English and Philosophy
Newbury Park High School/Conejo Valley Unified School District
Local writing project:
Cal State Northridge Writing Project (CSNWP)
Awards & Recognition
- CSNWP Teacher Consultant
- CATE Professional Writing Contest Winner, 2011
The Writing Project has provided me with a professional home that extends beyond my school and district. Meeting with other Writing Project teachers motivates me; they constantly remind me that we are true professionals dedicated to improving the lives of our students. I have learned a tremendous amount about my profession, about my practice, and about instructional processes that truly impact student learning. In my own practice, I’ve been inspired to find ways to integrate new processes, like integrating new technologies into my instruction or developing inquiry projects, because I learned from other bold and talented teachers who took risks.
I have been invited and challenged to write for publication, which I have done.
The opportunities provided me by the Writing Project have allowed me to grow and learn both personally and professionally in ways that far exceed any other professional development in my experience. I firmly believe I learn as much as my students in our interactions, and as a teacher consultant I’ve found that to be even more true when facilitating workshops for other teachers. Being a designer and co-developer of several workshops including Content-Area Literacy Study Team, ISAW, and week-long open institutes taught me much about the benefits of collaboration and collegiality in developing our practices as teachers.
Writing is powerful. It can communicate to others, to be sure, but as writers, in our attempts to articulate our understanding, we learn more, we learn deeply, we understand more thoroughly what we actually believe. I believe everyone can write, and once students taste the power of writing for themselves they’ll begin to see themselves as writers, not as kids fulfilling some school assignment; they’ll see themselves as empowered with the ability to move others with words.
Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald L. Finkel taught me the power of informal writing for learning and constructing understanding in the classroom. I also gained confidence in my student-centered style; Finkel gave me permission to step down from the “sage on the stage” expectations many have of teachers. Another book, which had a huge impact on my teaching, was Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher. It offered practical advice and a language for talking about writing with students that enhanced my ability to help students actually improve as writers.