WITC Frequently Asked Questions

Writers in the Community (WITC), an “Internship in Instruction,” is one of the first and the best programs of its kind in the nation. Through WITC, interns earn graduate credit by teaching creative writing in a variety of local settings. WITC is a great opportunity for interns to get a feel for the classroom, work closely with student writers, and gain marketable teaching experience. The following frequently asked and answered questions provide a good general overview of WITC.

 

Where are interns placed…where do we teach?

 WITC interns currently teach in traditional elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, as well as in Montessori-style grade school classrooms and alternative high schools. WITC interns also reach out to the Spokane community by teaching at women’s shelters, teen centers, Airway Heights Corrections Center, adult community writing groups, and anywhere else we can find students and willing administrators. A list of placement opportunities for the 2010-11 school year can be found here, but we are also constantly searching for ways to form new community relationships and develop new placement opportunities.

 

What are the placements like?

Interns’ experiences vary from place to place and from year to year. Generally, in traditional classroom settings, interns create lesson plans for their students and implement those lesson plans with the guidance or support of a host teacher. In less traditional settings, such as alternative high schools or teen and women’s shelters, WITC interns tend to work with students one-on-one or in small groups, often (in the case of the prison, shelters, nursing homes, etc.) without curricular assistance from a host teacher. In alternative high schools, interns are occasionally asked to help students with projects and assignments not related to creative writing. In all placements, WITC interns help students develop their creativity and their writing skills, and help them find and/or use their unique voices.

In nearly all settings, a host teacher or an administrator provides oversight and assistance. The extent of the host’s involvement is worked out between the host and the intern, but interns are not set adrift with no one to turn to should issues arise.

 

What else does WITC do?

 WITC has developed and/or participates in a variety of community events that take place outside the classroom.

  • Youth, teen, and college poetry slams take place each spring as part of the Get Lit! Festival. These slams are a fun way for students to showcase their poetry and be applauded for their hard work. But, the slams are also competitions, and therefore tend to bring out some of Spokane’s most talented young poets.
  • WITC hosts adult writing workshops in March and May. The first week of each cycle is an all-genre workshop, and subsequent weeks focus on poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.
  • Every year since 1998, WITC has published InRoads, a collection of the work of the students in each placement. A professional looking, perfect-bound literary journal, InRoads acts as a bridge between our students and the larger community.
  • Broken Mic is a public, weekly, open mic opportunity for all types of writers of all ages. While WITC does not organize this event, Broken Mic is a building opportunity for the writing community in Spokane, and is fully supported by WITC. Many of our students participate.

To be further informed about WITC’s goings on, find us on Facebook, or periodically check back to view our calendar of events (coming soon).

 

Why do people get involved in WITC?

 WITC interns share interests in teaching and community outreach, and WITC offers opportunities for interns to participate and grow in both arenas.

Some interns come to WITC with previous teaching experience, but many do not. Either way, WITC provides the training and teaching experience valuable to interns as they graduate from the creative writing MFA program at EWU and move out into the world to look for teaching jobs.

But, at its core WITC is community outreach, and our mission is to spread our passion for writing as far as we can. Interns who volunteer to help plan and organize WITC events get a first-hand look at how small, non-profit organizations operate. Again, this work is not just fun and beneficial to the Spokane community, it also is helpful when students begin looking for employment.

 

What kind of impact has WITC made? What kinds of reactions has the program received?

 WITC is well-loved by educators and community leaders who know of and are involved in the program, and it sparks great interest in those who learn about it. Teachers and administrators who have worked with WITC in the past continue to work with WITC, and our list of participating schools and organizations continues to grow and change as the needs of the community grow and change.

The broader impact of WITC is often difficult to measure, but individual stories give WITC leaders a good idea that the work we do makes a difference. For example, a homeless teen won the 2011 Teen Poetry Slam and was asked to perform as an opening act for Ani DiFranco at the 2011 Get Lit! Festival. The teen performed flawlessly for an audience of hundreds and became one of the most talked-about aspects of the festival.

On a smaller scale, in one placement an entire classroom of students created hand-made cards to thank their WITC intern for her work teaching them poetry. Other interns have been asked (begged) by their students to return the following year. At the end of the school year students who are moving from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school often want to know if WITC interns will be present in their next schools. Members of the community writing group have begun submitting work to literary journals with the hope of being published. The bottom line is that the students we reach through WITC are enthusiastic to continue writing and participating in WITC. Through publications and participation in writing or slam competitions, they show us that they are making great strides as writers.

Furthermore, the writing community in Spokane continues to grow, as evidenced by the standing-room-only crowds at Broken Mic each week. We consider this growth a mark of success.

 

What are the roles of WITC’s student director and faculty mentor?

The student director and faculty mentor of WITC work together to make sure that interns find good and fitting placements where they can serve students and be served by the program in return. The student director and faculty mentor are the first people to whom interns turn for support and help, particularly if they are having difficulty in a placement, or if they have trouble meeting their hour requirements or collecting required InRoads submissions. With advice from the faculty mentor, the student director plans and coordinates events, such as the poetry slams, the adult workshops, group teaching opportunities, and any other open mic or writing-related opportunities WITC decides to organize in a given school year. The student director also keeps track of student submissions to InRoads, and works with the managing editor of InRoads to ensure the journal is put together professionally and in a timely manner, and the release party is planned in a manner that celebrates the work of the students. Final grades for all internship work are assigned by the faculty mentor, with input from the student director.

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