Friday, December 17, 2010

Answer to question 3 of an online interview

3. Briefly describe a time when you achieved a goal in the face of challenges (or while balancing multiple responsibilities). What specific steps did you take to ensure you would meet your goal, and how did you know you were successful? How will you apply that experience to set goals and measure your success in the classroom?

I have five children and I wish they all would just do what I say and believe what I tell them one-hundred percent of the time, but they don’t!  I have goals for my children, each are individualized based on what I perceive to be their strengths and weaknesses and personalities.  What I found is even though I know each will learn to swim, each will do it on their own time.  I realize I cannot throw them into the middle of the pool and yell “you can do it.”
One of my children had no fear of the water, which was good and bad.  She often jumped into the pool without the proper swim gear and we would have to fish her out.  To protect her and ensure she did not have a bad experience with swimming, we had to suit her up in the appropriate swim safety equipment before she went out to the pool.
Another one of my children was a natural athlete, more so than the others, but his nature was to be cautious.  Even though I knew he could get into the water and step down on the steps, he would not, but he loved being in the water.  So, with him, I simply left him alone, because when I tried to push is comfort zone to match mine, he regressed rather than moved forward.
My oldest child, never had a fear of the water and could naturally sustain himself without any training at all.  When swimming, we could not get him out of the water, I’ve watched him swim for eight hours.  He had watched me swim, I am a previous competitor swimmer, and he started mimicking the breaststroke.  Witnessing this natural ability, I attempted to teach him more and to my surprise he was desirable of the coaching.  In was only weeks before he mastered the breaststroke and the freestyle.  I took him to the local summer recreation team and they too were impressed with his ability and took him on as a member.  Every swim practice he cried.  His first meet he would not even jump into the water.  And no matter what I did, all methods tried, he would simply not compete and continued to fear swim practice, he quit.
By age 13 he had matured some.  He had a summer of success with Football, so I offered swimming to him once again.  Because swimming was so natural, he did not believe he had much talent.  His first year of competitive swimming, he qualified for the top meet of the summer in 3 events and was the fifth fastest breaststroker in his age group.
My goal was for each of my children to learn to competent in the pool, not be competitive swimmers or even know any of the strokes.  What I did was accommodate my teaching style, my motivation, my instruction style to inch each child along the way to the point where each in their own time were safe around the pool.
I originally hoped to accomplish getting them pool ready in one summer, but because of my work travel work schedule, family and friend obligations along with maintaining a house and pool and maintaining my own goals, I threw away the time factor and focused on the next step.  And the next step was simply getting into the pool and just being their for them and for me to be a role model for them.
This is the very same technique I will bring to the classroom.  I learned to have an overall goal, big goals are great, but the path to accomplishment can take many different routes.  This is what I would bring to the classroom, is having the desired goal of success, but not measuring success by reaching the goal, but by how far we have come.  And success cannot be compared to the child next to them, the child’s success is their own and they themselves need to learn how to be proud of what they have accomplished.  This leads in my mind to them taking what they learned and applying it in other places in life.

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