Know thyself. These two, small words hold tremendous power. The path to understanding who we are and how we relate to others is long and ever changing. Throughout my experience in the classroom, as both a teacher and a student, I have constantly questioned how my constructed social identity impacts my teaching and learning. As we grow and change through experience, we must always return to view our practice through a reflective lens. This has been an integral part of my own development as a special education teacher working with high school students.
In every classroom, there are a multitude of factors that impact the daily discourse of teaching and learning. Race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. are all pieces involved in the construction of an individual’s identity. Students of all ages grapple with the formation and later, navigation of their own identities and how they relate to others. Through self examination and exploration of “the other,” students are better able to understand or know themselves. This self-actualization can create a classroom community where differences are celebrated and students can feel safe expressing and questioning their beliefs.