I’m feeling myself go through a transformation right now. I feel empowered and excited. I believe it started with Taryn BondClegg’s agency workshop, which put me down all these divergent paths at once, and here I am learning all this stuff about innovation, empowerment, and student agency. (That woman really walks the talk on learner-guided learning)
Up until this very moment, I think I had felt a bit sheepish to share my story as a teacher, but now I am connecting it to my much longer story as a learner, and it seems valid and important.
My story in a bit of a ramble: I am an unrelenting optimist and agreeable person. So as a child when I really, really wanted to learn Spanish and certain math concepts that were “too hard” yet, I accepted “no, wait till you’re older” as an answer. I did try a few things: I pretended to speak Spanish to Claudia, through Martha, in 2nd grade. I would go back and forth running between the two girls, having a disjointed conversation to the bewilderment of both. I also wrote a letter to a magazine I loved to read, Highlights. I asked the editor to help me learn exciting math concepts, and they sent me a workbook of problems that I eventually found boring, and decided my nay-sayers were right. Ultimately, I accepted that I couldn’t gain access to the learning I was after until later when my traditional school setting had programs for that content. When I did enter middle school and got to study this stuff, I had not lost my interest at all. I excelled in these classes and was excited to learn. I did well in school, by the measurement available: grades. I mostly got A’s and was consistently told this meant I was smart, which I now identify as being the source of the fixed mindset I developed and still have to reflect and challenge myself on continuously. Later in college, I had some engaging professors and my continued love of Spanish that put me on a solid path of studying Political Science and Spanish. Despite my consistent declaration of majors and mostly really good grades, it took me a staggering 7 years to graduate from my undergrad. This was mainly because I loved learning, and had been conditioned to believe that lecture-style coursework was the only pathway for this. In addition to my Spanish and Poli Sci coursework, I practically studied for minors in Women’s Studies, French, Arabic, Geography, Geology, and Physical Education. In the 6th year, my grandfather, who supported me partially toward financing this expensive ongoing education, got fed up, said I had no direction, and cut me off. I promptly applied for graduation. This was scary. I still didn’t know what kind of jobs I would want to do, and there was an economic recession limiting my opportunities. After almost a year of post- graduation bartending, I decided to go spend some time with my sister and her husband in South Korea, where they were working to successfully pay off their own US undergrad debts. While I was there, I happened upon an emergency opening for an internship in an international school, where I was surrounded by a community who helped me discover and develop my interest in education and my strengths to be successful.
Fast forward to almost 8 years later. I am realizing that my identity as a learner is way more important than I ever thought to fully acknowledge, and that I need to nurture this identity. This means learning from the global community that I never had access to as a curious child learner. It’s time for me to connect with my counterparts around the world, share and learn. I’m at the beginning of something powerful, I can tell. It’s very exciting!
My actions so far:
-I am signed up for the L2Asia conference by and for international teachers in Tokyo, with a focus on innovation and on making teaching and learning personal
-I am reading and almost finished with George Couros’ The Innovators’ Mindset and Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools, with a few more titles queued up.
-I am looking for my next step as a teacher, and working to identify and match a school community that supports where I am in my growth.
-I am taking risks in my classroom to apply what I’m learning about agency and innovation. (Indeed to share this and build on this! This is the entire WHY of this all being exciting)
-I connected to Twitter and started following inspiring people in education.
What I want to do:
-Figure out the best way to share my practice and my journey (blog?-which one?, social media?)
-Read, connect, and make specific goals for myself