The National Writing Project has created and fostered a community of educators and stakeholders that honors the knowledge, expertise, and identity of teachers. The model of teachers teaching teachers is a simple yet powerful demonstration that power in the hands of the common man or woman is not to be feared but celebrated. Incredible things emanate from those who are passionate, empowered, and determined to make a difference in their classes and for their students.
As the Northwest Inland Writing Project (NIWP) looks toward growing our name, expanding our offerings, and building our base of teacher consultants, there are specific 'banners,' if you will, that we need to keep forefront.
1. Honor those who came before us. NIWP has a rich and significant history, with many key people who freely dedicated their time, energies, and resources to making this organization into what it is today. The structures, traditions, and personalities that created and nurtured NIWP have truly left a legacy, and it is important to remember our roots, our history, where we came from, and why we chose the path we're currently walking down.
2. Honor those who currently make up NIWP. Teachers are organizational creatures by nature, understanding how to create concept out of chaos. Our teacher consultants have ideas, desires, and hopes for where we as an organization can go and be: we need to listen to them ... and as a group we need to continue crafting NIWP into what we all want it to be.
3. Honor the nature of change. Nothing is constant. If NIWP wants to remain status quo, then it chooses to be stagnant at best, dying at worst. Sometimes the hardest thing is to stop saying, "This is how we've always done it." Sometimes we just need to open up, listen, and allow ourselves to accept that there are new ways, different ways, maybe even better ways. Without judging or limiting ourselves with fear or uncertainty, we can explore new horizons, and, ultimately, maybe even surprise ourselves.
4. Honor democracy and transparency. The subject of power is a loaded one, but a necessary one. We must model what we preach. If the concept of teachers teaching teachers is truly one we believe in, then we must also believe that teachers are perfectly capable of governing themselves within a teacher organization. We empower teachers to be teacher leaders through the mentoring and nurturing that takes place within the organization, and one of the tools that promotes teacher leadership is transparency. A shared power structure must be transparent in nature; all involved should have access to and a role in developing the structure, purpose, vision, focus, goals, content, and yes, even the budget.
As we look to the future, there are many things I do not know. I don't know exactly where we're going, who's going with us, or how we're going to get there. In spite of this, I'm strangely excited. I trust our Leadership team and Advisory Board, along with the deft and respectful guidance of Rodney McConnell (new director for NIWP), to come together, share our visions, and craft the next stage of growth and development for a phenomenal organization. It truly is up to us, and my heart tells me that we're up for the challenge.