Developing the creative writing skills and confidence of teachers is integral to First Story’s mission. For our work to have a lasting impact, the culture of creative writing in schools needs to change—and for that, we need inspired teachers who are excited to share the craft of writing with their students.
Enabling teachers to find their own voice and to discover (or often, re-discover) the power and pleasure of creative writing is at the heart of First Story’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) offer for teachers. We want to give teachers practical exercises and proven models that they can take back to their classrooms.
Earlier this month, First Story in the East Midlands trialled a new way of offering CPD to our teaching colleagues, with a free event held online, on a Saturday, led by the celebrated teacher and writer, Kate Clanchy.
A former First Story Writer-in-Residence, Kate was influential in the development of First Story’s pedagogy in our early years. She has since taught poetry to hundreds of young people in Oxford—a number of whom have had their work recognised by literary prizes and been published in their own right. Kate is a vocal champion of teachers and writers working together, and on centring the voices and lived experiences of the young people she works with.
Too often, teachers tell us that they lack confidence when it comes to teaching poetry—either because they were taught it poorly at school themselves, or sometimes because it wasn’t an area of focus during their initial teacher training. Through the delivery of our programmes in schools, we see time and time again that when teachers take part in creative writing activities as full participants, it empowers everyone in the group. As one teacher said during this event: “Actually doing it for yourself helps to understand how to best support students.” A tangible effect can be seen when teachers write alongside their students, sharing the same challenge, vulnerability, and reward that the process entails.
This event saw Kate gently guide participants through a classic First Story activity based on Robert Seatter’s poem, ‘I Come From’. Throwing out plenty of prompts and encouragement to keep us going, the exercise produced some deeply moving, personal writing.
First Story is grateful to The Mighty Creatives and our partner school, Landau Forte College, for also supporting this event.
If you would like to take part in future CPD sessions, sign up to our newsletter to hear more.