I’m late with this Slice. It took extra time and I hope if you are connected to the NWP you write a slice for blog4nwp too.
Late last night I began to read blog posts already written and shared at Blog4NWP and instead of beginning my post I began to scan my writing project photo library, shot and collected over my 11 years with the Hudson Valley Writing Project. I had lots of great shots to chose from: posed group shots over the 11 years, shots of renewals at the Hudson River, shots of teachers writing, kids writing, national conference photos…so many photos. But this one called to me.
Ann is a high school math teacher and Eric a middle school social studies teacher. Both applied to our most recent summer institute and came to their interview with wonderful literacy projects from their classrooms, but like most teachers, they felt intimidated in our SI community because they WERE NOT WRITERS.
As they relaxed into the routine of writing into the morning, writing during workshops, writing reflections at the end of each day and then sharing their work in pairs, in their writing groups and soon with the whole community in the author’s chair, they began to feel that yes, they were writers!
It sounds so simple, so logical as I write this, but it wasn’t for Ann or Eric or for me, and I’m an English teacher.
Why is it that most teachers who give up a month of precious summer vacation to join a writing project community experience that transformation. Why hasn’t it happened sooner, during professional develop programs offered previously during their teaching careers?
What makes the National Writing Project model so unique?
I came to the Hudson Valley Writing Project 11 years ago, with some sense of myself as a writer but I was a private writer. I shared some of my writing with my students but never with colleagues. Administrators often referred to our school community but when the bell rang for each class period we all closed our doors and created our private classroom islands rarely shared or even talked about. Outside our islands we never seemed to even try to create department communities. Luckily my love of high school theater did offer me a community of kids and teachers passionate about theater and every winter together we created a community focused on bringing a play to life.
But it wasn’t until that I was welcomed into the Hudson Valley Writing Project’s community of lifelong learners at that I left truly at home in a community of passionate teacher writers.
As a Co-Director of the reconstituted HVWP leadership team, my world opened beyond our local site to the National Writing Project for annual meetings and specialized retreats in areas of educational innovation. In 2006, I spent a week in Chico, CA attending a workshop called Tech Matters and I took the plunge into the world of digital technology with the NWP community of digital pioneers and my community went national.
What happened? How did we get here?
Please, Mr. President, pivot. Save the National Writing Project so more teachers can become NWP teacher consultants in this community of writers.
Here’s what Ann has to say about her HVWP experience: