August 8, 2015
This blog is the result of an epiphany, that gave birth to many related epiphanies. The mother epiphany came several summers ago, when I decided that I needed to be a teacher who writes, in the same way that I am a teacher who reads. The reading part seems to have come naturally, since I can no longer remember when reading became like breathing, but it undoubtedly is in my DNA.
Writing, on the other hand, has been more like a sweater. I put it on. I take it off. I have periods where I use it every day, and others where it rests in a drawer, waiting to see the light of day again.
Two summers ago, I read a blog post by Katherine Sokolowski that inspired me to put thoughts into action. That fall, I returned to school with renewed enthusiasm for writing, and for showing my third graders what being a writer looks like, in the same way I model being a reader. I definitely wrote more, but the sweater did rest in the drawer more than I would have liked.
Along came the opportunity to participate in the PA Writing & Literature Project‘s Summer Institute 2014. I learned so much from our cohort of teachers as we explored the craft of writing, and the craft of teaching writing. Carrying a writer’s notebook everywhere became the norm (although I took a fair amount of ribbing for the tiny Moleskine I tuck in my handbag). As this summer approached, I made a decision to focus on reading, writing, exercising, and spending time with family and friends (and especially my son who was preparing to move to Japan). No courses. No projects. Just a stack of books, my writer’s notebook, and my fitnessblender videos. And lots of time.
I was prepared for a summer designed exclusively by me. They say luck favors the prepared, and it must have been shining all over me when I chose 59 Reasons to Write, by Kate Messner, as my first PD book of summer. It was in the first pages of this book that I learned of Teachers Write camp (just days before it started again!), and upon searching it online, was encouraged to be brave by Gae Polisner on her first Friday Feedback post of 2015. I went out and bought a new, BIGGER, red writer’s notebook. My world would never be the same.
Sharing my voice with fellow TW campers, as well as writing in that now-filled notebook, is how I got the inspiration to WRITE ALOUD HERE, which is a play on READ ALOUD, of which I am a HUGE proponent. It is a reflection of my be-a-teacher-who-writes commitment, and it resulted from a baby epiphany: In the same way that it is important to read books aloud and share them with our students, writing is meant to be shared. All of it. The process. The struggle. The content. The reactions. The unique voice. It’s all meant to be shared. There is certainly benefit in writing for oneself, but I believe the benefit multiplies when the writing is shared. This is one of the great takeaways of Teachers Write Camp.
And so, I am beginning a new journey… to Write Aloud Here. I hope you will join me and add your voice.
Yours in writing,
Follow me on Twitter at @DalilaE.
*I give a special note of thanks to the four teachers of Teachers Write: Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles, and Jen Vincent, and to each of the guest authors and fellow campers who helped me learn and grow during TW Summer Camp 2015!