I find that I have a tendency to be fairly pragmatic in my approach to life both in the realm of being an educator and my personal pursuits. I frame information and situations within a practical lens; what can I accomplish today to move myself forward? How can I practically and efficiently apply the strategies and research I’m studying to be of most benefit to my students and myself? How will this be of value now, a year from now, ten years from now? I tend to rank-order priorities in light of the impact that my goals and objectives will have on my future and quality of life. So, when I think about what I am most interested in learning to support the learners that I lead, I have a tendency to look for a practical approach; what do I need to learn-apply-research further to move forward in my career?
Currently, my learners are on the Autism spectrum so I am curious to expand my understanding of the causes, different manifestations and research-based strategies to improve my instructional strategies and in turn, my students’ learning. Though I will not be working exclusively with this population following this year, the likelihood that a proportion of my students will have some type of learning disorder, disability or some other diagnosis of “exceptionality” is self-evident. Prior to this year, I really knew nothing about autism; the causes, consequences, effective teaching strategies or even exactly what it “looks like” to have autism. I have grown greatly through this experience despite the difficulty of the task. I know that I can become frustrated when texts bandy about copious advice without providing description practical application through examples and case studies; it is my hope that my conceptual study of human development dovetails well with the applications I will be learning in my instructional strategies course for working with exceptional and all students.
Despite my practical nature, there nonetheless exists an aspect of my personality that truly enjoys the mental stimulus of learning just for the sake of learning. I believe that part of what draws me to this class is the hope that I will gain some insight into myself as a learner and human being. I like to notice the influence that nutrition, sleep and exercise has on my cognitive abilities. When I have an emotional reaction to someone or some situation, I like to analyze the root cause of my response whether it was positive, negative or somewhere in between. Why did I flush, my heart race, my anger flare, my eyes become misty or any other number of responses? I am curious to know on a deeper level, what makes me tick. I believe that self-awareness is achieved through trail and error, setbacks and steps forward, and just plain old-fashioned taking inventory of one’s attributes and motivation. It’s tough to take a long, hard look in the mirror, but it’s necessary. One of my primary roles as an educator is to lead through example, to be the learner and person that I envision for my students. Understanding to a greater depth the various stages and aspects of human development will allow me to develop a richer sense of self which in turn will allow me to give more fully to those around me, including my students.