Dino (16), Daksh (13) and David (3). My three kids have been my life’s greatest teachers. Their personalities, likes and dislikes are the polar opposites one another. Believe me when I say that managing and balancing these ‘CEO’s of their own lives’, can be challenging. It often feels like I’m trying to balance on a high wire, lodged between Chicago skyscrapers, taking calculated steps, whilst contemplating the pros and cons of my next move and its consequences , trying not to become one with the pavement, yet feeling joyful in the adrenelin rush of it all!
My very right-brained Dino constantly works towards overcoming her learning challenges, yet her soul connecting compositions on the piano flows so easily and beautifully when she plays . My highly integrated Daksh is equally skilled at left and right brain tasks. She excels academically yet finds solace in creating the most beautiful paintings of horses. Little David dominates the household with his very left brained characteristics. Everything must be analysed. There must be order. There has to be a rational explanation to each question (and sub question), failing which, sleep is wishful thinking. This little man has a low tolerance for ‘fluff’ and a high expectation of delivery and facts. I remember sitting with him in his playroom one day with my prepped teaching plan and strategies to meet the outcomes of teaching him his prime colours when he was two. We had been going through these colours for 3 weeks, yet he would identify the object with confidence but roll his eyes when it got to identifying its colour. I was on a mission. I held up the first flash card to him, which was a red ball.
Me: David can you tell mamma what this is?
David: It’s a ba (w)l ! (High five! Happy boy)
Me: Yay! Well done my boy!!! (Happy mamma. Chest puffed out with pride)… Now can you tell me what colour it is?
The dreaded eye rolling syndrome (that has also afflicted both his older sisters ) manifested as he tilted his head to the left, shoulders slouched as if he was carrying the weight of the world.
He stood up, took the flash cards from my hand , duck walked across the room with his brows knitted, spread them across the floor, turned to me and gestured for me to come over. I obliged.
David: (D)is is (w)ed, (h)ellow, b(woo), g(w)een. (W)ed and and (h)ellow makes o(winj) and (w)ed and b(woo) makes p(oo)ple.
He not only knew his primary colours , but also the combinations that made secondary colours!
David: Na(w)ty Mamma! Mamma must (wern)…..What colour Mamma?.. (holding up the yellow sun).
Well, didn’t I feel like a monkeys uncle!!!???
There were lessons to be learned. My children have taught me that as a mom, I am not only their nurturer and teacher but also their pupil. They have taught me to be patient, to listen and reflect, process and understand who they are, where they are at and what they need . It’s not about them meeting me where I am, to enable me to meet their needs but me meeting them where they are in supporting their learning and emotional needs. If David needs structure and rational answers, that is what I give him. If Dino needs more time with me and patience from me in supporting her learning goals, that is exactly what I give her, in a manner that speaks to her, be it rapping a Geography essay or singing a song about Hamlet. If Daksh needs me to sit with her and explain Science, that’s exactly what I will do, with a diagram, because I know that it is what appeals to her.
My kids have taught me how to shape shift between their learning styles and in effect have taught me how to become a better teacher that speaks to the different learning styles of my students in the lecture hall. They have taught me that a learning challenge is not a disadvantage. but rather a quest for me to explore connecting teaching methods that appeal to these types of learners. They have taught me NOT to underestimate my student’s ability to engrain information into their intellectual capacities. They have taught me that being patient with my students and listening to them, helps me to understand their personal learning needs. They have also taught me that I am a life long learner. Without life long learning, I would have nothing new to teach my students.
ONL 171 is one of those journeys that I am excited to be on as a part my life long learning. A part of meeting my students (and my own kids), where they are is to understand that the technological characteristics of this digital generation requires me to engage with them on platforms that are familiar to them. I can already see myself creating a Google + community for one of my modules where I get students to engage with each other and analyse problem based type legal scenarios in groups contexts. I can see myself getting students together to form virtual law firms and working collaboratively to prepare legal papers and legal arguments in digital print. I can see them keeping a journal of their experiences on Blogs such as this one and reflecting upon the progress that they have made in their learning experience…..I can see the the face of legal education changing, and I’m excited about it