Teachers at the Center: A Memoir of the Early Years of the National Writing Project

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In 1974, Gray and his colleagues convened the first summer institute of the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley—the first writing project site in the country—with two dozen teachers. Over the years, Gray’s radically new vision of professional development for teachers, and his hard work establishing the writing project model in sites around the country, have generated a national network of sites which have served more than two million teachers.

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In 1974, Gray and his colleagues convened the first summer institute of the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley—the first writing project site in the country—with two dozen teachers. Over the years, Gray’s radically new vision of professional development for teachers, and his hard work establishing the writing project model in sites around the country, have generated a national network of sites which have served more than two million teachers.

In this delightfully candid memoir, he looks back on the early years, describing the mentors who influenced his thinking, the mistakes he made and strategies he used to refine the model, and the difficulties he overcame to gain widespread support for the project. Anyone interested in education, literacy, and teacher development will appreciate the insights in this engaging and forthright narrative.

Gray passed away in the fall of 2005. Please see this remembrance to read about the impact he’s had on others.

Excerpts from Teachers at the Center

“Teachers at the Center: A Memoir of the Early Years of the National Writing Project,” by James Gray, The Quarterly, Fall 2000

“James Gray On Coaching: An Excerpt from Teachers at the Center,” The Voice, May-June 2001

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