Just for Me

Week 87 – November 13, 2021 – Understanding My Agency

This is a strange journey indeed. I spend a lot of time helping others in my work to understand their agency. Now the tables have turned and I need to understand my agency and why it’s important. I feel that I have turned corner in life and having to make decisions for myself. I am not driven by external forces, although they are giving me plenty of formative feedback. It’s my turn and this is a new place for me. Making choices for me. Thinking about what would benefit me. Wondering about what would be best for me, personally and professionally. Admittedly, this way of being is new territory for me and what I am understanding is, I have to embrace my agency, develop me sense of self efficacy, and honour my strengths and research.

I feel like THAT math student. “I can’t do this.” “I’m not good at math.” “I don’t get any of it.” Classic comments from a student with low math efficacy, lack of self confidence, and too scared to ask a question. Gosh. I remember one student in my Math 11 class. He was a force, a large person, and influential amongst his peers. He started the term strong because he relied on his natural talent. He was a very smart but the content is not so intuitive. His grades quickly plummeted. In class, he was “not very nice” and he refused to do any homework. I’ll admit, I was scared of this student. He used intimidation to protect himself. The strategy was effective. One day, he came into my class during lunch tutorial asking for help but saying the same quotations as above.

I said he could do it… if he really wanted it. He did not believe me. We would have a few power exchanges in class, even though he scared the kajeebees out of me (never let them know that as the teacher). And then one day, he came to my room after class to ask me privately how to succeed in math class. One step at a time, with guidance and support, he took my advice and started doing the work. You could see him build momentum. With one assignment to the next, he was starting to pick up his rhythm and confidence and his grade started to improve dramatically. At the time, I had 100% final exams. If you can beat your overall grade, then that’s the mark you keep. This student finished the course with an A and continued that path onto Math 12.

Gosh. I love students. They teach you so much. I am also reminded by the First Principles Principles of Learning, “Learning takes patience and time.” Although this principle applies to this student’s journey in mathematics, his story definitely applies to me at this very moment. I am saying to self, “I can’t do this. I don’t get it.” I often wonder if I am meant to do this work. I am reaching for help and have people trying to guide and support me but I have to do my part. It’s my work to believe it, want it, and do something about it. I can only imagine what that student had to do to change his habits, mindset, and priorities. He had to step away from his pride to succeed. He did the work and now it’s my turn. I’ve always wondered why I had that experience.