Tom Conway: It Starts with a Slam

The Write Stuff - Virginia
May 2015

One of the major challenges for teachers of writing has always been finding ways to stimulate student buy-in during the writing process.  The days of spending time on work to please the teacher are gone for most, if they were ever really here in the first place, and students crave more authentic opportunities to share their creativity and opinions with a wider audience.  Often, however, these opportunities are daunting for teachers to implement and maintain, especially in the current environment of rampant national and state testing.  How does one carve out the necessary time to allow writing and the creative process to flourish while adhering to curriculum and content in the subject area classroom?

My guest this week has found an answer that works for his students at his school. Tom ConwayNVWP alumnus and 7th grade English teacher at Thornburg Middle School inSpotsylvania, VA, has been promoting authentic writing through poetry slams since he first started teaching ten years ago.  After graduating from the NVWP Summer Institute in 2014, he was encouraged by mentor writing teacher, Stephenie Fellinger, to jump start an idea that had been scuttling around in his brain for a bit – a student writing center at Thornburg Middle School.

Photo provided by Tom Conway - Tom and his students celebrate their upcoming poetry slam.