Teacher as Writer

Teacher as Writer is a strategy that is part of the writing process in which the teacher models developing an identity as a writer and thinks aloud about writing strategies in order to relate to students, create a sense of writing community, and solve writing problems by modeling strategies. Students realize that all writers, even experienced writers, struggle with the writing and revision process, but there are ways to overcome the barriers that make writing feel difficult and experience success and satisfaction after persevering. The strategy can be used while writing an exemplar in front of the class, modeling the application of writing strategies to overcome barriers (e.g. procrastination, writer’s block, etc.), leading a writing workshop peer review, in small group mini-lessons, or individual writing conferences.

Implementation Tips

Reflect on Yourself as a Writer
Reflect on yourself as a writer to relate to students and lead to sharing your insights. Identify barriers you’ve faced and strategies you’ve used to solve problems. What should you do when you feel “stuck” in the middle of a rough draft? Where do you start with a tricky revision?
Put Yourself in Students' Shoes
Put yourself in a student’s shoes by facing the blank page and completing a required assignment. You might identify the hardest parts of the assignment or realize your directions are unclear. You will be better able to develop supports for students (e.g., graphic organizers, paragraph template, sentence starters, etc.).
Relate Your Experience When Introducing Strategies
When introducing a new writing strategy to students, relate your experiences using that strategy, including why it works and how it helped you. When a student faces a problem, address it by sharing your experience as a writer and a relevant strategy to apply.
Develop Your Own Writing Practice
Set aside time to write daily or weekly; try journaling or writing an article, memoir, or fiction. Write along with students. Play an instrumental song for the class, ask everyone to freewrite, write with students, then share. Ignore grading, emails, and social media for 5 or 15 minutes; write instead.
Conduct a Sample Writing Workshop
Share a piece of your writing (e.g. short story, essay, students’ current assignment) with students. Conduct a sample writing workshop and develop a community of mutual respect as students critique your work. You’ll reveal that you are a writer, too, who is constantly improving and accepting of constructive criticism.
Share Your Writing, Welcome Critique
Share your writing often, lncluding freewrites and drafts, not just final form. Think aloud about how your writing could be improved. When you ask students to critique your writing, reassure that constructive criticism will be rewarded with a participation grade, but the content of their critique of your work won't affect grades.
Advise about Revision Strategies
Talk about the strategies that work for you when you revise and why, such as reading aloud to revise for clarity, fluency, and punctuation. Discuss situations when it was helpful to focus on one paragraph or even one sentence at a time or to revise your draft out of order.


Teacher Thinking Aloud as a Writer
A teacher is writing an exemplar introductory paragraph with the class. She describes aloud overcoming common problems: *“When getting started, I feel anxious looking at a blank page so I find my notes where I’ve summarized both sides of the argument. I can turn the bullet points into sentences. I decide to handwrite my first draft because ideas weren’t flowing in front of the computer. Now I feel free to write out of order and rearrange order later. I find my research question in my notes and use it to formulate a clear thesis statement.”*
Constructive Critique of Teacher’s Draft
A teacher models a writing workshop peer review session and shares a draft of her work (which might have deliberate instructive errors). She says, *“All constructive comments are welcome. Anything you say will not affect your grade. Keep in mind this is a work in progress; I value your comments about what I did well and what I could improve upon. Please refer to specific quotes from the text with your comments.”* The teacher reads an excerpt aloud and students annotate a copy of the draft with comments. The teacher listens and takes notes as students discuss the draft.

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