You’ve Got to Write!


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).



9 thoughts on “You’ve Got to Write!

  1. I’d love to brainstorm with you ways to get other teachers writing. I’ve been thinking about it in my school/district too! This Slice of Life Challenge has helped me move from feeling like someone who can write to being a writer. How can we create those kids of experiences for others?

  2. This is so true! Fortunately, I began teaching when there was an initiative for teachers to write. That’s where I truly believe I first learned to really write- to live like a writer. Imagine the gift we can give to kids if we help them to live this was so early on in life?

  3. Yes! This. How exciting to have Katherine Bomer as your leader that week. If my pre-service teachers take just one thing from my classes, I hope it’s this: teachers of reading and writing need to read and write.

  4. My experience, akin to yours, was with the Long Island branch of the National Writing Project. The Slice of Life Challenge has played a part in kindling embers left from that long-ago learning.

  5. This is SO true. Without trying to live like a writer it is not possible to truly walk beside student writers. With teachers, as with children, you can ‘only lead a horse to water’. Part of the challenge is to help them see why the water (in this case the writing life) is needed. I am starting to think about what the next move is for my students, after the Slice of Life Challenge. I am hoping that seeing students carry through on the writing life will help me, finally, convince teachers to take it on as well.

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