Big passion, Little Manda

What drives me? How did I get here?

(This post forms part of an assessment submission for a Master of Education subject)

Education is a field that I kind of fell into post high school after not making it into my preferred course at Art college. However, it is a field in which I discovered a great passion for learning and sharing in the professional journeys of many wonderful teachers who want to make a difference in the world. How I view my identity as a teacher is not fixed but fluid and the product of many interactions with other and the contexts that I participate in, and perhaps even differing and multiple identities for each ( See Socially Constructed World).

Significant to my career development has been a focus on the use of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in learning and a majority of my teaching experience has been on supporting other teachers in their professional learning within this context. From the beginning of my career, I have been both expert  (in the use of technologies) and novice (as a beginning teacher), which has given me a unique path and perhaps a unique perspective. Even in my first full-time position after my teaching degree, I found myself working in both an advising and supporting capacity with schools.  I recall an experience, during a time of curriculum change (so just any old day in schools really) and where I was explaining to a principal how the curriculum constructs of New Basics and Outcomes could work together and what this meant for classroom planning, enactment and assessment. We were there to discuss IT training for his teachers and by the time I left he had a detailed diagram on his office whiteboard and we’d engaged in a fascinating conversation on curriculum theory.

Upon reflecting on my work and life experiences, it is clear that there has been a driving passion which has guided me along the way and fueled my desire for change and sense of compassion to help other teachers with their learning. This has not just been a product of my own endeavour, but rather, as Biesta and Tedder (2007) explain, it has been agency as a three dimensional combination of past, future and present, intertwined with the social context and the interactions with others at particular points in my timeline. Agency “is not something that people have; it is something that people do”; (Biesta and Tedder 2007:6) something which has to be achieved. My passion is something that I try to live out in practice but rarely feel that I achieve… yet.

With some experiences similar to the ‘millennial’ author in Albion and Gutke (2010), the prevalence of and my affinity for technology growing up, throughout my bachelor degree and beyond led to a focus in this area. Additionally the more pervasive and changing pace of technological development, including web 2.0, has more recently become an area of interest for me due to a perceived alignment with the ways users interact online and my beliefs about learning and teaching. My age usually categorises me as generation Y and I do share some attributes with this group such as a being technology savvy and valuing collaboration, creativity and innovation (Albion and Gutke, 2010). However, my experiences of being mentored by and supporting teachers of all age groups means that although I can be classified as a particular category by age, I can relate and align to multiple traits of different generational theories. My age has been both an asset and a hindrance in different situations, such as gaining trust with older teachers. In an educational leadership role, I value shared decision-making, collaborative use of technology, access to different models of professional learning and active involvement in professional dialogue. These are all traits of Generation Y as identified by Albion and Gutke (2010).

Sometimes my passion gets me in trouble (or I think that it will – see Fear and Self Loathing) and the differences between where I am and what could be are too big, but the most rewarding part of my career path so far has been finding those people with similar beliefs and ideas who challenge me and help me to grow (see Finding Myself… Being Connected).

References for this post

Albion, Peter & Gutke, Hannah J. (2010). Successful succession through shared leadership: preparing a new generation of educational leaders. In: 2010 Sydney Symposium The Future of Teacher Education and School Leader Education: Creating the Vision, 26-29 July 2010, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. (Submitted). Retrieved February 2011 from http://eprints.usq.edu.au/8589/

Biesta, G., & Tedder, M. (2007). Agency and learning in the lifecourse: Towards an ecological perspective. Studies in the Education of Adults, 39(2), 132-149. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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