This is a little late, but here goes anyway.
I always wanted to be a writer. For years, I scribbled my heart and soul in notebooks, composed tons of story starts and a few finished pieces, even a couple of shaky but fun-to-write poems. And yet, with twenty years of sustained writing and whole boxes of old journals and notebooks, I refused to call myself a writer. “Real” writers were published. I was half-embarrassed to admit to my amateurish efforts, and I rarely showed my writing to anyone. I hid my notebook and my passion. Few people knew just how much I loved writing–even my students, the very people I tried every day to inspire with a love for writing and books.
All that changed the summer I participated in the National Writing Project. It was an exhilarating surprise to be expected to read and write and share it all with other teachers. The group bubbled over with ideas and creativity and energy. Every day, we wrote and read and laughed and cried together. We participated in literature circles and writing groups; we shared demonstrations of best practice classroom strategies; we listened to wonderful speakers who introduced us to blogs and social networking ideas; we exchanged strategies for test preparation; and above all, we wrote. Through writing, we learned to share our ideas, and we learned to share our souls.
The Writing Project changed my teaching and my life. The NWP’s strength lies in its empowering of teachers, who carry that sense of power back to their students. I came to the classroom with a perfectly adequate preparation to teach, but the NWP reignited my passion and reminded me of why I wanted to teach in the first place. During that summer, I finally recognized myself as a writer, and that made a phenomenal difference in my classroom.
The NWP is not just a summer program. It is a philosophy of education that truly puts students’ literacy needs first. The NWP taught us strategies for modeling, discussing, and practicing the writing process with our students; it gave us ideas for ways to share amazing literature; it gave us the Writer’s Notebook where students can play in all genres of writing; and it helped us learn to collaborate to create even greater work. Through WP workshops, retreats, and institutes, I continue to stay on top of the best ideas in education, and I am able to bring the best resources into my classroom.
The WP emphasizes that words may be the most important tools we have. I want my students to always read deeply from the words of others, and never be afraid to share their own words with the world. The WP gave me the excitement and energy to to bring that desire to my students. I will never be able to say thank you enough.