The Teacher Who Writes

To kick off this new endeavor, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Claire Gibson and I am a high school English teacher and instructional coach. Over the past few years, I have been reminded of the importance of prioritizing my own reading and writing life and am determined to recommit myself to both. So I am starting this blog, a teacher who writes, to commit myself as a writer and share my experiences as a reader, writer, teacher, and coach.

Sometime in college I found and fell in love with the young adult genre. When I took my first teaching job, I met one of my very dear friends, Brooke Hartmann, who shared my love of teen fiction. During our time together, we had the pleasure of working in the same building. We often swapped stories with each other and our students often listened in while we ‘fought’ about which series deserved the higher honor, Twilight or Harry Potter. I loved this banter; not just because we took our stances so seriously, but because I had found an equal who eagerly gave up precious moments during passing period to review a new title and who would seriously discuss the love life of Tris and Four with me over diet-sodas at lunch.

Soon our conversations about YA literature were interrupted with conversations rooted in professional readings. Brooke and I were eager participants in Lit Lab, a professional development opportunity with Cris Tovani and Sam Bennett rooted in research-based best practices. Cris and Sam introduced us to new ways to read research. We studied to be able to read classrooms, to see what best practices authentically looked like and the impact these practices then had on student learning. During this time, Cris helped me to see that just like society expects doctors and lawyers to stay current within their fields, teachers, too, are obligated to stay up on current professional research.

So I was a reader. I had broadened my horizons but stayed within my comfort zone because writing is intimidating. It seems to be a daunting process and no matter how many times I write something, I can always find the flaws. So I am still working to prioritize my writing life. But I am encouraged by my time spent as a participant in the Colorado Writing Project.  On the last day of our workshop nearly a year and a half ago, Sam Bennett shared her Writer’s Manifesto – calling a writer a person who writes – which I found much less intimidating. I could do all the things she mentioned – experiment with language, pay careful attention, care deeply – so what was stopping me from being a writer? As I contemplated the answer to this question, Sam handed a framed copy of her manifesto to me.

So now, as I sit under my copy of Sam’s manifesto, a year and a half later, I have secured the rights to a blog that takes its name from the very same piece of writing that begged the question, what is stopping me from being a writer? Until I am ready to call myself a writer,  I will commit to being a teacher who writes…about books I read, about research that supports the work I do, about kids I teach and about teachers I aspire to be like.