Professional Learning Teacher as Writer

Building the Capacity of Writing Project Site Leadership


These stories of teacher leadership from the National Writing Project's Vignette Study provide examples of structures and processes that sites can examine as they seek to expand leadership and create their own opportunities for teachers to lead. As Lucy Ware writes in the introduction to this collection, "We hope that leaders of local NWP sites will discover that challenges they face are not unique and will see adaptable strategies to apply in their own specific settings. By sharing these stories, we also hope that individual teacher-consultants will recognize the importance of their leadership to their local sites and will see ways that the NWP network might support their ongoing professional development.


As Lynn Jacobs’ narrative illustrates, a teacher’s involvement in leadership may start small, but when the work is meaningful, her capacity for leadership will be enhanced. At heart, Lynn’s story is about mentorship. Her reflection on turning points in her journey strikes a universal chord: the give and take of collegial relationships, the ambiguity in roles, and the perceptions of inclusion and exclusion in leadership circles. Lynn’s growth emerges from her persistence. As she grows, she envisions how the abilities of other colleagues can be expanded as well. Her story teaches us that by recognizing the skills a colleague might bring to the process, leaders can imagine and implement improved programs for the site as a whole.

Capacity building by enhancing individual teacher-leaders takes time. Because NWP sites depend upon this careful, reflective, and collaborative work, they are relatively fragile communities, dependent upon sustained, shared leadership. When this wavers, a site must refocus and regain a strong capacity. In Paul Epstein’s and Karen Smith’s narratives, we see two leaders who discover how to reignite and refocus their own energies and tap the passion of other teachers to benefit the site.”