When I Was Your Age

Sarah DeBacher | April 15, 2015

“There’s school, and then there’s life. At least that’s how we used to think about it when we were students. We’d run into one of our teachers at the grocery store and be all, ‘WHAT?! You don’t LIVE at the school?’ Once, Sarah and her mom bumped into one of her English teachers out walking her dog at the park. She wore jeans! She told Sarah’s mother to please call her by her first name! (SHE HAD A FIRST NAME!) Sarah was floored.”

So begins tprintcover-2he introduction to When I Was Your Age, the new Neighborhood Story Project book that’s emerged from a multi-year professional development partnership with the teachers at Andrew Wilson Charter School. This book talks back to the notion that teachers are “just teachers.” Teachers–and students–are humans. We have lives and dreams and struggles just like our students. We are fully human! And, of course, our students are, too. This book aims to make that point.

When I Was Your Age also aims to connect teachers to students through the act of writing, itself. So often, we teachers ASSIGN writing. We TEACH it. We READ it. We GRADE it. But–and perhaps this is in part because of the demands of our work–we rarely WRITE. This book put its authors, us teachers, back in the writer’s seat. It put its authors in touch with what it means to struggle with a crappy first draft. It reminded us of just how hard it can be to find the right topic, the right word, the right ending, the right title. It taught us, once again, what it means to be a student of writing.

We are super proud of this little book. The amazing teachers at Wilson have had an incredibly difficult year, but they persevered. They stuck with their drafts. They edited. They put themselves out there in a way we hope their students will appreciate.

For more on the book, check out this episode of The Reading Life. And join us on Saturday when we release the book at our annual conference, WriteFest!