Updated: Nov 10, 2018
Friends and peers ask my why at my age I'm going back to school. I'm near retirement age, I should be planning for that, they say. Why, because I was once told I could not do it. At the beginning year of my senior year, my high school counselor pulled me in and explained that since I came from a very low social-economic family, I simply was not college material. That it had inhibited my mental growth and tried to console me with "it's not your fault, you just come from a poor family, your just not smart enough to go to college." She didn't know I had applied to the U.S. Naval Academy and had been accepted past the preliminary round. She gave me my new schedule which was JROTC, American History, Home Economics and Work Program along with a list of employers to choose from. I didn't understand but she was the counselor so I picked a job and went to work each afternoon. That schedule change disqualified me from the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Shortly thereafter, I received a letter from the Department of Defense congratulating me on being selected in the draft for Vietnam (it was the very last draft of the war). My brother was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, so I showed him the letter. He saw my lottery number, 6, and said "pack your bags, your going to Vietnam." This was my 4th year in JROTC so I new a bit about how the military work. I went to a Navy Recruiter to see about enlisting. He gave me the ASVAB test and I did not score so well. He gave me materials to study and told me to come back in a month. I explained what my counselor said and he laughed. He told me to study and we would see who was right, him, or my counselor. Even thought I was going to school and then working 8 hours a day, I found time to study. When I retook the exam, I was 3 points shy of the the top nuclear program, it being the top field in the Navy. I qualified for the second best program, Advance Electronics Field and began a career in submarines that lasted 22 years. During those years, I learned that if your not willing to believe in yourself, no one else will. An instructor early on told me that as a Hispanic, I had to graduate at the top of my class because I had to prove my being in this exclusive fields (Caucasians) was not a fluke. Which I though was funny since Hispanics are Caucasians. So I made that my goal and always graduated in the top 5%. It was such a different world back then.
So, what does this have to do with the "why"? It is because of this reason that I find this program paralleling my firm beliefs. Your not stuck with a fixed intelligence, you can learn and expand your capacity in learning if you are only willing to believe in yourself. That is what I want to pass on to my student. My goal is to use the Professional Learning Networks (PLN) to help me reach my students in ways I have not even envisioned. I intend to ask questions on how others are implementing a Choice, Ownership, Voice, and Authentic Learning (COVA) environment and using it to Create a Significant Learning Environment (CSLE). I hope to contribute my successes and setbacks as I attempt to implement it in my classroom.
The most important lesson I have learned in this course was that I was not alone in thinking that people can learn, regardless of what someone in "authority" tells you. If you believe in yourself, struggle past the difficult part and don't give up, you can achieve success. I realize now that was my reason for being successful in the United States Navy Submarine Force for 22 years. It is the reason I will be successful again.