Be a writer-teacher

Teachers who perceived themselves as writers offer richer classroom writing experiences and generate increased enjoyment, motivation and tenacity among their students than non-writers.Teresa Cremin & Sally Baker

Description of the principle

Just as it would be difficult to teach children the tuba if you’ve never played one, so it is difficult to teach children to be writers if you never write. Become a writer-teacher who writes for and with pleasure and use your literate life as a learning tool in the classroom. Children gain from knowing that their teacher faces the same writing challenges that they do. Write and share in class your own pieces in relation to the projects you are asking the children to engage in, but be sure to maintain reciprocal relations when discussing and modelling your own writing processes and the exemplar texts you have written. Sharing the strategies that you really employ in your own writing is highly effective instruction.

What Writing For Pleasure teachers do

  • Teachers write for pleasure in their own lives outside the classroom. They use their literate lives as an education tool in the classroom.
  • Teachers write and share their writing with their class with regularity. They will also share their own finished pieces in relation to the projects they are asking the children to engage in. They will also take advice from the children on compositions they are in the process of developing.
  • Teachers will readily share the ‘tricks, tips and secret’ strategies that they habitually employ in their own writing and will invite children to give them a try too.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • Do you investigate, model, discuss and write alongside their children during writing sessions?
  • Do you write for pleasure in your own life?
  • Do you share your own writing into the class library?
  • Do you produce writing exemplars for your pupils?
  • Do you live a literate life and bring it into the classroom? Do you use your literate life as an educative tool?

Examples from the classroom

Writing Like A Writer In The Classroom

Ten Minutes A Day – A Writer I’ll Stay

Student-Teachers Becoming Writer-Teachers

Alert To Writing: I Could Write About That!

Writing And Using A Mentor Text

Writer-Teacher Groups – The Writing For Pleasure Centre

Writing with some pupils in my Year One class

Supporting documents

Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter begins by considering the role being a writer-teacher plays in employing the most effective writing practices most effectively. The authors proceed by discussing a teacher’s requirement to be a role-model and to demonstrate what writers do and how they undertake their writing pursuits. This includes sharing and discussing their own writing and craft with their community of writers in the classroom. The authors then unpick what is meant by shared writing, demonstration writing, and thinking-aloud. The authors examine writer-teachers as investigators of their own writerly life and writing practices and how Writing For Pleasure teachers will, in all likelihood, live the writer’s life. In the penultimate section, the authors discuss the challenges currently faced in nurturing teachers as writer-teachers. The chapter concludes with examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing Writing For Pleasure teachers.

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How Real-World Writers works

This chapter discusses the pedagogical and personal significance of teachers developing their own literacy. It discusses the ‘teachers as writers’ movement and provides full and rich guidance on how teachers can develop themselves as writer-teachers to the benefit of their classroom practice and themselves. It discusses how teachers’ writing, undertaken outside the classroom, can be used as a powerful and effective educational tool within it. It describes how writer-teachers are better positioned to help their classes develop and progress as writers. It gives guidance on how teachers can share their writing effectively with the classes. Finally, it gives support and further reading on how schools can create their own special interest or writer-teacher groups.

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Supporting resources

  • The UKLA’s Teachers’ Writing Group [LINK]
  • The National Writing Project’s Writing Groups [LINK]
  • The UKLA’s Teachers’ Writing Project Questionnaire [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • Creighton, S., (2021) Our first teachers’ writing group [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) Why effective writing instruction requires a writer-teacher [LINK]
  • Fidler, L., (2019) A writer-teacher’s reflection on her process and writer-identity [LINK]
  • Lane, M., (2019) Teachers developing their writing for pleasure [LINK]
  • Valley, K., (2019) I think…that all teachers should do this so they can learn new stuff like us [LINK]
  • Walker, J., (2019) When teachers are writers [LINK]
  • Phillips, S., (2018) Am I a teacher-writer? [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2018) What exactly is a writer-teacher? Teach Primary article [LINK]

  • Andrews, R. (2008). The case for a National Writing Project for teachers. Reading: CfBT Educational Trust
  • Atwell, N. (2015). In the Middle (3rd Ed) Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Block, C. C., & Israel, S. E. (2004). The ABCs of performing highly effective think-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 58(2), 154–167
  • Bloom, L., (1990) Why don’t we write what we teach? And publish it? Journal of advanced composition Vol 10(1) pp.87-100
  • Brooks, G. W. (2007) Teachers as Readers and Writers and as Teachers of Reading and Writing. The Journal of Educational Research 100 (3): 177–191.
  • Carruthers, A. & Scanlan, P. (1990). Report on the New Zealand Writing Project: An informal evaluation. English in Aotearoa, 11, 14-18
  • Cremin, T. 2006. Creativity, Uncertainty and Discomfort: Teachers as Writers In Cambridge Journal of Education 36 (3): 415–433.
  • Cremin, T., S, Baker., (2010). Exploring teacher-writer identities in the classroom: Conceptualising the struggle. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 9 (3) pp. 8–25.).
  • Cremin, T., & Oliver, L., (2017) Teachers as writers: a systematic review In Research Papers in Education, 32:3, 269-295
  • Dix, S., and G. Cawkwell., (2011) The Influence of Peer Group Response: Building a Teacher and Student Expertise in the Writing Classroom In English Teaching: Practice and Critique 10 (4): 41–57.
  • Elbow, P., (1998) Writing Without Teachers Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Everson, B., (1991) Vygotsky and the teaching of writing Quarterly of the National Writing Project and the Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Vol. 13 (3) p8-11
  • Fletcher, R., (1996) A writer’s notebook: unlocking the writer within you USA: HarperCollins
  • Fletcher, R., (2007) How to write your life story, USA: Collins
  • Gardner, P,. (2014) Becoming a Teacher of Writing: Primary Student Teachers Reviewing their Relationship with Writing In English in Education 48 (2): 128–148
  • Gennrich, T., Janks, H.,  (2013) Teachers’ Literate Identities In International Handbook of Research on Children’s Literacy, Learning and Culture, edited by K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber, and L. Moll, 456–468. Oxford: Wiley.
  • Graves, D., (1990) Discover your own literacy USA: Heinemann
  • Kaufman, D., (2002) Living a literate life: revisited In English Journal 91, 6 pp. 51-57
  • Kaufman, D., (2009) A Teacher Educator Writes and Shares : Student Perceptions of a Publicly Literate Life In Journal Of Teacher Education 60: 338
  • Locke, T., (2015) Developing Writing Teachers London: Routledge
  • Morgan, D. N., (2010) “Preservice Teachers as Writers In Literacy Research and Instruction 49: 352–365.
  • Murray, D., (2004) (2nd Ed) A writer teaches writing Heinle: USA  
  • Regan, K., & Berkeley, S. (2012). Effective reading and writing instruction: A focus on modelling. Intervention in School and Clinic, 47(5), 276–282.
  • Smith, J., Wrigley, S., (2015) Introducing Teachers’ Writing Groups London: Routledge
  • Street, C., 2003). Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes about Writing and Learning to Teach Writing: Implications for Teacher Educators In Teacher Education Quarterly Summer 33–50.
  • Whitney, A., (2008) Teacher Transformation in the National Writing Project In Research in the Teaching of English 43 (2): 144–187.
  • Whitney, A., (2009) Writer, Teacher, Person: Tensions between Personal and Professional Writing in a National Writing Project Summer Institute In English Education 41 (3): 236–259.
  • Woodard, R. L., (2015) The Dialogic Interplay of Writing and Teaching Writing: Teacher Writers’ Talk and Textual Practices Across Contexts In Research in the Teaching of English 50 (1): 35–59.
  • Andrews, R. (2008). The case for a National Writing Project for teachers. Reading: CfBT Educational Trust
  • Atwell, N. (2015). In the Middle (3rd Ed) Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Block, C. C., & Israel, S. E. (2004). The ABCs of performing highly effective think-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 58(2), 154–167
  • Bloom, L., (1990) Why don’t we write what we teach? And publish it? Journal of advanced composition Vol 10(1) pp.87-100
  • Brooks, G. W. (2007) Teachers as Readers and Writers and as Teachers of Reading and Writing. The Journal of Educational Research 100 (3): 177–191.
  • Carruthers, A. & Scanlan, P. (1990). Report on the New Zealand Writing Project: An informal evaluation. English in Aotearoa, 11, 14-18
  • Cremin, T. 2006. Creativity, Uncertainty and Discomfort: Teachers as Writers In Cambridge Journal of Education 36 (3): 415–433.
  • Cremin, T., S, Baker., (2010). Exploring teacher-writer identities in the classroom: Conceptualising the struggle. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 9 (3) pp. 8–25.).
  • Cremin, T., & Oliver, L., (2017) Teachers as writers: a systematic review In Research Papers in Education, 32:3, 269-295
  • Dix, S., and G. Cawkwell., (2011) The Influence of Peer Group Response: Building a Teacher and Student Expertise in the Writing Classroom In English Teaching: Practice and Critique 10 (4): 41–57.
  • Elbow, P., (1998) Writing Without Teachers Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Everson, B., (1991) Vygotsky and the teaching of writing Quarterly of the National Writing Project and the Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Vol. 13 (3) p8-11
  • Fletcher, R., (1996) A writer’s notebook: unlocking the writer within you USA: HarperCollins
  • Fletcher, R., (2007) How to write your life story, USA: Collins
  • Gardner, P,. (2014) Becoming a Teacher of Writing: Primary Student Teachers Reviewing their Relationship with Writing In English in Education 48 (2): 128–148
  • Gennrich, T., Janks, H.,  (2013) Teachers’ Literate Identities In International Handbook of Research on Children’s Literacy, Learning and Culture, edited by K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber, and L. Moll, 456–468. Oxford: Wiley.
  • Graves, D., (1990) Discover your own literacy USA: Heinemann
  • Kaufman, D., (2002) Living a literate life: revisited In English Journal 91, 6 pp. 51-57
  • Kaufman, D., (2009) A Teacher Educator Writes and Shares : Student Perceptions of a Publicly Literate Life In Journal Of Teacher Education 60: 338
  • Locke, T., (2015) Developing Writing Teachers London: Routledge
  • Morgan, D. N., (2010) “Preservice Teachers as Writers In Literacy Research and Instruction 49: 352–365.
  • Murray, D., (2004) (2nd Ed) A writer teaches writing Heinle: USA  
  • Regan, K., & Berkeley, S. (2012). Effective reading and writing instruction: A focus on modelling. Intervention in School and Clinic, 47(5), 276–282.
  • Smith, J., Wrigley, S., (2015) Introducing Teachers’ Writing Groups London: Routledge
  • Street, C., 2003). Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes about Writing and Learning to Teach Writing: Implications for Teacher Educators In Teacher Education Quarterly Summer 33–50.
  • Whitney, A., (2008) Teacher Transformation in the National Writing Project In Research in the Teaching of English 43 (2): 144–187.
  • Whitney, A., (2009) Writer, Teacher, Person: Tensions between Personal and Professional Writing in a National Writing Project Summer Institute In English Education 41 (3): 236–259.
  • Woodard, R. L., (2015) The Dialogic Interplay of Writing and Teaching Writing: Teacher Writers’ Talk and Textual Practices Across Contexts In Research in the Teaching of English 50 (1): 35–59.

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