A box of mimeograph booklets with dotted words to trace accompanied by a color-by-number pictures leads me to wonder how or when I learned to compose on my own. I’m sure my mother would cringe upon reading the chapters of a never-ending romance novel that my teen self seemed to write each Sunday on the church bulletin. I sure wish I still had those. I loved to write then. I dreaded to write all the way through college (and adulthood). It was always a chore. A teacher should never admit that she hates to write, but I did.
It is possible that I didn’t like to write because I never learned to write well. My job was to teach children to write, but I don’t feel I was ever taught. I did not practice what I preached in the classroom.
Three years ago, I decided to face my fear. I applied for the University of Illinois Writing Project Summer Institute. Words cannot express how valuable that experience was for me. It was there that I started to accept myself as a writer. It was there that I became a better teacher. I had the privilege of returning as a teacher leader the following year, and prepare for another institute to start next week. The way I see it, I qualify for some intervention programs. I learn as much from the other participants who join the project. When I came across Kate Messner‘s virtual summer writing camp, I signed up so that I might continue my quest to be a better writer. I am ready to be inspired by other teachers/writers. My kids will be better for it.