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Crafting a Guiding Philosophy of Teaching Writing using NCTE Position Statements

This post is written by member Peggy Semingson. 

peggysemingsonNCTE has so many excellent and readily available digitized resources for teachers and teacher educators via the main web page. In this blog post, I describe how teachers and teacher educators can make use of a specific resource: the 2016 NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing for educators to reflect on practice and foster dialogue, for instance within Professional Learning Communities or within literacy-focused teacher-education courses.

As a literacy teacher-educator, one of the graduate classes I teach for P–12 educators in our online master’s program in literacy studies is a class on teaching the writing process. For this course, I draw extensively on the 2016 NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing. This is a prominent and important document. Previously, Lisa Fink posted on this blog about the use of the belief statements and led a blog-based reflection across several posts. A 2015 NCTE Twitter chat focused specifically on the belief statements.

The first ten belief statements were designed by an NCTE subcommittee and updated and reposted most recently in February 2016. I have found the concise belief statements to be extremely beneficial for the practicing teachers in my class to read, reflect on, and use as a tool to craft/write their own guiding philosophy about teaching writing. The statements cover a broad array of topics relating to writing instruction. Each statement provides concrete connections to practice such as “What does this mean for teaching?” as well as related links to other connected NCTE position statements. What is especially useful about this position statement on writing, is it encompasses several areas that have been prone to debate such as automated grading and multimodal writing. Additionally, the statement is a quick read and definitely worth a read for all educators.

How I integrate the reading and evaluation of this specific position statement with educators is described here in a modified version.

Step 1: Read the 2016 NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing. Annotate the position statement with your own thoughts, analytics, critique, applications, connections, etc.

Step 2: Consider the position statement resource, as well as other resources you have come across: teacher blogs, your own experiences, books, conferences, podcasts, authors, and other sources of information and inspiration regarding the topics of writing instruction. Write a reflection on your own beliefs about the teaching of writing, drawing on the ideas from the 2016 NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing. This can be shared in a notebook, on a blog post, on a Google Doc, or in other public or private place to write.

Step 3: In addition to a digital written reflection (long-form blog post or essay), consider creating a short podcast (e.g., using VoiceThread on a mobile device) or video that is one to five minutes  long describing your beliefs about teaching of writing. Extension: Consider sharing a link to your beliefs via social media, a blog post, or other digital medium. If posting your short podcast or video to Twitter, consider using the hashtag #NCTEchat and @ncte to connect to the broader NCTE Twitter community.

It is my hope that educators can consider exploring and using the 2016 NCTE Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing as a tool to reflect, synthesize their thinking about writing, and share that knowledge with others in digital formats.

For more on other NCTE position statements, click here.

Peggy Semingson is an NCTE member and an associate professor of Literacy Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington. She is the Layered Literacies column editor for The ALAN Review for 2016. You can reach her at