As a new teacher I struggled to find ways to connect my students with the power of words through reading and writing. I looked for more I could do to improve my teaching and their learning. As I read and researched, I kept coming across references to the National Writing Project. The more I learned, the more I knew I wanted to be a part of this professional development opportunity. Since I didn’t know anyone involved at the two local sites closest to me (Hoosier Writing Project and IUS Writing Project), I downloaded nomination forms for each, filled them out, and asked my principal to nominate me.
I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, but I knew I wanted to be the best teacher I could be, and the National Writing Project offered me a way to do that, just as it has done for thousands of teachers across the country for more than thirty years. Check out the research to see just how effective the National Writing Project is on student learning. The impact spreads much beyond a single teacher.
I spent the month of June surrounded by twenty of the best teachers I have ever met at the IUSWriting Project. We taught children from first grade through twelfth grade. We taught reading, writing, math, science, history, and art. We spent eight hours a day together for four weeks with one common purpose: to strive to be the best we could be. We wrote, we researched, and we shared our best lessons.
Those four weeks transformed me as a teacher. Not only did I return to schoool with a three-inch binder crammed with lessons and research on teaching writing, I also built connections with teachers as passionate about teaching and learning as I was. I continue to go back for more as I strive to improve my teaching year after year. Teacher Consultants from local Writing Project sites share their best ideas through conferences, learning networks, and in-services. All that I learn goes straight into my classroom to share with the 120 students I teach each year.
Though many of our politicians claim to want to support education and improve student learning, their actions contradict those claims. Many of the current fads (charter schools, merit pay) have little research to to support them. The best that can be said is that the results are mixed. The National Writing Project, on the other hand, has over thirty years of improving student writing. Why would an administration and legislature who want to improve education cut funds for a program that works?
If you want to improve education, there is no more effective and no more powerful model than that of teachers teaching teachers. Learn more about the impact of the National Writing Project on on teachers, students, and classrooms by visiting Chad Sansing’s blog for an archive of #blog4NWP entries. What can you do to restore funding and for and support the National Writing Project?