Theses Doctoral

Teachers as Writers: A Case Study of a Teacher Writing Group

Tondreau, Amy Leigh

Writing instruction has been neglected, both in teacher preparation courses and in professional development in literacy. Yet, the adoption of new standards and teacher evaluation systems by many states demands increased writing instruction and teacher “effectiveness” in providing it. Teachers, then, have faced higher expectations for writing instruction with little support for what those expectations mean or how to enact them in their own contexts. To meet these demands, it has been suggested that teachers must see themselves as writers in order to work most productively with children as writers. Therefore, if teachers must identify as writers to be “effective,” then teachers who do not identify as writers are also denied an identity as “good teachers.” These static, binary identity categories serve as “cover stories” to obscure a much more complicated reality.
Informed by critical writing pedagogy and a literacy-and-identity studies framework, this study explored how teacher-writers in one school-based writing group perform, understand, and narrate their identities as writers and teachers of writing. Utilizing a narrative inquiry methodology for group meetings and interviews, I analyzed the complex, fluid, and sometimes contradictory identities of teacher-writers, and the construction, reconstruction, and mobilization of stories within and about the group. The static, binary identities group members claimed served as cover stories, the static categorical writer-selves that we construct in relation to our conceptions of an idealized writer. My study concluded that the relative autonomy of the writing group provided a shelter from the school culture of accountability where emotion and profanation were possible.
This work proposed that, in acknowledging the complex nature of writing identities and the “unofficial” emotional lives of teachers, we can push beyond a static writer/non-writer binary and disrupt a hierarchical, outcome-based notion of staff development. As a result, space for staff development, in which a diverse school community joins together to engage in experiences, learning, and identity work that make space for emotion, may be created.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 10, 2018