Symposium on Writing Instruction: Issues of Preparing Teachers of Writing
Issues of Preparing Teachers of Writing:
A Conversation in Kentucky
Much like the process of learning to write, the process of learning how to teach writing is developmental. Teaching writing well requires certain knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and yet this is one area of teacher preparation long neglected in the literature. Historically, standards about writing and effective writing instruction have been the domain of the English language arts or a few token lines related to content literacies. Consequently, effective teacher preparation, as well as continued professional development in the area of teaching writing, has often been uneven if not invisible.
Increasingly, in Kentucky as in other places, a consensus is emerging about the need to focus on improving the quality of writing instruction at all grades and in all subjects. Certainly, effective teachers of writing are more likely to have participated in a program sponsored by the National Writing Project, and NWP has long been recognized as the best model for teacher preparation in writing instruction, especially for continued professional development.
Recent cuts to federal funding, the adoption of new Common Core standards, and increased accountability, as well as many other forces, suggest that the ground is fertile for expanding the conversation about the professional development of teachers at all levels. To that end, the Kentucky Writing Projects Network has initiated the first of what we hope will be on-going opportunities to consider issues related to the preparation of effective writing instruction.
Today will we discuss a preliminary report of a statewide survey conducted to determine how writing is currently taught in Kentucky and identify ways we may want to respond individually, as a writing project network, and as institutions to this report. Future conversations could focus on findings about teacher attitudes in Kentucky about writing instruction and data from institutional reports about the status of training in the teaching of writing among the 25 institutions in the state.
Participants will represent a cross-section of constituent partners, such as individuals from KDE, KPSB, and NWP, as well as teacher consultants, district and school administrators, and the directors from the eight sites of the Kentucky Writing Projects network. This is an inclusive group; new stakeholders are welcome.
Ultimately, we hope that this preliminary “think tank” may lay the groundwork for more long-term planning to improve the professional development of teachers from initial certification and beyond, a coherent and comprehensive plan to create a developmental model to better serve teacher education in Kentucky.