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.