When thinking about my own educational journeys, the first example I think of is my learning to be a teacher. This journey is happening always. Hey, it is happening RIGHT. NOW. I feel as though I am standing on a see saw, one side teaching and one side learning, and I am constantly teetering back and forth. That is called being a teacher, right?
To analyze this “Journey of Learning,” I decided to hand-draw a map of it. Once I put pencil to paper, I used a simple line-style graph to show the learning curve, equipped with bumps and regresses along the way. Then, I broke the lines into chapters and gave each a defining title. Within each “chapter” of my learning process, I described the programs, people, and motivations that guided me.
As I did this, it was easy to reflect back on those whom lifted me up in times of challenge. It would be a lie to say this journey has been an easy one. Over the past twelve years, I have experienced depression and anxiety. I have also experienced wonderful surges of confidence and pride. And, most importantly, I have experienced the learning of young adults–not just academically. Watching a student take action for others or make strides emotionally is a phenomenon you will experience in this field.
Once my map was completed, it served as a helpful tool when continuing my reflection through writing. Throughout my learning chapters, one can find a group of people working for a shared purpose. It is in those places where the strongest professional growth was cultivated.
- Peer Support during Student Teaching: I assure you. I am not saying this to sound proud and mighty. But, our practicum seems to be more rigorous than any other practicum I have encountered. We had massive papers due on top of 4 page daily lesson plans. We had to be ready at any moment for a drop-in supervisor observation. All of our observations were “drop-ins” and they occurred weekly. I slept 4 hours a night, maximum. It was tough. My peers were my support group. We shared stories. We counted on one another as listeners when we would vent about our struggles. You would listen to one person, and they would listen to you. And we NEEDED this. We shared resources and gave tips. What a wonderful example of shared purpose.
- First Year Teaching Mentorships and Having my Own Student Teacher: I believe these individuals were the reason I stayed at my job through my first year of teaching. I think they felt purpose when they helped me. And I needed them to help. This became even clearer to me a few years later when I had a student teacher of my own. I learned so much about my own teaching from helping my student teacher. And he motivated me to be a better mentor, and in turn, a better teacher for my students.
- Directing the Musical: Co-directing a musical will show a person the value in teamwork and shared purpose. I learned how to work together with kids and adults outside of the classroom. Students relied on me and I relied on them. My mentor director led by example, and I helped her by lightening the load of responsibility.
Below is my learning map. I am grateful for those names you see on there. It is because of them that I can say proudly: “I am an educator.” Thank you!