Inviting Teens into the Writing Community through Writing Conferences by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard
Meet our Guest Presenter
Dr. Katherine Higgs-Coulthard is an Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Past-president of ICTE, and a teacher consultant for the Hoosier Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. Dr. Higgs-Coulthard’s passion for story informs her research on the teaching of writing, her work as a teacher educator and YA author, and her advocacy for teen writers. In 2013, she founded the Get Inked Teen Writing Conference, which offers opportunities for teens to write alongside published YA authors. Her YA novel, Junkyard Dogs (Peachtree Teen, 2023), highlights issues of teen poverty and homelessness.
Long story short, I wasn’t able to attend The Institute. But their invitation was pivotal in my journey to becoming a published author. It made me aware that there were other people like me in the world and that there were places designed to nurture us. Unfortunately, all of those places seemed reserved for adult writers. Back when I was a kid, the only camps and classes for creative teens focused on visual or performing arts, neither of which included writing. So, for me, writing remained a solitary endeavor.
That’s where teen writing conferences come in. Offering instruction and community, writing conferences are the perfect place for teens to explore who they are as writers within a supportive community that values growth and feedback. The most effective conferences are modeled after the conferences that adult writers attend and incorporate mentoring, choice, and community. Despite their similarities, conferences come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re interested in sharing information about teen writing conferences with the young writers in your life, see descriptions of a few below.
The National Council of Teachers of English. (2018). Understanding and teaching writing: Guiding principles. https://ncte.org/statement/teachingcomposition/