I started college in the days before RateMyProfessor.com, so when I prepared to register for classes I would always ask the upperclassmen for advice. Looking at my list of courses they would say things like, “Whatever you do, don’t take that professor! She makes you write papers and expects you to write a lot. She doesn’t even give tests!” That was all I needed to hear—I would immediately sign up for every class that professor taught. I never told the upperclassmen that I deliberately ignored their advice. Instead, I would blame my schedule, or say that the classes they had suggested were already full. It was easier than explaining that I actually enjoyed writing.
As a special education teacher, I work with students who are very different from me. They struggle with reading and are very hesitant to write. My strategies for getting my students excited about reading have been successful, but writing is another story. Webs, planners, and outlines just seem like tedious chores. They detest making plans for their writing. They don’t enjoy re-reading their work, looking for ways to improve their pieces. They don’t see writing as valuable or important.
This year, my school district hired a consultant to help us launch Writing Workshop in our classes. It has been a transformative experience for my students and me. The trainer introduced us to the concept of “backward design” and the Understanding by Design framework. Through the Writing Workshop training, my peers and I were able to plan units of study using the Core Curriculum standards with our students’ learning goals in mind.
Now I take a different approach with my writing lessons. I share mentor texts, teach mini-lessons, create anchor charts, and confer with my students. I have joined the International Reading Association and stay informed about Writing Workshop. I have integrated technology and differentiating instruction into my classroom through the use of PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote, Animoto, HaikuDeck, and Storybird. My students make choices about their writing and we focus on their specific needs. Their pieces have improved significantly, and they look forward to our time together as writers.
In fact, after showing my students a restaurant review blog written by a young man their age, my class decided to start one of their own! They have been reviewing local restaurants, identifying what makes them their favorite. The students are motivated to edit and revise because of their eagerness to share their writing with others, especially the restaurant owners. This shows a major shift in their thinking and it proves to me that I am headed in the right direction.
Despite all of these changes, I still see room for improvement, which is why I am applying to study Literacy Education. I am a passionate learner who is eager to explore new ideas. Earning a master’s degree in Literacy will help me continue to foster a love of reading AND writing in my students. The Literacy Education program will introduce me to resources that I could never discover on my own. I am excited at the chance to be a part of this program, and am ready to work hard to benefit my students and fellow teachers. Through my participation in professional and community activities, I will support my district’s commitment to improving our language arts instruction by sharing my experiences with my colleagues. I am a member of my building’s Intervention and Referral Services Committee and our Cultural Arts Committee. I meet regularly with other Special Education teachers in my district and am an active participant in a very supportive Professional Learning Community.
I am very excited about Literacy Education, and know that I will be a positive addition to your program. And this time around, I am proud to let everyone know how much I love writing.