On this journey of life, we go through ups and downs regularly. There are times where we are just living and surviving the day to day. We may not be thriving, but we are doing what needs to be done. That is not positive or negative, it just is. Those are the times in life where we go about our daily life and the craziness that ensues without a great deal of reflection. Don’t get me wrong, there’s probably still some surface reflection on the day-to-day events that may take place, but there isn’t much room for a great deal of deep reflection. While day-to-day reflections on small events that take place may change some things that you do, it is through deep reflection where meaning is found and real growth takes place.
How have I changed this school year?
I’ve been reflecting on the ways I have changed in the past 6 months or so. It’s been an interesting journey of which I am pleased. Not only have I come to know and accept myself in a different way, I have become more open about myself as a result (something that has been a real challenge my entire life). In addition, I have become more understanding and willing to stand up for what I believe to be right. For instance, I have become more clear on my beliefs about the behaviour of students and ways of “disciplining” these children. I am also so much more willing to say that I have no idea, but am willing to find out. In addition, I am also so much more willing to talk about my own learning and I am comfortable with the fact that I have so much I want to learn.
What has brought upon these changes?
First of all, I am often inspired by my PLN and the thoughts they share in their tweets and their blog posts. The things they share, both personally and professionally, are real. They are meaningful. They are, many times, profound. The posts my PLN write often make me reflect further on my leadership, my teaching, and my own learning.
Another very important shift in my learning, both personally and professionally, came when I started working at an inner-city school. I think some people shook their head in amazement when I actually asked to be placed in an inner city school when I came back to work after my maternity leave. Many people wondered why I’d want to work in such an environment with such high needs. I wanted this experience because it is one I hadn’t had yet as an administrator. None of the other schools I worked as a vice-principal previously were even close to being inner-city. I knew I would learn a lot from this experience.
This is where I have really been able to reflect on my life. This experience has really enabled me to know who I am as a person, an educator, and leader in education. It has really allowed me the opportunity to understand myself in a whole new way. I am able to use this knowledge of myself to help others working and learning in our school. I am open and honest in a way I’ve never been before because I use my own experience and knowledge of poverty to enlighten, encourage, and mentor others. I am no longer ashamed of my upbringing, but rather, proud of where I came from and where I have come. I believe I give hope to some who may not have had it before.
We must all remember, it really does only take one. While I do realize that my story is not unique and it likely doesn’t inspire all, or really even many, that doesn’t really matter if it inspires ONE. That is all that matters.
Why is all of this important in the work I do everyday?
I believe that knowledge of oneself is so important to be able to help others. How can you help others understand their situation, if you don’t understand your own? How can you help others reflect, if you don’t model this reflective practise. It is through this understanding of myself and reflective practise where I have now been able to be even more understanding and empathetic toward the struggles of others: whether those struggles are the struggles of students, parents, or teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been sympathetic and understanding to children and their families, it is just different now. The connections I have with them are deep. Connections like these only come with a true understanding of the predicament of others.
It is with this deep understanding that I believe I am also able to inspire others to know that their dreams matter and can come to fruition through hard work and dedication. I believe that it is possible that I inspire others. Some of my students may be inspired by my story because it is a story they are living and one that they think will limit their future possibilities. My life is a demonstration to them that anything is possible. I hope that I inspire teachers to understand that we must never give up and we must never use the words, “There’s just no hope for that child”. This is just untrue. There is always hope. I am proof of that.
It is through my understanding of myself as a learner that I believe I will (and have) inspire others to take risks in their own learning. I take risks each and every day. I celebrate the resulting successes and learn from the inevitable failures.
Yes, I have changed, become more flexible, more understanding, more able to accept myself and others, and more able to reflect. Truly reflect. I am able to reflect deeply in a way to meaningfully change who I am as a person, an educator and a leader in education. I am also much more able to acknowledge and celebrate the learner in me and in others.
We are always changing, growing, improving, as people, as educators, as leaders, and as parents. Thank goodness for that.
Do you reflect in a meaningful way that truly changes/improves who you are as a person?
How have you changed this year? What has brought on these changes? So what? Now what?