As I’ve reflected on the lessons of this past year and my journey as an educator overall, it’s occurred to me that most of my reflection has been very inward-focused. As an introvert, this is my natural default, but I realize that I need to focus outward more. So instead of choosing “focus” as my word of the year (again), I am choosing inspire.
Yes, “inspire” will require me to focus, to grow, to achieve, to reinvent. But my focus will need to be outward.
- Who am I wanting to inspire?
- What do I need to do or create to inspire them?
- What actions will I need to take?
- Who will I need to collaborate with?
This is important because one of my new goals is to create writing centers in high schools, starting locally. A writing center is a service designed to support student writing development. The primary goal of the service is to help students learn writing and thinking skills, habits, and attitudes that they can use in the future. As a pedagogical service, the goal is not to deliver proofreading or editing services, but to provide feedback that is intentional, thoughtful, and useful to student writers and that will empower student writers.
Yes, this is a tall order, so I’m working on building a network of people who can help establish the first writing center in a local high schools and then maintain it and build more over time. I’m looking for people who have established their own secondary school writing centers (I’ve joined the Secondary School Writing Centers Association.), reading the related research, and revising the mini-proposal I wrote as part of my proseminar class to study the feasibility of establishing a writing center.
I foresee this as the first steps towards my dissertation work--and possibly the foundation of my life's work. I do not want to start writing centers and then just leave them to die when my research is done. I want to start a service that will continue to inspire student writers and student writing consultants long after I am gone.
I know this is terribly important work because, looking back, teachers have inspired me to write since I was in the third grade. Because my teachers inspired me, I’ve worked with my peers on writing projects from collaborating on an editorial for the high school newspaper to an algebra project in which we had to use math to design an auditorium and write a report to leading a collegiate newspaper staff to its first general excellence award in decades. I want to pass this along to new generations, in whatever form writing might take.
I know I can't do this by myself. So, if you’ve started your own writing center, I’d love to chat with you, perhaps even interview you for our podcast, if you’re interested.