Sarah DeBacher | May 6, 2015
As the school year draws to a close, we still can’t shake our excitement about WriteFest 2015. On Saturday, April 18, teachers from across New Orleans and around the country gathered at the University of New Orleans for a day of sharing pedagogy, writing, and above all, feeling pride in what we do. WriteFest is always an invigorating experience after a school year filled with ever-increasing bad news about standardized testing and public education funding, but this year was particularly special, because we had the opportunity to host the National Writing Project Urban Sites Network Conference. The national scope of the event gave us the opportunity to hear from teachers from Portland, OR to Ferguson, MO. We also had a healthy dose of local flavor. We were able to share our When I Was Your Age project, in which teachers write a book of stories for students recalling their own childhoods, with a national audience. Big Class hosted a Pizza Poetry night, showcasing poems written by students around the city and shared with the community through pizza boxes. This is an amazing city filled with passionate teachers who spend every day fighting the good fight for holistic writing pedagogy and accessible public education, and we were thrilled to be able to open our community to teachers from across America.
We also had the opportunity to hear keynote addresses from Tony Diaz and Barry Lane. Tony told us the story of his Librotraficante Movement, in which he and other teachers smuggled banned books back into Arizona classrooms, and inspired us never to let the system beat our students down. Barry Lane performed his Literary Cabaret, and reminded us to always teach with love and intention. This was a great year for WriteFest, and if you missed it, we hope you will join us in 2016!