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Welcome back to the blog, education enthusiasts!
For those of you who are new. . .
My name is Meghan, and I am a sophomore at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying early childhood education and Spanish. I created Journal of a Future Teacher in May, 2020 to share content on important educational topics and my journey in becoming a teacher! To learn more, visit the About page.
In this post, I discuss “writing on the job” from the perspectives of two early childhood teachers! Although it is not often discussed, you will need strong communication and writing skills to be a successful teacher. Read on to learn about the information I gathered from the interviews and other outside resources!
Over the past month, I had the opportunity to interview two working professionals to learn more about the writing I will do as a teacher.
My first interview was with Barb Moen, a former Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher who has had 30 years of experience in the field. My second interview was with Megan Beuch, a general early childhood teacher who I have previously worked with as a paraprofessional.
I chose these two professionals to get a well-rounded glimpse into writing in early childhood education. If you become a general education teacher, you still may be involved in writing the documents required in special education!
Click on the links below to read about some of the terms mentioned in this post!
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
General Take-a-ways: WRiting in early childhood education
When looking back at the notes from these interviews, I noticed one overwhelming theme: teachers write a lot.
As teachers, writing will be one of your primary avenues of communication. You will need to connect with families, administrators, specialists, and colleagues on a daily basis. Therefore, you must approach the profession with strong, adaptive writing skills.
1. The demonstration of strong writing skills prepares you for interviews and field work
In my interview with Megan, she asserted that “writing skills are looked at before you are even interviewed.” The way you present yourself in interviews through cover letter and resume writing reflects your values and professionalism as a teacher. These documents provide employers with a representation of you and the type of classroom you have.
2. One of the most important elements of writing in education is the audience
In early childhood education, the majority of writing takes place in an online format. Even though you are constantly building relationships with families and colleagues, you build those relationships through online writing.
Both Barb and Megan agree that to build relationships online, you must understand your audience. Relationships, especially those with families, are built on trust, so communicating content effectively relies on shaping it for your audience’s background and level of comprehension.
Additionally, teachers must use a “more formal and polished approach,” to maintain professional connections and deliver a clear message, according to the University of Arizona: Global Campus article “Writing in Education.”
Who, What, When, and How of Writing in Education
In the interviews, Barb and Megan provided helpful insight into writing in their daily lives as early childhood educators. Please explore the details of who, what, when, and how of writing in education!
Both Barb and Megan stated that one of the most essential skills is the ability to adapt content to different audiences. Most of the communication they conduct is through email. As teachers, they write to the following groups of people:
The audience defines the word choice, format, and content of any piece of writing. Purdue Owl outlines five elements of audience you will consider in your writing:
The content in general education and special education is very similar; however, special education requires some additional legal documents.
As a general early childhood teacher, Megan writes the following:
With each format of writing comes a different purpose. The University of Arizona: Global Campus article states that the purpose of a document “will influence the way you write.” If Megan or Barb wanted to quickly communicate with a coworker or family member, they would draft an email or message through Seesaw. On the other hand, if they wanted to reflect on student progress and assessment, they would create a more formal document, such as an IEP or learning objectives.
Both Barb and Megan explained that they write on a daily basis and that writing takes up a significant portion of their time. Not only do Barb and Megan write daily emails, memos, comments, and feedback to families and colleagues, but they are also involved in writing daily lesson plans and long-term projects.
To put the time requirements in perspective, Barb stated that she spent about 80 percent of her time writing and 20 percent working hands-on with her students. Although this percentage varies from teacher to teacher, Barb’s description demonstrates the need for strong writing skills in the field of early childhood education.
When writing, early childhood teachers use any tool they can get their hands on. Since teachers’ writing is so diverse, they must get creative in their presentation of content. There are endless possibilities of platforms for online writing. However, Barb and Megan provided the following examples:
Advice to future Teachers
What advice do current early childhood teachers have for future teachers?
“Always present yourself with professionalism and make sure what you are writing is an accurate representation of you and the type of classroom you have.”
“Never be afraid to share writing and show it to someone else.”
“Stay on top of the never-ending changes with technology.”
As early childhood educators, you will be making a difference in the lives of children and their families. Early childhood education is centered on supporting children and their families to become the best versions of themselves. A significant amount of that support stems from writing.
If you have strong writing skills, you will be a stronger teacher. Not only will you communicate more effectively with your audiences, but you will be supporting your future students and their families.
So, start preparing now! Further educate yourself on writing in early childhood education. Reach out to professionals in the field to get further information on the daily writing tasks of real early childhood teachers. Most importantly, practice writing skills you will use in the field in your courses:
I hope this post provided some tips for preparing to write in early childhood education. Happy writing!
Last Post: 50 Children's Books for Early Childhood (0-8 years)
Do you want to expand your children's book collection? Check out my list of 50 children's books in a variety of genres and formats!
Click on the links below to explore the sources mentioned in this post!
“Writing in Education”
“Rhetorical Awareness and User-Centered Design”
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
Leave me a comment!
If you like this post, have any questions, or have ideas on how I can improve my blog, leave me a comment below! Your input is always appreciated. As always, thank you for your support!
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Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.