Both the traditional ISI and the new, hybrid format were oriented toward three core values of the National Writing Project:
- Teacher as writers: In any discipline, teachers who write themselves are the most effective teachers of writing;
- Teachers as colleagues: A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs; and,
- Teachers as leaders: Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers.
These principles are reflected in fellows’ institute activity: writing and sharing their writing; reading and discussion of current issues in education; and, sharing their own effective practices through the teaching demonstration. Students or fellows in the institute are K-University teachers and administrators drawn from many disciplines, although historically English Language Arts have been more highly represented. Many fellows enroll in the MWP as nondegree graduate students interested in professional development and then go on to enter a masters degree program in education.