I arrived at Islandwood believing that what I wanted the most out of this experience was to be able to engage kids to explore the natural world, and maybe, just maybe impart some knowledge in the process of that engagement. So what have I learned within the past couple of weeks?
Through my investigation classes and times for reflection at Islandwood, I have realized that it is I who needs to be engaged and to explore the natural environment! By reflecting upon this simple prompt, “Why are you here?”, I have realized a few things. Instead of learning every flora and fauna that exists within the 250 acres or so of land that surrounds me, I wish to develop a vocabulary of the natural world that is unique to me as an individual. What do I notice when I walk through the woods? What draws my attention and how can I translate these experiences had at Islandwood into knowledge to share? My experience at IW has so far taught me that rekindling my sense of curiosity, engaging my senses, and acting upon my impulse to know more are all worthwhile graduate teaching endeavors
What I have learned so far at Islandwood is that certain skills can be used in the classroom to convey knowledge in such as way as to make it meaningful to each student. How do I reach and engage students if I assume that knowledge is paramount and the only use of class is to learn facts? Instead, I am here at Islandwood to learn what pedagogical skills work best under various circumstances. The content pedagogy I wish to explore the most within the classroom is how to use a variety of skills to create an active and dynamic learning experience. Furthermore, I’d like to learn how to not control learning but instead facilitate it through activities and reflection.
I often wonder when I’ll know that, yes, I am on the road to becoming an effective teacher. What disposition do I need to already possess to be an effective teacher? Perhaps it is that my mom is also a teacher, and I have learned from her that your disposition and the way in which you foster relationships makes up a big portion of teaching. Just like her, I believe I am an empathetic, positive-minded, and an authentic individual. I often enjoy making space for others to be courageous, as well as acting upon creative thoughts and ideas.
There are many more qualities I wish to possess and hope to develop while working at Islandwood. I see that understanding individual needs, building relationships with students for stronger connections, and taking risks are all valuable skills to use within a classroom learning experience. I am looking forward to meeting others in the IW community who possess these qualities so as to learn from them.
My experience at Islandwood will undoubtedly be filled with opportunities for reflection and meditation on what is important to me and why I am here. Graduate school is more than just launching a career, it is also a chapter in your life that is meant for self-improvement and the investigation of what motivates you as an individual.
“Inspiration is the responsibility to create.” -Jacob Scalon