EDU 402 (3:50-5:30)
Grace J. Ward
Adaptation: The Trials and Tribulations within My Educational Foundation
Education has always been an area of personal struggle within my life. From a young age I never shared with others and would try my best to break as many hearts as I could possibly manage within my first three years within the school system. When lessons became less about Valentine’s Day cards and bat mobiles I began to dive deep into my long and personal battle waged against the study of mathematics. In third grade was riddled with multiplication tables, which for the life of me were never my forte and a teacher who felt embarrassing a student into a competitive form of test taking was her closest expertise in elementary school pedagogy. Needless to say I transferred from a private school into the harsh and unfamiliar territory of the public education within my town.
Within the public sphere of things I was no longer chastised by academia and received the specially allocated funding to tailor lessons to my learning style by private tutors to bring me back to grade level and on par with the rest of my schoolmates. As with most students that have to adjust due to exceptionality within a classroom, I was considered less intelligent then my peers. On the contrary I was considered very bright but suffered from a learning difference and certain physical impediments that kept me from performing to the standards normally set for grade school students. Once I received the aide I needed I excelled within the conventional classroom and tested out of my program to be mainstreamed into a room full of kids my own age. Though now considered normal in terms of my education courses I was faced with new social problems for being intelligent and outspoken within my daily routine.
Never has my elementary school experience been described as an easy one, being bullied and mistreated for being different from other children whether it was from the front of the classroom or within it. Family issues including my father’s failing health and my oldest brother Michael’s decision to join the military made for an awkward and dark time within my personal narrative. Not to mention the hardships I faced with disability and very traditional and regimental educators and a student body without support or friendship being the new kid in school. But this negative experience in my life taught me introspective skills that I still use commonly today. Not to mention it made me realize that compassion and respect towards all is the only way to truly create a comfortable learning environment. Which is a very essential ingredient within a student body that all have different personal issues and stories that heavily effect their performance and interest within a classroom.
It was not until high school till I really developed and branched out to gain both confidence and social acceptance that made me into a strong individual and student. I was part of a class of students who were not very diverse in the sense of skin color or culture but were heavily tracked based on their socioeconomic status. The ones who had the opportunity were the ones placed within the higher levels in education courses while others who were not as fortunate struggled and most left school before our graduation date. I have very supportive parents who cheered for me regardless of what they had been told I was capable of, who would eventually push me into my first honors classroom. It was a history class which covered the basis of prehistory all the way prior to Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492, taught by a man still using pedagogy I theorize was created within ancient Sumer.
I did very well in the course because of a newly developed love and personal talent within the realm of historic fact and analysis, which can be attributed to my father’s 26 years as a history teacher. But it wasn’t until 10th grade that I realized that I wanted to take on the challenge of becoming a history educator myself. This decision came in the form of a man named Hugh Hill, a former law student, turned comedian, turned history teacher who exemplified to me what it really means to be a teacher. In order to be effective within the classroom one must have the ability to transcend one role or style and take on a multitude of forms in order to more accurately reach the student population. Mr. Hill’s humor and wit was what helped him take on any part he decided to play within the spectrum of block scheduling. His lesson plans and presentations were more than facts within a book reiterated word by word; they took on a life of their own. He kept us engaged and interacted and made those who hated the content at least enjoy and be successful within his classroom.
Finally I had realized that I was a talented and bright student who really enjoyed being part of the community within the classroom. I was excited and compelled to due all the tasks that had been set before me, with an energy and enthusiasm that had been missing through the previous 7 years of my schooling. Of course this all came to an end when I had to make the choice to take an advanced placement course my junior year of high school with a teacher I found to disrespect his student with terrible attitude and conventionalism that I had grown distain for throughout my lifetime. Instead I made the choice to join the college prep history class for 11th graders, which was taught by the high school football coach, which is stereotypical of most history educators throughout our country. The man had been teaching there for over a decade yet there were countless moments in which I led the class discussion and held insight he was not aware of. I say this not as an ego boost to myself but rather a criticism to the quality of educators sometimes within school systems who aren’t there for the students, but rather for their skills as a coach.
When graduating from Sanford High School, I felt accomplished but at the same time worried about the next step in coming to school in Farmington. I have never been an exceptionally strong student even admittedly to this day, yet I came in with a positive attitude and a willingness to accept any challenges thrown my way. Which I feel is another thing that brought me this far within the education program, even though I have had a couple professors within this field that I disagree with and didn’t work well with. I have grown into a competent and capable learner who will extend my experience, knowledge, and compassion towards all my students. Through my life in education I feel that I will better connect towards all students because I have seen both spectrums of being the top of my class and at times have hit the lowest points in which a student can go through.
I have learned to adapt and be versatile towards different students with different styles because I myself have experiences how difficult it is to excel in certain traditional classrooms. I hope to contribute understanding and comfort to all students who need someone to listen to them before telling them advice or ignoring their pleas for help. I hope to be a positive role model for all students as someone who has overcome great struggle and personal loss throughout my own lifetime yet has turned it around into a learning experience in which to grow from. I hope through my support and compassion towards what is best for each individual within my classroom my students don’t have to suffer through the same hardships I faced while within a public high school.
My only fear is that I won’t know enough content to confidently teach my concentration in an effective way for all my students to benefit. I feel as if I have spent most of my years of critical personal development learning mostly about pedagogy and how to reach learners and not enough time with what to show them in terms of historical content. I suppose this worries me because I don’t want to be a rookie teacher who cannot gain respect from my peers and students because of my lack of knowledge in certain aspects of my content and have been considering applying to grad school for my masters in history rather than going straight into a high school classroom. I guess that I won’t know until next year at this time what choice is the best for myself, I only hope that regardless of what life throws at me I’ll be able to be confident and mature enough to adapt to these changes.