July 11, 2006
“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.” –my favorite teacher’s bulletin board
I’m part of an extended community this summer: many teachers have gathered in reading circles and via websites as they have participated in the National Writing Project. For me, this new experience, this “journey of discovery,” brings me full circle. This year, I’ve returned to teach as a part of my childhood school system, to live in my hometown and church, and now to learn at my undergraduate alma mater. The Marshall University Writing Project has reconnected me to the writing that I loved when I was a Writing Project teacher’s student years ago. (Thanks, Toodie, you made all the difference.) This summer, I remember and relive the joy of the voyage and the exhilaration of discovery.
This blog is a collection, an e-portfolio, of the discoveries I’ve made in the past four weeks. Some of the writing is polished; some lays bare raw thinking. One piece, “Rooted,” reflects my love for my family and home. I’ve never considered myself a Writer, but I’m pleased with the current state of this piece, and I’m grateful to my revision group and the responders on the national site who offered improvement suggestions. The professional essay about teaching, “One for the Professional Slot,” may be a companion piece to “Rooted” because here, I narrate my “voyage of discovery” and journey home to teaching. What the essay lacks in style (and it does!), I hope it makes up for in honesty: now that I’ve taught for nearly a decade, I felt compelled to reflect and examine how I got here because teaching wasn’t what I set out to find. Another essay that seemed to flow straight from my heart is one about an influential, mentor teacher, Mr. Ted Hundley. I know that many of his former students have written more gracefully about his impact, and I needed to pour out my gratitude and awe for this wonderful teacher, too. One of the pieces that really challenged me is the journal entry I wrote about accountability. As I wrote, I continued to raise troubling questions that unsettle me still. I don’t have answers for this essay.
As always, the best part of any voyage is the people I meet. This community of writing teachers has encouraged me to speak up—what I think matters enough for me to write, even if I’m the only audience—and they’ve offered many creative ideas through their teaching demos. As I head back to the high school classroom, I’m eager to branch out and try some of the more personal writing that we’ve done here instead of, or rather, in addition to, cleaving too much to the academic writing that’s stressed.
Ultimately, this e-portfolio isn’t a finished product: it’s just done for now. The voyage steams on, and I’m thankful that this experience is part of my discoveries.