National Writing Project

Building the Capacity of Writing Project Site Leadership

By: Karen Smith, Lucy Ware, Lynn Jacobs, Paul Epstein
Date: May 31, 2011

Summary: These stories of teacher leadership from NWP's Vignette Study provide examples of structures and processes that sites can examine as they seek to expand leadership and create their own opportunities for teachers to lead.


To maintain their commitment to a site, teachers need truly meaningful work. Teacher leadership drives the work of the Writing Project. The narratives in this collection, written by three veteran teacher-consultants, demonstrate many ways in which teacher leadership builds the capacity of any National Writing Project site to do its work.

Simply put, a Writing Project site depends upon teacher leadership to sustain its community. An NWP site's community builds individual teachers' leadership abilities—but the site cannot exist and grow without that very leadership. To sustain this reciprocal relationship, both the NWP network as a whole and the teachers connected with individual sites need to pay careful attention to building site capacity.

Sites nurture individual teachers' leadership abilities by providing substantial and flexible opportunities for leadership tied to the passions of the educators. Running invitational summer institutes, planning and carrying out professional development programs, and facilitating continuity—the three core components of the NWP model—each provide powerful leadership experiences for teachers and ensure the ongoing health of any NWP site.

Find Out More About NWP's Vignette Study

For more, read NWP's Vignette Study, which builds understanding of teacher-leaders' work and focuses on the critical questions of how and why teachers take on leadership roles as well as how they learn leadership skills and dispositions.

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