Teachers as Writers


This page serves as a repository for my Teacher and Student Writing Groups research for the 2015  Premier’s English Teachers Association English Scholarship.

Here you will find literature reviews, annotations and writings that formed the basis of my final report -now available in mETAphor Issue 1, 2017 and the Premier’s Teacher Scholarship Reports Volume 14: Scholarship Report Kerri-Jane Burke

Blog Posts

1. Do you identify as a writing teacher, or a teacher who writes? 

2. Teachers, writing and the teaching of writing – interviews and thoughts from week 1

3. Poetry and Story for Growth and Healing – writing workshop

4. Writing Therapy – courage to be me

5. The Story Narrative – lunchtime in London with Simon Wrigley

6. Open University – a conversation with Professor Teresa Cremin

7. Leading a Teachers Writing Group – Theresa Gooda shares her experiences

8. Writing Across Lines: History, Memory and the Imagination

9. Characters and Narrative – creative writing workshop at the UEA

10. Norwich (UEA) Teachers Writing Group – conversations with a leader and a teacher

11. Image to Text – Manchester Art Gallery’s writing workshop at NATE 

12. Wyl Menmuir – a conversation about writing and teachers as writers

13. Marlborough School – an inspiring oasis in Falmouth

14. Katrina Naomi – award winning poet discusses residential writing

15. A Traveller’s Reading (Part 1) – Annotations and Serendipity from the UK Scholarship Study Tour

16. A Traveller’s Reading (Part 2) – Annotations and Serendipity from the UK Scholarship Study Tour

Literature Review

There is a large body of literature in the field of writing, and its teaching, from which these texts have been drawn as representative of the most relevant issues in the area of teacher and student collaborative writing.

  • Castagna, F. 2015 ‘Just Make it Electric’ in Southerly, blog entry November 20 [http://southerlyjournal.com.au/2015/11/20/just-make-it-electric/]

Following our interview and discussion on teaching writing and an authentic voice, Felicity suggested this blog entry as an outline of her thoughts. The distinction is made between ‘technically good’ and ‘electric’ writing with the latter being seen as ‘both engaging and enduring’. Castagna also offers examples of memorable voices, such as Ania Walwicz, Michael Mohammed Ahman and Luke Carmin.

  • Castagna, F. 2012, ‘Teaching Reading and Writing through a sense of Place’ in mETAphor, Issue 3, pp. 19-22.

As Education Officer in the western suburbs of Sydney, Castagna provides an overview of successful strategies in collaborative writing, reading and sharing between established writers and disengaged youth. She also details a webquest designed as a self-directed learning experience for students.

As stated in the title, this paper ‘is a critical literature review of work from 1990 to 2015 on teachers as writers’, and points to suggested areas for future research. Many studies focus on pre-service or teacher training of writing and their understanding of writer identities. There is need, in particular, for further studies into practicing secondary teachers to explore teacher identities, as well as the impact on students and their writing.

  • Cremin, T. 2015, ‘Perspectives on creative pedagogy: exploring challenges, possibilities and potential’ in Education 3-13. http://oro.open.ac.uk/42515/

This editorial outlines the latest views on teaching and learning creative strategies, and the inherent tensions between humanist objectives within cultures of accountability and standardised testing. In this introduction, Cremin cites the Australian research of Harris and Lemon into creative approaches to learning.

  • Cremin, T. & Baker, S. 2014, ‘Exploring the discursively constructed identities of a teacher-writer teaching writing’ in English Teaching: Practice and Critique, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 28-53.

This case study of an individual teacher examines classroom practices at a microlevel, via video footage, to trace shifting identity positions. In 2010, Cremin and Baker developed a ‘teacher-writer, writer-teacher’ continuum to account for fluctuating teacher identity positions due to ‘interaction, the wider institutional context [and] … significantly by their spontaneous compositions produced in class’. While noting that the results from this study cannot be generalised, there is evidence to further consider understanding teacher writing identities as being in flux.

  • Education Futures, blog associated with the Educational Futures research cluster at The Open University

Follow an interesting research project in Uruguay.

  • Frawley, E. 2015, ‘Oh! Who is Me? Conceiving of the Writer in the English Teacher Identity’ in English in Australia, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 52-60.

Frawley challenges the dominant view of ‘reader’ and teacher of literature rather than a ‘writer’ and teacher of writing. This privileging is found in current entry requirements and course work at Australian universities for English teacher courses. Also discussed is the widespread acceptance of the process writing movement and Graves advocating, since the 1970s, that teachers should write alongside students. Frawley concludes that a clear definition of ‘teacher-writer’ is needed, perhaps being broadened to consider English teachers as creative practitioners.

  • Frawley, E. 2014, ‘No time for the ‘Airy Fairy’: Teacher Perspectives on Creative Writing in High Stakes Environments’ in English in Australia, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 17-26.

This research project considered the context of creative writing in senior years for the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). Frawley reports that some teachers felt pressured to achieve results within a heavily prescribed syllabus, teaching students of C grade ability and often relied on a conservative or formulaic approach in their teaching of writing. Frawley suggests that further research is needed into the impact of teachers who identify as writers, and who write alongside students as a way to assist professional practice.

  • Gannon, S. 2008, ‘Coming to Writing’ in English in Australia, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 33-43.

In this article, Gannon explores the circumstances which led prominent writers, who are also English teachers, to become writers and what conditions they have created in their work with high school students that establish and promote an enabling pedagogy for writing. Specific circumstances explored include engagement with reading, the influence of significant others, and the experience of publication.

  • Locke, T. 2013, ‘The impact of ‘Writing Project’ Professional Development on Teachers’ Self-efficacy as Writers and Teachers of Writing’ in English in Australia, vol. 48, no.2, pp. 55-67.

This is a report finding which discusses a two year project that was aimed at ‘Transforming professional identity and classroom practice’ through interviews with five high school teachers who were also co-researchers. Locke also suggests implications for the design and implementation of professional development.

  • McLean Davies, L. (et al) 2013, ‘Addressing the ‘Essences’: making English Teachers’ in English in Australia, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 72-81.

A teacher educator and pre-service teachers examine the relevance of Boomer’s 1993 article ‘How to Make a Teacher’ in the shaping of contemporary teachers. Rather than being a blueprint, these ‘essences’ encourage reflective discussion on pedagogical practice. Thiel notes that Boomer’s urging to ‘demonstrate’ is often problematic due to the typically low levels of self-efficacy about writing among English teachers.

  • Menmuir, W. 2016,  ‘Space to Write: developing independent writing in schools’ in  Writing in Education, issue 68, pp. 49-52.

Menmuir documents his innovative work with two primaries and a secondary school to trial his idea that writing spaces could affect student motivation to write. Beginning with teacher discussions about writing preferences, design and approaches, each school also had an author visit to validate the need for ‘space and time’ within the writing process. From this small study, teachers reported that students engaged in freely chosen practices outside the monitored and assessed classroom environment, leading Menmuir to advocate for the development of spaces that work for children.

  • Smith, J. & Wrigley, S. 2016, Introducing Teachers’ Writing Groups: exploring the theory and practice, Routledge and NATE, London.

The twenty chapters in this book detail explanations for why teachers write, the benefits of writing and how to approach the creation of a writing group through to exercises, activities and strategies to support writing. The use of notebooks and different writing spaces, as well as reflection on writing and the teaching of writing makes this an accessible manual for all classroom teachers.

  • Teachers as Writers : a two year research project supported by Exeter University, The Open University and the Arvon Foundation
  • Truman, S. 2014, ‘Reading, Writing and Materialisation: an Autobiography of an English Teacher in Vignettes’ in English in Australia, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 88-95.

In idiosyncratic style, Truman explores the effects of social circumstances, life experiences and the material affects of writing which have led to her identity and interests as a teacher. She outlines the benefits of the accepted professional practice of encouraging teachers to narrate and reflect on their written personal stories.

  • Weaven, M. 2015, ‘Creating Knowledge: Reflections on Research Involving Creative Product and Exegesis’ in English in Australia, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 50-55.

Weaven questions the styles of, and purposes for, typical forms of research methodology and proposes a qualitative paradigm or arts based research focus as being particularly applicable in the English classroom. With the introduction of the Australian Professional Standards, Weaven examines the role of teachers as participants in the field of educational research who could be producing a creative product accompanied by an exegesis.

  • Woods, A., Levido, A., Dezuanni, M. & Dooley, K. 2014, ‘Running a MediaClub – What’s involved? And why would you bother?’ in Literacy Learning: the middle years, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 18-23.

Although not directly related to writing, this article offers a framework for establishing and maintaining an after school space for learning that provided different ways to interact beyond traditional teacher and student roles. Importantly, through their participation in this style of learning, students became more engaged in other areas of their schooling, at the same time as strengthening bonds between families and the wider community.

  • Woodward, G. 2015, ‘Peer review in the classroom: is it beneficial?’ in Literacy Learning: the middle years, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 40-46.

Woodward critically evaluates the benefits of peer review for student writers by identifying the most common forms of peer review and discussing the structures and practices. Of particular relevance is the research finding that peer review is most effective with students when teachers model how to interact with writing.

  • Wright, A. J. 2011, Igniting Writing: when a teacher writes, Hawker Brownlow Education, Melbourne.

This text details experiences from a largely primary classroom perspective that support student writing development, including specific teaching strategies such as wide reading, modelling, discussing and sharing writing products.

Creative Writing

Street Scape Odyssey – a zine capturing moments from a British summer

Waves – contemplating an endless energy

This is a Voice – writing in perspective

The Beaney – House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury

Strawberry in schist – haiku

50 Word Story – The Day of My Birth

Timetych – remembering Denis