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Compost & Composition: Mixing the Old & the New



There is no difference between compost and composition.


I had this thought one evening as I was walking my dog just before our Wednesday writing session on Zoom. We were walking past piles of leaves that were going to soon become compost and in thinking of writing I couldn't help but wonder: how related were these words "compost" and composition"? How closely linked could the process of turning decaying plants into nutrients and putting words on the page actually be?



Apparently very linked as both words can trace their origins to the original Latin word compositum which is just "something put together."


Whether that "something" is old plants to grow new things or ideas to become words on the page. I realized this was the mindset I wanted to bring with my writing into the new year. It was also the mindset I wanted to use to lead Teach Write as well.



Teach Write is turning over a new leaf (to continue the plant/growth imagery). You may not be aware, but as of today, January 14, 2023, I am officially in charge of this group and platform.


My name is Erica Johnson. If you are not a member of Teach Write Academy you may not know me. I first came to Teach Write a few years ago when I was looking for a writing community of my own. At that time I was still a novice teacher and had recently gone through a local chapter of the National Writing Project. I knew I wanted to continue to grow as a writer, but didn't know how to continue to feel as supported as I did during the National Writing Project summer institute. I understood that supporting student writers was going to be a key part of my classroom, but beyond that I had nothing.


And then I had Teach Write.


Teach Write has rooted itself deeply into both my own practices as a writer and has also made its way into my classroom as well. I notebook daily, I have a better grasp of the drafting process, and I have taken more risks in my own writing. I know what it is to struggle with it and that translates well for my students as well. They need my support as someone who understands writing and maybe if you are reading this so do you.


The members of Teach Write have changed and shaped so much of my own teaching practices these past few years -- Jen Laffin especially. I often joked that she could step into my classroom and see at play many of the strategies cultivated by her in our group transplanted there. When Jen offered me the chance to begin cultivating this group, I was more than happy to carry on her legacy.


It is thanks to Teach Write that I see myself as a writer. I have gone on to help my students see themselves as writers. And now, I get to help OTHER teachers see themselves as writers too. I get to use my compositions to become compost for others.


So welcome to a new leaf of Teach Write. Here we will be "something put together." And hopefully that "something" is a community and creative space that is welcoming to others -- teachers, students, and all writers who want to grow in their practice!

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