The letters to future self were part of our ongoing training in working with groups, and using a strengths perspective, and understanding growth and development, with the second year students. Today's class was the first year students, and it is their first semester. It is daunting. I well recall my first year in my MSW program, while working full-time and commuting 6 hours round trip, spending 8-10 hours at the university on top of that commute time.
There were many outcomes in class today that I believe reflected their learning, and their desire to learn. I continue to attempt to understand how to be a more effective educator in what I believe is the most important thing I can do: prepare students to practice social work. Sometimes, I wish I could take all that I have learned in my life, my practice, my education, my experience, and just capsule it so they could see what I see. And then, I remind myself of what a limited view that would be if that was all that they had.
We had 15 minutes left, which is 12 minutes longer than Elizabeth Kubler Ross would give people to draw her a picture of what they thought, but it was just about right from my perspective. I still had the materials from our class last week so I laid them out on the table and offered the first year students the same opportunity...sort of. The goal last week was in recognizing and understanding where they were at this moment in time compared with where they were a year ago when they began, what would they say to their future selves?
Today, the option was what do you want to say to your future self to help you to achieve the goal you have set? Today, we are doing visionary work: what will enable you to get there?
What are the important "take-aways" from the message above, from the student last week?
- You are not alone; we are all in this experience called surviving. In the big 'ole lifeboat off the shipwreck, how much you have or do not have is not the issue. What can you bring to the solution of the problem?
- It is okay to make mistakes while learning; we are always learning. If we are learning, we learn not to keep making the same mistakes. We want to learn how not to make those mistakes again. Not knowing is okay; not learning what you do not know might create some problems.
- "You are not your grades." Let me repeat that: You are not your grades. We have so conditioned our students to believe that their learning lies within the numerical score that they do not see other possibilities. I have had students who were D and C students who demonstrated more learning than their B and A counterparts. Why? They learned something; they wanted to learn something; they put the hard work into learning something, even when the numerical score would seem to indicate that they did not.
- Trust yourself
- Trusting yourself is not the same thing as ignoring anything else. It does mean listening to your own voice.
- Trust the feedback
- Who can tell you what to do? From whom will you accept help?
- Trust the process
- Life is developmental.