It’s OK to “Start Where I Am”

After a couple of weeks of feeling lost and slightly disconnected in relation to this online learning experience, I am back! Thank you to all of you have been continuing to comment on my blog and provide such wonderful insights. The disconnect I have been feeling is not because of any of you. Life has just been a little hectic over the last couple of weeks with harvest consuming my evenings and weekends. Although I haven’t added any formal posts, I have done some self-reflecting on my technical capabilities and current knowledge of social networking tools. I have to admit this is a relatively new experience for me, and I am coming to this experience at a relatively low level. (In relation to our school division rubric which is based on a 1 through 5 scale (ranging from ‘ no understanding’ through to ‘advanced understanding’), I would put myself at about a Level 3 which represents a ‘basic understanding’ of the concepts of social networking tools, open education, and online learning communities in this case. This realization has left me feeling slightly immobilized as I feel like I should be functioning at a higher level especially when so many of you have shared such solid and amazing experiences with these tools both in and out of your work environments.

I was recently preparing for a work-related presentation and happened to refer back to a book I have read in the past calledStart Where They Areby Karen Hume, a Canadian author. The book which focuses on ideas for differentiated instruction which identifies all people (teachers and students) as being unique and coming to the learning environment with unique ‘fingerprints’. The author mentions when considering implementing differentiated instruction, it is important for the teacher to start where he or she is in relation to his/her beliefs and understandings of differentiated instruction. Also, the author mentions it is essential to “start where they (the students) are” in terms of such things as readiness, learning styles, interests, etc.

For my presentation, I also referred to a book called Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning by Jan Chappuis which helps the teacher look at effective feedback in terms of 3 questions. It suggests helping the learner identify what he/she needs to reach the outcome in terms of, “Where am I going?”, “Where am I now?”, and “How do I close the gap?”.

As a teacher, it would be ridiculous to expect my students to have reached the learning outcome prior to engaging in practice, inquiry, and learning. As a teacher, I know it is important to help my students identify where we are going in relation to the learning, help them figure out where they are in relation to their learning right now, and then come up with some strategies for how to help them achieve the learning outcome which would require starting where each student is on the continuum. This seems to make perfect sense from a teacher perspective, but has been more difficult for me to swallow from the perspective of the learner. As a learner, I want to be at the Level 5 before I even get started – completely unrealistic! So, I have decided not to be so hard on myself. I am just going to START WHERE I AM in relation to my investigations of social media, open education, and online learning communities and, with your feedback and support, will begin to develop my understanding and help to close the gap between where I am now and where I would like to be by the end of this course realizing that my learning will continue into the future.

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~ by lewisv on October 23, 2010.

4 Responses to “It’s OK to “Start Where I Am””

  1. Hi Vanessa, I expect that many of us in this class share your feelings about growing and learning. I also suspect that many of us having successfully navigated the education system to this point are driven to be at the “5” level. Many of us are academic achievers and that intrinsic motivation drives us to want to succeed in any formal learning situation. It certainly motivates me and causes me a lot of anxiety when my skill using technology holds me back from doing the things that I want to do. I too have begun to accept my limitations and focus instead on making the course meaningful to me right now in the context of my work and life. Once I figured this out it freed my mind to move to a higher level of learning. A real and personal lesson for me that reinforces my understanding of the part that the affective domain plays in learning.

  2. Hi Vanessa,

    I am finding that my classroom has such varying needs this year and I am having trouble ensuring that all students are able to learn at their level. I know this is not a unique situation, but I find this year that it is something that I am struggling with. After discussing this with a colleague, I was directed to the book you referred to called “Start Where They Are” by Karen Hume. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I am not excited to start it. I think it is exactly what I am looking for.

    As for starting where you are… I think that will be very powerful for you and for all of us. Just like in our own classrooms, those of us who are taking this course are at a variety of levels. The learning curve is steep for some of us, but I am quite proud of the way we are all jumping in and doing our best. Isn’t that what we ask of the students we teach, or the people who work for us? Jump in and learn as you go!

  3. […] myself of one of my previous posts in which I acknowledged that it is “OK” to ”Start Where I Am” in relation to my learning.  I have a very limited digital presence, do not have a […]

  4. ha. ya. your journal of a thousand miles starts with a single step of your foot….

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