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Writing: Practice What You Teach

Last Friday (Oct. 20) was National Day on Writing, as declared by the U.S. Senate. Our stellar new book blogger, Amy Wickner, wrote a nice post about it here.

If you didn't get a chance to celebrate with your students, don't fret. November is NaNoWriMo—or National Novel Writing Month, as declared by the Office of Letters and Light. Many teachers take this opportunity to get their students started on longer writing projects. In fact, last year 2,000 schools participated in the official program, which challenges writers to complete a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) narrative by Nov. 30.

It's a good chance for adults to join in the action, too. In a recent post on Edutopia, teacher-blogger Steve J. Moore makes the not-so-novel argument that English teachers need to practice what they teach. "For the same reason that a track coach should be running 10k's or marathons on the weekends, a teacher of writing should be involved in a regular practice of writing," he contends.

What are your thoughts when you hear this claim, as you undoubtedly have before? Is it unreasonable to expect already-swamped teachers to find more hours in the week for personal writing? Or do you see it as one of a teacher's many inescapable and necessary duties?

These answers will, of course, depend on whether you enjoy writing. (Though, to be sure, some of the most well-respected and prolific authors say that they do not.) In case you are bothered by the edict that teachers must write, Moore goes on to clarify:

Does it always need to be public, published, or profound? No, certainly not. ... The idea of the teacher as writer simply means that we acknowledge the extension of what we demand in class in our own life. If we're going to successfully send the message that writing matters, that writing happens at all in real life, we had better get down to the business of doing it now and then.
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