I am a National Writing Project teacher. My involvement in the National Writing Project has changed my life and my teaching. I want to make #NWP the focus of this week’s Notable Notes, because this organization does good work, important work, essential work, and yet continues to face funding battles and almost every one of its nearly 200 local sites must continually justify its programs and sometimes their very existence. Even worse, in the deafening roar of clamor surrounding professional development and teacher training, there are pre-service and practicing teachers unaware of the amazing work being done by #NWP and the teacher-leaders who run its programs.
You can learn more about NWP and its work by reviewing the National Writing Project Annual Report which gives an overview of the ways that NWP serves teachers and writers by celebrating writing and supporting best practices for the teaching of writing while also fostering innovation both inside and outside the classroom.
NWP professional development has been proven time and again to be effective and meaningful for both teachers and their students. Recently an Education Week article described the benefits found by an independent study and these results are consistent with past studies highlighting the impact of NWP professional development on student achievement.
While professional development is the core of NWP work, the foundation remains our focus on celebrating and supporting the writer for two reasons. First, if we teach writing then we must write and if we want to create writers then we must be writers. This position is endorsed by the profession, research, and reputable professional organizations such as NCTE and is aptly described in this 2012 Atlantic article “The Best Writing Teachers Are Writers Themselves.” Second, we understand that we are not teaching writing but instead we are creating writers. Writing is not a one-size-fits-all notion that can be taught with a rigid process or formula. We are very successful at creating strong writers who can perform well in many situations, including standardized tests, but our methods are not a quick fix, formula, or worksheet that can be taught in three hours.
That is why you find NWP teachers and their students participating in events such as the Twist Fate Challenge, Camp NaNoWriMo, and Letters to the Next President. It is why NWP local sites host events for adult writers, such as my site’s Weekend Writing Retreat, as well as young writers, such as my site’s Teen Writers Day Out and summer writing camps.
We also recognize the power of writing for an authentic audience with real purpose inspired by true passion. This writing both comes from and drives learning about current events and our world through participatory journalism and social justice. NWP programs support students on this journey and offer teacher training such as the Social Justice Centered Classrooms: A Writing and Thinking Seminar. Our teachers and their students have created some powerful work as a result of following their interests and their passions.
I have written many times on my blog about the impact that the National Writing Project has had on my life and my teaching, but my post about how NWP continues to sustain and support me through difficult times may perhaps be the best to share with this collection. I also want to share a collection of stories about the ways that NWP has inspired other teachers.
Have you been inspired by the National Writing Project? Would you like to be?