Awards & Recognition
- Teacher of the Year, 2013
- Outstanding Achievement in Literacy; American Literacy Corporation, 2012
- NWP Seed Grant recipient for Park Hill Elementary
- IAWP Teacher Consultant
I had been teaching for five years and loving it, but started to find myself eager to be involved in something new. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Invitational Leadership Institute in the Teaching of Writing, and it greatly impacted my view as a teacher. My passion for teaching writing was ignited. Every lesson I designed, every collaboration meeting I attended, every opportunity that opened a door to discuss writing instruction provided exploration into ways that made writing real for my students and my colleagues. The highlight of this hard work and collaboration among teachers and students was hosting an annual Author’s Night where students and teachers present their published writing. The greatest impact of all of these experiences that the IAWP has brought or inspired in me has been the empowerment of teachers leading teachers as classroom researchers to increase student achievement in writing.
Entering into writing groups during the Invitational Leadership Institute was scary. I didn’t believe I had anything worth writing or anything to say. Through the encouragement of colleagues, that have now become close friends, I have gained reassurance that I do have something to add to the conversation. I learned that it’s okay to have a bunch of ideas and a batch of beginnings because that’s where some writers start. Mostly, I came to value the beauty of language. As Virginia Wolfe said, “Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” This is what I came to learn; putting one’s thoughts and creativity into words leaves behind spilled secrets of the writer’s soul.
I believe in teachers leading teachers and that to foster leadership there must be an investment in building capacity for reflection and inquiry. Being involved in the Inland Area Writing Project has strengthened my confidence as a teacher leader to develop presentations for others that support them through their own inquiries into the teaching of writing. The National Writing Project’s Seed Grant allowed me the privilege of coordinating a yearlong professional development experience for the teachers that I worked alongside. By being able to put ideas and reflection in practice, I was able to support others in their own inquiries and development as reflective educators.
Until I began exploring the writing process as a teacher, I had not taken ownership of my own writing and what it meant to develop as a writer. After working with developing writers, I began to see writing from a different view. I learned that writing is valuable and one of the truest forms of expression and connection to others. I learned through this process to listen and look for those things in life’s experiences that are similar or different from others. As I learned alongside my students, questions exploded inside my head. You mean I can have a conversation with someone about what I like about writing? You mean I can share with someone what my interests and life experiences are? You mean writing can be real? These reflective opportunities guided me as I realized the importance of making connections to people and our world. Writing is not secluded but exposed; I am not hidden, but valued.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King was a great read inside the mind of King. I took away the value of being a part of a writing community or club from his connections to other published authors. Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Philips offered insight into the habits and discipline of a great writer. Although this may not be what some consider a book on the teaching of writing, I also recommend reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for inspiration and creativity, for making nonsense sensical.