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Teacher Professional Development

At The Writing Workshop, we believe that the best way to encourage learning creative writing - and the creative risk it requires - is to help teachers use and develop their own creativity. The Writing Workshop's PD courses aim to put teachers in touch with their imaginative selves, to stimulate creativity and creative risk, and to provide concrete strategies for bringing a creative model into the writing classroom.

Presented by award-winning novelist Bernard Cohen, the QTC-registered course “Teaching creative writing effectively” is hands-on and immersive (no Powerpoint). Participants undertake a range of creative writing tasks which offer new and inventive ways to see the creative writing process and to engage young writers: teachers will undertake up to six creative writing exercises within the day. This course helps teachers to recognise and activate their own creativity and to bring creativity and the modelling of creative practices to teaching writing.

Professional learning outcomes include new strategies for inspiring and engaging students, firing up your own creativity, and the development of a ready-to-use term-length creative writing program for students.

As one participant wrote, "You gave me another approach on how to teach creative writing. I can’t wait to try it out with my class this year. I’m always looking for a fresh approach and to try new things – and you have given me that today."

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The Writing Workshop is endorsed to provide NESA Registered Professional Development for teachers accredited at Proficient Teacher level. We are endorsed for the course "Teaching Creative Writing Effectively".

Completing "Teaching Creative Writing Effectively" will contribute 5 hours of QTC Registered PD addressing Standard Descriptors 3.1.2, 3.2.2, 3.3.2 and 3.7.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

The Writing Workshop also provides a range of tailored courses, modelled lessons and consultancies to meet the needs of schools and teachers. These include courses specifically addressing new curriculum approaches, The Craft of Writing and Reading for Writing.



"Teaching Creative Writing Effectively" addresses the challenges of teaching creative risk-taking, setting goals for creative, ideative aspects of writing, and valuing those aspects for feedback and assessment. It shows how to apply an immersive quality teaching framework to the challenging and seemingly abstract pedagogy of imaginative work.

Although teachers frequently report wanting to encourage creativity, in classroom practice it can be a challenge to encourage (and value) creative learning. Additionally, students will often add their own hurdles to creativity (preparing the page, frequent questions about spelling and so forth) – in practice, these function as blocks.

Encouraging risk-taking across all subject areas leads to more effective and faster learning, provides opportunities for gifted and talented students and offers new ways into learning for struggling students.

Creative writing can be used as a robust source of knowledge and enquiry in the classroom. Recognising writing as a creative practice allows its use across the syllabus and not simply as a corner of the English curriculum. Creative writing can be an effective way of boosting creative thinking across multiple subject areas, including empathetic thinking in the social sciences and thought experiments in the sciences.

The course offers a critique of the “Orientation, Complication, Resolution, Coda” narrative model and instead suggests concrete strategies for teaching children to establish settings, events, characters (as points-of-view) and structures; for understanding the interrelationships among these elements; and for rethinking of the relationship between text and audience/reader.

About the presenter

Dr Bernard Cohen is the author of five novels and a picture book. His awards include the Australian/Vogel Literary Award, Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist (three times) and UTS Alumnus of Distinction award.

Since founding The Writing Workshop in 2006, Bernard has worked with over 45,000 children across all NSW school sectors, and many dozens of teachers. As well as from his extensive experience, Bernard's practice as a “teaching artist” is informed by Eric Booth’s The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible: Becoming a Virtuoso Educator, Oxford UP, New York 2009 and “Teachers and Writers Collaborative”, a New York organisation placing authors in schools (

Here is a recent Sydney Morning Herald article about Bernard's teaching.
A sample masterclass is available at DET’s Centre for Learning Innovation’s Writers Talks series here.

How the course addresses the endorsed standard descriptors

3.1.2 Set explicit, challenging and achievable learning goals for all students.
The course addresses creativity within a quality teaching framework: how creativity should be valued and modelled, how to provide feedback for creative tasks.

3.2.2 Plan and Implement well–structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
Teachers will complete the course with a template for a sequence of 8-10 creative writing sessions. The sessions offer a novel approach to understanding the make-up of creative work, with inter-dependent elements of setting, event, character (point-of-view) and structure. As importantly, we address how to create more creative classrooms and learning environments.

3.3.2 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
Teaching creative writing successfully means not only modelling the basics of writing and literacy, but modelling creativity and bringing in knowledges from across many subject areas – research can become open-ended and research-based learning can follow paths based on curiosity and branching rather than on focussing on a single sought-after answer.

3.7.2 Plan for appropriate and contextually relevant opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in their children’s learning.
The course will suggest substantive and meaningful ways to involve parents and carers.


Feedback from previous professional learning courses for teachers

  • A fantastic approach to teaching something quite difficult – narrative. Thank you for your enthusiasm – very refreshing. I really enjoyed the writing tasks myself.
  • I liked the workshop because of the concepts behind it: encouraging children to develop solid ideas before attempting writing. The examples and exercises were good and are easily transferred to the classroom.
  • Good to put ourselves “in the children’s shoes”
  • You gave me another approach on how to teach creative writing. I can’t wait to try it out with my class this year. I’m always looking for a fresh approach and to try new things – and you have given me that today.
  • I liked the detailed breakdown of narrative elements as a way of developing writing.
  • Liked the emphasis on creativity without bogging students down with difficulties.
    I found the practical ideas for activities really interesting and useful. It was good to be put on the spot to remember what it is we ask kids to do all the time. I like the idea of making writing a long-term project, broken up by a variety of different interesting tasks. Thank you!
  • Writing guide (for school term) very useful. Writing tasks were valuable – I was nervous at first.
  • Great ideas to take back to school.
  • Thank you for a great workshop. Loved working on developing characters and will take with me some new and excellent ideas for creative writing.


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This page last updated 12/9/2017.

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