Three Years and Counting: The Arc of Writing Teachers’ Development

By Cathleen Stutz, Lynn Leschke and Susanne Rubenstein.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

National studies of writing instruction describe a bleak terrain for writing in US public schools. Extensive and extended writing has withered in most classrooms whereas mundane writing tasks, such filling in templates, completing worksheets, and composing formulaic responses have become invasive. Such discrete tasks reflect a part-to-whole perception of writing: that by practicing heavily scripted procedures, students will become competent writers. In large part, schools adopt that kind of writing instruction believing it will help students perform adequately on high-stakes writing exams. Pressure for schools, and individual teachers, to demonstrate increases in student test scores have only exacerbated the condition.

Such conditions describe the environments in which three new teachers continue to teach. The paper discusses research the authors have conducted following a group of English teachers through their first three years of teaching to explore how they would develop as writing teachers. Through the use of qualitative case studies, the paper describes their arc of development as writing teachers and analyzes how they counter the physical and interpersonal challenges of their school environments. To sustain themselves and maintain genuine writing instruction, each has learned to ignore or circumvent the school setting.

Keywords: Teacher Development, Writing Instruction, Writing Process, High-stakes testing

The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.17-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 195.563KB).

Cathleen Stutz

Assistant Professor of Education, Department Chair, Education Department, Assumption College, Worcester, MA, USA

Cathleen Stutz teaches in the Education Department at Assumption College in Worcester, MA, USA. Her interests include English Language Arts curriculum, the teaching of writing, and the development and mentoring of new teachers.

Lynn Leschke

Teacher, English Department, Wachusett Regional High School, Holden, MA, USA

Lynn Leschke teaches English at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA. She has supervised and mentored numerous English student teachers, and with her colleague, Susanne Rubenstein, has presented workshops on process writing throughout New England.

Susanne Rubenstein

Teacher, English Department, Wachusett Regional High School, Holden, MA, USA

Susanne Rubenstein teaches English at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA. She has also supervised and mentored a number of student teachers and new teachers. For the past seven years, she and her colleague, Lynn Leschke, have presented sessions on teaching writing to preservice teachers at Assumption College, and they also regularly present workshops on teaching writing throughout New England.