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Milestones & Markers:
Transcript of Milestones & Markers:
Letters to my 10-year-old self
At the tender age of ten, had you asked me my life's grand ambition, I would have robustly informed you "I will be the best teacher ever!" Twelve years on and attempting to graduate university with an education degree if I had the chance to talk to the tiny version of myself all I could tell her would be "good choice little one!" And for the most part it has been a good choice. But I often wonder just how much choice was actually involved. As an active Pentecostal Christian I believe that God has a meticulously planned design for my existence that was set in motion with ephemeral purpose.
Senior High School English
Early on I learned to live by "what you focus on is where you end up being" thus, make the focus point something exceedingly positive to ensure you grow in exceedingly positive ways. Nancy MacIntosh was my senior English teacher. She was this exceedingly positive example; not that I necessarily want to be her 'when I grow up' but rather she was, and still is to this day, a woman worth imitating. Her self control and constant composure was incomparable, her genuine love for students was appropriately expressed and thoroughly demonstrated with constancy and reliability. Any flaws that I am sure she must have had were overshadowed by her other outstanding qualities. Nancy, now counted a dear friend, believed in me and my dreams and instilled me with the confidence to pursue them fully.
Feels Like Home: Melbourne Practicum
Fourth Practicum: Mackay
Rather than a milestone, this experience was definitely a marker. It marked for me the first time that I understood that God will cover me from the storms found in the staff rooms, emails and faults of the humanity of the school structure. This uphill struggle with staff marked for me the realisation that I do what I do for the students and though having friendly colleagues is extremely helpful when these things are outside of my control I must continue to do what I can, what I came to do. My time in Mackay is marker also for me in ability to withstand; I think of it in terms of 'If I could get through that, I can get through anything". I have left with the knowledge that I can get though the reality of teaching after seeing all the ugliness with confidence in my ability to do so. It just meant fighting for my dream again.
Born or Made?
As with all of the truest answers, balance is the key. I know for a fact that there is no knife sharp enough to separate me from my ability, calling and desire to teach; it is as much a part of me as every strand of DNA. However, I am continually being made a teacher by what I learn and by trying to better my practice, but even more so by the transformative nature of God.
My Learning Journey to Beginning Teaching
Driving with my host family from the airport I has the epiphany if just how much COULD have gone wrong but didn't. I had a momentary vision of just how perfectly God has everything planned. The family I stayed with had two teachers in it; such a support to know they understand and have been through everything I have and more. The school itself was such a blessing giving me free reign in lesson structure and even content, letting me write my own tasks in a senior class and evaluating my marking skills. The whole school was involved in my experience and the vast majority of staff were extremely invested and supportive of me. The exponential growth that took place in my teaching and in my life because of my time there is still unfolding. The experience left me with - affirming me in my want to be a teacher and even me as a person - the possibility that I could 'belong' and be loved and accepted fully somewhere else; that I could make a new home became a reality for me. I can't wait to return for internship and am hoping to one day have the opportunity to work there.
THE VISION: To Zambia and Beyond!
It is no doubt that the visions that God has given me for my future have shaped the passion with which I meet my profession. The rough plan includes me as a long term missionary, teaching and setting up the school that attaches to the orphanage that my charity opened in late 2012. Understanding my part in this vision helped me to see the necessity of the things I was and am learning in class and during practicum.
Art, drama and visual representation had always been passions and areas of gifting so it seemed only natural to capitalise on that fact by
making drama a major in my course.
I have had a love affair with words, language and linguistics for as long as I could remember, so just as with drama, placing English as my second major made logical sense.
I became a youth leader at age 15 and found a driving force within me that needed to help the adolescent age group. They gave me just as much if not more than I gave them!
Leaving high school I enrolled in language and linguistics courses that gave me the mental break I needed while still staying sharp academically, whetting my appetite for the fullness of tertiary study.
Remaining a youth leader throughout senior schooling I became more and more committed to both my group and honing my leadership skills. This lead to further responsibility mirroring the multiple levels of leadership within the school context. This experience showed me that I like to be democratic with my authority and to ensure the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of my team or class is well catered for.
Fighting for my education has given me a respect for what I can do with it. My home situation told me I would never amount to anything and my father hates those with university education. He suggested many other routes. But this was something I wanted to do and though I may not be the best, I know how far I have come and that alone is enough to satisfyme
I firmly believe that I have no right to teach without experience; that I cannot be gracious if I have never had an experience push me past my own grace zone. This meant that I had to go traveling and I wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to know my own country before I went anywhere else, so I have managed to travel to every state and territory and made it an aim to really experience the truth of the Australian culture in every place. After this I had decided I needed an Asian understanding and went to Thailand, then Cambodia and have just these past holidays toured Zambia and South Africa. And what an education that has all been.
I'm still discovering who I am, I will be for the rest of my life but in this season it gives me a sense of purpose to be so uncertain; I need to go and find out who I am on my own. Not as a daughter, sister or friend - void of all other definitions, I want to know me. This could be confusing for my students though so I need to ensure that even wrestling with my character and my identity that they do not become collateral damage in the daily warfare with myself.
My first practicum was a positive experience that did all it was expected to; give me confidence in front of a class, teach me about planning and resourcing, show me my strengths and weaknesses and ignite a passion for the reality of teaching in a classroom. Both mentors gave me honest advice on what the early years of teaching are like and I walked away affirmed and prepared.
The 2007 movie "Freedom Writers" starring Hilary Swank and directed by Richard LaGravenese told the true story of an exceptional teacher and added fuel to my fire in my desire to teach secondary students, to meet them where they're at, to encourage them with my genuine belief that they are capable of greatness no matter who they are, where they come from or what they have been told before. I watch it often to remind myself.
Learning about Piaget and Vygotsky shaped my view of the psychology of children and I am not totally convinced that either one is correct, I think that a combination of Piaget's universal stages and Vygotsky's Zone of proximal development is actually what happens naturally and simultaneously. I tend to align my teaching the scaffolding methodolgy.
However, I have learned about myself most from Vygotsky; his theory of private speech is extremely applicable to me in particular though I think may not be as applicable universally to the same extent.
My second practicum was also an overly positive experience that has left me with what I believe will be at least one life-long friend. My Drama mentor trusted in my ability and that trust gave me more confidence than I knew what to do with. She was absent due to health issues the third week of my practicum and entrusted all her classes to me (under supervision of course) but I got a real taste for lesson planning and the sense of achievement that comes with seeing the full scope of students' learning.
My behaviour management beliefs center around the theories presented by Dreikurs and Glasser. Dreikurs states that students are motivated by the desire to belong and that all behaviour has a desired outcome and if we help the students to change their goals to ones that will help them instead of inhibit them. Glasser promotes the idea that students are also driven by needs, not just desires, those needs being survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.
My sociological beliefs align with those of the structural functionalist persuasion following the thinking that society is a whole body made up of many different parts with different uses with the overall goal of maintaining the body as a whole.