I have always loved school. As a child, I excelled in most of my work and can remember being a part of the “100’s Club” in the third grade. Over time, I lost some of my confidence in my intelligence and ability to learn. I didn’t attend traditional school during high school so there was really no measure of my personal success; I completed my work, the end. My education was vastly different from my peers.
Before my first year of college, I had never sat in a lecture style classroom. All of a sudden I had to grasp information that someone else was trying to convey to me and take notes on the pertinent information. This was a huge learning curve for me. How was I suppose to figure out what the professor considered important? What exactly was I suppose to be taking notes on?
Growing up, at both the private school I attended and then later when I was homeschooled, all my learning was facilitated through workbooks. Basically, I taught myself all the information I learned. So as I am sure you can imagine, my first year of college was slightly disastrous. I think I may have received on A in two semesters, lots of C’s and even a D or two.
My second year of college, I attended a completely different school. I changed my major to Education and began taking classes that I was interested in. Everything changed. In the four semesters that I attended Community College, I made the Dean’s list every time. I had finally cracked the code on College learning and my grades were showing it. I became a stickler about my grades; I can remember crying over a B because I knew that I should have received an A. Yes, I am that person. I would later graduated from Community College with High Honors and not attend my graduation because my two year degree was “no big deal.”
When I was accepted at my current school, I was ecstatic. Thanks to the specific program I am a part of, attending this College became a reality. The cost of attendance outside of this program was too high to justify; I pay for education mostly through student loans and the occasional small grant. However, I believe that paying for my own education has helped me to be a more committed, dedicated, and successful student.
It took me awhile to see myself as more than an average student. I remember one semester, I was part of an very unique class. The class consisted of myself, one other student, and the professor. We met every other week and all our other work and discussion was completed online. The very individualized attention from the professor was incredible. At the time, I did not realize how unique this class was or that it was due to my grades, that I was offered this opportunity. I still lacked the confidence in myself as a student and so, I was unaware of the fact that I was doing well.
In the past two semesters, I have had two teachers who have made me realize my success and worth as a student. They have gone out of their way to let me know that I am doing well, that I am excelling in their classes, and truly grasping the concepts that they are hoping we will all learn. This has been so meaningful to me; I didn’t realize just how much I needed this type of affirmation. I love learning, I always have; but, receiving recognition for my success solidifies that I am on the right path and that I will succeed.
Thinking of all of this as a future educator, I realize now how important it is for me to pass on this affirmation to my students. My students may or may not be receiving the support and encouragement from their families and so my support could be crucial to their success and feelings of self worth. It is easy to place everyone in the same box, assuming they have the same support and educational goals in mind. However, that is most certainly not the case. I never had anyone encourage me to go to college, no one ever placed a high emphasis on furthering my education. My natural love for learning led me down the path to a higher education; I wanted to know more, to be more, and to understand more. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given. I count this journey as a privilege in so many ways. I am not from a wealthy family, I do not have a college fund; but, I have a mind filled with a wealth of knowledge and I am determined to continue learning and growing for as long as I live.