One of the joys of working on the Teachers as Writers project is that I get to steal. As a researcher I share and exchange ideas about writing theory and pedagogy, all the while learning from my colleagues how to plan and conduct research in a way that is transparent and robust. I have visited hundreds of classrooms during my career as a teacher educator, but I still think of myself as the person in the room next door, on the lookout for new ways of doing things. This is no less true of writing, both the teaching and practice of it. Even though I have tutored at Arvon courses myself it was a privilege to observe tutors’ practice from the other side of the fence as it were, noticing resonances as well as differences, storing their exercises away for future use. To quote from Keats, ‘my ear is open like a greedy shark’.
But as both Lucy Oliver and Debra Myhill have noted in their previous blog posts, noticing, capturing and using ideas for writing is a tricky business, whether you are a professional or in Year 9 on a wet Wednesday. In Still Writing, her memoir of the writing life, Dani Shapiro uses the word ‘shimmer’ to describe the transience of an idea arriving, as much a feeling as a thought, ‘that sudden, electric sense of knowing.’ All of the teachers who came on our Arvon residential in April have experienced this.
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