On Becoming a Teacher Who Writes

IMG_8139My current writer’s notebook

I’ve always loved writing. In fact, there was a time in late middle school and early high school that I wanted to make writing my career, thanks to an impressionable year with an amazing teacher. I researched colleges and universities with strong creative writing programs and started wearing quirky clothes to increase my author mystique.

Then AP classes, college, grad school, marriage, and babies struck, and I lost my mojo. When I finally became a teacher, I used the Workshop Model and the Six Traits to implement my favorite teacher’s creative writing project. I also co-produced a literary magazine for my elementary schools. Clearly, I was a teacher who loved teaching writing and coaching writers. But beyond writing occasional blog posts, I wasn’t a writer. So when I saw Jennifer Serravallo’s announcement that she’d be hosting a Summer Writing Camp, I thought about all of the packing we’d be doing while minding a toddler for our we-love-it-here-so-let’s-buy-a-house move and how terribly I miss my older son while he spends the summer with his dad, and in typical overachieving Ms. Vigna fashion, I signed up right away!

According to the announcement, each week would focus on a different genre of writing, starting with fiction. All of the lessons were delivered via Facebook Live and were easy to find even though I never watched or did the lessons the day they were released. I eagerly filled my writer’s notebook when I had an extra twenty minutes–ten minutes for the lesson and ten minutes to write–to disappear, which was usually during naptime or around bedtime. At the end of the first week, I had a draft of a story that I could continue to develop. My first piece of fiction in nearly thirty years.

It was clear to me how I could easily repeat the process for any of my other seeds to craft another story. Additionally, it was obvious how easily I could stray from the lessons to follow my own lead. By using Ms. Serravallo’s strategies, I uncovered all sorts of hidden pathways to my own writing conclusions. It was inevitable to make the connections between my role in this process and my students’ roles. Teaching these strategies and craft moves is a way to pay it forward for our student writers. What a gift.

Before the end of the first week, I knew that I wanted to replicate this process with teachers. A weekly writing club that meets before school. Perhaps even an opportunity to earn PDPs or SACs or SIS? I will explore all of the options because this work is that important for ourselves *and* our students.

Happy reading and writing.

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