English Faculty Head Back to the Classroom at the National Writing Project

“It was amazing. It was one of those experiences that is life changing,” said Barbara Buckley. Read more about Barbara and Megan’s work with this renowned organization here.

Barbara Buckley and Megan Killigrew spent five inspiring weeks this summer working with the National Writing Project at Plymouth State University, where they taught and learned alongside other teachers and writers.

Megan applied to the National Writing Project last spring at Barbara’s suggestion and was thrilled to find herself accepted into the esteemed summer program. Megan said, “there is so much change going on in education, and I’m not yet settled on any one way of doing things. It was great to be around so many different people with different ideas and talents. I am glad that I got to do this while I am still young in my teaching career, while I’m still soaking up ideas. The greatest part was that I was put back into the classroom as a learner. With just one year of teaching under my belt, it was helpful to be reminded of that perspective. We talked about the things that inform our decisions in teaching, how we can stress reflection through writing, and how writing can be better utilized as a means of thinking across all subject areas.”

Megan and the other fellows focused their efforts on three primary areas that included, working on personal pieces, sharing lesson plans and feedback with other teachers, and developments in research and inquiry. “The third area was serendipitous with respect to what we are doing here at WMS. We’re incorporating inquiry-driven teaching in all of our classrooms,” said Megan.

“We also talked about the role of feedback in the writing process for our students. We discussed how to help our students write with greater purpose, to help them see us as as their readers, rather than their teachers. We wrote our own research papers— that were really different. They focused on the journey of the research,” said Megan. Megan’s topic centered on discovering how she could incorporate her most powerful learning experience from college into her own teaching. The experience was authentic. “It required re-starting. There was a narrative. It wasn’t just a rote paper,” she said.

Some of Megan’s writing from the program will be published in an anthology, another part of the experience that she values greatly.

Barbara, a returning fellow, was part of the leadership institute, wherein she worked with a co-hort of three other returning fellows and a group of graduate students. “We wrote everyday. We walked a mile in our students shoes,” Barbara said. “We worked on improving our teaching by building good practices. A practice is something that you can take from one lesson or unit and apply to other lessons. We gave teachers confidence in their work with students.”

Barbara and the other returning fellows also conducted research for the National Writing Project in New Hampshire around the following topics: How do teachers inadvertently add bias in their classroom practice? How do we create opportunities for producing effective and meaningful inquiry?

Barbara noted, “I feel so completely prepared for our collective work in inquiry-driven learning this year. My longer goals include becoming certified as a National Writing Project teacher at the undergraduate and graduate level, with the hope of bringing NWP workshops for teachers here to our campus in the future.”

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