Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Love of Learning

Life happens. Literally. In the past twenty months, I have had not one but two children. As a result, my perspective has shifted on how I utilize time and how I approach daily activities personally, with students, and with peers. The birth of both of my daughters has challenged me as an educator and perpetual learner to take a moment to pause. This momentary reprieve from the busyness of life has ultimately allowed me to reflect deeply on my thoughts on education, the learning process, and how to best reach the needs of an ever-changing student population.

I coach the Speech Team and have coached since I have student-taught. Despite the timing of my daughters (fall babies), I have been able to continue working with students in this capacity - growing the team with at least one baby in my arms at all times. Not wanting to miss a moment with my family, my daughters have become permanent fixtures at school while I'm working with my students. Since their entrance into the world, they have spent more time in the high school media center at the school in which I teach than they have any other place besides their home. Surrounded by books and students who have shown them more love than I could have ever imagined, their exposure to the learning process has enriched their lives and mine. Instilling a "love of learning" in my students has always been a priority for me, one that comes from loving to learn myself. I could not be happier sharing that experience with my children now. The notion that it takes a village to raise a child could not be more relevant as I watch my girls learn to interact with others.

Being able to take a step back and look at the world from the perspective of a small child has been a humbling experience. Each day truly is a new opportunity to discover a new idea, develop a thought, or simply have fun with gaining knowledge. Harper, my oldest, squeals with excitement when we enter school. She knows this place. It is a second home to her from August until February. Her level of comfort and anxiousness to roam the halls once I put her down on the ground is infectious. Physically embodying of a love for life, she reminds me that it is that same excitement that I hope to instill in my students. Granted, they will not be running the halls, trying to close every open door we pass or attempting to crawl into lockers (although that has not stopped some). They will, however, still be looking at the high school halls with fresh eyes. While I have now taught for eight years, these four years are the first only (for most) times they will walk the halls, attend classes, and participate in any number of extracurricular activities. These four years are precious. Students still have so much to experience, encounter, and wonder that they have not even imagined was possible. That freshness to the world is powerful.

Encouraging students to develop critical literacy skills is important and essential for any post-secondary endeavor that my students will face, but what I have learned is that those skills will come when I can aid kids in accessing untapped fervor and a passion for learning. These emotions can cause any student to feel a sense of urgency to reach beyond themselves and look at a text, a concept, or an idea in a new light. Cultivating a child-like curiosity in students can have transformative powers on how they view the world and the educational process altogether. I hope my daughters never lose the joy I see in their eyes when they walk into school – an exciting place where each encounter provides an opportunity to learn something wonderful.

Tweets by @Steph_SMac