Earlier this week a group of teachers from the Capital District Writing Project came together to write and share ideas about the future of this site. Led by Aaron Thiell of Brittonkill Elementary School, we wrote about the professional activities that give us energy and hope. We shared our ideas and viewpoints in the context of constant teacher bashing in the public discourse about education, increasingly onerous mandates and requirements that limit what teachers can do, and ever-greater emphasis on standardized tests that, by their very nature, can tell us only a small part of what we need to know about what students learn and need. We wrote–together–as an antidote to this deleterious climate.
Because the National Writing Project lost its federal support last year and must now support its programs through alternative funding streams that limit how it can use its resources, CDWP faces new challenges in pursuing its mission of helping teachers and administrators improve writing, teaching, and learning in our region’s schools. But given the current climate in education, it is clear that the support that CDWP provides teachers is more important than ever.
Here’s some of what teachers said at our recent meeting about the importance of CDWP as a community where teachers are valued as professionals:
“CDWP is a vehicle for opening our imaginations about what is possible.”
“CDWP helped me realize that the rigors of reflection are career-long. This reflection gives me confidence in my teaching.”
“Writing together with our CDWP colleagues is energizing.”
“The writing project reminds me, Bring it back to writing. We’re telling our stories. We’re telling the truth.”
“You can’t really fix problems if you’re not telling truth about what’s happening in your classrooms. At CDWP we get to say what’s real without any fear about who is listening.”
“I can’t imagine existing in the education universe without the energy I derive from CDWP.”
It is an honor and a privilege to be able to work with such dedicated professionals who continue to work tirelessly on behalf of their students in the face of increasingly daunting challenges. It is these teachers and others like them who will make schools better–not mandates and tests. They deserve a place where their insights can be heard. CDWP is such a place.