I have been an educator for more than 30 years and taught all grades and subjects, including special education. I have worn many “hats” in my career, and each one is associated with a vast amount of paperwork. Yet I advocate for more paperwork and extra hours by adding another “hat”—the grant writer.
I am a busy professional, but I do regularly make time for researching, planning, and writing grants, as well as engaging colleagues to help me apply for grants to purchase new technology, supplies and materials, equipment, guest speakers, and field trips that help my students experience the fullest education and the joy of learning. I have won an average of $4,000 per year of extra technology, trips, and consumable supplies.
Students can learn valuable skills while helping to implement cutting-edge projects in STEM, literacy, energy conservation, field trips, and other special grants. Winning grants to purchase “extras” that many classes have to do without allows me to teach my students valuable concepts of work and living:
- Organizations and companies are interested in helping students succeed.
- Concerted work and effort pays off to reach long-term goals.
- Planning and preparation are key to any project’s success.
- Cooperative relationships with like-minded organizations and professionals to achieve your goals are an important part of success.
- Resilience pays out. You can reach your goals with persistence, practice, and perseverance.
- You can hone critical thinking skills when writing winning project proposals because they are accurately described and realistically scaled, have detailed accurate budgets, and have clear implementation standards.
- Vision, follow through, and accountability are skills necessary for success.
- Negative and positive feedback is equally important.
Through the process of grant writing, important student skills can be practiced including observation, teamwork, leadership, research, data analysis, writing, and mathematics. Student learning can take place in business education, presentation skills, persuasive writing, marketing, online proposal submission, negotiation, award acceptance, contracts, reporting protocols, implementation, documentation, collecting and expressing data sets, and analyzing results. This form of project-based learning develops young leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs for the future.
A teacher who is also a grant writer can help open doors and offer new possibilities. Grant writing used in the classroom may assist stakeholders, including students and families, in hands-on learning, which can make schooling more dynamic.
This is why I believe teachers should not just view grant writing as extra time spent on “school work” or added paperwork. But rather as a teaching tool that can be integrated into the curriculum and add hands-on, real-world experiences to daily teaching.
Carmen Watts Clayton is a Special Education teacher at Pajaro Unified School District in California and blogger. She is passionate about integrating technology and arts in her classroom. Her twitter handle is @carmen_wclayton.