What is your identity?
Your role in life?
What are you know for?
These are tough questions to ask yourself. But it's even tougher for our students to answer. Here we are in the new BC curriculum and core competencies and looking to build an identity. The Personal and Social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students' identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society Wow that is big.
But lets start by looking at what identity is according to the BC curriculum.
"People who have a positive personal and cultural identity value their personal and cultural narratives and understand how these shape their identity. They exhibit a sense of self-worth, self-awareness, and positive identity to become confident individuals who take satisfaction in who they are and what they can do. They contribute to their own well-being and to the well-being of their family, community, and society." (BC core competencies on positive personal and cultural identity)
Now this is tough for adults to understand and develop let alone youths. I was at a conference where we were asked to describe our identity visually. This was difficult for us as educators. We had to dig deeper and see what our identity was in our views versus other views. Tough for us adults. At the time, I identified with being and educator, family person, nature lover, baker and athelete. Now today looking back, I am shocked that I think my identity has changed recently. I am having trouble with my identity or place in life. Change can have this affect. Sometimes its the empty nest syndrome, the loss of somebody dear, the effect of illness or as for me the change (retirement) of career life.
Here I am a well adjusted happy person who knows her personal and cultural narratives and understands how it shaped my identity but a life change has rocked this sense of identity. I am back again trying to find my identity. I am not sure if I am still a confident individual who takes satisfaction in who they are and what they can do. Wow! If I am having this time of fear and uncertainty, how are our students supposed to develop this sense of identity when their lives are in constant flux. So how can we as educators help...
What we can do is help students identify ways in which their strengths can help them meet challenges, and how the challenges can be opportunities for growth. Help them to develop new skills, abilities, and strengths and understand what has shaped them so far and how others have been shaped to be who they are. We should also prepare them for the fact that this identity will change... sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.
A great example of this is what the Prime Minister is going through right now. His identity has changed in the world since his past life as a young teacher. The choices and decisions he makes now are different. He has grown as a person.(we can hope) But he does admit that he is a product of his upbringing and he is sorry it led him to make wrong decisions.
A really great learning opportunity for us and an amazing discussion starter for our students on identity. It also lends itself to a discussion on being aware of what you put out in the world. It never goes away especially now that we have the web.
Ok back to what I started with.. finding identity. So again it all comes back to the quote you always hear on the plane..
"put your oxygen mask on first before you help others".
We as educators in all subjects and grades need to first figure out our own identity before we can help others. We can then learn to name, notice and identify the many aspects of personal and cultural identity and help our students develop and understand theirs. So please put your oxygen mask first. Take care of you and understand your identity and where it comes from so that you are prepared for this growth period for our students.