While I have been a writer for my entire life, it is only recently that I can say with confidence that I am a writer. Regardless of the countless K-12 school essays, the writing projects for my Master's degree and even my doctoral dissertation, I did not feel like I was a writer. In fact, every formal writing experience made me continuously doubt my writing abilities instead of celebrating them. I wrote, but I was not a writer. Until now.
The decision to join #cyberPD, a summer book study that connects teachers together through collaborative conversation, was one of the most unknowingly important decisions I made in my life as a writer. I joined the online summer book study and spent the summer reading, writing and discussing a professional text with hundreds of other teachers from around the world. Some of us blogged our responses and reactions, some of us used audio and other digital tools and others wrote their thoughts on the Google+ discussion board. We came together as a community of learners, teachers and writers with powerful stories to share. At the end of that first summer, I realized the power that their writing had on my own ideas of literacy teaching and learning and finally, I realized the power that my own writing had on some of them as well. In that moment, I finally felt like a writer.
That summer, my original intent wasn’t to become a writer. It was to share in a learning experience with other teachers, something that was only possible through virtual discussion and writing. For so long, I believed that writing was the end result of something, something never quite within my grasp. But that summer, I finally realized that writing is actually a journey of learning, not the product of it. That revelation changed the way I think about writing, teaching and learning and has propelled me forward to new connections and collaborations with other teachers and teacher-writers.
For those of you just waiting to take a leap of faith into your own writing life, consider taking a leap into your own learning as a start and join a professional learning community around a topic you want to explore further. Connect with other teachers, share ideas through writing and reflect on your continual learning. As you learn, write and grow together, you will slowly realize the power of teachers writing together to continue learning for their sake of their students.
Wondering where to start? Try joining a professional learning community, such as #cyberPD, become more involved in this #TeachWrite community and start writing to enhance your own reading and learning. Connect with other like-minded teacher-writers on Twitter and Facebook and be open to the possibilities that await when we trust writing as a process, not a product. I invite you join us on the journey!
Stephanie Affinito is a faculty member in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany in New York. Her professional work focuses on transforming literacy coaching through technology, strengthening elementary literacy instruction and working with students experiencing difficulty learning literacy. You can connect with Stephanie on Twitter at @AffinitoLit, on Facebook at @StephanieAffinito or on her blog at www.stephanieaffinito.com.