Awards & Recognition
- San Jose State University English Department, Dorothy Wright Award
- 2003 Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teachers of America Award
- 2006 CATE Award for Classroom Excellence
- 2015 CATE Professional Writing Contest, First-Place Winner
- SJAWP Teacher Consultant
We writing teachers know all too well that moment of panic when we realize that the job of teaching writing effectively is an infinitely more complicated task than anybody could have dreamed. Fortunately, the Writing Project is there for us, providing a true community of learners to share best practices in that rarest of environments: one of authentic collegiality. The writing project has provided me a safe place to ask tough questions about my own practice, to explore the myriad ways writing can be taught, and to grow as a teacher.
When we write for each other, we find ourselves experiencing anew the power of our own voices. We increase our confidence in our own abilities. We discover powers that we didn’t know we had.
When I look back on the past decade I’ve spent with the Writing Project, I am astounded at the growth in my leadership. Before the Writing Project, I was a lone teacher, uncertain whether I was doing anything right in my classroom. But thanks to the Writing Project, my career has been on an upward trajectory. By this I don’t mean that I’m leaving the classroom, but instead that I’m sharing what works in my classroom with other teachers of writing all around the Santa Clara Valley. Ten years ago, I could never have dreamed that.
I tell my students that I don’t want to be bored, either. I want to hear their actual voices through the page, not some dry, dispassionate, encyclopedia entry. Outside the classroom, my students are utterly delightful people: funny, sarcastic, empathetic, insightful, critical. I want to do everything I can to see that these qualities do not disappear the moment they put their pencils to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Underprepared teachers of writing are in a position to do a lot of damage to their students. I know this because I was guilty of it. We must understand that learning to write well is a long-term, developmental process, and that we teachers must approach the task with understanding, patience, and empathy. With this in mind, I can think of no greater title than Mina Shaughnessy’s Errors and Expectations, a book which serves as both a practical and ethical template for how to approach and understand the problem of student error.