I used to think I knew what it meant to be an excellent student.
Rarely challenged, evaluated almost exclusively on my ability to write, I coasted through the K-12 system and flew through university with full scholarships. I once thought I did well because I worked harder than everyone else. I was wrong.
I am the only child of two working professionals who read to me every night when I was little, who hired a tutor for me when my Grade 12 Chemistry mark fell below 85%, and who supported me financially throughout my post-secondary learning. I am able-bodied. English is my first language. I can follow directions. I am cis-gender. My skin is white. I could go on.
It wasn't until after my graduate degree, when I went back to school to study education, that I felt challenged. I checked my privilege for the first time. I acknowledged the power structures and hegemonic systems that contributed to my successes. For the first time, I recognized that I didn't work harder than everyone else. I learned to critically reflect. I learned to situate myself. It was hard. It was wonderful.
I recognized that what had made me an "excellent" student did not make me a well-rounded learner, and if I tried to replicate only my student experience in my future classrooms, it had the potential to make me a dangerous instructor. I was humbled and scared. I still am.
I'm also grateful. It was only through being a student of teaching, that I began to do the very hard and messy work of learning. (need more here)
For me, teaching is learning. It is co-learning alongside students. It is making space for listening. It is making space for self-discovery, critical reflection, and community. It is making space for learning to happen in ways that honour diverse histories and ways of knowing and being. It is questioning systems that privilege only certain experiences and ideas. It is being as open and accessible possible. It is indefinable without knowing your learners. It is a process of continual reinvention and growth.
In my digital and physical classrooms... where I... something more about access, authentic assessment, critical reflection, community, collaboration, hopes, dreams, utopian future... :) I'll pick an audience and get there someday!
Some quotations I like and might use:
“The art of teaching
is the art of assisting discovery.” (Mark Van Doren)
“Washing one's hands
of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the
powerful, not to be neutral. ” (Paulo Freire)
“When everyone in the classroom, teacher and students, recognizes that they are responsible for creating a learning community together, learning is at its most meaningful and useful.” (bell hooks)