I enjoyed researching and working on this case study. One of the most challenging, yet interesting parts of my research was the required emphasis on student strengths. I found it challenging to not allow myself to focus on a "problem" that the student appeared to be having. This felt really against the grain for me. I feel like I've been trained to look for problems and come up with solutions. It was hard not to look for deficiencies and immediately attempt to find "solutions." The research for this case study was much more like a puzzle with lots of pieces that didn't appear to fit together at first sight. Some pieces seemed too big or misshapen. I'm used to dumping all of the puzzle pieces on the floor and being able to quickly fit them together. I'm used to forming quick conclusions about people and about students. I think this has become the norm within the world of education, a norm born out of a lack of time and training. It's also a culturally accepted norm. Our sloppy thinking allows for snap judgements that go unquestioned. I don't think I can fully explain how frequently I make judgements and assumptions based on a single observation.
Stepping outside of this deeply engrained habit was one of the most challenging, yet revelatory assignments I have yet to receive throughout my educational career. The process of forcing myself to choose a more critical lens made me a more conscientious and thoughtful teacher. It has also made me a more conscientious and thoughtful learner. It's like a form of mind control, exercise for the brain. I remember one night in class where I was writing my observations on the whiteboard and immediately jumping to conclusions about these observations. It took a few minutes for me to realize that I needed to step back and analyze the data, that I still was skipping this step. I needed to ask more questions. I was able to realize this without being told to do so. Dr. Horwitz was observing and she asked me why I decided to go back and add more questions and analysis. I told her that "smart people ask questions." She immediately said "yes, and good researchers ask questions."
Through these struggles I learned how to be a better researcher and how to ask better questions. I learned that I don't always have the answer (even if I think I do). Answers and conclusions take time. I learned that I must give everything (and everyone) time to truly be revealed. Wisdom is not born out of snap judgements, but out of patience and tenacity. This is a never ending lesson for me, one that I will need to very conscientiously go back to. It's kind of like forming a new habit. I'm on my way, but there is always more work to be done.