Creative writing in the classroom: The centrality of teachers in the research process.

Year: 2019

Author: Stinson, Madonna, Kitson, Lisbeth, Stinson, Madonna, Exley, Beryl, Oats, Megan, Lennon, Sherilyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The “Makerspaces for Teacher Writers” research project involved volunteer teachers from six Queensland schools (primary and secondary) in professional learning designed to develop their own creative writing. Some participants participated in face-to-face professional learning, and other participants participated in online professional learning. Follow up teacher interviews were undertaken to focus on the teachers’ accounts of shifts in their disciplinary content knowledge for teaching creative writing, and their pedagogical orientations when teaching creative writing. Samples of student writing were collected which provided the stimulus for the interviews with the teachers. This paper critically analyses the research journey across these multiple modes of professional learning and the teachers’ multiple sites of practice, and considers the challenges and affordances of developing and managing collaborative relationships in the research process. An important aim of this research was to influence educational policy at a systemic level and contribute to the discussion when professional learning models of practice were under consideration.

The research focus underpinning the “Makerspaces for Teacher Writers” project had four aspects.

First was the development of writer-teachers through shared creative workshops with the members of the research team. Participating teachers engaged with six writing workshops led by the research team. These workshops were undertaken either face-to-face or in synchronous virtual on-line makerspaces. The research paradigm was one of “engagement, reciprocity and doing” (Brereton, Roe, Schroeter & Hong, 2014) and the process culminated in a shared public performance of self-selected writing refined during the six-month professional learning program. Impacts on teachers were ascertained through an ethnographic reciprocity lens of effects upon teacher practice in their own writing and in the English classroom. Second, the pool of teacher interview data and student examples of writing collected over six months was analysed through multi-methodologies as the project team of five experienced researchers individually brought to the process a different qualitative lens. This process strengthened claims about the findings of this complex phenomena and offered a holistic approach to the study. Third, the Teacher as Writer process was explored by the autoethnographic reflective-reflexive practices of the team. Reflexive researcher journals allowed consideration of assumptions, prejudices, subjectivities and beliefs and provided opportunity to acknowledge the intricacies of the range of classrooms associated with the project. Finally, the collaborations within and across the research team and the collaborating teachers are interrogated as the researchers and the teachers journey through the dis/comforting processes of creating writing together.