Writing Publicly to Influence Colleagues

Educators use effective writing strategies to influence colleagues for the purpose of activating them to implement or support a specific policy, program, initiative, technology, or pedagogical approach.
Made by Center for Teaching Quality

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educators use effective writing strategies to influence colleagues for the purpose of activating them to implement or support a specific policy, program, initiative, technology, or pedagogical approach.

Method Components

Writing is a powerful medium for influencing colleagues because it offers permanence, portability, and accessibility. Additionally, research has shown that through socialization, teachers can have informal influence on one another, in addition to formal training (Zeichner & Gore, 1990).

A survey of highly effective educators showed that many of these educators benefited from working with fellow educators through such mechanisms as mentorship, professional learning communities, common planning time, and collaboration. This finding suggests that communication among educators is a powerful opportunity for influence (Behrstock-Sherratt, Bassett, Olson, & Jacques, 2014).

A number of forms can be used to reach colleagues through writing:

  • Wikis & websites
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Articles (print and digital publications)
  • Letters
  • Discussion threads
  • Email lists
  • BooksŒ‚_ (digital and print)
  • Other public writing

Different formats will have the potential to reach audiences of different sizes, and some channels may be more appropriate than others for some issues.

Effective writing uses specific methods to capture the audience’s attention, validate readers’ concerns, acknowledge their values, and connect with their emotions. The following strategies can be used to create effective written communication:

  1. Introducing and supporting ideas through powerful storytelling and compelling anecdotes
  2. Promoting the credibility of the author and his or her sources
  3. Framing the message through the lens of the audience’s values, needs, and emotional sensibilities
  4. Connecting to the audience through specific word choice that acknowledges readers’ values, needs, and priorities
  5. Explaining highly technical terms or program-specific acronyms to build a common language around the topic or issue
  6. Using inductive and deductive reasoning to craft powerful arguments
  7. Incorporating visual components (graphs, tables, images, and charts) to reinforce ideas, arguments, and calls to action

Research & Resources

Supporting Research


Purdue Owl Writing Resources. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University offers an array of writing resources and instructional material. The following links offer explanations and examples of a variety of writing strategies and skills that are essential for influencing an audience.

Digital Writing 101: Handbooks & Articles on Writing for Web Audiences by Amy Goodloe. This online resource compiles blog post and short web articles on a variety of skills relevant to digital writing and online publication. The first set of links is most useful to address formatting and style for online publications. http://newmediawriting.net/content/resources-on-writing-for-web-audiences/

Five Basic Tips for Digital Media by International Journalists Network. Another web article about how to write to an online audience. This one offers some quick tips to “improve your writing for the Internet,” but focuses mainly on formatting and organizing text. https://ijnet.org/en/stories/how-improve-your-writing-internet

Teaching that Sticks by Chip and Dan Heath. Borrowing from the content of their best-selling book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, this short article focuses on the six traits that “make ideas stickier,” including storytelling, establishing credibility, and offering concrete images to illustrate abstract concepts. Although it’s not specifically about writing, this resource will help you frame the message for your audience. http://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-teaching-that-sticks.pdf

The SUCCESS Model by Chip and Dan Heath. This simple graphic summarizes the principles of “Teaching that Sticks” in a one-page visual format that would be great to print out and keep close when writing to influence an audience. http://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-made-to-stick-model.pdf

“Made to Stick” Keynote by Chip and Dan Heath. This presentation offers content similar to “Teaching that Sticks” and the SUCCESS poster, but it dives more deeply into the ideas from Made to Stick and offers a summary of the book’s key concepts in an hour-long talk. https://vimeo.com/5079830

Stories That Matter by Marshall Ganz. “The initial challenge for an organizer—or anybody who’s going to provide leadership for change—is to figure out how to break through the inertia of habit to get people to pay attention. . . . We don’t just talk about hope and other values in abstractions. We talk about them in the language of stories because stories are what enable us to communicate these values to one another.” Click to read this three-page article from a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University. http://bit.ly/1JjLP0p

On Writing Well by William Zinsser. “Zinsser's book On Writing Well provides both a comprehensive guide to writing nonfiction and a useful writer's reference. He starts with an overview of the writing craft and moves into specific nonfiction writing forms. The book wraps up with the important attitudes that good writers develop.” http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-on-writing-well/#gsc.tab=0

Exemplars of Writing to a Colleague Audience

To access more exemplars and writing support, join the conversation at the Center for Teaching Quality’s (CTQ) Collaboratory Communication Lab, https://www.teachingquality.org/about-ctq/

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a Proficient or Exemplary evaluation in all four categories for Part 2 and a Passing for Parts 1 and 3.

Part 1. Overview questions

(500-word limit total for both)

  • What prompted you to write this piece? Please describe the conversations, current events, or other publications that inspired you to create this piece.
  • Who is your audience? Describe the specific group you targeted with as much detail as possible.

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Submit a piece of writing in one of the following forms: a link to an online document available to colleagues, an image documenting written conversation with colleagues, or a PDF of a published piece that has been shared with colleagues. This document should have the goal of influencing colleagues to make changes in their practice or take action on a specific issue. Example topics might include new initiatives, valuable programs, innovative technologies, assessment practices, or policy changes. Writing must have been published in the past 24 months.

Your artifact submission will be assessed on the following rubric. You must score a Proficient or Exemplary score on this portion of the submission in order to earn the micro-credential.

Part 3. Reflection

Submit a reflection answering the following prompts. Your reflection can be submitted in EITHER of the following formats:

  • Link to a published, publicly viewable video (4-minute limit)
  • Written response saved as a PDF (1,000-word limit)


  • Identify 2–3 specific choices (i.e., length, formatting, word choice, incorporated support, publication platform) you made that helped to influence one or more colleagues more effectively. Explain these choices and how they affected this audience.
  • What outcomes do you expect your publication to achieve? What is your plan for achieving these outcomes? How would you define success for this publication?
  • To what degree have you achieved your outcomes thus far? Cite specific examples, if possible.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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