Professional writing leaves educators more empowered, study finds
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Engaging in professional writing can help ECEC educators to feel empowered – study

Engaging in professional writing can help ECEC educators to feel empowered – study

by Freya Lucas

May 15, 2023

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals who engage in creative and professional writing, particularly in a small group, benefit both personally and professionally, new research from The University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown. 


The study, published in the March issue of the American Educational Research Journal, focused specifically on how writing might support educators of children in preschool through to the third grade as they sought to process and centre themes of social justice and progress in their teaching. 


The teachers who participated in writing, particularly as part of a sustained, small group had fresh and invigorated approaches to their teaching, were more effective at managing their classrooms and had improved parent outreach. 


When the educators wrote, researchers found, it led to a shift in pedagogy, and those involved in the writers group were more ready to challenge the status quo, think about how power was presenting in their environments, and prioritised finding joy and working on repair. 


The researchers said they wanted to focus on a possible method for supporting and encouraging the growth of early childhood educators because of the particular weight those educators bore during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and during the social and political unrest of recent years. 


“Early childhood teachers and caregivers have been particularly affected by these crises as they have navigated program closures, abrupt changes in their working conditions, and increased demands for their labor during a global pandemic, uprisings for racial justice, political turmoil, and other intersecting events,” they wrote. 


Throughout the study, the educators worked individually and collaboratively to write creative essays, poems, lesson plans, and letters to students’ families. 


“As they composed in community, the teachers found ways to center their values in their teaching and leadership and begin to bring their liberatory pedagogical visions into the present,” the researchers added. 


The study suggests similar methods could be used effectively in teacher education programs. It also contends additional research into educators’ writing processes and an observational study of how these methods affect and inform work in classroom settings could be widely beneficial. 


Assistant Professor Emily Machado from the University of Wisconsin-Madison co-authored the study with Maggie Beneke, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, and Jordan Taitingfong, a doctoral student and continuing education specialist at the University of Washington


The full study is available here.

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