Finding Your Right Work

Reader Interview with Winifred Dajani

By October 23, 2010 No Comments

I’m always to curious to learn who is reading Wise Living. Again and again I’m delighted to learn how remarkable you all are.
Winifred Dajani, a goals guide reader, is a San Francisco-based educator now running for San Francisco school board.
Here she shares about her passion for education, her journey to her current career, and how she lives the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women in her own life.

Winifred, what about education inspires your passion?
I love to help people grow and become confident in themselves, to help them see that what they thought was beyond their ability is actually well within their reach.
I believe that people can do just about anything if they work at it diligently enough. Many students don’t have the foresight to understand that, and need encouragement to keep trying.
What do you actually do with students to “help them see what they thought was beyond their ability is actually well within their reach”?
I like to make goal setting and reflection on accomplishments part of the teaching/learning process. I have my students write what they hope to learn and achieve at the beginning of a class and then revisit their writings throughout the semester.
I write prompts that guide them to think about areas in which they have advanced and areas in which they would like to apply themselves more.
Thoughts and goals become concrete and real when they are put on paper.
That’s such a great practice — and, I imagine, teaches them a tool they can use in all areas of their lives.
So, now you are running for San Francisco School Board! I see your names on signs around town! What inspired you to run?
I have been involved in public education for almost two decades: as a parent, a teacher for high school and community college, not to mention as a student myself. During that time, I’ve observed areas that I would like to address in order to improve the education our children receive.
How is going after this leadership role helping you to grow or stretch?
Being a candidate for public office has offered a great opportunity to meet people and listen. I’ve learned that I can never discount anyone. I am constantly learning new and interesting things, simply by taking the time to reach out and engage others. Seeking to affect policy has also made me more disciplined and specific about what I identify as areas I would like to change.
Your career exemplifies many of the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women that so many readers at Wise Living resonate with. What one or two rules speak most to you, and how do you live them?
#1 – “No one else is going to build your life for you”
This is a very important lesson that I had to learn and that I am still learning. Thinking about and visualizing what I want for my future, and realizing that I have to take action towards my goals can sometimes be a struggle. It’s easy to think that one day those things will happen on their own, but the reality is that they won’t.
#3- “Suppress your inner critic”
Working through fear is an ongoing challenge. Often, I have to learn to act in spite of fear. Frequently, I find out that my fears are unfounded, and my experience is positive, contrary to my expectations. But that doesn’t mean that fear won’t reappear in a later situation. Fear is a powerful inhibitor because it operates on an emotional level, and although you can try to rationalize it away, you also have to learn to persevere in spite of it.
Lots of our readers are contemplating career change. Tell us about your route to your current work, and any lessons learned you’d like to share with other career changers.
My original interest was in art and design, and my first profession was as a designer. I traveled frequently for my design work and loved learning about different cultures and languages.
While raising my son, I became involved in volunteering at his school, both in and outside of the classroom. I subsequently decided to return to school and get a Master’s degree in French. I decided that teaching would be a way to share what I had learned, and obtained a teaching credential. I taught French in a high school, and there I realized how many San Francisco students were English language learners.
I became increasingly interested in language acquisition, and obtained a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, which involves considerable linguistics studies. Through all the English as a Second Language teaching I’ve done, I’ve become aware of how important language skills are to success in school and career.
My interest in language was there from early on in my life. My advice to others would be to think about what they really enjoy doing and see if there are career options that reflect that.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Want to learn more about Winifred? Visit her website here.

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