Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How I came to have an interest in education.

Both my parents were/are teachers; in both of their cases they worked in education in one way or another for their entire lives. I really had very little exposure to very many other professions. As I went through high school, I found I enjoyed speaking in front of people; something that a large percentage of our population fears.

Prior to entering education I felt I had to explore other potential careers first. Eager to be outdoors, I initially sought a B.Sci in physical geography, and in my last semester of this degree, specialized in GIS systems (the computer software integrated with geography). I just couldn't be sold that this is where my interest was, as I seemed more interested in getting a Master's in something to allow me to teach at the university than to work in the field of physical geography. This was the proof that education was what I was meant to do. I immediately returned to school, got a B.Ed. and found my way into the work place.

At this point in my life (when I first started teaching), both my history with epilepsy, and my interest in neurology had completely subsided. At that point I was so glad to have seemingly conquered and left behind my neurological problems, that I didn't want to show any interest in them. It had been years since having a seizure. I really hadn't studied neurology or the brain during either of my undergraduate degrees. I taught for about three years, and at that point I felt like I wanted to begin to get into research in education. I was beginning to read books about children/adolescents to better understand my students. It was this book that ignited my interest in understanding how my students think:

Though it was not this book alone, returning to read about the brain of an adolescent, and attempting to better my ability to empathize with how they thought ultimately led me down the path that had me thoroughly enjoying education of them, but always wondering what I could change to best serve how their minds receive instruction. This curiosity ultimately led me to seek a Master's degree in which I would be looking into how these minds operate. While it was a degree in Counselling Psychology, in almost every paper I wrote (with a couple exceptions) I would often bring neurology into the picture. This education of my own self ultimately led me to want to be a catalyst for students to find what truly interests them.

With the exception of math classes, where I find this idea far more difficult, I really look to have students discover areas of science that they really love and enjoy. I encourage any and all of you to try this. In my class I call it their Ph.D. project, and they make a 7-10 minute presentation followed by a 5-7 minute activity to reinforce what they taught. This is an idea I stole from a colleague what called it her "Genius Hour." Not only does it face that fear of speaking, it teaches them to plan a lesson, and to get people truly interested in topics that their peers may only know the surface of. The students get a partial reality of what teaching is like, and some of them (notably at grades 11 and 12) begin to get a sense of metacognition.

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