Every exercise pushed them to be better in the classroom.
"Especially as educators we're very oriented toward I need to get this done and this done and this done instead let's see what happens when I do this," Swank said.
The results were quite impressive especially with something as simple as changing a three letter word.
"Identify right now one idea person. The rest of you quickly take turns going around the group telling that person yeah but," Cordova instructed.
After only a minute these teachers used deflated, devalued and defensive to describe the way they felt, but then something changed.
"Instead of yes but you are going to say yes and," Cordova said.
And that simple change made the idea person feel appreciated, heard and valued, something we all want no matter how old we are.
"I'm here discovering for myself so that when I go into my classroom my students can discover something that is not going to be oh yeah I memorized who those people were in Shakespeare good for me. It's life lessons they're going to be equip with when they leave my classroom," Swank said.