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Brian Kissel, an educator for over twenty years, is a professor of Literacy and Elementary Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A former elementary school teacher and literacy coach, Brian teaches courses in writing instruction, digital literacy, and literacy development and instruction. He also conducts research in the areas of writing development and instruction.
Brian began his career as a second-grade teacher in Jacksonville, Florida. He taught various grade levels at the elementary school level. Eventually, he began working as a literacy coach—first in an elementary school and later as a traveling literacy coach in various prekindergarten classrooms.
Brian went to the University of Virginia to pursue a doctoral degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis on literacy. He studied under Jane Hansen, who, along with colleague Donald Graves, was an influential voice in literacy learning. Jane gave Brian important advice as a graduate student when she said, “As a professor, it’s important that you never leave real classrooms.” So, upon graduation from UVA, Brian accepted a job as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he spends one to two days a week teaching in various K-5 classrooms.
As a researcher, Brian is the author of several book chapters and journal articles in journals such as The Reading Teacher, Young Children, Childhood Education, and Journal of Research in Childhood Education. He is the author of three books: The Literacy Coach's Companion, Perspectives and Provocations in Early Childhood, and What's New in Literacy Teaching.
This is Brian’s fourth book, and it represents his most personal professional book to date. Weaving together stories from his own classroom experiences with stories he gathered by teaching in others’ classrooms, Brian writes about the Writer’s Workshop from the perspective of writers. Noticing a trend in many classrooms where writing has become a more teacher-, standard-, and assessment-driven experience, Brian examined classrooms in which writing instruction was more writer-driven. He explored what happens when writers lead the mini-lessons, guide the conferences, drive the Author’s Chair, and self-reflect on their learning. In classrooms where authors have authority, he noticed that writers flourish. In this book, When Writers Drive the Workshop: Honoring Young Voices and Bold Choices, Brian writes about the powerful ways teachers empowered their students to make important decisions for themselves as writers. And he uses their stories to show other K-5 teachers how they might envision writing instruction differently in their own classrooms.
Brian lives in Davidson, North Carolina, with his wife, Hattie, twin sons Ben and Charlie, and daughter Harriet.