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Writing Research Across Borders II

George Mason University
February 17 - 20, 2011
Fairfax, VA

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing Reflectively About Teaching in an International Learning Community
Reflecting on instructional practice has long been accepted as an effective way for teachers to examine and seek to improve their own and othersí practice and to continue to learn throughout their professional lives. Less known is the importance of writing to support such reflection and learning. Reflective writing is a sustainable, flexible means of professional learning, because it allows individuals to record and re-imagine their teaching, alone and in interaction with others, and it provides lasting texts for ongoing analysis, conversation, and further learning. Reflective writing allows teachers to process current and newly learned practices in a deliberate and focused fashion and to examine, in a safe and supportive setting, instructional practices they might otherwise have ignored and upsetting incidents they might not know how to handle. Finally, it can help to reduce the isolation that often accompanies instruction in instructional programs, large and small. For example, Farrell (2007) describes an ESL teacher who reported receiving unsolicited negative comments from a student after class. As a result of reflecting on this incident in writing with a group of peers, the teacher was able to view the comments in the larger context of her teaching practice and to understand the comments as coming from the studentís desire to learn rather than a desire to critique.

Since 1999 an international community of teachers and researchers has been implementing reflective writing in their own instruction and writing together about their theoretical understandings, research, and instructional practice (described in Burton, Quirke, Reichmann, & Peyton, 2009). This presentation describes the different forms of reflective writing used by members of this community (personal memoirs and journals, interactive journals between two people, small-group journals, online discussion boards, free writing, and local writing communities) and the development of community over time among this international group of teachers and researchers. The following research methodologies used by the different members of the group to examine growth in reflection, learning, and sense of community will be described: discourse analysis, analysis of patterns of interaction over time, and text analysis. The presentation concludes by arguing that reflective writing communities have strong potential for promoting professional learning as well as for informing society at large about how teachers understand their work.

Presenters include Joy Peyton
2:45 - 4:15pm
Robinson B104

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