Marci Haas, Associate Director of SJVWP, wrote the following blog post on our “Tell Your SJVWP Story” reunion day.
Take a risk…I am always urging my students to take a risk, to try something new and push themselves. Taking a risk and pushing myself is the theme of my adventure with the SJVWP. I chose to attend the summer institute in 2006 to become a better teacher of writing. As a kindergarten teacher I did not even think about my own writing. Little did I know that the writing I would do would become the risk I would be taking and in taking that risk I would begin a journey of life long learning as a teacher and a person.
Intimidation, insecurity, and just pure fright were among the emotions I experienced as I attempted to be a writer that summer. Surrounded by other teachers from elementary through the university level, who seemed to me great writers already, was intimidating in my mind but that “intimidation” provided the push I needed to take the risk. Taking the risk of writing and sharing that writing out loud with other teachers gave me insight to what my students must feel like when I ask them to not only tell a story and write it down but then to read it to an audience in the Author’s chair.
My experience with the SJVWP that summer assured me that everyone can be a writer and that each of us has a voice. I learned much from the high school teachers who seemed so secure in their writing, gained assurance from the other elementary teachers, and I was challenged by the Writing Project directors and mentors to take risks. The risks I took then and continue to take as a teacher drive me to always be on the lookout for new ways to understand, encourage and lead my students on their learning adventure. The continued relationships I have with other teachers in the writing project provide a place to share, learn, be encouraged and encourage as well as provide the reminder that as teachers learning, sharing and taking risks are not only important elements in our own lives but are important components each day in our own classrooms.