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Teaching Writing: Exemplary Teachers Describe their Instruction
AuthorCuevas, Kimberly Sarah
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This qualitative research study examined how exemplary 11th grade English teachers described their writing instruction. The seven teacher participants were selected for the study after receiving a “highly effective” evaluation and being identified by their principal, an assistant principal, and a department leader as being exemplary teachers of writing. Each participant was interviewed twice and asked to describe their writing instruction, writing curriculum, how they plan for writing, and how Common Core State Standards and high stakes assessments have affected their planning and instruction. During the second interview, participants read and reflected on the transcripts from their first interview. The transcripts were analyzed for themes. Eight themes were strongly supported with multiple participant voices. The following themes were supported in the analysis: (1) exemplary writing teachers are readers and writers; (2) exemplary writing teachers are passionate and personal about their work; (3) writing is at the center of curricula; (4) exemplary writing teachers connect reading and writing; (5) exemplary writing teachers use models and modeling; (6) exemplary writing teachers are process oriented and communication oriented; (7) writing-driven, high-stakes assessments can facilitate curriculum planning; and (8) exemplary writing teachers are reflective practitioners. The first seven themes are supported by the research of Graham and Perin (2007), Murphy and Smith (2015), and Smith et al. (2013). The teachers in the study all employ research-supported writing strategies and techniques in their classrooms that have been shown to improve adolescent writers. The final theme demonstrated the type of mastery learning experience that Bandura (1977; 1993) suggested was important to increase self-efficacy and, therefore, showed that teachers who are confident in their own abilities as readers and writers have self-efficacy, which also helps improve student self-efficacy. The study has multiple implications for consideration in the development of future teachers of writing, including how new and struggling teachers may be paired with mentor and model teachers and how learning to be a teacher of writing mirrors the process of learning to be writer. Additionally, the study revealed how strong curriculum frameworks such as Advanced Placement can be used to guide instruction in positive ways.
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