Why the National Writing Project?
Okay, so you’re comfortably settled into your July-tanned skin and are finally starting to feel the stress of the long school year drifting behind you like the water behind your pool float. You’ve got your oversized shades on, the sun warming your skin as you sip something cool and refreshing. Life doesn’t get any better than this. Until you realize that August and the new school year are lurking right around the corner, waiting to spring themselves on you when you’re at your most unsuspecting. And you’ve done nothing for the last few weeks to prepare for this inevitable future. Do you: a) freak out, sobbing into your pillow about your lost summer; b) turn the music up on your headphones in a desperate attempt to drown out the voice of warning buzzing in your ears; or c) relax, because you know that with the National Writing Project on your side, you can be productive and relaxed at the same time.
The National Writing Project is an organization aimed at improving writing instruction for students around the country. But they don’t just support students. They support teachers—and writers of all backgrounds—as well.
5 Reasons Why Summer is a Great Time to Join the National Writing Project
- The National Writing Project has one overarching goal: to support teachers in their quest to improve writing instruction. As part of their mission, they partner with schools, universities, and local Writing Project sites to develop a cohesive approach to writing instruction that grows with your students. And there’s no better time to begin exploring their great offerings than in the summer when your schedule is at its most flexible and your mind is the most pliant. Don’t head into the next school year armed with the same old approaches to writing. Discover new methods, new approaches, new ways to encourage your students to embrace their inner writer.
- Recognizing that writers make the best teachers of writing, the National Writing Project takes a Teachers-as-Writer approach to many of their events, encouraging educators to tap into their own creative side. This means that many of their programs provide space for teachers to write for themselves, exploring their identity in written form and previewing new approaches before asking their students to conduct writing exercises. So when you partner with the National Writing Project, you won’t just be encouraging your students to embrace their inner writer. You’ll be learning to embrace your own inner writer as well.
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- Many of the local Writing Project sites have Summer Institute programs or other professional development events that allow you to improve your craft during the off-season when you aren’t also juggling the dual burdens of lesson planning and grading. The Northern Virginia Writing Project, for example, is hosting a one-day educator’s conference on July 27th focused on improving craft while also supporting teachers’ emotional needs. If you’re in the Northern Virginia region, you can register for this free event until July 21, 2023. If you’re outside the DC/metro area, do a quick internet search to find your own local Writing Project site and see what types of summer programming they offer.
- Taking part in Writing Project events is a great way to meet and network with other passionate educators. Having only recently embraced my writer’s identity, I did not always appreciate the power of a creative community to unleash your own creativity. But as I’ve become engaged with the local writing enclaves in my region, I find myself stretching and growing in unexpected ways. Since becoming a Teacher-Consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project, for example, I’ve published a book, had an original poem accepted to a local anthology, and am submitting a personal narrative to a writing competition (which I have absolutely no expectation of winning, but the very act of submitting it for peer review has pushed me to produce far stronger work than I am otherwise inclined to). The point is, the more you surround yourself with writers, and teachers of writing, the more you will see yourself as a writer and a teacher of writers. And, in the process, your craft will strengthen.
- The National Writing Project makes time for you, as an individual, as well as a teacher. Each summer, for example, they host an annual Write Across America virtual writing marathon where participants of all backgrounds can explore different parts of the country, stretching their writing fingers as they journey to different Writing Project sites from the comfort of their sofas. Take part in a fun activity focused exclusively on you and your own creative needs. While the event is intended purely as a creative outlet, the resources you experience during the Write Across America marathon are made available for you to return to during the school year, providing you with an easy way to bring the joy of writing to your own students while enjoying the summer event all on your own.
No one wants to work during their summer break but, when you must, the National Writing Project provides an easy way to engage in professional development activities while supporting your need to unwind with a community of your peers.