Only teachers truly know what goes on in the classroom and reflecting upon our practice through writing is incredibly empowering and potent.Nancy Barile, “Five Reasons Why Teachers Should write about Their Practice,” Education Week
And when we do our own writing, we are making learners of ourselves in the fluid process of insight as it unfolds.Kim Stafford in Teachers at the Center
Teacher Voices from the Classroom: Breakthroughs, Transformations, Challenges, and What We Know to Be True
Welcome to a space designated for classroom stories, reflections, inquiries, and eyewitness accounts written by teachers for teachers. Every teacher knows what it means to be in conversation with another teacher – to discover new ideas, to be inspired to reach higher, to be reassured that our experiments and innovations are not in vain.
We invite you to contribute to a body of work portraying the eye-opening, thought-provoking, and challenging stories and moments that happen in your classroom.
- To promote a community of teachers writing about their classroom practices.
- To capture the diversity and richness of our current generation of teachers and their students and how they learn together.
- To revisit time-honored practices and why they have remained effective.
- To continue the long-held tradition and belief that teachers as professionals have the responsibility and privilege to write about what we know to be true.
We Welcome Your Voice!
Submit Today! (Deadline to submit September 1, 2021)
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Browse Our Collection
We introduce a curation of timeless classroom stories, published both recently and in past years, where moments of insight motivated teachers to write about their practice. You might note some of their collective features: The compelling voice of a teacher narrator bringing us into a real classroom. The presence of students, their voices, their writing, their viewpoints. The anecdotes, examples, bits of conversation that add up to an intriguing story. The honest assessment – the highlights and low lights – of a teacher’s practice.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 3, Summer 1995
Summary: Bob Pressnall provides a ringside seat as he observes, changes, rearranges, and fine-tunes his classroom practice toward convincing students that revision is worth their while. We watch him as he keeps revising his own efforts to get through to them, then lands on a breakthrough, and concludes: “...revision goes beyond what students do with their writing. Revision is a teacher’s life.”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Bob Pressnall taught eighth grade at Albany Middle School in Albany, California. Bob also served as BAWP’s co-director in the 1990s.
Reprinted © 2013 Rethinking Schools. Reprinted with permission.
Summary: Brady Bennon takes us through a series of lessons meant to build awareness and empathy for the impact of climate change. Bennon resists a direct dive into research and instead, begins with anchoring students in cherished places that have personal meaning. “I didn’t want them [students] to jump straight into an investigation of the connections between carbon dioxide and rising temperatures...I wanted them to see that, beyond the environmental damage, global warming is about people.”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Brady Bennon taught at Madison High School in Portland, Oregon. He is a Fellow of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2004
Summary: This award-winning account of a classroom incident makes clear that it's the students who bring "the uncertainty that is the beauty and the challenge of teaching." Todd Goodson argues for "taking the students . . . as our starting point."
About the Author: At the time of writing, Todd Goodson was an Associate Professor of English Education at Kansas State University and the director of the Flint Hills Writing Project. This article won the 2005 Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award in the Editorial category.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 1996
Summary: Pesick demonstrates how the use of writing portfolios in his history class prodded students to engage in aspects of "historical thinking." This piece won the Miriam Ylvisaker award for the outstanding Quarterly article of the year.
About the Author: At the time of writing, Stan Pesick, a BAWP teacher consultant, was on leave from Skyline High School in Oakland, California, to pursue his doctorate at Stanford University.
Revolutionizing Inquiry in Urban English Classrooms: Pursuing Voice and Justice through Youth Participatory Action Research
Reprinted from English Journal, 2015
Summary: Three educators share their classroom experiences encouraging students to develop authentic research practices through Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR). “Our mindsets changed when we were introduced to an alternative form of research that challenges traditional ideas about knowledge (who produces it, how, and for what purposes) and honors young people as authentic researchers of their own lives.”
About the Authors: At the time of writing, Danielle Filipiak was a doctoral student in English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as a teacher-consultant with the Wayne State Writing Project; Antero Garicia was an assistant professor in the English department at Colorado State University and a coordinator of special programs for the CSU Writing Project; Nicole Mirra was a UCLA Writing Project teacher-consultant and taught high-school English for five years in New York City and Los Angeles.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 2-3, Spring/Summer 1994
Summary: “Can we teach students to do historical writing? Or, more importantly, can we teach students to be historians, to do what historians do?” BAWP teacher consultant Alice Kawazoe describes a district-based workshop series where professional historians shared their expertise about how they go about writing history. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers who attended the sessions write about how they applied their learning to classroom practice.
About the Author: At the time of writing, Alice Kawazoe was Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Oakland Unified School District.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer 1996
Summary: Jabari Mahiri writes of working with underprepared college students, mostly campus athletes, who "changed themselves as writers" and “changed themselves” through engaging in a co-created curriculum and an inspired use of computers. Mahiri experienced an instructional breakthrough when he “hit on an image that seemed to help students move past the micro-voices that were restricting their writing.”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Jabari Mahiri was assistant professor in the UC Berkeley GSE and a researcher for the National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy. Currently, Mahiri serves as BAWP's Faculty Advisor and P.I. and is a Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture in the UC Berkeley GSE and inaugural holder of the Brinton Family Endowed Chair in Urban Teaching.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 4, Fall 1997
Summary: Working with lifer inmates at San Quentin Prison, Juska finds that while the "writing process" takes some unorthodox shifts and turns "it was there all the time, jerked around by living human beings."
About the Author: At the time of writing, Jane Juska, a 40-year high school teaching veteran and BAWP teacher consultant, was an instructor in the teacher education program at Saint Mary’s College. A version of this article also appeared in the prestigious Phi Delta Kappan in 1999.
Reprinted from California English, Summer 2006
Summary: If teachers learn to recognize and value the translation work that students do with their immigrant parents, they can better build those skills into academic literacies.
About the Author: At the time of writing, Rosa Jiménez was a Ph.D. candidate in Education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She was a middle school teacher for 6 years; Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Ph.D. was an Associate Professor of education at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Orellana was an elementary school teacher for 10 years in Los Angeles.
Reprinted from NWP Archives, 1996
Summary: Carole Chin describes how she uses the writing of students and their families to build community and provide a forum to address fears, anxieties, and concerns. She reflects, “Why did I want my parents to write? The last two sentences of this mother’s ‘homework’ precisely state my goal: ‘Only when skilled teachers and parents of our children form a community will there be education for the children. Then this will be a great school.’”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Carole Chin was teaching 4th grade at Malcolm X School in Berkeley, California.
Reprinted from NWP Archives, October 20, 2009
Summary: Ben Bates explores the premise that directed script reading, play production and performance provide roads to literacy for his “underserved students.” He concludes“…the more time I spend in class, the more convinced I am that the best proof of comprehension, superior to any essay or test, is public performance.”
About the author: At the time of writing, Ben Bates was co-director of the Oklahoma State Writing Project, co-chair of the Urban Sites leadership team, and a member of the NWP Board of Directors.
Reprinted from The Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4, 1995
Summary: This study, through a close read of student writing, documents how, as a result of communicating with each other through journal entries, two very different ELL students connect and become more engaged with language as they struggle to communicate their ideas. He observes, “even though not every pairing succeeds…I am convinced that letter writing is a wonderful way to teach writing. Students writing for a real audience are motivated writers. And when that audience is a peer, young writers blossom in surprising ways.”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Myron Berkman was teaching at Newcomer High School in San Francisco, California.
Reprinted from Educator Innovator: Powered by NWP, April 26, 2018
Summary: High school ELA teacher and NWP teacher leader Janelle Bence explores how civic engagement forms the essential “why” of her classroom practice, helping students consider their identities, values, and connections to communities big and small. She writes, “This initial taste of discovering and discussing cultural identity was an entry to a deeper dive into what it means to be part of American society.”
About the Author: At the time of writing, Janelle Quintans Bence taught Humanities at New Tech High@Coppell, Coppell, Texas.