Currently teaches 9th and 12th, but have taught 7-12
English/literature courses and currently the Academic Dean.
Santa Clarita Christian School
Local Writing Project:
Cal State Northridge Writing Project (CSNWP)
@ibmrb and @cwpchat
Awards & Recognition
- Co-leads #cwpchat on Twitter the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month at 9AM (PST)
- CSNWP Teacher Consultant
I am surrounded by smart teachers who are wrestling with the issues we all face as educators, often pushing against norms. It’s hard for me to imagine what kind of teacher I would be without the Writing Project (and I frankly don’t want to). Inquiry has become the focus of my teaching practice, and I am constantly seeking ways to make the teaching I do better for my students. My lesson plans are constantly evolving, and I thrive on trying something new. I used to limit these kinds of changes out of fear that they may not work. Now, there is no fear of failure; I simply try and try again. My classroom has truly become a classroom of revision. This is the empowering model of learning that students of Writing Project teachers get to observe every day.
Before the Writing Project, I did not have confidence as a writer. I rarely wrote anything other than what was expected of me at work or the occasional Christmas letter. Rarely would I take my writing public. The Writing Project has given me a space to do more writing and to share that writing. Not only that, but it helped me understand that writing is an incredibly complex craft that can be honed and developed over time. Writing has become an important and valuable activity for me.
My writing project has given me a platform to grow as a teacher-leader. Most importantly, though, that work has connected me to a network of teachers. I am no longer isolated in my classroom or even my school. The Writing Project has broken down barriers so that teachers in all situations can collaborate and learn from each other. I have many opportunities to lead workshops and professional development opportunities, but I am always still a teacher in the room. I have learned from so many others. I am thrilled to talk with teachers who are advocates for their students; I am privileged to work with and learn from teachers who wrestle with the challenges of writing instruction.
My belief about writing is simple: everyone can write. But, since not everyone believes that about themselves (especially many of our students), we must create an environment where they are encouraged, supported, and celebrated as writers. I believe that we as teachers can even push students to do the kind of academic work that is expected of them when we take that stance towards writing instruction. And, when all else fails, warm chocolate chip cookies help.
There are many great books related to writing instruction by some amazing classroom teachers, who are striving to find ways to help students be successful writers. But, the one book that transformed my thinking about writing instruction was Writing without Teachers by Peter Elbow. It forced me to shift my thinking from teacher-centered writing instruction to learner-centered instruction.