As a middle school student, I wrote at home by myself in my bedroom. I created stories about young Native American girls, Jewish families, and Eskimo dogsled races. Inspired by the books I read, movies I saw, or moments I experienced, I stretched my imagination and wrote my ideas one after the other. I don’t remember sharing my writing with many people. Occasionally, I’d let my sister read my stories, but that was about it. Truthfully, I am not sure what motivated me to write outside of school. Maybe it was a stimulating assignment in school or a kind word from a mentor. Maybe it was my own inner drive and desire to be creative. Maybe it was a way for me to escape into another world. Whatever it was, I’m thankful that I viewed myself as a writer at such a young age – an age where self-concept and identity are taking shape and the mind is most impressionable. I truly believe that writing as an adolescent helped me grow in so many ways as it allowed me a space to be myself, work through my problems, and explore the world.
As a middle school teacher, I brought my own writing process into the classroom. I wrote with and in front of my students and demonstrated what it was like to grapple with a word choice, reorganize a paragraph, or develop a character. I would show students the twelve drafts it took to get to my final poem and then show them how I could revise it even more. I read my writing out loud almost daily to demonstrate how punctuation can affect meaning or tone can impact the overall mood. These were powerful experiences for middle schoolers who often don’t know where to begin or how to revise. Within the first few weeks of school, many students would feel less vulnerable to share their own writing with their peers. The students who already loved to write began taking risks and trying new approaches, and the students who were reluctant started looking forward to class and working on their latest piece. In the classroom, each of us was a member of a community that supported and valued everyone’s unique voice.
A lot of exciting writing was happening within the walls of my classroom, but I kept asking myself these questions: How could I bridge the gap between school and home? How could I get students to identify as writers both in and outside the classroom? What could I provide for the students like me who already wrote at home but didn’t have an outlet to share it? How amazing would it be to find an avenue for all of this energy that was outside of school! So began the creation of Bolder Writers, something I’ve dreamed about for a long time – something I’ve imagined since I was that middle school girl scrawling stories on yellow legal pads I “borrowed” from my dad. I am proud to say that I have officially made it happen, and I can’t wait to meet my students, read their writing, hear their voices, and most importantly, help them identify as bold writers.
Welcome to Bolder Writers!