Monday, October 4, 2010

We Can Only See With Our Beliefs

Guest Blogger Jennifer Hedican: I live in Courtenay with husband, three kids and one puppy. I currently working as Learning Support Teacher at elementary school. I grew up in Lower Mainland, moved to the Island 23 years ago and love it here. I spent 6 years up in Port Hardy area before moving to Courtenay. I raised my children as I worked part time and as a TOC before returning fulltime about 10 years ago. (The picture is of a sunset taken this summer at Sproat Lake, where we are lucky enough to own a cabin.)

We can only see with our beliefs.
A simple yet powerful statement that directly affects my teaching capacity.

Our beliefs can either lead to a good or a bad school experience for a child, depending on what we, their teacher, believe. Taking the time to understand our beliefs, the unspoken assumptions and daily actions that determine our scholarly practice is an oft ignored practice. Who has time for this when we have 22 primary kids, up to 30 older students, all clamoring around inside our tiny teaching space? We all have subject matter to cover, assessment to complete and meetings to attend!

Yet when we slow down, breathe deeply and look at each student, we see that each one of them has something about them that we need to understand, to connect with, to help move them forward to possibilities of where they might be.

One of the most important beliefs educators must have comes from a growth mindset (Carol Dweck), one which believes in possibilities, sees potential and knows that being wrong can be a good thing. To have a growth mindset, one must lose the notion that there is only one way to learn things, that a child as we see them now will be how they will always be.

I work as a Learning Support Teacher for an elementary school with 377 students. I believe that all students can be successful, but not necessarily only in the traditional school subjects. I believe that the scientist in Grade Two who is reading, talking and drawing about black holes and nuclear matter at a level I can not even begin to comprehend (yet struggles with printing, sustaining attention and completing work) will grow up to discover new things no one ever thought possible and that I can ease his way to that level.

I believe that the child who is still not reading in Grade 2 may some day write us the most poetic novel ever, or sing songs that soothe the soul or teach adults to read.

I believe that every single child I see, every one sitting in a classroom or out in the hallway or in the office, will be able to thrive in the environment that we create for them, if we have a growth mindset.

I want to believe that I can begin slowly to change the mindsets of some of my colleagues about how to integrate and embrace different learning styles.

I want to believe that my colleagues will realize that disabilities only exist in our mind as we make them, not in reality.

I want to be able to effect the life chances of a child who learns differently from me, knowing that it is my beliefs that are more potent than any other component of my teaching.

We can only see with our beliefs and I believe in the positive life potential of every student in our school.

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