Saturday, June 20, 2015

Celebrate going rogue

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres

Anyone who has ever done a National Writing Project summer institute knows what a life-changing, career-sustaining experience it is. I was lucky enough to do the summer institute last year and it was one of the best things I've ever done for my career, but also just for myself as a person.

So I, along with many of my fellow Eastern Michigan Writing Project alumni, were devastated to find out that the summer institute had to be canceled this year due to lack of enrollment.

To try to ease some of the sadness of not having another group of teachers introduced to the virtues of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Kevin English and I decided to plan a few meetings with EMWP alumni to write and share our teaching practices with each other. We decided to call it EMWP Gone Rogue.

Yesterday we hosted a writing marathon in Ann Arbor, and we were delighted that 11 EMWP alumni showed up. We met at a bookstore, planned our destinations, dispersed, wrote, had lunch at Zingerman's Bakehouse, wrote some more, and then ended our marathon at a favorite local watering hole in Ypsilanti, The Corner Brewery, where we ate, drank, and were merry. But most important of all, we shared our writing.

The weather gods were smiling down upon us yesterday. It was sunny and in the mid 70s. Perfect weather for a summer writing marathon. Every location we stopped at, with the exception of our bookstore meeting place, was outside.

My favorite place where we wrote was the Ann Arbor Airport. It is a tiny airport, but that's what makes it so fascinating. You can go there, park your car, sit on a picnic table or in the grass, and watch the planes take off and land. There was so much to see, hear, and observe.
Writing at the airport. So many sights, sounds, and metaphors to explore!

It is difficult to explain to someone who's never done the Writing Project just what's so special about it. It's something you just have to feel and experience for yourself. Sitting at the Corner Brewery, listening to my fellow colleagues (some I had only met just yesterday) share their writing made me feel like I was part of something bigger and more important than myself. It's the feeling of support and safety you get from a group of people who are going through many of the same struggles and posing the same questions you are as a teacher. We don't always agree though. That was made clearly evident yesterday when the group of us debated on some advice we were giving a fellow writer about a novel she is currently writing.  But even when we don't agree, we are all coming from a place of mutual respect and a desire to get it right for our students and our practice. Because we know that getting it right doesn't and shouldn't involve everyone taking the same path. A belief that some people in educational leadership these days may see as "going rogue."

Eat, drink, and be merry: ending our writing marathon with sharing, conversation, and conviviality

After I posted the above picture of our final stop on our writing marathon on Facebook yesterday, this small conversation perfectly summed up the day:


  1. I know what you mean about the summer institute. My first institute was in 2006. (I think, I'm terrible with years!) Writing Marathons are such FUN!!!! I'd love to get one together this year. Hmmm, maybe I'll see if I can do that. Your enthusiasm is felt through the screen!! :) Keep Writing!!

  2. Love this post! Someday I hope to make it to a summer institute. Probably the best PD I ever did was UNH's summer literacy institute. Just an amazing experience of being a writer and working with other writers. I also love writing in airports.

  3. Sounds like it was a wonderful writing marathon!

  4. What a fun writing adventure. I'm glad you all decided to go rogue. :)