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Teachers as Writers

16 November, 2021
Teacher Mikaela Jones from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Barcaldine, attempts ‘speed writing’ as she participates in the Teachers as Writers Zoom workshop with Professor Beryl Exley and team from Griffith University recently.

Teaching staff at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Barcaldine have been involved in a professional development project, Teachers as Writers, with researchers from Queensland’s Griffith University and Curriculum Consultants from Catholic Education – Diocese of Rockhampton (CEDR).

The project, funded by the Australian Research Council, is investigating teacher professionalism and knowledge collaborations with a particular focus on the teaching of writing in the primary school years.

Griffith University Professor Beryl Exley said the project aims to unleash teachers’ creativity by facilitating a writing collaboration, where teachers undertake writing projects that mean something to them on a personal level and enable them to connect with others.   “Our proposition is that teachers of writing need to identify, or at least be comfortable with, writing itself, and from there, they can think about what they know about the children, and how else they can facilitate creative writing in the classroom,” she explained.  “Another aim of the project is to track what teachers do in the classroom now that they have been part of the Teachers as Writers sessions.” Professor Exley said the overarching goal was for the teacher participants to know more about the creative writing process and then use that knowledge, and the knowledge of their students, to think about how they teach writing in the classroom.

The workshop participants will present their favourite pieces of writing this week to a public audience in Barcaldine made up of family, friends and the wider school community.

“We want teachers to recognise themselves as teacher writers, and for more people in the community to talk about writing as a creative and transformative process,” Professor Exley said.

CEDR Teaching and Learning Consultant Deb Foster said Catholic Education has had an ongoing professional relationship with Professor Exley in her capacity as a teacher educator and expert in the area of the Australian Curriculum English. “That relationship now extends to researching with the teachers and principal at St Joseph’s Barcaldine on this latest project which will continue into 2022 with a more intensive focus on teaching of writing in the classroom with children,” Mrs Foster said.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Blackall is participating in a separate project on phonics and spelling which will also continue into 2022.

“Catholic Education is pleased and excited to be able to provide these professional development projects enabling our teachers the opportunity to access such high calibre and innovative training from expert presenters through our collaboration with Griffith University,” Mrs Foster said.

“I have been so impressed by the quality of our teachers’ writing through this project and can confidently say the emerging talent that has been brought to light is quite amazing,” Mrs Foster said.