I was a good teacher before the National Writing Project. I am still a good teacher. I care about the kids, always have. I try to have a sense of humor and connect, still do. I try to get the students engaged and working on project that stimulate their brains, so what changed?
I had taught for seven years when I attended the Summer Institute of the Ozarks Writing Project. I knew I was a good teacher but not an effective writing teacher. I wanted to be but had no idea how. Through the four-week intense seven-ten hours days of work in the Institute I found out. I became a writing student myself. I freewrote, I researched. I wrote as a student does in class by being a participant in my fellow teacher's demos. I wrote and wrote and wrote and found out what writers need. Writers need to talk sometimes, especially in a small writing group dedicated to helping them find the "holes" in their writing. Writers need choice. Writers need an authentic audience. Writers need time. Writers don't go through six steps in a row of the writing process; they cycle back and forth constantly. Writers revise, and revise and revise before they ever worry about a misplaced comma.
I also became a teacher-consultant through the Ozarks Writing Project. I have presented twice at Write to Learn, our statewide language arts conference. I have written a youth novel by participating in National Write a Novel month. I have started two websites and am beginning another book called "The Organic Teacher."
I have acquired a network of caring, dedicated, insanely intelligent educators to bounce ideas off of, learn from and emulate through NWP. I have found my voice, my passion, and feel like I'm almost an effective writing teacher. There's always room to grow and I'm ever-learning.
NWP needs funding. It's important today and tomorrow, for our students and our nation.
Kim Blevins is a teacher-consultant with the Greater Kansas City Writing Project.
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