Let’s dive into our histories

by Meera Chudasama  @MeeraChudasama @innovatejournal

Whilst the global unconference came and went, the spirit of WomenEd was strengthenedan.  Transfixed with each presenter's ideas, inspiration and intrigue of our place in education and I was astonished momentarily that a space like this was not valued by all.

The more ideas presented around the world, the more confidence that was injected into our beings. Before long, the presentations were over but the Twitter-sphere was ignited by the magic of connection: #WomenSupportingWomen.

What role did I play in the #Unconference? Taking on many roles: Daughter, Daughter-in-law, Wife, Teacher, Master’s Graduate, Research Lead and Editor, I found the cross over from personal to professional identity interesting. During moments of self reflection, I had lots of questions!

● Which roles did I feel the most confident in? ● Which roles challenged me? ● Which roles was I still learning to be my best in?

Diving Into Our Histories

What I did know was that identity, my identity, was constantly changing and evolving. I held on to Stuart Hall: 'Identity is not as transparent or unproblematic as we think. Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a 'production', which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation.’  Stuart Hall, 1990: 222

Hall clearly explains that identity does not remain stagnant, fixed or permanent; in fact having our experiences, histories and narratives as a part of the ‘production’ (ibid). As a part of my ‘production’ and ‘process’ (ibid) coming from a migrant family who value working hard to reach success, there was no getting away from hard work; even if destiny did play a role. What I noticed from my parents and grandparents was a different type of urgency, a need to succeed, that I slowly started to realise came from the displacement and uprooting from their journey in Tanzania and India to the United Kingdom. Whilst I hadn’t migrated myself, the stories, experiences and journeys of my parents and grand-parents became the foundation of my work ethic: being determined, resilient in nature and enthusiastic about opening my own doors became a core part of my personal and professional identity.


Additionally, our experiences, histories and narratives involve other people. Whilst I have never found a community in where I live, I have been able to build micro-communities in the classroom, flourish in the school community, be a part of narratives in the Twitter-sphere and grow friendships out of my professional networks.

I now feel like I’m starting to embed my own roots as a Teacher, Researcher and Editor whilst understanding myself better as a Daughter, Daughter-in-law and Wife.

Whilst there are many strengths that I have drawn from my experiences and personal history, I must acknowledge the pitfalls too.

 

SWOT yourself!

Most importantly, starting my reflection enabled me to consider my own strengths and weaknesses; from this I was able to gauge what were the opportunities and threats to me being successful? I used a SWOT analysis as the basis of my reflective process and identity-in-production.

Strengths                  

  • Work well with people and independently.
  • Open to learn new skills.
  • Determined (at times relentless).
  • Managing more than one project.
  • Pragmatic/ logical (at times).

 Weaknesses

  • Self-critical
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Emotionally attached to projects.
  • Work-life imbalance (work-a-holic!)
  • ...many more!

 

 

  • Opportunities
  • Twitter-sphere
  • Networking
  • Chartered College of Teaching
  • BAMEed Network

Threats

  • Inability to delegate
  • Work-life balance
  • Time
  • Lack of support

 

 

For the most part, there was always a clear boundary of what I could control and what I couldn’t control. I couldn’t control my ethnicity, gender and upbringing: even though they were positioned to be weaknesses I had worked hard to make them my strengths. I understood that my ethnicity, gender and upbringing were not always the easiest to understand, but nor was anyone else’s. The more I opened up, the more at ease I felt in both my personal and professional networks. At the heart of this SWOT analysis is opportunities; I sought out ways that I could become successful away from the traditional route in education leadership. The landscape of education is changing, traditional roles do not need to keep teachers fixed in a linear career path. Opportunities from different organisations and networks are now more attainable with the digital age. It was onwards and upwards from here!

How much of your professional process is reliant or driven by your personal experiences?

References:

Hall, S. (1990) ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ in J. Rutherford (ed.), Identity. London: Lawrence & Wishart. p.222-37.

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