Monday, January 9, 2017

A Letter to Writing Teachers Who Don't Write

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.

This week I was to present a PD on teachers as writers.  Although it was canceled due to a lack of participants, I will continue to advocate for the importance of walking the talk.  I know how much being a teacher who writes has changed my classroom, and I want others to reap the benefits too.  

Below is a letter I wrote to those "would be" participants and all writing teachers who have not yet found the benefits of being a teacher who writes.

Dear Writing Teachers,

Today was my day to share one of my passions with you - writing.  Unfortunately, it was canceled due to a lack of participants.

I can honestly say I understand.  Budgets are tight and money designated for PD is typically used for one-size-fits all, not personalized professional development tailored to each teacher's needs or passions.

I didn't have a program that guaranteed better test scores.  I didn't have a product that was a quick prep for the spring standardized tests. And I didn't have a technology tool that would engage your students tomorrow.

But if you would have been at my workshop, you would have learned how your teaching of writing could change simply because - you write.  

You would have gained confidence in your own writing which leads to competence in your teaching of writing.  

You would have understood that teachers who write increase their level of credibility in the eyes of their students, which in turn leads to increased learning.  

And you would have become a part of a writing community and realized the importance of that support.

I have always been a writer.  I have been a writing teacher for ten years.  But I became a teacher writer five years ago, and what a difference that has made in my teaching and for me and my students.

Because I write:
  • I understand the fear of a blank page.  
  • I look beyond conventions and celebrate my students' words.   
  • I believe feedback is more than a letter grade.
  • I now teach writing, not assign it.
  • I realize writing is hard.
  • I know my story matters.
  • I am a better teacher.
I am sorry I did not get the opportunity to write with you today.  I hope that some day you discover the difference between being a writing teacher and a teacher who writes. 

And I hope that some day our paths - and our words - may cross.

Leigh Anne Eck


  1. Leigh Anne, I love this letter! I particularly like the way you stated that you didn't have a program that guaranteed better test results. We don't need statistics to know that what we are passionate about and sharing that passion guarantees results from the heart. Keep walking the walk and talking the talk! ~Amy

  2. This makes me so sad. I am considering creating a writing workshop for our teachers, but your letter makes me wonder if anyone will sign up. Becoming a writing teacher who writes is intimidating and scary. What if I'm not good enough? It's these very fears that are the reason teachers should write. We need to know the experience we are asking of our students. I hope you don't give up in your efforts to spread this important message.

  3. Ouch. Isn't it so hard to find a way out and realize that it might take longer for everyone else who is trapped in the maze? Great letter.

  4. Leigh Anne, I love how you rose above the result and wrote this letter. I believe that if you continue to show up and write, they will see you and learn from you. You are amazing! This letter is amazing! Thank you for being YOU!!

  5. Stay strong. YOU know you are doing the right thing. This NPR article may bring you comfort and proof that what you do is SO important:

  6. I am so sorry for the teachers who missed out on the opportunity to write with you. Keep singing your song and eventually you will have a choir.

  7. Keep preaching - you are saying what must be said, and there will be those who will listen and learn.

  8. AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! What a tremendous loss for everyone that missed your presentation. Why can't people just understand how important it is to write if you are going to teach writing??? Would we ask someone to teach reading that was illiterate? NO. Ugh....You got me started now. I'm so disappointed for you, but know that you will carry on. Perhaps there will be another opportunity. If not, just keep doing what you are doing. You ARE making a difference, friend!

    1. Actually there may be an opportunity this summer but more with digital writing...such as blogging!

  9. Leigh Anne, it is so disappointing to pour your heart into preparations and then to find out that there is not enough response to run a workshop. Your message to your would-be teacher writers is one that is strong, honest, and inspiring because you provide the reasons why writing has impacted your teacher life. Continue to preach the benefits of a writerly life.

  10. Leigh Anne,
    Thank you for being brave and volunteering to provide the PD. Thank you also for crafting this letter that reminds us of WHY writing with our students is just so VERY important!

  11. Such a loss, Leigh Anne. I agree with everything you said. I would add that my students know I understand their writing issues because they visit my blog and see that I write. I write with them in class. I try out assignments as they write. Teachers of writers need to write!

  12. I think some of those teachers will read your letter and may want to slice with us in March. It's the best introduction ever to becoming a teacher-writer. I hope you'll extend the invitation to them. And write on, my friend!