24 The Story of Your Learning

This component has a strategic name. The Educational Narrative is asking for a very specific thing from you so that your reviewers can understand the learning you’ve done and relate it to the course you’re challenging.

What is that thing it’s asking for?

A story. Several stories, actually.

The word Narrative means “story,” of course, so this component is asking you to tell the story of your learning. To tell that story, you’ll need to have several examples that clearly demonstrate your expertise with the course’s subject matter. And these examples need to be specific. Here’s why:

In creative writing, teachers often say that the universe is in the specific. The more detailed the description, the better the reader can visualize the characters and scene. Take, for example, this line:

We got dressed up and went to the concert.

Who are they? What’d they wear? How old were they? What kind of concert was it? Who was playing? None of that is apparent, so every reader sees something different.

But what if that line was written like:

We teased our hair to the ceilings, doused it in White Rain, snapped on spandex and pleather. We tore out of the suburbs, left a mile-long streak of rubber on our way to go see Twisted Sister at CBGB’s.

Now can you see it? From the first description, it could’ve also easily been a black-tie evening at the Philharmonic, or a 7th Grade Band Concert, or… It’s the specifics that make the example come alive.

That’s your task in the Educational Narrative.

Though, of course, you’ll be writing about professional learning matters and not an 80s hair band (unless you are drawing on your experiential learning from when you were a member of an 80s hair band…).


Some ways of thinking about the narrative that will help you get started:

  • Remember Chapter 1 and all the learning theories we studied (Kolb, Bloom, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, et. al.). Your answers will use Kolb and Bloom extensively to help frame your examples. More on this in an upcoming section of this chapter.
  • Recall what kind of learner you most related to within Kolb’s cycle, and think about how that might affect the kind of story you tell about your learning through experience. Use that to your advantage in your storytelling!
  • Remember that the task is to exhibit college-level learning. Concentrate on those 3 to 4 upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy and think of examples that exhibit those cognitive domains.
  • Think about a time when you had to deal with a problem in your work or other experience. How’d you handle it?
  • What’s something you do every day that seems common to you but would be too complicated to explain to others?
  • What’s an accomplishment that you’re proud of from work or other experience?
  • What is one of the hardest parts of your job? What responsibilities do you have because of your expertise?
  • Think of a time when others were struggling with some problem but you came up with an easy solution (easy to you, at least). How’d you have that easy solution so readily?

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