Between January 6-7, I experienced two seizures, two strokes, and cardiac arrest for an hour. The CPR I received for 57 minutes along with the staff at McDonough District Hospital helped save my life. Recently, I was released from rehab from Saint Francis hospital in Peoria where I was for a month with the Illinois Neurological Institute. Tomorrow, I get to start outpatient rehab back in my hometown. Despite everything I experienced, I am blessed to not only be alive (woo hoo!!!), but to also be cognitively able. Please don’t get me wrong, I have never been more exhausted, but my largest challenge is learning how to walk…specifically, learning how to “wake up” my left leg from the knee down. I find it fascinating to go through my day of therapies and know what I know about the learning process.
Three of the highlights include:
1. Learning happens through relationships. I’ve always known it to be true, but it is SO true! The relationships I’ve developed with my caregivers in the hospital have helped me to regain arm ability and part of my leg. It causes me to pause and wonder how much we consider the relationships we are building with others in our practice as Student Affairs professionals. And, perhaps, more importantly, what it means if we expect others to build relationships with us on our terms only, as well as what it means if we “give up” on a relationship.
2. People take in information through all of their senses. As they worked to “wake up” my hamstring, they’ve tried everything: ice, electromagnetic stimulation, visualization via mirrors, and physically touching my leg. If there was a smell associated with my hamstring, I’m quite sure they would wave it under my nose. I wonder how much we spend time considering the messages we are sending to others senses as Student Affairs professionals? Or, do we spend more time focused on having people feel good about us, our program, the experience we offer, so that the quick program evaluation we offer out at the end of the program comes back with a positive score?
3. For learning to occur it must be connected to a previous experience. It is bizarre to wake up and realize that I cannot remember how to move my hamstring, but that is what has happened. So, in order to wake up my hamstring, I’ve been trying to remember what it is like. I have been moving my right leg’s hamstring and focusing on how it feels, and then trying to replicate that on my left leg. The frustrating part is that I can’t visualize what it is like to move my hamstring, so I kept asking my Physical Therapist to help me associate it to other things in an effort to relearn how to use it. I can’t help but wonder how often we connect to what others know already in our practice and encourage them to associate. Do we treat others like we are the expert and like they don’t bring knowledge into their experiences with us?
I could go on about all that I’m learning about learning, I’m proudly a bit of a learning nerd :), but I highlight the above three points because I often think that we can be caught discussing how we want to “wake up” our students to their own behavior. I wonder if we do so in a way that will allow them to learn what we are hoping they will learn. Or, if we simply expect them to learn because we told them to do so, and then we are frustrated when they don’t meet our expectations.
Current update: My hamstring has started to wake up. Now, on to the ankle in outpatient rehab tomorrow…
This post was originally posted on my personal blog sarahschoper.com.
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