Writing Project Helps Students and Teachers Find Their Inner Authors
Publication: The University of Texas at Austin
Date: December 21, 2011
Summary: Through the Heart of Texas Writing Project, Dr. Randy Bomer helps teachers and young writers alike find their inner authors. Concluding that a teacher who writes will be a better writing teacher, the project offers monthly workshops and four-week invitational institutes to K-12 Texas teachers. In the workshops, the teachers learn best practices in writing instruction, review research, build a strong network of like-minded colleagues and, most important, produce writing of their own.
Excerpt from Article
It's more common than not that people balk at writing," says Bomer, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. "There's an aura of mystique around it and the act of 'being a writer' has an air of exclusivity. Especially when we're dealing with students, we need to remember that writing's like everything else in that you're probably not going to get better at it if you never do it.
"It's no different than piano playing, cooking, sculpting, sewing, learning a new language or designing a building — you become more accomplished as you practice and you also tend to enjoy the process more and more as you, almost inevitably, gain confidence and fluency."
Amber Futch, a writing teacher at Ojeda Middle School in Austin, met Bomer five years ago when she was working on her master's degree in language and literacy in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education. She was a pretty easy sell when it came to the Heart of Texas Writing Project.
"I've always absolutely loved reading and I devoured books," says Futch, "but I never saw myself in the role of writer, the one who does the creating. Dr. Bomer was the first person to actually make me stop and think about writing, to mark thoughts and understand how my brain works, to keep track of how I move through the world.
"Teaching's something I do because I love it and I love learning about teaching. It was clear that I'd be better at my job if I gained some perspective on what my students were going through when they tried to write a memoir or a feature article. Plus, I don't think non-writers realize how fun writing is and how much you learn about yourself as you try different genres and forms. It's a shame that many people may have gone through their entire formal education without getting to experience, even once, the joy of writing."