Last week saw an important milestone for Teachers as Writers. The CPD/feedback day gave everyone involved in the project – teachers, writers and researchers – a chance to catch their breath and reflect on what has been achieved in the classroom as a result of the intervention. We used a very simple format. Every teacher/writer pairing was given eight minutes to tell their stories and share what has been happening in their classrooms. The results were a joyful celebration of collaboration, tenacity, imagination and, above all, what Seamus Heaney called the ‘power and scope’ of writing.
We saw pictures of children writing on the beach, in tents on the school playing field, alone on benches or in the shadows of trees. One school even built an impromptu tented city inside the classroom due to the weather. We heard stories of children writing using artefacts, from memory, from model-poems, from art, from taped off CSI sites, and from books without words. We were given insight into the different teaching styles of our team of writers. Many already had several years of teaching experience, both as visiting writers and from previous careers before writing full-time. One confessed to having developed a very performance-oriented method ‘based on pure fear, partly from my former life as an actress.’ Others spoke of the way the project had made them pay attention to teachers’ and children’s needs in a way they hadn’t before, listening and reflecting at each step of the planning process. One went as far as saying: ‘Before, I would come in and ‘do my thing’. Now, I’m not so sure.’
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