Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Evolution of Me

Life is full of surprises. No joke.

Here I am at the end of my student teaching semester, and I can tell you with full confidence: I am a fundamentally different person than I was 4 months ago. I expected that my student teaching experience would change me--mold me into a better version of myself as a teacher and life-long learner--but I never fathomed that it would so drastically alter the evolution of my person.

Four months ago...
  1. I was not a happy person. Stress was ingrained into my soul. Every part of my life was somehow negatively touched by stress in a way that made me constantly on edge and agitated, regardless of the context.
  2. I was overworked. I didn't know how to say no, or value my own well being in the midst of everything that I felt need to be achieved. I assumed problems that were never mine to begin with, internalized and antagonized over them, and this undoubtedly contributed to #1 (see above...).
  3. I was academically fatigued. From August 2010 to August 2012, I had been taking college and graduate level classes for essentially 24 months straight. In that time period, I took almost 100 credits of college and graduate level classes. I completed the bulk of two university degrees in that time period. I was desperate for a life that no longer revolved around readings and papers of my own doing, and terrified that I had ruined my love for learning by so long immersing myself in a structured academic environment.
  4. I was questioning most everything about the choices that I had made in my life, leading up to my student teaching. I felt like I was on a precipice--that first day of student teaching was going to prove the last 3 years of my life either a gargantuan waste of time, or reinforce that teaching is what I am meant to do.
Then I started student teaching. And my world did a 180.

I have come to realize that many traits I once would have assumed to be fundamentally true about myself are, in fact, malleable and evolving. They are in my power to shape and control.
  1. I am a happy person. I have the ability to choose what I focus on and put my energies into. And if I choose a positive outlet to focus on, like running, teaching, my students, and my relationships, there are few things that can bring me down in life. Stress is of my own making because I decide how to respond to my circumstances.
  2. I am responsible for no one's problems and work but my own; I have choice and autonomy in what I do with my time. I learned how to say no. I developed a clear set of priorities. I let people in to my life who supported those priorities, and did not push me into things that were not in my best interest. I finally learned how to look out for me.
  3. I will never stop loving the process of learning. Having the chance to teach students about a subject that I love has taught me even more about the content. It quickly became clear that if you want someone to retain and value the material you are trying to teach, you need to know the subject even better than you expect them to. For this reason, I will never stop learning or engaging in the process of acquiring knowledge that interests me and I am passionate about. That is an entirely joyous realization!
  4. Teaching is what I am meant to do. I have made choices in my life that have lead me to this place, this moment, and this feeling; I do not regret a minute of it.
I am a work in progress. I have come to know this much. But if being a work in progress, if evolution, has brought me to this place, then I cannot doubt that I am on a path to much greater things.

And I cannot wait.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Intentions

Many of you have probably noticed that it's been awhile since I have done an honest-to-goodness EMS related post. Maybe you've also noticed that this was originally supposed to be an EMS blog, with bits and pieces of my life outside of EMS tossed in for a change of pace. Sadly to say, I've clearly gotten away from my original intentions for this blog.

Intentions. They're something that I have been thinking about quite a bit recently.

When I first became involved in EMS, I had such good intentions; save the world, make a difference, help someone--even if it is only one person. Those intentions were strong and true, and I still stand by them as my reasons for getting involved in EMS. Those are enduring desires for me, whether they are related to EMS or my future career in education. But somewhere along the way, the reality of executing my intentions changed.

It has been well over two months since I have engaged in patient care; all I do now is drive and play a game of politics which I despise. While part of this has been due to extenuating circumstances, particularly staffing changes that have stretched my squad's resources thinner than you could possibly imagine, it is easy to become disillusioned with my role in EMS. What drove me to love EMS in the first place is rapidly becoming my undoing. There is nothing that I enjoy more than for 30 minutes being able to engage with another human being, and creating a relationship--however brief it may be--that serves to offer compassion and professional skill to make their immediate situation better. Unfortunately, when you are the only certified driver on a two-person crew, engaging in patient care is no longer an option. Instead, you are trusted with the safety of your tech and patient in bringing them to the desired destination. And not that driving and safely bringing both patient and volunteer to where they need to go in one piece isn't a noble goal, but it's not what I love about EMS.

Growing up, I was always told, "Do what you love. If you don't, then you'll never find true happiness." And I think that I've reached that point in EMS where I need to make a decision: I am no longer doing what I love, and as a result, I am no longer happy with my work. The skills that I was so eager to learn during my days in EMT class, and in my early days of in-service training, are skills that I no longer have the opportunity to use. And when you don't use them, you lose them. If I am to stay in EMS, I need to find a place where my entire skill set will be appreciated and valued and utilized to its fullest potential.

There will be some changes coming shortly in my life. You will probably read about many of the big ones on this blog. In August, I start student teaching, in December I graduate and enter the real world filled with idealism, enthusiasm, a strong dose of "where there's a will, there's a way," and a whole lot of good intentions. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Changes

Hi. Hello there. Have we met before?

Oh...yes, I'm CW. It's so nice to see you again.

Oops. Apologies for my extended absence from the blog. Things have been...crazy.

You see, there's a lot of changes that have happened in the past 3 months, and a lot of changes that will hopefully be happening soon. I'm in this odd state of finishing up both undergrad and grad school all at once, I have my Teaching Associateship rapidly approaching, I'm moving somewhere in a 3 month time frame as well, and essentially starting life in the real-world(ish). Hell, I even bought a car; that practically screams "Welcome to the real world, grown-up!" I think my mind just imploded on itself in the face of all these adult prospects.

But there have been a few constants in my life that I've become supremely grateful for these past few months:

  1. Coffee. In copious quantities.
  2. The rescue squad, and my utterly dysfunctional, yet completely adored crew mates.
  3. My mentor-slash-adopted grandfather, the ever present voice of reason and encouragement.
  4. The solitude of the children's books room in the education library.
  5. Coffee. In even more astounding quantities.
Yet, in spite of all these lovely, and much needed, constants, I have come to the conclusion that I, in fact, fear change. Which is a shocking revelation because I have spent much of my life trying to convince myself that change and fluidity are good, and that I am an adaptable person by nature.

This is, apparently, false.

Never have I been more frightened of what the future may hold in my entire life.

This, alone, is a frightening realization in its own right, given some of my past life experiences; for this to be the single most frightening prospect I have ever faced is, in many ways, ludicrous--irrational. I've faced down tougher stuff. I should be stronger than this. I should be more courageous than this. I should be fearless.

But I'm not.

There's a part of me that's crying out, "This is all happening too soon! You're only 21! You're too young to be taken seriously by the real world, much less have half a chance of making it out there." That part of me desperately wants to believe such things to be true. That part of me is clinging wantonly to the familiar, kicking and screaming in protest in the face of change, and that is the part of me I find most disappointing.

So from here on out, there will be some changes. I refuse to disappoint myself; to fall short of my own expectations. I refuse to let the prospect of change confuse and paralyze me with fright.

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."--Alan Watts

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Is Creativity?

Hi y'all! Sorry for the recent falling-off-the-face-of-the-planet-ness. I'm still here, still writing and still thinking about all y'all that are kind enough to read my ramblings.

And that kind of brings me to today's post. It's the start of a new semester. My last true semester of real college classes--the classes that I will be taking this summer don't count in my mind--living on the college grounds, and RA-ing for all that I'm worth. It's bittersweet in some ways, and in others, I'm just ready to get out and get in the classroom full time, like I will be next fall. But aside from my emotional conflict over this semester, I'm starting to get in the swing of things for my new classes, and there's one that I'm super excited about!

This semester, I'm taking an education elective called "Creativity and Problem-Solving", which to me is probably one of the coolest classes to ever be offered. As someone who's primary academic interest is what many others consider "boring" or "dry", I can't wait to really explore all the different things that I can do in my classroom to get my students thinking creatively about history. (Teaching geek moment, I know...)

Anyways, for this class we have to keep a journal of sorts, and each week we can either choose from a prompt that the professor has suggested, or write/draw/creatively express ourselves on a topic of our own choosing. For the first week, I decided to go off of the professor's simple (yet surprisingly complex) topic of, "What is creativity?"

The following is my un-edited, somewhat stream-of-consciousness, and personal insight into creativity. I'd be interested in hearing any feedback or additional thoughts that you guys have on this topic. This is the fundamental question that I will be wrestling with for the rest of the semester in this class, so any and all perspectives are welcomed and appreciated!

Enjoy!

Creativity is the capacity to think in new and unique ways about a situation or problem. Creativity is being able to risk failure in an attempt to create something new or different or better. Creativity is enthusiasm and passion and a whole lot of spunk—a confidence that you will succeed in your endeavors. In my mind, creativity and safety are antithetical. When I think of some of the most creative people I know, I think of a group of individuals that constantly astound me with their willingness to stretch the realms of possibility to the point where they border on the brink or complete and utter failure, or a revolutionary success. There is nothing contained or typical or predictable about these people. They are the kind of individuals that can talk you into your wildest dreams and make them come true, and then some. They have a combination of foresight and insight in a striking balance that leaves you wowed, yet a seeming lack of belief in negative consequences—in spite of all that foresight. I guess another element of creativity is inherently related to my understanding of people. I have no understanding or example of creativity that is not attached to an individual I know and the workings of their mind. Creativity is thus a uniquely human characteristic. Creativity goes beyond resourcefulness and an ability to adapt—characteristics that are instinct to most organisms with a nervous system and a brain. Rather, creativity is the convergence of a visionary understanding that anything is possible and the rare ability to apply logical patterns of thought to make it so. In some ways, I picture true creativity as the meeting of two minds in one person—the wonderfully and gloriously abstract and absurd collided with the brilliance and logic necessary to make the absurd a reality. To me, that is the epitome of creativity.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Really Interesting Perspective

Twitter introduced me to this blogger, Marginal Revolution, and a recent blog post really got me thinking.

In his post, Cowen suggests that while creativity in the classroom is often stifled by teachers, there could be hope in the trend of personalized learning through resources like the Kahn Academy.

Which begs the following question: is online, personalized learning one of the directions that American education could be headed? And if so, what will the role of classroom teachers be in this new educational setting?

People tell me, in the way of career advice, "Oh CW, we always need good teachers." But I have to wonder, will that truly be the case much longer?

Pondering,
--CW

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Cheer in EMS


This is what happens when you let us out in public. Happy holidays folks!
--CW