The National Writing Project is a federally funded professional development program for teachers. The Mohawk Valley Writing Project, an affiliate of NWP, is open to K-12 teachers from all subjects. Under its auspices, teachers gather for a five-week invitational Summer Institute where they share best practices and discuss and develop their writing, teaching, and research interests. The Writing Project seeks to inspire practicing teachers and develop a local network in which their insights, practices, and wisdom can be shared through inservice projects. Writing Project Teacher Consultants become leaders in their regions, helping to build vital and productive literacy communities in their schools.
The work of Writing Project teacher consultants has improved the quality of literacy and literacy instruction in communities across the nation, as shown in satisfaction surveys and test scores. To learn more about the specific outcomes of Writing Project work, go to the National Writing Project website, http://www.nwp.org.
Teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the agents of reform; universities and schools are ideal partners for investing in that reform through professional development. Writing can and should be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level. Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas. Knowledge about the teaching of writing comes from many sources: theory and research, the analysis of practice, and the experience of writing. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to examine theory, research, and practice together systematically. There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs. Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform. NWP sites share a national program model, adhering to a set of shared principles and practices for teachers’ professional development, and offering programs that are common across the network. In addition to developing a leadership cadre of local teachers (called “teacher-consultants”) through invitational summer institutes, NWP sites design and deliver customized inservice programs for local schools, districts, and higher education institutions.