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Authors in the Classroom

Community workThe Writing Life
April 14, 2014

Teachers As Acquisition Editors: A Better Approach to Teaching Writing

For the next few weeks after Spring Break, I'll be doing a writing residency at Chickahominy Middle School in Hanover, VA, where I'll spend five or six sessions working closely with kids on their writing. I love visiting schools because it reminds me of my teaching days. Years ago, I was on the faculty of what was then the Palm Beach School of the Arts. It was a dream gig in most ways because I got to work with young people who were admitted to the school based on their interest and talent, both of which they had in abundance. With Brandi Klienert Larsen and Tynisha Wynder, former SOA students, now grown and thriving! Some of those kids went on to become writers and editors in print and media, more or less the way I did. Others chose different paths. It doesn't matter to me, to be honest. What's important is that they had a few years to experiment with their voice and their creativity. I like to think that my classroom was a safe, if imperfect, writing bubble where we could laugh and experiment with styles and stories. I hope they left with a taste of the power and joy that comes from being able to conjure a reality from thin air or, more importantly, from being able to name your life experience in a way that connects you to others. These days, when I go to classrooms, I turn to an approach that resonates with me. My friends, Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada –prize-winning and…