Please allow me to introduce myself. I am thrilled to become a part of this fabulous team of teachers and writers. It is such an honor to be a part of this fantastic project.
I have always wanted to be a writer. At seven or eight years old, I used to spend whole days cutting apart my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazines, and then pasting the pictures back together to create my own magazines (mostly about unicorns). I wrote story after story about dragons, and flying turtles, and bunnies who went on hot-air balloon adventures. I wrote speeches that I would give someday if I became president (free ice-cream for all!). And I always, always had a journal.
When I teach at summer institutes or facilitate workshops for teachers, I often ask participants to think back on a time when they felt successful or engaged as a writer. I encourage them to try to think of a specific moment, and what it was that actually made them feel successful. Was it feedback? A clear purpose? Pursuing an interest? (Go ahead, think of a moment for yourself). For me, one of those moments was in third grade. That year, I had the best teacher ever, Ms. Davis. We wrote tons of stories, published in little wall-paper bound books that Ms. Davis typed up for us, on a typewriter, of course–our school didn’t have any computers in those days.
At one school event, Ms. Davis took my mom and I out into the hallway and pointed at a bulletin board that displayed stories that all the kids in my class had written. She pointed to my two stories, mounted on red construction paper backgrounds and told my mom, with great confidence, “Someday, Beth is going to be a real writer.” My heart soared. That moment has stuck with me my entire life.
A few years ago, my mom asked me to go down into the basement at her house, the house where I grew up, and take any old boxes of junk that I wanted before she did a round of spring-cleaning and tossed everything in the trash. Among my mother’s sets of canning jars, stacks of fabric, and crates of craft supplies, I discovered a cardboard box filled with my old stories from elementary school – artifacts of my writing life from kindergarten through sixth grade. It turns out, I had really great teachers. It was like discovering a time capsule of best practices of the early 1980’s!
And look what was in there! Check out my third grade writing folder! Look at all those drafts! Ms. Davis must have really been ahead of her time!
And look at all the published books that came out of those drafts! No wonder I love writing so much! (Ignore the fact that I spelled the word writing incorrectly on my writing folder, nobody’s perfect, right?)
And look…I still have the stories with the red construction paper background that were on display in the hallway the day Ms. Davis told my mom that I would be a real writer someday.
Part of the mission of Two Writing Teachers is “for teachers to be fueled with a passion for teaching, writing, and living.” I was lucky enough to have teachers like Ms. Davis who were exactly that. Throughout my career as a teacher, staff developer, writer, and mom, I’ve hoped to become that kind of person, and to help others get there too. After a childhood filled with writing – making books, keeping journals, pen-pals, you name it, I went on to become a teacher, a writer, and eventually a teacher of teachers.
After graduating from the University of Vermont’s school of education, I began my career as a first grade teacher in Massachusetts, and then was a fifth grade teacher in Connecticut, always looking for ways to foster a love of reading and writing in the kids I taught. After receiving an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University, I spent the next ten years working as a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). This work has taken me into K-8 classrooms all over the country to support teachers and administrators with reading workshop, writing workshop, and all aspects of a balanced literacy curriculum. Additionally, I have also had the honor of teaching numerous graduate courses at Columbia University and have presented at conferences and institutes around the country. While I’ve been doing all this teaching and writing, I’ve also never stopped learning. I’m a perpetual student; currently I am a doctoral candidate at Teachers College in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. My research involves studying how young readers demonstrate reading comprehension in beginner texts.
And, recently, Ms. Davis’s foretelling that I would someday become a “real” writer came true! I coauthored my first book How-To Writing:Writing to Teach Others, with Lucy Calkins and Laurie Pessah, one of the books in the series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing which just came out this spring.
Currently, my family and I live in Jericho, VT and I continue to travel around the country, conducting staff development through TCRWP. I can now be found blogging at TWT, as well as my other blog Tiny Reader where you can read about all the ways I support my own daughter as a reader and writer. Soon, in December, there will be a second tiny reader in our family (we’re expecting a baby boy)!
I’m looking forward to the great writing adventure that TWT is about to embark on. I hope you’ll enjoy it along with us. Thanks for the warm welcome, readers!
Literacy Coach, Consultant, Author, Graduate Course Instructor, and Mom. Passionate about fostering a love of reading and writing in learners of all ages.