A writing collaborative: shaping secondary English teachers’ identities as writers within a community of practice

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Allison Huffman Ormond (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Colleen Fairbanks

Abstract: Important to issues of writing instruction are the ways in which teachers, specifically those who teach in the discipline of language arts and English, understand and see themselves as writers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how secondary English teachers positioned themselves and were positioned by others as writers through participation in a Writing Collaborative designed to provide authentic opportunities for engaging and examining themselves as writers. This study included seven secondary English teachers, three middle school and four high school, who all taught writing as required by their respective course curriculums. This semester-long research applied case study methods and utilized multiple data sources, including teacher interviews, video recordings of Writing Collaborative sessions, and teachers' written artifacts to inform the analysis. Data was analyzed using the constant-comparative method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) and drawing from discourse analysis (Gee, 2011, Mercer, 2000), focused closely on "episodes of talk" (Mercer, 2004, p.142). A social theory of learning, specifically Wenger's (1998) Communities of Practice framework, sociocultural theories and concepts of language and learning (Bakhtin, 1981, 1986; Mercer, 2000) and theories of identity (Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte, and Cain, 1998; Wenger, 1998) were used to analyze the ways in which teachers' identities as writers shaped and were shaped by the Writing Collaborative. Findings included the ways in which the practices of the community, particularly the practice of sharing and teachers' responses to sharing, contributed to the shaping of teachers' identities as writers and the shaping of the Writing Collaborative as a community of practice. These share practices included: (a) interject humor, (b) praise and encourage, (c) support and affirm, (d) ask questions, (e) explore ideas, (e) share knowledge and beliefs, and (f) narrate personal stories. Consequently, these share practices were foundational to the formation of the Writing Collaborative; more importantly, the practices facilitated the meanings teachers negotiated about writers and writing and the ways in which their identities as writers were shaped. The categories of meanings the teachers made encompassed: (a) definitions of writers (b) purposes of writing (c) writing ideas (d) writing as a process, and (e) personal aspects of writing. The case study of the Writing Collaborative provided insights into the ways in which teachers' writer identities were shaped and reshaped through participation in the community's practices and meaning-making about writers and writing. This was particularly true for teachers who did not self-identify as writers or who were skeptical to claim writer identities. This study revealed that regardless of how the teachers saw themselves as writers, all of them enacted multiple writer identities. Thus, the Writing Collaborative served as a space for teachers to reshape existing writer identities and explore possible writer identities for themselves. Implications of the study include ways to assist teachers in understanding the complexities of teaching writing by helping them understand themselves as writers.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Community, Discourse, English, Identities, Talk, Writing
Teachers as authors
Identity (Psychology)
English language $x Study and teaching (Secondary) $z United States
English teachers $z United States

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