Awards & Recognition
- Teacher of the Year 2009, Norwood Jr. High
- Teacher of the Year 2014, Norwood Jr. High
- A3WP Teacher Consultant
Overall, the Writing Project sustains my belief that all educators have the opportunity to be masters of their craft. It proved for me the power of a teaching community and its ability to transform my instruction and mindset. The Writing Project created opportunities for me to combine authentic inquiry with practice. Through these experiences, my understanding of instruction, of the writing process, and of my students expanded in ways I know I would not have reached in my career otherwise. I began in an era void of teaching the process and honoring the student; the Writing Project community validated what I was doing in the classroom and cheered me on.
As a writer I was always free with my writing, but guarded it as writing for myself. Writing through the Writing Project keeps me in the perpetual state of a student. This is a position I covet. Before A3WP, I wrote in front of my students through the lens of teaching, not through the lens of learning. My writing was a solitary experience, but A3WP showed me the power of collaboration. My writing group forced me outside of my comfort zone, guiding me along the way. This has become a value of my instruction as I collaborate and write with my students and as I help them create collaborative writing environments to support each other. Especially with my English Learners, they need a space to cultivate their voice and build confidence in their own writing. We are all authors, together, learning.
Similar to all of my experiences with A3WP, becoming a Teacher Consultant pushed me into the role of a leader. It was a role I was reluctant to take, but I heard the voice of our Director say, “You are just talking about your teaching, what you love to do best.” It was in the teacher talk and workshops centered on participants as students of writing, where I found myself as a leader. Being a Teacher Consultant makes it apparent that it is not so much the content, but the conversation and the experience that can be the most impactful. This is something that has stayed with me at the school site and district levels, and I utilize that philosophy as I work with our teachers.
Creating a writing culture in my classroom is critical to developing the writing skills of my English Learners. This culture begins with the belief that they are all writers. When they trust the writing process, my English Learners begin to feel confident in their own abilities and are able to take risks, make mistakes, and revise. It’s important for me to listen as they rehearse their ideas, to show them multiple points of entry, and allow them to choose for themselves, as authors.
I have a book that is like my salad, healthy and full of good stuff—a staple: Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle. No other book for me has addressed the unique needs of middle schoolers. It’s helped me to shape my approach for teaching writing, focusing on what my students need. Another book I recently found is like my dessert; it just tastes good--Revision Decisions by Jeff Anderson and Deborah Dean. They give creative strategies showing how to revise by playing with language. This scaffolded approach allows students to construct their own thinking, as the teacher focuses the discussion on writing skills.