Awards & Recognition
- SJAWP Teacher Consultant
One of the most memorable experiences I had was when a member of my small writing group said, "If we want to teach writing well, then we must be practitioners of our craft." While this statement may seem to state the obvious, I think what it underscores is, in reality, practiced too little. Writing is often assigned to students but too seldom actually taught in meaningful, relevant ways that connect to the real needs and interests of students. Moreover, teachers seldom practice the kinds of writing that students are asked to produce. My experience in my local Writing Project helped me reflect on the kinds of writing I was teaching, and helped me focus my energy on developing writing opportunities that I could do alongside my students.
I was pleasantly (and somewhat unexpectedly) reminded of the importance and power of expressing my own voice. Teaching rightfully demands substantial time and energy, but I've found that setting aside time—even just a little—to put my pen to the page allows me to explore, develop, and actualize visions that too often exist in abstract, fragmented form in my head. My experience with SJAWP provided me with the necessary space to more fully embrace the messy, challenging, and beautiful process of turning seeds into gems.
As a Teacher Consultant I have had the pleasure and honor of working with both preservice and practicing teachers around issues of equity and social justice in the classroom. I have particularly enjoyed engaging in conversations about using writing and critical media literacy to deepen students' interest in and passion for discussing and writing about real issues.
Writing is an act of freedom, and in many instances, a means toward liberation. It is my conviction that writing can effect profound change on all scales--from the hearts and minds of individuals to institutions that sometimes seem like permanent fixtures. Writing also allows us to deepen our understanding of other human beings, especially those who we might not agree with, and it is incumbent upon us to help our students develop the capacity to write with love, truth, and courage rooted in justice for all.
I would highly recommend Linda Christensen's Teaching for Joy and Justice. This is a phenomenal text that outlines how Christensen — a compassionate educator who approaches her teaching with love and social justice — helps her students skillfully write essays, poems, stories, and more with passion and urgency. The book provides several examples of her students' writing and descriptions of how she teaches writing assignments.