Saturday, April 15, 2017

Celebrating an Idea

If you are reading this, there's a pretty good chance that you are a teacher (of any capacity) who writes.

The internet has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to connect ourselves and our words with other teacher writers.  These connections inspire us, sustain us, and give us an audience (and sometimes a therapist) for our words and ideas.

Being a teacher who writes also helps us in the writing classroom. We can share our writing processes, writing struggles, and writing celebrations with our student writers. As fellow writers, we "get it."

We are better writing teachers because of the writing we do ourselves.

But there are lots and lots of writing teachers out there who do not know this.

For them, their writing instruction often comes out of a manual with scripts and directions for teaching writing. Conferring with and assessing their student writers is often dreaded because these teachers don't know what to say. The manual doesn't usually come with an "If you see this, then say this" section. (And if it did, who could memorize all of that anyways?)

          But there is a better way.


Earlier this week, I put out a call on social media and to a few of my email friends to take a survey about being a teacher who writes. The results will help shape a book I am writing.

The response has been overwhelming. In the first three days, almost 100 teachers responded to the survey, sharing their thoughts about the importance of writing teachers being writers themselves.

But it wasn't just the vast number of responses that struck me, it was also the comments:

"I never realized how important it was to write myself in order to better my teaching of writing. You gotta live it to teach it."

"To me, it is the most important qualification of a writing teacher."

"You have to write to know how it feels. You have to be willIng to be vulnerable with the students so can offer the help/guidance you would want to have."

I can tell I'm on to something here.

This is a story that needs to be told. Ideas that need to be shared.

I am still in the way, way early stages of this book, but the words of the teachers who have taken this survey have inspired me in more ways than I can say.

So this week, I celebrate this idea, the educators who are sharing their thoughts, and the power of being a teacher who writes.
If you would like to share your thoughts about being a teacher who writes, you can find my survey here.


  1. I celebrate that you have an idea of a book that you are nurturing. Wishing you inspiration, energy and stamina to write it!

  2. Amen!! The first thing I mention when I am writing with my students is that writing is hard work, and I know that because I am a writer!! I LOVED taking your survey can't wait to learn nuggets of what you uncover.

  3. I remember how fearful I was as I took my first baby steps six years ago to becoming a teacher who writes! And it's all because of the blogging community that I discovered through TWT that I continued to write. And Penny Kittle showed me how easy it was to write with my students in her workshops. So many voices to inspire us on this journey!

  4. I loved answering this call to write about writing as a teacher. Thanks for the opportunity.

  5. So happy to hear of all the answers you received, Jennifer. It is an important part of being a writing teacher, and I celebrate you, too that you are doing something to help teachers know that!

  6. Writing is the magical ingredient to becoming a better writer. A simple thought that needs to be publicized more. Happy Easter Jennifer and good luck with telling your story.

  7. Writing teachers who do not write, that is a paradox. And yet, I encounter many teachers who in their words "teach writing" or are "the writing teacher" and yet admit that they themselves "do not write." I celebrate the book you are birthing, Jennifer! We need more voices to be heard, more words to encourage and coach teachers to write. I believe, if teachers write, they will teach writing because they are teachers.


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