Amanda Sinnott has been a prominent figure in online education since 2012, focusing on developing effective student engagement strategies. She has gained recognition as an expert, with many educators, administrators, and students praising her insights on virtual learning environments. Amanda has been invited to speak at numerous events and has conducted professional development training and workshops on various aspects of online education and student engagement. Amanda is also the founder of Hello Edu Tutoring, based in Portland, Oregon, specializing in providing highly personalized student support through remote and in-person services. Amanda is dedicated to sharing her passion for learning with as many students as possible.
On paper, I portrayed the epitome of a well-rounded teen. My schedule was packed with choir, sports, theater, numerous clubs, student leadership roles, homecoming royalty, scholarship pageants, and social events. Behind the scenes, however, my personal life was an entangled web of chaos.
Amidst the tumult of my life, school, and activities became my anchor, providing much-needed stability during those stormy times. I attended three different rural high schools, finding a sense of control in immersing myself in education and social activities, using them as a shield against stress. Unknowingly, I fell under the radar, missing out on available financial support and guidance for preparing for college or a career. I managed to graduate with both my AA degree and high school diploma when I was 17 and then had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
After exploring a variety of career paths, I made the decision to return to college, seeking the structure and purpose that had been missing. During my undergraduate and graduate school years, I embraced a newfound sense of empowerment, knowing I had control over my educational journey. Guided by the mantra, “Education is the one thing no one can take away from you,” I approached life with a dedication to earn my degrees. In my mind, I couldn’t control much around me, but school was always within my control. It helped guide the direction of my life, and I am thankful for all the opportunities I was granted due to my need for the structure of academia.
As I embarked on my career in education, I was fueled by a passion for supporting students facing their own hardships. My authentic self-thrived when working with teachers, students, and parents, passionately advocating for their needs. However, I quickly realized the importance of presenting myself with finesse when communicating with stakeholders, adjusting my naturally bubbly demeanor to fit the demands of each scenario. I discovered that traditional education hadn’t fully equipped me with the essential skills needed to thrive in these settings. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning, I sought guidance from successful mentors who expertly managed these intricacies, gracefully balancing their presence in various situations. Drawing inspiration from their wisdom, I worked hard to learn the dance of professionalism, adapting my communication style to suit different circumstances.
I am one of the lucky ones, but it is essential for us to recognize that the lack of social-emotional skills and knowledge of office culture can perpetuate systemic poverty cycles. The ability to navigate the nuanced expectations and unspoken norms of professional settings is a skill set not uniformly taught to all. In some instances, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds may be unfairly labeled as “not a cultural fit” in professional settings simply because they have not had the opportunity to learn these unwritten skills. By providing a comprehensive education that includes social-emotional learning and workplace norms, we can break down barriers and empower all students to transcend their circumstances by staying true to ourselves, while understanding that certain situations may require us to adapt and play different roles.
It is an undeniable truth that academic achievements alone are insufficient to fully equip individuals for the complexities of life and work. Embracing the transformative power of social-emotional learning is not a choice but a necessity, a vital tool that every student deserves. We cannot allow our students to wander through adulthood waiting for someone to reveal their secrets to them. Instead, we must prioritize the development of social-emotional skills, empowering our students to confidently tackle the challenges of adulthood.
My experiences have fueled an unwavering commitment to empower every student with the tools they need to thrive. We must not let our book-smart kids get left out of decision-making due to a lack of confidence or uncertainty in professional interactions. Let’s empower every student with access to social-emotional support, and unlock their potential to create a brighter and more compassionate world!