Note: I'm spending the last part of this week in Las Vegas learning at the NCTE/NWP annual convention. So the next few posts will likely be musings related to teaching :)
It sounds like rain pelting a tin roof as I listen to 600 teachers take a seven minute break from the morning plenary session at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting to, of course, write. Tanya Baker Harris, of the NWP, has asked us to write thank-you letters to our teacher mentors from the network.
There are so many people from the network I could thank: Robert, Bill, Paula, Diana, Dan, Marni, Susan, Rob, Amy, Jeff, Tyler, Katrina, Ann, Jenny...I could go on for ages. Some of these people have become friends while others are people I’ve only met once or twice. No matter, these people and many others in the Nebraska/National Writing Project have developed me into a critical teacher and a better leader and advocate for education. This organization, however, has done more than just made me a more effective writing teacher. One of the national directors said today in her opening speech that the NWP has made her a better person. However cheesy or overly sentimental the comment seems, I do have to agree with it. I came to the Nebraska Writing Project haggard and on the verge of throwing in the towel after just one year. And I left the summer institute refreshed to start anew in my both my career and in my life.
For four weeks I was surrounded by intelligent, inquisitive, passionate people who lived out their passion both in the classroom and in their communities. What strikes me about many of the people involved with the writing project (on both our state and national level) is their drive, their fire for life. These teachers have pushed me to think, to question, and to engage. I’m much more aware of my surroundings. I think about things like recycling, energy conservation, the implications of where I shop, and just overall, how to be a better human. One might argue that these changes are due to the aging process, but I think it has more to do with the influence of so many genuine people. These people teach me simply by the way they live. I’m grateful for the people I’ve learned from in the National Writing Project, and I look forward to more opportunities to connect with and learn from other genuine people in this network.