Monday, November 3, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude #3: Celebrating a Commitment for Learning

The title of my blog, Feeling the Burn, comes from a beloved catch phrase from San Diego Area Writing Project's 2014 Invitational Summer Institute. An important SDAWP tenet is that in order to be effective writing teachers, we need to (guess what?) write.

A lot. 

Every day, we wrote to warm up. We write to reflect on reading. We drafted personal narratives poems, and positions papers. The leaders put us through our paces. One leader in particular, chanted the mantra "feel the burn" slogan, urging us to value being placed a learners' position. I gained a greater appreciation for the anxieties students have about writing (and sharing!) their ideas. Knocked me down a peg . . . or three. 

Me, journaling at the Institute.
What does this vignette have to do with today's question, "What am I most proud of to date in your teaching career?"  Being selected for the Summer Institute, for sure, is one of my proudest achievements. The program compelled me to  "feel the burn" associated with the activities I used to nonchalantly assign students, mandating tasks with only the barest hint empathy for their fears about writing. The program shocked me into a greater appreciation for students' position of vulnerability - and the potential joys they could experience when making their writing and thinking public. 

This particular professional development experience illustrates something I celebrate about myself, an attitude that gives me a sense of pride: my willingness to engage in life long learning. My whole endeavor becoming a teacher was just such a risk. I went back to graduate school at the age of forty, ready to try something new. 

That willingness to learn, to place myself in environments that compel me to grow, is something I treasure dearly. I'm hella grateful for the experience with the Summer Institute. I learned (and practiced!) habits of the mind that make me a more effective teacher. Just as important, I learned new habits of the heart that make me a much more empathetic teacher. I'm proud of my willingness to keep learning, to risk being teachable. It's my goal to remain teachable, to maintain a beginner's mindset. 

I'm grateful for the Sweet Writing Life blog for inspiring this post. The blogger reminds me of all the ways I'm committed to being a life-long learner. I should have just cut-and-pasted her post!