Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Teacher Candidate Develops Identity Journal to Help Students Make Informed Decisions

August 19, 2020

By Communications Team

Jenna Snelgrove

Jenna was just beginning her alternative practicum working with youth at Girls Inc. (an organization that provides programs for young girls to help them grow up healthy, educated, and independent) this past March when, like much of the world, it was suddenly shut down due to COVID-19.  Her professors quickly reached out, challenging Jenna and her peers to come up with independent projects that would have practical uses in the real word.  Thinking about her time with Girls Inc. and the youth she met there, she came up with the idea of the Identity Journal, a resource that educators of all kinds could use and a decision-making tool for students who struggle with knowing who they are.  “I wanted give students the opportunity to explore themselves.  To know ‘This is who I am, this is what I like, and that is why I’m making this decision.’”

Jenna believes in the value of self-reflection. She often asks her family and friends reflective questions, simple things like “Would you rather…?” and “What are your favourite…?” Questions like these allow her to get to know them better, but also offer opportunities for people to get to know themselves. When she started teaching, a path she chose because of the opportunity work one-on-one with young learners who may be struggling, she realized that not a lot of young people, especially at-risk youth, get to know themselves in this way. 

The Identity Journal features a mix of reflective questions, writing prompts, and creative tasks.  Engaging with it can help anyone become more familiar with themselves and their priorities.  For example, the question “What is something you could do for hours without noticing the time passing?”, can help one think deeply about their interests.

“Once you know what you’re interested in (and interested in learning more about), you can use that information to make decisions, big and small,” Jenna says. “There is an emphasis in education right now to give students opportunities for choice but it’s only effective so long as the student knows how to make the right choice for them.”

The Journal has many practical applications from the classroom, to student advising, to counselling sessions.  The instructor who assigned this work in lieu of Jenna’s alt prac, Pamela Serff, recognized its value and reached out to colleagues in the community she thought might benefit from its use.  The Journal was quickly picked up by the Maltby Centre and, not surprisingly, Girls Inc.

Jenna is delighted to see it already being used and is happy to share it far and wide (in fact, you can find a link to a copy of the journal at the end of this article).

Her advice for youth learning to make decisions on their own?  “Explore what you are curious about and follow your own interests. If you focus on what you like, you’ll be much happier and more confident in your decisions.”


Download a PDF of Jenna's Identity Journal.