As one of nearly 185 writing project sites affiliated with the National Writing Project (NWP), the SNWP offers a writing institute for K-12 educators each year. The National Writing Project, which began in 1973-74 at the University of California, Berkeley, “is the premier effort to improve writing in America. Through its professional development model, NWP builds the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help their students become successful writers and learners.” Collectively, across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, several thousand teachers participate each year in the NWP writing institutes. Every year new groups of fellows at local sites describe their writing institute experience as “a space for critical reflection so essential to good practice,” “causing a noticeable and great shift in all of my teaching,” and “the best professional development I have had in all my years of teaching” (nwp.org).
The writing institute is at the core of NWP’s model of “teachers teaching teachers.” Together, teachers prepare for leadership roles by demonstrating effective practices, studying research, and improving their knowledge of writing by writing themselves. Teachers conduct project-sponsored programs in their own schools and in neighboring schools and districts aimed at two purposes: developing teacher knowledge and leadership in their home communities and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student achievement (nwp.org).
During the SNWP writing institute, participants are provided the rare opportunity to come together as a community of writers over a sustained period of time, away from the demands of teaching, to share our work with other teachers of writing. We also share personal and professional reading and engage in demonstrations and lively discussions about our teaching.
Starting in Fall 2018, SNWP’s writing institute is being offered in two parts with one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. In part one, participants will learn what it means to be a writer and how this identity unlocks their potential to teach writing more effectively in the classroom. Additionally, during part one, participants will plan and lead a workshop for an audience that includes fellow institute participants and other interested educators around a topic of their choosing in the field of teaching writing. In part two, participants will learn what is means to be a leader in the area of writing instruction and how this identity unlocks their potential to impact students and families inside and outside of the classroom. A large focus of part two will be assessing the writing needs of your community in order to design and implement a writing program.