The Writing identity of Teachers

Teachers sometimes possess a somewhat limited view of what it is to be a writer. That viewpoint often creates a tension in the classroom. It finds it origins in a lack of self-confidence, limited or negative writing histories, and the challenge inherent in composing for a student audience. These various factors negatively impact and frequently inhibit the incidence of teachers as writers.  

Professional development programs are helping to improve teacher confidence and many teachers are taking a lead from their colleagues and adopting a writing persona. However, it generally remains an issue in our schools, both primary and secondary. 

It remains imperative for teachers to make both their reading and writing lives visible to impressionable learners.

Teachers' identities as writers (or non writers) tend to be highly influential factors in the development of students’ writing identities. The power to influence should never underestimated. Teachers create the climate in the room. It is therefore important for a teacher of writing to be able to draw from an identity perspective to illustrate how people create new activities, new worlds, and new ways of being through writing. It creates a tangible model upon which the less experienced writer may draw confidence, support and inspiration.

Teachers’ writing identities tend to shape the delivery of their writing instruction. This in turn affects attitudes and values, ultimately passed to student writers. 

When teachers write, it demystifies the act of writing for students. Young writers often falsely believe experienced writers find writing easy, or have some magic ability to produce the perfect writing piece, just like that! 

By modelling and demonstration of the process, a teacher is able to show the gradual development of a piece of reader friendly writing through mindful application of rereading, revision, editing and reflection- all important strategies for the young writer to see valued by a more experienced writer.

By sharing their writing process teachers create a more realistic picture of what writing requires. When a teacher chooses to write, they involve themselves as full and active partners in a classroom writing community.

When a teacher chooses to write, they begin to understand writing from the inside out, rather than standing on the outside looking in. 

This simple understanding is an affirmation of the value of teachers writing with students. Writing is the way a teacher is able to establish their own expertise and sense of their potential to positively impact attitudes to writing. 

It enables a teacher to problem solve those thorny issues surrounding the teaching of writing. They are able to say to students, with some authority: ‘Here are some things I know, because like you, I write.’
Grab yourself a writer's notebook and build your own writing identity. Build it, one word at a time...

©Alan j Wright


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