Many years ago, I attended my first Summer Writing Institute at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. It was long before there were units of study and online resources and anchor charts and progressions and checklists. I’m not even sure there was a Reading Institute then. I told you. This was many years ago. At that time, the mantra of the TC work was simple: “If you want to teach writing well, you have to be a writer.” Or at least you have to try to be a writer. And the fact is, that is not simple at all.
I was incredibly fortunate that summer. My session leader was none other than Katherine Bomer. That’s right. Katherine Bomer taught me to write. In just one week, we went through the writing process, from collecting ideas, to trying out a variety of craft moves in our beautiful notebooks (a gift from the Project), to drafting, to revising, to editing, and finally celebrating. It was hard work, some of the hardest academic work I had ever done. I struggled to find ideas, I worked and reworked and reworked sentences and passages until I thought they worked. But that experience taught me how to write, or more importantly, it taught me how to be a writer, how to live in the world like a writer does, and that fundamentally changed my teaching (and my students’ learning).
I need to find ways to encourage teachers to do more writing; to become writers. It will forever change their teaching (and the children’s learning).