A Fresh Take on Teaching Writing

Alexa Carey is a professor of First-Year Writing here at the University at Connecticut. In addition to teaching at UConn, Carey teaches First Year Writing at Northeastern University, and also teaches literature and developmental composition at Capital Community College. Carey has been teaching for twelve years now and packs an impressive resume. She received a Bachelor of English with Minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Connecticut in 2004 and received her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in English Education, from the NEAG School of Education in 2008. In addition, she got her Master of Science in Counseling from Central Connecticut State University, and also has a Certificate in Higher Education Online Pedagogy from Bay Path University’s Center for Online Teaching and Learning. Since acquiring her degrees, Carey has been making her way in the teaching community, working to sharpen her writing skills and help improve the skills of others. Carey has been introducing a new style of teaching instruction to her students and fellow educators. 

From simultaneously teaching at three different universities, Carey understands the diversity of her students. In recognizing this, she finds a common theme at each school. She says that her students have all been taught to write in a way that discourages personal narrative, and she seeks to change this. Instead of the classic, mechanical form of writing we relied on in high school, Carey wants her students to embrace creative writing as a form of storytelling. She says that storytelling itself is at the root of human communication. To be able to share one’s own human experience is important to our survival, and Carey feels that students should tap into their own experiences when writing.

Carey also stresses the importance of being involved in her students’ writing process. She feels that while modeling is important, students benefit from seeing her writing process as well. She practices this by posting her own drafts of assignments she assigns to students. She also shows her students snapshots of her own ‘messy notebook’ to let them know that the writing process should lack rigidity. Carey says writing is “empowered vulnerability,” and part of encouraging that vulnerability in students is demonstrating it as an educator. She believes that teachers have a lot to learn from their students and a great way to learn from them is being a part of their creative process. Something Carey says is that she views writing as a “superpower”. She explains that humans are the only species that can write, and that this is a skill we should take advantage of. She truly believes writing as a form of communication gives us power. Carey’s teaching practice is constantly being influenced by her students and is becoming more malleable; she feels every year she is coming closer to the teacher she wants to be. 

Carey also spent time working as a teacher-consultant during the Connecticut Writing Project’s Summer Institute in 2011, and described the experience as ‘transformative’. She felt that the CWP truly showed her what teaching writing could look like. Carey has certainly proved to have benefited from her time working at the Summer Institute, and the CWP is lucky to have been influenced by educators such as herself.  Alexa Carey’s passion for the profession of teaching and authenticity to herself has proven to earn her such success as an educator. Her unique teaching practice also earned her the Nomination to Board of Regents Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award in 2020. 

For more information about Alexa Carey, visit her website linked below. 



By Julia Marcella