How a Professor of Education Writes

Quick Facts

Favorite word?


Favorite punctuation mark?

Exclamation point.

What are you reading right now?

Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming.


Shoshanna Edwards-Alexander

Professor of Education


SJU Writes: What role does writing play in your life? 

SEA: Writing gives me clarity. Even in small things, it allows me to put my thoughts to paper, to look at them, to really think about what I’m trying to say. In a formal process, it allows me to communicate with people and it helps me to think more critically about things, whether it’s personal or professional.

SJU Writes: When you are confronted with a writing task, how do you approach it?

SEA: I used to just sit there and get so stressed out about it, especially depending on what it is. Life is just not that deep. What I’ve found myself doing more recently is I’ll think about the topic, and I’ll just free write. I don’t care about spelling or punctuation.  Then, I’ll walk away from it, think about something else, go back to it, and I’ll figure out how to group those ideas. Then, I’ll start to really put it together as a formal piece. I just put everything out until I can’t come up with anything else. Usually if I do it that way, it doesn’t become overwhelming to me.

SJU Writes: Tell me something about the ideal physical environment in which you like to write.

SEA: I love a “Starbucks” type of environment that’s outside. I don’t like writing in my home. I find that’s the most distracting place for me. I used to go to the sunrooms over in Campion. I like the aesthetics of being able to drift out mentally every once in a while, do my people-watching. It allows me some tranquility. The calmness allows me to better deliver my thoughts on paper.

SJU Writes: Do you seek advice as you write?

SEA: I don’t do a whole bunch in terms of asking people ahead of time for ideas, but I tell people I am not thin-skinned. Take a red pen to my stuff. Go ahead and chop it up. I don’t mind. If it’s all wrong, chop it all up because I’d rather you do that and I end up with a really good piece of writing. If somebody who is not in my discipline can understand what it is that I have said, then I feel like I can move forward with it.

SJU Writes: What advice do you have for students learning to write in your discipline?

SEA: Find something that will make you inspired to write. Write something every day.  Something you observe. Just something that you might think about as an educator going forward, something that you read, or a piece. Just write a paragraph a day.  Free writing is a great way to just mentally dump it out of your head. Once you start to make it a regular part of your day and a regular part of your process, you become more comfortable with it. The more you do it, the better you get.

 –Amanda Roldan ’22