New Version Senia 4.0

Nine years ago, I would have never imagined being in the position where I am now, but it has been an incredible and unforgettable journey. California State University San Bernardino granted me an opportunity to challenge myself as a scholar and grow as a person. When I joined the pack, I felt a great deal of pressure. I was unaware of the level of expectations that the courses would demand, the people I would meet, or if I would be wasting my time pursuing an educational career as a woman and first-generation college student because of my upbringing. From a very young age I was told that women belonged at home and for a long time, I was convinced this was the case. Likewise, I feared that not having a mentor to guide and support me through college would cause me to give up on my education. It’s been two years since these ideas flooded my mind, however, as difficult as this journey was to do without a mentor outside of school, there was always someone at CSUSB willing to steer me in the right direction when needed. My time at CSUSB has fostered a sense of confidence and love for education that I do not believe I could have received elsewhere. This unique opportunity has taught me about many educational and societal concepts, but the ones I cherish most are the importance of diversity, motivation, and collaboration. These practices are what empowered me to become the student I am today and will be the foundation of my teaching philosophy. My goal is to become an effective educator who creates enjoyable, safe, inclusive, and supportive environments. Thanks to the skills I gained at CSUSB and the people who influenced my learning, I am ready to put my abilities to practice.

As I reflect on this specific assignment, I cannot help but make connections with assignments, practices, and the friendships that have contributed to the values and skills I will continue to develop. One of the most important concepts that stood out for me was diversity. I was unaware of how biased and oppressive I could be until I took various courses that focused on this area. Most people do not consider themselves to be oppressive or biased. This may be because they were never in the position to analyze themselves or they would much rather turn a blind eye and deny the possibility. It is sad to say that it took certain discussions, books, and assignments to admit these areas of struggle and work on becoming a better version of myself. Some of the courses that worked through this concept were Ethnic Studies, EDMS 2301 and 3110, ESPE, Music, Art, and CAL 2970, etc. Now, CAL 5900 is a course that has allowed me to examine my experiences and the knowledge that I gained.

This assignment is part of a portfolio that will include several pieces of work that demonstrate my abilities, qualifications, and appreciations obtained at CSUSB. Diversity is one of the High Impact Practices seen in my HIP’s essay and one that I used in some of my PLO’s such as in PLO 7, artifact 6 and PLO 5 artifact 4b. Artifact 6 was the final essay that we worked on during CAL 2970. It was based on Paulo Frieri’s book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It was during this course and after reading this book that I felt like I needed a heart to heart with myself and began to question my own perspectives and behaviors. In ESPE, a special education course, and both EDMS 2301 and 3110 courses, I was also given the opportunity to meditate on my perspective within a diverse population. It was during these courses that I learned about the value of diversity and the issues that continue to affect the educational and social environments due to a lack of knowledge and acceptance. As I worked on projects and attended discussions, I realized that there is diversity everywhere. Even more in the country we live in. Diversity is more than differences but it’s how those differences make the world a better place. After this realization, I was able to identify how I viewed the world around me and what I could do to honor my background and differences, share them with others, and honor their unique traditions, capabilities, and values. In artifact 4b, I was able to use dance and my own background to honor my ancestor’s and embrace the music in my culture throughout time. As an educator, this is the type of culture I want to embody in my classroom. I would love for everyone to feel safe sharing their traditions and learning about others. But as a student, I found that learning certain concepts and practicing them is difficult if one is unmotivated.

I noticed that there was and continues to be a significant relationship between motivation and academic growth. For many students, school comes easy and interesting however, others find themselves in a position where they feel miserable and forced to learn. Based on these findings and my desire to find a solution, I began to research and eventually collaborated on a group project with a classmate named Samantha Delgado. This project can be seen in PLO 6, Applied Knowledge/Theory and Practice/Research, and artifact 5, Socioemotional Awareness: Factors That Affect Motivation and Lead to Decreased Educational Development. This project utilized many of the High Impact Practices such as collaborative work, writing intensive coursework, and service learning, community-based learning. Overall, this assignment taught me a great deal about the importance of motivation in students. It helped me find new ways to become interested in subjects that I don’t like or assignments that felt overwhelming. For example, this portfolio itself was not something I would have wanted to work on. In fact, it took me two weeks to finally begin working on it. It was not until I understood the purpose of it and received guidance that I found any interest in putting it together. As an adult, I am aware that most of what is expected from us in college is to improve our skills and future opportunities, but I am even more concerned about the practices I will use to increase the intrinsic motivation within every child that steps foot into my classroom. As important as it is to teach children and create an interesting and inviting environment, it is equally as important to be inclusive and take advantage of every opportunity that allows for collaboration.

Something that I will never forget is how much I learned from collaborating. When I decided to begin college, working with others was not something I hated but it wasn’t my personal preference. Needless to say, most of my learning was thanks to the opportunities I had to share my ideas with others and learn from hearing theirs. The HIP’s used at CSUSB included collaborations which can be seen in many of the PLO’s and artifacts within this portfolio. Some of them include artifact 4b, the social emotional awareness project I worked on with Samantha Delgado, PLO 1 and artifact 1b which was a Physics collaboration with my partner Taylor Clark, PLO 2 with artifact 2 which was an artistic and community learning video project collaborated between 5 females during CAL 2970, a dance lesson used in PLO 5 and artifact 4c that I also worked with Taylor Clark, and many other projects such as those required in the Math series where I met my group of girlfriends. Throughout these collaborations, I gained new knowledge, skills, and friendships that were a huge influence and a blessing to my life.

Collaborations that were once mandatory turned into a preference. I learned that working with others was far more valuable than working alone. Although I have no issues working on my own and at times I may need to, I understand how useful collaborating can be. As mentioned before, this portfolio was not an assignment that I found interesting because some of the required documents, I had never worked on before. Even after knowing that writing tutors were available for feedback and support, I felt more comfortable sharing my ideas and concerns with one of my closest friends and also mutual classmate in this course. There were areas in which he excelled and others in which I could help him. We helped keep each other on task and made sure to reassure each other when times felt overwhelming. Not only was this helping us both stay organized and grow academically but it furthered the bond we created during our time at CSUSB.

These collaborations were also present in certain courses where the professors preferred group and teacher-student centered learning instead of the traditional teacher directed lectures. Most of us felt heard, comfortable, and much more excited to be in classrooms with this dynamic. I noticed that the courses where the professors preferred to talk the entire class time seemed to put most to sleep. This made me realize the importance of engagement and inclusion. It is a concept that I will strive to use in my time as an educator.

It is without a doubt that the practices, assignments, culture, and people at CSUSB have gifted me with an education, friendships, and values that have been life changing. The process has not been easy, but it has been an incredible and beautiful experience. As a student, the concepts that have impacted me the most are those that will revolve around my teaching philosophy. These concepts include the importance of diversity, motivation, and collaboration. It took many years to develop the understanding of these, but because of them, I am a better version of who I was yesterday, and I will continue to grow as I apply the practices and skills I learned in this institution. When I began this journey, I would have never dreamed of being where I am today. The challenges I faced and the solutions that I found taught me that I am capable of learning. That most people if not all are capable of learning. Sometimes it may take some analyzing or a group of different perspectives, but no matter the age, no matter the gender, and no matter a person’s past, everyone can learn and achieve their goals with effort and determination.