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Schools are set up to provide young people the opportunity to receive an education. Teachers are an important role of the schooling system, as there decided teaching for Ms. can affect the consequences of students’ learning, identity formations and positionings (Comber, 2006). This personal narrative essay will describe my three schooling experiences, followed by the outcome and my impression of these experiences. Moreover, I will analyze how these experiences have influenced my interest in education and teaching.
The most remarkable schooling experience is my third grade’s writing class. I did not regard my writing skills as talented as I often received low marks prior to third grade. Despite that, I have undergone a transformation after meeting Mrs. An. She noticed my anxiety towards writing and revealed similar struggles when she was my age, she reminded me that it is never too late to improve my writing skills. Mrs. An encouraged me to be confident and involve my feelings in the writing assignments, and have written positive feedback for every piece of my writing. Her advice and expectations have motivated me to put more effort into writing. Mrs. An not only taught me how to improve my writing skills, but she also shared her own writings with us and assigned interesting topics only. She reminded me that writing should be enjoyable and could be developed as a habit. At the end of the year, I became the best writer in the class.
Instead of judging my performances based on my previous scores, Mrs. An chose to avoid deficit thinking and repositioned me. According to Comber (2006), from the teacher’s perspective, Mrs. An’s interpretive work brought a powerful improvement in my literacy learning. Based on my work, she chose a one-on-one discuss session to provide useful feedbacks, additionally, she would share her personal stories, displaying her empathy and engagement. My attitude of writing has changed because my teacher had belief in my potentials and motivated me with her caring characteristic (Comber, 2006). Moreover, from a student’s perspective, a sense of belonging and keenness to learn were developed due to her personal involvement in matters and the ability to establish trust with her students.
According to Self-determination theory (SDT), students’ level of performance, mental well-being and self-management can be improved by the teacher’s support of their autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Through Mrs. An’s feedback, it helped to build my sense of competence as I was able to grasp the weaker areas that needed to be worked on. Her active use of discursive work is carefully conducted, and encourage the growth of relatedness as she understood how the use of language could make a difference. With improving marks and constructive criticism from each assignment, my confidence was slowly building up. As a result, I have grown a passion for writing and was further driven to be a better writer. Thus, my new grown enthusiasm towards writing has boosted my sense of autonomy, which has worked alongside the balance of competence and relatedness to generate my ambition to overall perform better in my academic.
During the sixth grade, I was at the top of my performance and gained various academic certificates. As a result, my teachers had higher expectations of me, and I worked particularly hard to match their expectations. There was a time when I was asked to answer a math problem, however, I was unable to solve it accordingly. My Math teacher became annoyed and expressed his disappointment with my latest Math grade, his criticism had an impact on my self-esteem and made me tearful during the class. During the next ten-minute break, my friend came to console me and suggested drawing together as she knew it was one of the methods to ease my mind. Despite starting to feel more relaxed, as soon as my Math teacher was aware of my behaviour, he became furious and stated that he expected better from me since he had assumed I would use my time more wisely. I felt ashamed and anxious that I will no longer be the ideal student. I have obtained poor grades subsequently as I’ve lost interest in Math and was constantly nervous around my Math teacher.
Based on the dominant culture, I used to believe that teachers are always right, thus I should obey under their authority. Nonetheless, after that experience, I recognized how negative discourses have an impact on students. According to Comber (2006), children’s literacy ability can be enhanced by teachers’ discursive work. In Asian culture, most teachers believe that a strict discipline correlates with high achievements from students. In my examples, it seemed logical to derive the above as my Math teacher was reminding me how I should expect more from myself, however, he often neglected the meaning of his words and its effect on students’ mentality. Instead of a reminder, it became intimidation towards the teacher and additional pressure on myself. Despite that, it is important for teachers to educate students about the possible consequences of irrational decision-making to minimize the chances of children remaining in their protective bubble.
It should be highlighted that most schools only value particular type of knowledge, such as Math and English, and in the dominant culture, educating students to achieve good exam scores has become the top priority. In my previous school, drawing class was not counted towards the final grade so it was less valued in the curriculum. The same aspect could be seen from my Math teacher, who was more focused on academic scores than creativity skills. Contrary to the dominant culture, the role of teaching should not be limited in being the transferal of certain knowledge to promote effective educating.
For my final year of high school, I was studying overseas and have chosen a textile course. I struggled in the beginning due to the language barrier, and the class material was more difficult than anticipated. I was not confident about my English and often felt reluctant to share my thoughts in class and isolated myself. Despite having self-doubts, my textile teacher made efforts to establish a relationship with me which eventually helped me to excel academically and socially. Ms. Robson would spend time to explain the course content in detail and set up group meetings to encourage me speaking with my peers. Her efforts have led me to develop a sense of relatedness, thus boosted my self-esteem and confidence. I began to include traditional Chinese patterns into the garment for my assignment because I felt that it represents my identity. On the presentation day, I had concerns over the level of my work that it would not be enticing enough. On the contrary, Ms. Robson was impressed with my ability to incorporate my cultural background into the garment and thought it was the most developed idea throughout this assessment. With Ms. Robson’s feedback, I felt that my ideas, especially my culture, were appreciated by her, which encouraged me to continue including cultural elements into my design and develop a sense of belonging to the class. Later in that year, my garment was chosen to enter a design competition and I eventually won the second prize in the whole South Island.
By establishing a relationship with Ms. Robson, I began to feel connected with the teacher and other students in the class. The dominant culture of teaching was not the only method Ms. Robson utilized, she would prioritize a student’s needs. With me, she showed her interest in my understanding of knowledge and culture background. It is beneficial when a student’s own cultural background is appreciated alongside the dominant culture to bring about a better high school experience and success. As a result, her care and involvement was a crucial part that inspired me to complete my assignment.
The sense of relatedness created due to Ms. Robson has made the classroom an environment that has minimal competition and comparisons, which allowed me to feel comfortable in exchanging my ideas with peers. The supportive atmosphere of the class has intrinsically motivated me to achieve better and resulted in all students working to their best potentials without the pressure and anxiety being put on them. In addition to that, the open-minded and multi-cultural class has encouraged me to bravely share my previously learned knowledge and link to new ones I have obtained.
The three experiences of schooling have enabled me to develop an interest in education, since I realized the influences a teacher has over children’s lives and opportunities in their future. Mrs. An and Ms. Robson showed me how a teacher is able to design their curriculum to minimize the achievement gap between different groups in the classroom. As a student, I can acknowledge a teacher’s actions have an impact on students’ academic and social success. As I have benefited from my personal experiences, I was inspired by my teachers and aimed to become a teacher who is able to bring positive influence to students and help guide them to achieve their goals.
The negative impact brought about from my Math class was another reason contributing to my aim of becoming a teacher. This poor experience has reminded me that, in today’s schooling system, there is still room for the moral decision-making of teaching to improve as it is often the least concerned aspect. This is because students are not only gaining knowledge from school, they are also being shaped by the school to be a ‘normal’ and ‘well-behaved’ citizen of the community. Subsequently, when acting as the teacher in the future, I would attempt to avoid undermining the curriculum, and strive to work alongside the dominant culture to ensure every student’s unique skills is being valued. This is because understanding that there are students who will not have the same level of interest for every subject is important since students are able to feel that they are cared for and will learn to care for others. Although the education system is no doubt a significant tool in guiding students to a successful future, I am confident that by being a part of the education institution, I will have the opportunity to enlighten the traditional view of the dominant culture of teaching.
In conclusion, my three significant schooling experiences have encouraged me to become interested in education. I am ambitious in becoming a teacher who can bring positive influences on children through compassion and prioritize individual needs during their education period.
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