Developing Writing Teachers
Who we are
Connecting innovation and excellence through professional learning
The Institute of Professional Learning: Te Whai Toi Tangata is a bilingual, bicultural professional development organisation. We are an integral part of the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato. We work collaboratively to provide quality professional learning opportunities across and beyond the education sector to grow the capacity of educators to develop their practice. We believe professional learning should be research based, culturally responsive and benefit all learners.
- Challenge and support innovation and change
- Offer regionally based resource centres
- Facilitate workshops, seminars, courses of study
- Implement government policy to practice
- Undertake longitudinal development projects
- Support organisational change
- Coach individuals, teams and organisations
- Research professional learning intiatives
- Enable personal, professional and career goals
- Make links to university qualifications
- Encourage community development
- Challenge and support innovation change
We are committed to facilitators working collaboratively with leaders and teachers to co-construct the professional learning and development programmes, based on a comprehensive assessment of their strengths and needs.
The Institute offers a wide range of professional learning opportunities tailored to the specific needs of the educators and learning settings.
Responding to cross-curricular writing challenges
All teachers are called upon to teach writing of one kind or another. Yet there are persistent issues and challenges that confront schools aiming to develop a culture of writing and to ensure that teachers have opportunities to expand their repertoire of practices related to writing pedagogy. These include the following:
- Writing performance continues to lag behind reading performance in New Zealand and other countries
- Research in the teaching of writing is far less substantial than research in the teaching of reading
- Many teachers feel anxious about their own ability to write. (Even English teachers are much more likely to have become teachers because they love reading rather than writing.)
- There is widespread anxiety about the "grammar" question, and what it means to "teach grammar"
- There is growing literature on the importance of disciplinary literacies, that is, an awareness that different areas of learning have their own, particular literacy demands in relation to reading and writing
- The idea of modeling a writing identity never occurs to many teachers
- It is a challenge to design formative assessment processes that relate specifically to the demands of a range of writing tasks
These challenges can be met by professional learning:
- That is site-based, that is, located in or tailored to the needs of a school or cluster of schools
- That draws on the best current research and theorizing about managing the teaching and learning of writing in secondary schools
- That invites "buy in" from teachers, starts from where they area at, and is not imposed on them from above
- That offers teachers opportunities to systematically research their own practice
- That fosters systems for school-wide dialogue that fosters conversations about what constitutes effective practices around the teaching of writing
- That offers teachers further credentialing options at postgraduate level that draw on classroom-based research and critically reflective practice
The Place of Research
This overall professional learning package is based on current international and local research, much of which is discussed in Terry Locke's most recent book published by Routledge (2015), Developing writing teachers: Practical ways for teacher-writers to transform their classroom practice.
Professor Locke coordinates a "Cross-Disciplinary Collective" based at the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, which aims to develop an evidence base for the best of theory and practice related to disciplinary literacy across all learning areas in the New Zealand curriculum.
There will be opportunities for schools to contribute to this research enterprise.
Professional Learning Opportunities
following professional learning opportunities/occasions.
1. Presentations to principals, curriculum heads and literacy leaders: A two hour talk and discussion on the topic of:"Challenges and solutions to developing a cross-curricular culture in the secondary school".
2. Scoping workshops with school staff: The facilitated workshop begins with a presentation on "Challenges and solutions to developing a cross-curricular writing culture in the secondary school". Staff are then guided in a collaborative process of needs analysis related to the teaching and writing in their school, and the development of a related professional learning profile/agenda for the next 12 months.
3. A five-day intensive writing workshop for staff: Modeled on the National Writing Workshop in the US and on workshops trialed with New Zealand teachers over the last four years, these workshops offer a range of hands-on activities including writing itself, responding to writing, assessing writing, peer teaching and engaging in research on many aspects of writing and writing pedagogy.
4. A staged series of mini-writing workshops: These are based on the five-day intensive but are offered over a succession of weeks.
5. A tailored programme of professional learning: Perhaps but not necessarily related to a scoping workshop with school staff, we would tailor a professional learning to a school's perceived professional learning needs in relation to writing across the curriculum. For instance, a science department might want a programme especially tailored to the specific demands of developing students' confidence and competence in science discourse.
Our staff are committed to working collaboratively with leaders and teachers to co-construct the professional learning and development programmes, based on a comprehensive assessment of their strengths and needs. The IPL offers a wide range of professional learning opportunities tailored to the specific needs of educators and individual learning settings.
Terry Locke is a Professor of Arts and Language Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato. His research interests including teaching of writing, the relationship between literacy and technology, disciplinary literacy and teacher professional knowledge. His most recent books, both published by Routledge (New York/London) are: Beyond the grammar wars: A resource for teachers and students on developing language knowledge in the English/literacy classroom (edited book, 2010). Developing writing teachers: Practical ways for teacher-writers to transform their classroom practice (2015). He has led two major projects in recent years: "Teachers as writers: Transforming professional identity and classroom practice" (2010-2011) and "A culture of writing: Impacting on teacher and student performance across the curriculum" (2013-2014).
Sandy Harrop is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Professional Learning: Te Whai Toi Tangata. An experienced Te Toi Tupu Project leader and Literacy facilitator, Sandy supports school leaders and teachers in developing quality teaching and learning programmes in all aspects of literacy. Sandy has previously worked as a Social Studies advisor and a facilitator for Assessment for Better Learning Programme (ABeL) and the Assess to Learn Project (AToL). Sandy has taught at all levels of primary school and has most recently co-published an oral language resource for teachers which is being released nationwide.
Until recently, Helen Kato was Head of the English Faculty at Te Kauwhata College for five years. Previous to that she taught at Morrinsville College and St John's College. She has a Master of Arts (English) and a Diploma of Education (Secondary) from the University of Waikato. She taught overseas
in Japan for 10 years in State and Private Secondary systems and is fluent in Japanese. She was a teacher/researcher in the "Teachers as Writers" project over two years and has published findings related to her work.
Contact Sandy Harrop for more information