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Paula Bourque has been working with readers and writers in kindergarten through eighth grade for twenty-eight years. She grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University. She trekked halfway across the country to start her career as classroom teacher in Maine, and her love of literacy led her to a master’s degree in that area from the University of Southern Maine. Still intrigued by how students learn to read, she became a Recovery teacher and honed her skills at keenly observing and scaffolding her most puzzling students. Her fervor for reading and writing led her to become a Title I literacy specialist, supporting her schools’ at-risk students and their families. She became a certified literacy coach and earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in literacy leadership from the University of Maine, and has worked as a K-8 literacy/instructional coach for the past eight years.
An avid kidlit reader, she has been intrigued by the process of authors in the published world as well as those in the classroom—including the teachers. While she helped students to closely read the work of other authors, she became curious about her young writers’ strategy (or lack) of closely reading their own writing. This led her to examine the relationships they were developing with their writing. A literacy coach in four schools, she used her observations of hundreds of writers in action each week to help her explore how writers could be more mindful and purposeful in their work, and nurture that relationship.
She is a firm believer that the best writing teachers are teachers who write. “Through this process, I realized how my own writing not only reflected what I was seeing and thinking, it was shaping what and how I was thinking. While working on this project, I discovered I was truly writing to learn and learning to write.” Now she and several colleagues in her district meet to write and share their ideas with a Teachers Write group (inspired by Kate Messner’s virtual writing camp of the same name) and are enjoying the same sense of writing community that they are creating in their classrooms.
Beyond her work in Augusta, Paula has presented at numerous conferences, created writing webinars for Maine’s Department of Education, taught graduate courses in literacy, and worked as a consultant in several school districts. She blogs about her passion for reading, writing, and teaching (www.LitCoachLady.com) and enjoys continuing her own lifelong learning with her PLN, where she is known on Twitter as @LitCoachLady. She lives in Maine with her husband and two tireless teens, and is rarely seen without a camera in her hand.