When I was in first grade, I spent most of my time avoiding homework, playing outside, and planning playdates with my friends. I had no interest in doing anything that did not involve staying active or playing with my friends, so it came as a major surprise when I discovered that I was so interested in helping my teacher do her housekeeping work around the classroom. I had to stay in for recess one day in December because I was out of town, and I missed the homework from the day before. When I finished my homework, I didn’t want to go outside because of the cold weather, so my teacher told me that I could help her hole-punch the papers that she needed to add to her teaching binder. As I punched holes, she showed me how she organized her binder, and how it helps her to stay on top of things like grading homework, lesson planning, and getting to know her students and their progress. For some odd reason, this motivated me to get excited about homework, to stay organized, and to take notes….Even though I was only in first grade! I have remembered this method for years now, and I still think back to it as I organize my binders each semester.
My second defining moment as a learner occurred when I was in fourth grade. This experience was memorable for a different reason: it was traumatizing. As a class, we were learning about long division. Math has always presented a bit of a challenge for me, so it was no surprise that I was having trouble keeping up during this lesson. To make matters worse, our teacher loved to have students go to the board and solve a problem that she invented. She especially loved to choose the students who looked confused, which was why she picked me. I went to the board to solve the problem, and the second that I made a mistake, she asked me to pick someone who had a better understanding to come complete the problem for me. To say that I was embarrassed is an understatement. I felt discouraged and like I was too stupid to ever succeed in math class, and that feeling carried on for years. To this day, I still get anxiety in every math class that I am in because I fear that I will relive this nightmare at the white board. I have learned from this experience, though, and I know now that I am capable of succeeding in subjects that challenge me if I take the time to sit down and work the problem out. I believe that just because I learn in a different style than some students, I am not less capable. `
Discovering new ways to learn is something that will continue to benefit me for the rest of my education and my life. When I was a sixth grader, I learned that I am a visual learner. In middle school, we were asked to take a fine arts class, and I chose to take art, mostly because that was the class that my friends chose to take. When we were asked to draw snowflakes, I learned that I am absolutely terrible at drawing, but that I am more successful when I am able to see an example of what is expected of me. This has carried on in the majority of my classes throughout my life, which is why I favor face-to-face classes in college because I am able to see examples and learn in person, which helps me to understand what is needed from me.
When I was a freshman in high school, I started to learn that writing papers was an important skill that every student needs to embrace and study up on. At first, I dreaded writing papers because of everything that went into it. I did not like that there needed to be title pages, subtitles, running heads, page numbers, footnotes, in-text citations, etc. It all just seemed unnecessary because I thought that the same information could be relayed in an easier way. Fortunately, though, I learned to love writing papers. I was given a book called “Write for College” when I was a freshman in high school, and I have used it every year since then. It helps me with all formats of papers and with all kinds of citations. Understanding the way that papers are supposed to be composed helps me understand why we are asked to do it. Being able to compile research and personal thoughts on a topic in an organized manner is something that is not only professional, but also useful. I am thankful for the amount of papers that I have been “forced” to write because it has helped me to look at every topic in a mature and organized manner, which has, in turn, assisted me in learning about countless ideas and arguments.
The final learning experience that I want to highlight is probably the most memorable. When I was a senior in college, I learned that I need to trust in my abilities, and not get discouraged when things don’t come easily to me. I have also learned that just because my friends and classmates are excelling in a class does not mean that it won’t come to me if I work at it. I learned this because I graduated with a close group of friends who were all determined to enter the medical field, and those who weren’t interested in becoming a doctor, nurse, or dentist were interested in becoming an engineer. All of the friends that were close to me were what I considered to be geniuses, and it always made me think that I was not very smart. When I moved on to college, though, I realized that if I work hard at something that I am interested in, I will succeed. I don’t have to have a photographic memory to be successful and intelligent, I just need to put my mind to it and work as hard as I can.