This month, we consider ways to use writing to push our professional thinking deeper as we reflect, synthesize, and prepare for next year.
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by Jaclyn Karabinas
Can you think of a time you set out to do one thing, and through your creative process, made a number of discoveries along the way that made you end up with quite another?
As professionals, we bring an expertise to our work each day. As educators, we also bring along a reflective learning process to be successful with the ever-changing landscape of education and world in which our kids live.
When we write, we not only discover thinking we might not have known we had, but we invite others to share in that thinking and that process, as well. Keep this in mind as you work through the steps in this post: How does writing about our experiences as educators benefit not only ourselves, but the communities in which we interact and share that writing?
Choose one or more of these past pieces written by some of the 2016-2018 cohort of Heinemann Fellows. While the posts themselves are not necessarily about writing, read these through the lens of our guiding question: How does writing about our experiences as educators benefit not only ourselves, but the communities in which we interact and share that writing?
- Heinemann Fellow Anna Osborn: “Hurry Up, September!”
- Heinemann Fellow Chris Hall on the Role of Experience in Writing Feedback
- Heinemann Fellow Ian Fleischer on Giving Visual Math Tools a Chance to Empower Students
- Heinemann Fellow Kate Flowers on Battling The Blahs
- Heinemann Fellow Aeriale Johnson: “To Tiana, With Love”
- Or choose your own from all Heinemann blog posts tagged “Heinemann Fellows” by clicking here
Choose one of the pieces you read and provide yourself 5-10 minutes to write about the impact of reflective writing when shared in a public forum. You might even choose to capture your thinking through drawing a web to envision the reach this specific piece of writing may have. It could be helpful to break down the guiding question like this:
- Who might be impacted by this writing? How?
- What did the writer discover?
- What might inspire the readers?
- How could this impact school practices?
Carve out 20 minutes to write about something you noticed at school recently. Don’t think too hard — you may put your pen to the page (or fingers to the keys) and begin writing about one thing and end up with something quite different! Trust the process.
Find a colleague or two to engage with in this practice and share a portion of your writing aloud. Try to have conversations not only about the themes that emerged in your writing, but also about the process of writing itself in the context of reflecting on your work as an educator and sharing it with others.
Listen to what kids have to say about writing from this clip in Stephanie Parson’s On-Demand Course. What pieces of what they have to say about writing are true for you as well?
Read “Why Teachers Need to Write for the Public” by Anne Elrod Whitney. How do stories directly from the classroom impact those who read them, both inside education and out?
In her book Read, Write, Teach, author Linda Rief shares with us the inspiration from Don Murray that she carries with her every day: We must write to find writing.
Make a commitment to document your process as a reflective educator. There are many ways to do this that will fit your weekly rhythm, writing style, and comfort zone (though be prepared to push that comfort zone a bit!)
Keep a list of questions or noticings that come to mind during the day so you have them to choose from when you have a moment to sit and write.
- Record your reflections using an audio note app on your phone.
- Tweet your thinking.
- Use a writer’s notebook, just as you would with students, to capture your ideas, quick-writes, questions, and discoveries.
- Find a way to share your writing publicly either on a personal blog, Facebook post, or with colleagues in a face-to-face, safe setting.
Remember, just as one cannot win the lottery without playing, one cannot find writing without writing.
For Further Reading:
- Find Writing Through Quickwrites by Linda Rief
- The Heinemann Podcast: Read, Write, Teach by Linda Rief
- Announcing the 3rd Cohort of Heinemann Fellows!
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Looking for more PD?
Online: We offer an On-Demand Course by Steve Leinwand and another by Sue O’Connell to support your professional learning in mathematics instruction.
Off-Site: We still have a few spots open for our 11th annual Boothbay Literacy Institute with Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Penny Kittle, and Linda Rief. Don’t miss this opportunity!
On-Site: Heinemann’s Speakers & Consulting Authors are trusted experts in how to create successful classroom and school environments based on respect, collaboration, empathy, and positivity.