Setting aside time for regular writing practice is a way to process the Tilt-a-Whirl that is teaching, writes Justin Minkel, a first- and second-grade teacher in Springdale, Arkansas, in EdWeek. The writing need not be solely for reflection—it’s vital for teachers to express themselves publicly because educators have firsthand knowledge of the classroom that policymakers generally don’t have.
Writing as a reflective practice encourages introspection and contemplation. “When I sit down to write, I often find one tiny moment from my school day—a partial thought, a fleeting question, a funny or insightful comment from one of my students—scratching at my mind like a grain of sand trapped in an oyster shell,” Minkel writes. The reflection involved in processing such moments can help teachers improve their practice.
Minkel shares a recommendation that teachers write for 10 minutes a day, answering three questions: “What do I do well? What do I need to work on? What do I want to do next?” Using questions like these as a guide reduces the pressure a teacher might feel when looking at a blank page and kick-starts the writing process.
Writing for an audience beyond oneself has merit as well. “The truth is, our profession doesn’t need people who think they have it all figured out,” Minkel writes. “We do need honest, vulnerable, imperfect teachers who care about kids and are willing to share their ideas and experiences.” Teachers have experience that can give colleagues “pragmatic solutions” to improve their practice as well as help decision-makers create well-informed policies.
Hesitant to start writing? Designate a time each week to write. “Waiting to write until inspiration strikes is like waiting to grab your fishing pole until you see a fish break the surface of a pond,” Minkel writes. Instead, try to make writing a daily routine.