One of my MA assignments for next week was to talk about my image of students.  For the past week I’ve been grappling with what my image of students looks like.  It’s interesting that in all my years studying and working in the field of education, I haven’t ever had to articulate my view or images of students.  I also recognize that whatever image or images I hold says just as much about me as it does my students.  After some consideration, there are two images, one metaphorical and the other more concrete, that encapsulate my perception of the student.

The first image is of a locked treasure chest.  I see my students as having amazing potential, but often this treasure is tightly locked away, and it’s my job to unlock the creativity, knowledge, skills, and thinking inside.   The majority of students who come into my class seem unaware of the great potential that’s inside them, and if they are aware, they may not know how to access or free their abilities.  Once they have access to what’s inside of them, it becomes my job to teach them how to use it without ‘spending’ it on meaningless or destructive things and going broke.  Unlocking this treasure involves asking lots of questions, challenging their self-perception, worldview, and assumptions about life, and unlearning certain pre-conceptions about school.   I should also clarify that I don’t see my students as objects that need to be fixed or ‘opened’ because I understand that the process of ‘unlocking’ a student requires relationship – it can’t only be done using the curriculum.  This means that I have to look at each student as a unique individual, which, by default, means that the curriculum must be appropriated accordingly.

The second image is a picture I took during a hike with the Adventure Cohort this last fall – in many ways it captures the way I see my students.  Each student in the picture is very unique, each has different strengths and abilities, each has dynamic personalities and gifts.  I love this picture because each of the students is becoming unlocked – they are beginning to be engaged in school, learning, and life.  They are having fun!  Despite the fact that they wouldn’t normally hang out socially, they have come together and are enjoying a moment together – in fact, it is in the act of coming together that many of their strengths are brought to the surface.

Dog Mountain