National Writing Project

The Philadelphia Writing Project Process: Reflections from a Newly Minted Teacher Consultant

By: Jose-Manuel Navarro
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 10, No. 2
Date: 2005

Summary: In his address at the 2003 welcoming ceremony for members of the Philadelphia Writing Project's invitational summer institute, Dr. Navarro reflects on what it is that gives the summer institutes its ineffable efficacy...


[Editor's note: The following is a brief address that Dr. Navarro, a 2002 teacher-consultant with the Philadelphia Writing Project, delivered at the 2003 welcoming ceremony for members of the project's invitational summer institute.]

Compañeros y compañeras:

¡Muy buenas tardes!

I have been asked to share my personal reflections of what I experienced during the summer institute of 2002. I am pleased to do so.

Let me start by saying three things:

  1. No single reading I did last summer—by itself—helped me in any way.
  2. No single conversation—taken by itself—proved particularly useful.
  3. No single writing exercise, of the many we did, in and of itself fulfilled me.

Having said that, let me emphasize three other statements:

  1. All the readings taken together enlightened me.
  2. The conversations, taken as a whole, expanded my thinking on the ways literacy and writing have been vital to my growth as a teacher and writer.
  3. Considered as a package, the writing experience was priceless.

The point I am trying to make about the summer institute is that its value, its priceless quality, its ineffable efficacy, is the process. Each one of the components of the institute makes up an element of that process.

Let me detail some components of that process:

It's the give-and-take of ideas among practicing teachers.

It's the personal reflections through writing on the multiplicity of texts you experience—oral texts, written texts, and filmed texts.

It's marveling at the teaching talent present in our schools right now—this instant—all over the public schools of Philadelphia.

It's confirming that you can be and will be a writer in the future, if you are not one already.

It's accepting as fact that you can derive enormous fulfillment from the self-expression you will gain through writing.

It's confirming that you are a member of one of the few venerable professions on this planet—teaching—and that you did not make a mistake by joining it and staying with it. You are with other teachers: the thinkers, the pioneers, the trailblazers, the unpublished poets, the unscripted playwrights, the latent novelists, and the excessively caring individuals who, like you, teach daily in the public schools of Philadelphia.

This is what the Philadelphia Writing Project process means to me.

This is what you're in for this summer. You asked for it. You are going to love it.

Welcome to the Philadelphia Writing Project process.

Gracias por su atención.

About the Author Jose-Manuel Navarro teaches social studies at the Thomas Alva Edison High School/John C. Fareira Skills Center in Philadelphia.

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