Contributing to the Conversation

I am a special education, collaborative (or inclusion) teacher – it depends on where you are from. I work mainly in science classes. As a collaborating teacher, my job requires applying subject standards, working with new teachers and students, all to further the success of not just SpEd students, but all students. All this “new” makes it very easy to feel overwhelmed and retreat back to what I know. I find myself turning a cold shoulder to the enthusiasm and excited go-getters and instead running back to the safety of what I know. But (and this is a big BUT!), no one benefits from that choice. Not me, not the teachers, and especially not students. Which leads me to how I took a risk, embraced a new idea, and began blogging about my experiences.

My blogging serves as a tool for reflecting and sharing. At first, I was apprehensive about my ability to be successful. After jumping in head first, I have grown more comfortable being vulnerable and find myself encouraging fellow educators to join me in blogging. Which brings me to the point of this post, how writing a blog can help you to communicate your thinking and grow professionally. The act of putting your thoughts into words can be challenging. Then to share those words with strangers may be downright scary to even suggest. However, I want to share what motivates me to blog. I blog because (1) blogging is a tool to help others and (2) there are tools to support my writing when I feel insecure.

As an educator, my goal is to engage students as well as empower them to become the best version of  themselves. The same concept can be applied to supporting teachers. I have had many experiences in my education career that have shaped my outlook on teaching and learning. I don’t believe I would be the teacher I am today had amazing teachers not shared their experiences with me. Blogging is my way to professionally contribute to the development of other educators. What you have experienced – your successes and amazing lesson plans as well as your missteps and units that you think should be burned – are all tools for another teacher to benefit from. In a quest to improve student learning, I yearn for knowledge of what I can do better. You and your experiences are avenues for me (and others) to meet that goal.

I am pleading with you to be vulnerable by sharing both the triumphs and disasters. I am asking you to open the door to your classroom and let us in – which can be very intimidating. The overall reaction I have received from teachers is that they want to share, but the actual action of putting pen to paper and then to be judged is what is holding them back. Well, I have been in that situation and I can tell you the way out. If a lack of confidence in your writing is what is holding you back, there are many tools to overcome this obstacle such as, @ProWritingAid (www.prowritingaid.com). 

ProWritingAid is a fabulous editing tool that will check your writing for all sorts of errors. I have been using this tool and I am in love.  It is very easy to use and its design is simple to manipulate. After using it, I am even more encouraged to write my heart out. The first thing is to write your initial thinking. Once your ideas are on “paper”, you can have the site edit your work. First, you will click the “use the editing tool” button. This will open to a page where you can paste your writing. This site also allows you to upload documents from Google Drive rather than pasting. Once it is pasted, you will then click the blue Analyze button.

The program will analyze your work and then divide the errors into categories. You have the ability to review and make changes for all the areas that are highlighted within each category. The program is extremely thorough for being a free tool. Although, there are some functions that come with a paid premium account – which you can do at your convenience. Once you have used the tool,  feel free to have another set of eyes to check it for readability and then post it to a public forum, such as WordPress or Blogger.

Hopefully, by using a tool such as this, you will build confidence with documenting your experiences and be encouraged to share your insights. There is an audience for your ideas. They are in need of hearing what you have learned in order to sharpen their practice and build their classrooms. Go ahead and try ProWritingAid and begin the journey of getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Welcome to At Holm with SullyScience!circlebutton

We are so excited you have joined us in our mission to improve inclusive Science teaching. To kick off our blog, we would like to share with you a little background about who we are, why we do what we do, and what to expect from this blog.

Who We Are

Fate brought us together this year as we both moved to NKy from other teaching roles. Mrs. Sullivan came from Lexington, Kentucky and Mrs. Holman came from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Both of us came from STEM schools that served diverse populations of students. As we began to get to know one another, we found that our teaching styles and philosophies of teaching were very similar and we were excited to design more student centered and Problem Based Units. We both believe that everyone can learn and recognize that it may take different strategies to achieve learning. We also identify with the idea that learning can look different than the traditional picture of public schooling. We believe that each day is a new day and a clean slate. We must forgive and forget any injuries for the sake of learning and relationships. We apply this philosophy both to our students, but also to our own collaborative relationship.

Why We Do What We Do

It is because of our beliefs that we both came to careers as educators.

Mrs. Sullivan was on a tenure track path to Scientific research before witnessing the inadequacies of the education system for first generation college students and the need for applicable science instruction. After finishing her Bachelors’ in Agricultural Biotechnology and Biology at the University of Kentucky, she enrolled in UK’s College of Education Master’s with Initial Certification Program. While in the program, Mrs. Sullivan continued to be inspired by serving students who had previously been written off and striving to engage students in Science learning through hands-on and non-traditional approaches.

Mrs. Holman was a senior in high school when she was inspired by two teachers who did more than just taught her about their subjects. They saw her as a person and taught her to believe in herself even through hardships. Mrs. Holman wanted to be that person for others – to help them realize their potential both academically and personally. In order to accomplish this, she attended Winston-Salem State University where she began her studies to become a middle grade RegEd instructor. Only a month into her program, a lecture on special education pulled her toward outside the box instruction. She identified with the message of special education and the idea of not settling for traditional strategies. Mrs. Holman inherited her comfort with technology from her parents, both Computer Science Engineers. This comfort has since transformed into a passion for connecting students and teachers to technologies to improve learning.

What to Expect

Our goal for this blog is to provide readers with resources to implement innovative collaborative teaching both in and out of science content. We will be highlighting some of our favorite lessons in our Lesson Spotlight category and sharing our strategies for collaborative teaching in our Co-Teaching category. We will share some candid observations of journey to implement Problem Based Scenarios and other innovative strategies while teaching EOC assessed Biology and Chemistry. We intend to provide both the RegEd and Special Ed perspective and co-author on all posts.

Stay Tuned!

We hope you will join us as we continue on our collaborative mission to improve inclusive Science teaching!

  Blog Signature At Holm with SullyScience