To put it simply: First, one must write to teach writing. Second, the best teacher of a teacher is another teacher. Third, teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the best agents of reform and school improvement.
Since we see writing as a tool to clarify and communicate thinking, let us elaborate.
The South Coast Writing Project (SCWriP) believes and operates from a simple set of principles about writing, writers, and teacher learning.
- Writing is a skill, as opposed to a natural talent, that everyone can develop.
- Writing must be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level.
- Writing is a powerful tool for learning.
- Writing is a powerful tool for expressing knowledge.
- Writing, like all forms of communication, reflects the values and ideologies of the communities where it is situated. Therefore, the qualities of “good” writing are context specific.
- Writers learn to write by writing, receiving feedback, and revising.
- Writers’ development varies, but has a general pattern of fluency preceding form and correctness.
- Writers’ process of composition varies, but can be supported by instruction at all stages.
- Writers “know” grammar, however, they may need to learn the grammars of specific contexts.
- Writers are most successful when they are able to navigate the expectations of a variety of contexts, audiences, and purposes.
- Teachers of writing must write: their authority as teachers of writing must be grounded on their own personal experience as writers, persons who know first-hand the struggles and satisfactions of the writer's task.
- Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas. Such a reflective and informed community of practice is in the best place to design and develop comprehensive writing programs.
- There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to systematically examine theory, research, and practice together to discover and validate the most promising approaches.
- Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.
- All teachers of writing, K-university, belong to a single, interdependent, collegial community with shared professional challenges, which will best be met through collaborative efforts based on mutual professional respect. Therefore, these teachers are the most trustworthy and credible authorities on what works in classrooms.