Claim your own growth

Photo: Grow by David Joyce on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I learn a lot in conversation with others. I learn so much blogging. There are some insightful people who take their time to read me and respond to what I say. This post was initiated in one such exchange with my friend Scott Johnson. Reminiscing on my learning a few months ago when attending the Edtech Team Brazil GAFE Summit, I poured out what resonated with me regarding the use of portfolios and how they fascinate me. Scott chimed in with the following words:

Clarissa, I’m interested in the portfolio idea as a form of claiming our efforts as authentically won plus as a tool of being a conscious learner. Sometimes we need to remind others that we are serious about our growth.

There’s so much packed in those two sentences.

Life is not easy, and professional development is most definitely an effortful endeavor. It requires commitment, a vision, and a purpose. We learn so much on the way but so many of us end up not keeping track of our development by engaging in some kind of self-reflection. To me that’s the true purpose of a portfolio. It’s a way to track your progress, to take stock of what you’ve learned. But it is only when we engage in reflection, when we actually examine the curves and the paths we chose to take along the way that we are able to attain a more concrete sense of achievement, of development. It is your reflecting on your own development that makes you aware of your own learning. And I guess that openly engaging in that reflection and declaring yourself to the world impacts your self-image and your self-worth more deeply than we might perceive if we go about our lives in auto pilot, just reacting to whatever experiences happen to us along the way. Being aware of your own achievements makes you care about achieving anything to begin with.

It is all about reminding yourself and the world that you are serious about your own growth. That you care. And that you purposefully work for it.

This blog is my portfolio. Here I have shared so many reflections on what has happened to me along my way of professional and in so many levels my personal development. This is my way of claiming my little bit of space in the world. As my friend Scott put it:

Clarissa, in art class we did portfolios to demonstrate that we had some claim to a place in the world. Not just dreamy and lost in ourselves but tangible actors with presence. This was very hard for some I think they had never been asked for THEIR thoughts and as students we were used to only being asked for what others thought.

Tangible actors with presence. Engaging in self-reflection and declaring our learning and our worth to the world is powerful. Forming our own opinions about ourselves is powerful. Asking ourselves the questions that enable us to dig deeper and find our hidden talents, our voices.

How do we come to feel worthy to put ourselves out there? To show what we can do? Some are confident and just blast ahead but that leaves a lot of students behind. And even confident people can hesitate when they feel less than competent. How to remove the barrier of not being “good-enough-yet” might be possible with a portfolio where a student can see their path and understand it as growth from effort?

I believe that we come to feel worthy to put ourselves out there by leaning on people who care, who believe that we all have something unique to contribute to the world. I believe that we all need to go through the “not-good-enough-yet” feeling and conquer it – not be paralyzed by it. Going through that process is an important part of your growth. We need a support system, a group of people who are willing to start the reflection process. We need other people to read us and talk to us about our reflections. That’s how we grow.

How can we start a culture of self-reflection on one’s own professional development? I guess we need to value our own answers to questions like What have you achieved so far? What are your goals? What is your vision? If we want to create a portfolio culture among our students, we first need to inspire and support teachers along the way. We need to create a sandbox for teachers to feel as learners and engage in building their own portfolios. Teachers need to experience first-hand the empowerment that comes from claiming their own growth.

Thank you, @scottx5 , for taking the time to talk to me here.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and from whoever feels they have something to say on all this! That’s how we grow.

5 comments

  1. Cla,

    Everything we discussed, explored and designed is here. We can only claim our groeth when we feel there are routes to pursue, possibilities to evolve. I see many educators with amazing competencies who are have this dormant potential of being much more than what they are now, and sometimes they just need a push, being poked. We have to be sensible enough to see those who want to move forward but have no energy. They only start generating this propulsion toeards something greater when someone helps them find their voices and show them the choices. And this is the beauty of claiming our work. It might start as a collective endeavour but is it is your own individual path. I only started claiming mine when I connected to the most generous group of people I’ve ever met, the Webheads!

  2. Thank You Clarissa! A number of my thoughts come from a silly project started by being “misunderstood” by the medical caregivers I have encountered recently. Not being able to be myself around them (they are too busy and their time too valuable) it seemed like a cool project to become a hermit and speak to no one. The trouble with becoming like an empty turtle shell and pretending not to be home is not being able to shut-up. People can hear me in there and they won’t go away.

    So is the answer to the problem of being misunderstood in a social world something that can be solved? I think it can’t be and our otherwise perfect selves are just going to have to get used to it. And anyway, if you have ever tried to teach someone something it gets really hard to keep the good stuff for yourself and even teachers who enjoy making the lesson as difficult as possible to the make the students work for it can’t help blabbing something out and spoiling the whole secret.

    I think the hardest part of being human is fear of being obvious. To have to declare you are secretly trying to understand the whole universe before lunch and really aren’t making much progress is perfect for a portfolio. It shows you aren’t defeated.

    Later
    Scott

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