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Self evaluation + reflection

abby rose's picture

IDENTITY MATTERS has changed me in so many ways… I count it as the most rewarding, fulfilling academic opportunity I’ve ever had. It’s hard to summarize what this 360 has done for me, but I’ll try my best to articulate some major changes I’ve noticed… 

I’ve always felt inadequate in classroom discussions throughout my years in school. I thought that because I processed information at a slower rate and had so many questions that I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the classroom. For a while in our 360, I felt this sensation quite strongly because there are is an abundance of quick-minded, well-spoken individuals and I didn’t think I could keep up. However, after we had so many deliberate discussions about how much space we took up in classroom conversations, I realized that a) I can be a part of a classroom in a valuable way without leading discussion or speaking all the time, b) I am smart and thoughtful, even if I can’t find a space in class conversation. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from this 360 is that there is no single, best way to be a student. I can be just as important in a conversation by listening as I can be sharing. On the other hand, this 360 has also instilled a confidence in me to contribute to discussion, even/especially when I’m confused about what’s being talked about. I feel much more able to ask people to explain themselves, or to slow down, or to clarify an idea/theory/reading/etc. 

This past semester has also taught me how to accept and accommodate different learning styles, including my own. Our constant analysis on what it means to be “normal” and how “normal” is no more valid or valuable than difference in learning and lifestyles. In the beginning of the semester, I was unsure of how we were all going to work together. As the first couple weeks rolled out, it became very clear that we were had distinct ways of interacting with one another in (and out of) the classroom. As I mentioned in my meeting with our professors, it was like we were learning to dance with each other. We all began the semester without knowing the correct movements, and we did a lot of bumping into each other and cautiously moving about. Although we did occasionally step on each others’ toes as the semester progressed, the more we shared and listened to one another the better we became. We all learned how to accommodate each other, and see our differences as strengths. By the end of the 360, we had gotten to the point of a cohesive, waltzing conversation that included all members of the 360 and their varying skills.

In addition to acceptance of difference, I no longer see being emotionally vulnerable and being sensitive to others as a weakness like I had previously thought. Because of this 360, I understand the power emotions can have and how important they can be in an academic environment. Talking about our identities/emotions in conjuncture with theory and literature was such a rewarding experience and I learned so much more than I would have had we been talking about identity as an abstract concept. Also, opening up with each other in and out of class created a bond that motivated me to really understand everyone in the group, especially when I didn’t agree with them. I truly believe that the empathy that we have fostered over the semester led to such a unique, nurturing learning environment. I wouldn’t trade the hugs or the tears or the fights or the love we’ve shared in this space for anything…