Teachers as literary writers in English: from formulas to freed expression.

Year: 2019

Author: Kitt, Bree

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers’ writerly identities are influential in shaping writing practice in the classroom. Specifically, their own confidence and perceptions of capability, derived from their prior learning and leisurely pursuits, creates a disparity in how writing is enacted in English. Understanding this relationship is vital given how dynamically the 21st century has repositioned secondary English subjects, emboldening acts of writing and rewriting, which encourage students to be creative and critical learners. Whilst traditionally the role of a secondary English teacher has been a critical one more akin to editorial work, there is increasing recognition of their valuable role as writer or co-writers in the classroom The analytical and creative processes of composition require students to think about and experiment with diverse forms of writing; an enterprise that is inherently more achievable when modelled by a teacher writer.

This paper, drawing upon teachers’ perceptions of literary writing in the senior years of English, explores the nuanced ways in which teachers’ writerly identities influence writing practice. Whilst the research focused on the senior years of English, teachers’ reflections encompassed a broader view of writing across the secondary years. Four themes emerge across their narratives. The first of these themes articulates how teachers’ self-perception as writers impacts how they structure and participate in writing discussions; the role of the distant critic is contrasted to that of collaborating authors. The second theme focuses on teachers’ perceptions of themselves as critical writers or essayists, elucidating a discourse around formulaic approaches to writing and the implications of these on critical responses to literature. Thirdly, the narratives describe how teachers’ own writing histories impact on share aloud and modelled writing. The final theme explores how teacher writers can develop a culture of critical and creative authorship in English. Collectively these perspectives elucidate the influential and valuable role of the teacher as writer in secondary English.