So many students get lost in the process of writing without ever understanding that it is their voice that is most important. So few students even realize that they have a writing voice, much less possess the confidence to express it. Year after year I have coached young writers to believe in the stories of their lives. I have insisted that they live in the positive world of a writing community where every writer knows he or she has a unique and important story to tell. Once a student gets that I will not accept the "I have nothing to write about" refrain, the real work can begin.
I started my work as a true writing teacher when I purchased my first Units of Study by Lucy Calkins, et al out of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. I pored through those first units for grades 3-5. Highlighting. Underlining. Annotating. Condensing. And then I started using them with my students. It was transformational!
Across the years I have internalized much of TCRWP's philosophies and strategies. I have attended two summer writing institutes and one coaching institute at Columbia University. My confidence as a writing teacher is only superseded by the absolute joy I feel when my students grow as writers.
Whether or not I ever publish a novel, I will count my successes by the students who leave my room feeling like writers. It may not be at the same level as a Newbery Honor, but when a parent of a student or a former student himself thanks me for impacting his writing life, I feel like a million bucks!