I've been apprehensive about blogging and I've also struggled with identifying why that is. Is it because I don't think I have anything new or inspirational to contribute compared to other more experienced educators? Do I have the resilience to handle disapproval or disagreements from colleagues or educators? Why would people find my postings interesting or effective contributions?
I watched people tweeting about their subjects taken in senior. Here's the thing....I finished in Year 10 because I was offered an apprenticeship and in my family that was a wonderful opportunity. Students who went onto Year 12 were the smart students who were university bound. That wasn't me...or so I and everyone else thought.
I finished my apprenticeship, managed a salon and later became an owner/operator. I completed a TAFE course to be qualified to teach hairdressing but never did anything with this. Fitness became a large part of my life and so I became a fitness leader. It was at this time I realised I liked to learn. My husband, Andrew challenged me to get a certain mark for the exams and each time I exceeded it which increased my self-efficacy. He became the first person who truly thought I could do more or be more, if it was what I wanted. Not everyone needs a cheersquad but sometimes genuine support is pivotal.
While parenting my two children, I shared that I really want to teach but thought I wasn't intelligent enough to go to university. Andrew, a university graduate, disagreed and we began looking into it. I was accepted that year after completing all required tests. If I had applied the following year I would not have been accepted based on entrance scores. So I went to Australian Catholic University in Brisbane and completed ten subjects in the first year of my Bachelor of Education. I loved it! I mean I really loved learning!
We were transferred us to USA and I was happy to move as long as I could continue studying. The University New England offered the only external education degree so began my external study. And guess what... I loved that too! I enjoyed connecting with other students on the bulletin board (online chat group) who lived throughout the world. Remember in my schooling era, collaboration was known as cheating. My lecturers commented on how involved I was online supporting others and generating discussions....Go figure! Of course I started a teacher chat group called Teach'n'Talk once university was finished as staying connected was important to me. I got on the Dean's list every year and after completing my Bachelor of General Studies/Bachelor of Teaching I was awarded the Dean's Merit Award. So now I should feel smart.....right?
I continued studying whilst teaching and completed a Graduate Certificate, Masters in Education and recently a Graduate certificate in Gifted Education. After fourteen years of university, I realise I have an insatiable appetite for learning. So now do I qualify as 'smart'? I struggle with the word 'smart'. I believe being told you are smart or not smart can have a detrimental, long lasting affect. Especially when used to describe someone. Dweck's work has influenced my teaching. According to Carol Dweck, one of the worst things we can say to our children is how smart they are and the consequences may extend far beyond the field of child raising. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/02/carol-dweck-mindset_n_3696599.html
So why am I blogging now? Maybe a new teacher can relate or learn something from my story? Maybe I will become a more reflective teacher? Maybe my story will demonstrate to politicians and universities that while high grades are important, passion, enthusiasm and the love to learn is just as vital? Other attributes that aren't subjects taught or graded in school or university are empathy, compassion and concern for students outside of academics. If research indicates that effective teachers have the highest influence on student learning, we need to allow all those future educators with their immense potential. Identifying or finding one's passion may not happen until later in life and these people may become our most effective teachers because they possess qualities that cannot be measured.
Getting smarter everyday...