learning to learn
Ember Connect's General Manager, Narelle Henry

My Learning Journey

Ember Connect’s General Manager, Narelle Henry, shares her learning journey and how she came to love the classroom as much as the basketball court…

I sat there sweating.

Every beat of my heart pounded out of my chest. I felt lightheaded and the moisture was quickly disappearing from my mouth.

I wanted to disappear – maybe I could slide slowly down my chair and dissolve quietly into the thin carpet squares on the classroom floor. Maybe today my teacher won’t call on me and I was safe for another day.  

I got used to this feeling – every day I would be called on to answer a question in front of the class and every day I was overcome with fear and dread.  

On reflection, I cringe at the level of negative self-talk at that point in my life – I was only nine years old and I had already convinced myself that being in the classroom was not my thing.

Everything I experienced from that point on reinforced in my mind that I would prefer to be anywhere else other than the classroom.  

Fast forward 16 years and I’m holding my degree in one hand and an award in the other that reads, ‘Most Outstanding International Student.’ My cap and gown fit me perfectly and I realised that morning under the North Carolina sun, that graduating from college also fit me perfectly.  

I made a commitment that day – to become a teacher and never allow another young person to tell themselves the things I told myself when I was a kid.

I thought about a clear message on that very day – if I had known then, what I know now…what would I do differently?  

My intention when moving North Carolina was to play basketball and travel. Instead, I became a Student-Athlete.  As you can clearly see, the student comes first in that title, so I had to figure out how to be both.

If I slipped and missed a class, didn’t do as well in a test, or turned an assignment in late, I would be penalised and excluded from team practice and games. This included ten hours per week in study hall…all of which were clear lines in the sand as far as expectations go.  

I don’t know when it happened exactly, but by the time I had completed my freshman year, my commitment to my academics matched my effort on the basketball court.

I realised that I had learned to learn and furthermore, I quite liked it.  

This revelation was validated when I noticed my learning habits/skills improved along with my jump shot – learning was a skill that is strengthened through practice and reflection.

Want to work on your own learning journey?

Our free online platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has a number of resources on this subject (and many others!)

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Ember Connect wishes to acknowledge the many Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and we honour their deep continuing connection to land, sky, waterways and community.

We pay our respects to our Elders past, present and emerging who illuminate our journey to truth-telling, culture and conservation, which remains stronger than ever.