As an undergraduate at Indiana University Southeast, our Secondary English Advisor, Dr. Kevin Sue Bailey, kept talking about this new project called The Writing Project that had just begun a year earlier. I wanted in right away. What she described was a writing community wherein participants shared ideas, collected strategies, and did some personal writing. I would have two years before I could actually be a part. In the summer of 2006, I would become a teacher consultant with the Indiana University Southeast Writing Project.
I am a joiner. One of the great paradoxes for those who know me is that while having an introvert personality type, I actually live for community. It’s like a binary switch. Sometimes I need community and most times I need solitude. The National Writing Project has helped me to learn, in the past fives year, that I can celebrate both sides of the writer me, whether I am in the author’s chair or in my writer’s lair.
Since the summer of 2006, I have attended four advance institutes with IUSWP. I have presented at The Indiana Teachers of Writing fall conference for each year following my SI experience. I have presented on writing topics at NCTE. Last winter, our project, RAW INK Online was the feature on Teachers Teaching Teachers, an online interview series with Paul Alison. Last summer, I was part of a Resource Development Retreat in San Antonio, TX, where I met some fantastic people like Peter Kittle, Bud Hunt, Keri Franklin, Michael Prier, Kim Jaxon, and a host of National Writing Project celebrities such as Paul Oh (love ya, Paul. Thanks for everything).
Whether attending locally, or hobnobbing with my Berkeley brethren and. . .umm. . .sisterns (?) I feel so at home with the National Writing Project. While walking the hallways at Orlando, it was so nice to reconnect with Writing Project friends like April Estep and Crystal Howell. The National Writing Project makes ME feel like a star when I am actually in the room with some of our countries best thought leaders.
Follow me on Twitter and you will find a host of NWP superstars. When I skip over to Facebook, I am reminded of my connection to The National Writing Project. I am a part of it and it is a part of me. And what more can we ask of a community? Any day I am feeling isolated within my own building, I can find a network of TCs who can, and are willing to, provide suggestions, ideas, and support.
When I saw that Chad Sansing was sponsoring this movement this weekend, I thought, “Boy, I wish I had thought of that.” And perhaps I did. If I have learned nothing else in the past five years, it is this–this collective of thought leaders found within the National Writing Project is such that whatever the project needs or a classroom teacher needs, a representative of The National Writing Project is there to offer it.
When the country had a question about the importance of writing, The National Writing Project responded with the publication, Because Writing Matters. It is the go-to guide for support of writing in the classroom. When the country had a question about the changing landscape of writing in a digital age, The National Writing Project responded again with Because Digital Writing Matters. And now, with the addition of Digital IS (which I got to see in Austin!), The National Writing Project is once again forging the way for sharing resources within a community of TCs that is, and will be, of inestimable value to teachers seeking resources for their classroom.
The kickoff day for Advanced Institute is next month and I cannot wait. It is time for regathering and planning for the summer Advanced Institute experience. In the past three years, I have been in the room with, and have worked with as a writer, George Ella Lyon, Barry Lane, and Penny Kittle. I only hope that future teachers will continue to be able to be a part of this enriching experience. The National Writing Project has shaped the way I look at writing in the classroom and the way I look at my own personal writing.
And while I would love to write more here, I have to get back to the draft of my own manuscript which is coming along slowly but surely. . .and certainly, with the support and encouragement of so many National Writing Project friends (Yes, Gary Anderson, I am still working on this ((wink)). . .