Writing Realities is a framework which we hope teachers and schools will use to help their pupils feel they can present themselves and others in the writing classroom successfully and meaningfully. After a brief explanation as to why we believe a Writing Realities framework is necessary, we explain how it is currently split into six key principles. These principles include: writer-identity, critical literacies, culturally sustaining pedagogy, multiliteracies, translanguaging and intertextuality. We then provide a whole variety of examples of how principles of Writing Realities have been used and applied in classrooms around the world. Finally, we share the framework in the hope that it will help you or your school develop your own ways of Writing Realities.
Why Writing Realities?
All young people deserve an opportunity to share what they know, think, and care about, demonstrating who they are through their writing. We must see them not only as readers but also as writers who wish to share their meaning with others. With the renewed interest in ensuring that classroom libraries reflect the realities of school children’s lives (Huyck et al. 2019; Ramdarshan Bold 2019; Best et al. 2020), it’s also time to examine the role that we as teachers play in honouring, valuing, and sustaining the realities of children’s lives through writing. It could be said that the objectives of Reflecting Realities (CLPE 2021) cannot and will not be truly realised until we simultaneously attend to the objectives of Writing Realities set forth in this document.
One reason we still do not see many authors from a variety of social positions, including those from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, entering classroom libraries is because young people do not typically receive an apprenticeship in how to be autonomous and confident writers who carry with them a strong personal and collective writer-identity once they leave school. However, if schools can instil the principles laid out in this Writing Realities framework into their writing curriculum, young people will have a chance to take on personal responsibility for their writing and be taught how to harness their own authorial agency. They will also learn how to live, work and represent others within an inclusive, outwardly loving community of writers. At present, we often ask our pupils to leave their own identities, cultural capital, thoughts, opinions and knowledge outside the writing classroom door. Through rigid interpretation of curriculums and published schemes, they are required to take on a monocultural identity that doesn’t honour or take advantage of the richness of their minds or lives.
However, we also see many teachers who are applying innovative practices to support their pupils as they write their realities. In their classrooms, not only does the writing matter, the writers matter, too. This framework will share examples of such exciting practices later in the document and we thank these teachers for the important work they carry out in their classrooms every day.