I say this every time I write one of these update posts -- but then life and school happens, and I realize I haven’t written in months. I have not rested on my laurels though! I presented at five conferences last semester, created a Writing Accountability Group Guide for my university writing center, started a local high school writing center, and conducted my first real qualitative research project for one of my classes. I plan to be more intentional about writing about these projects and how you can benefit from what I'm learning.
With that said, I've also written three proposals for conferences in the spring -- though I'm committed to limiting the amount of out-of-state travel I'm agreeing to each semester. So far my proposal for the 2024 Secondary School Writing Centers Association Annual Conference has been accepted. This proposal is for a 75-minute workshop titled "Planting the Seeds of Confidence: Nurturing Student Writers Through Imposter Syndrome."
Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon characterized by persistent self-doubt and feelings in intellectual inadequacy. In spite of objective evidence of competence and academic achievement, writers experience an internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud, which can lead to perfectionism or procrastination. In either case, writers are often hindered in their ability to start or complete their writing projects.
In my personal experience as a writer, as a student, and in my work as a teacher and writing consultant, I see that imposter syndrome is a common experience among writers of all ages. This phenomenon, though, can have an even more deleterious impact on middle and high school writers who don’t possess the vocabulary to name what they're thinking or the experience to know that they’re embedded in a deficit-focused system (Ladson-Billings, 2014). Student writers instead think they are not smart enough, talented enough, or skilled enough to succeed in writing assignments and often give up instead (Jones et al., 2021). As a middle and high school English teacher with 10 years of experience, two years experience as a university writing consultant, and as a new high school writing center director, I’ll share practical strategies to help consultants recognize the signs of imposter syndrome, plant the seeds of confidence during their sessions, and nurture student growth over time.
Next year's conference is titled "Planting, Nurturing, Pruning, Thriving" and it's perfect for secondary teachers who are interested in starting writing centers -- or just incorporating writing center pedagogies into their classrooms. You can register for the conference on the SSWCA website and find more information about the conference schedule, too. I'll include more details about my presentation in upcoming emails, so make sure you're on my newsletter mailing list.
Also, if you’re presenting at any upcoming ELA conferences, let us know in the comments! I’d love to support your work and help more people learn about what you’re doing to help teachers reThink ELA.
- Ladson-Billings, G. (2014). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0: a.k.a. the Remix. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1).
- Jones, K., Storm, S., & Beck, S. W. (2021). Sustaining Student Voices in Writing Conferences. English Journal, 110(6), 38–44.