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Learning from Inquiry

Final Assignment Due – EDUC454D100 – August 8, 2017

Today is the last, last day of EDUC454D100… meaning, it was the first day in 14 weeks I did not commute out to SFU to teach this class… and, it’s the last day for my students to hand in their final assignment (aka. their quantitative inquiry project or unit plan). I took a break from my oral defence preparation today to commit my time and headspace to read and evaluate these assignments. One by one, they are being submitted. They had until midnight to hand it in… well, the results surprised me.

Admittedly, this was a tricky assignment. Best results would have come from those who started this assignment early in the course… and they were encouraged to. Last minute inquiries or those who opted for no consultation lent itself to a difficult situation for my students such that they would not achieve what I would like them to learn or engage in the assignment because they themselves have not engaged in inquiry before. I wanted to personalized their learning, not a cookie-cutter assignment for my students to complete. Why would I want to read 26 papers of the same thing? I would not. As anticipated, I received a wide variety of inquiry projects.

Project topics ranged from plastic in oceans, measuring light, a vegan diet, to community gardens. My initial thought with the final project stemmed from my understanding of experiential learning. You can’t teach something you’ve never experienced. If we are asking pre-service teachers to teach with inquiry-based learning with BC’s New Curriculum, then they should engage in inquiry based learning. I started this class with Stage 4 Inquiry; they could study any topic they would like with an inquiry question they composed. As we moved forward with the assignment, I would scaffold when needed. From this learning experience, I hoped that my students would glean on some ideas and transfer them to their teaching practice.

As time went on, I realized that many of my students were not comfortable with the idea of inquiry because they have never experienced it before, some were asking questions that were TOO BIG for the length of the course, and some required ethics approval to use human participants for their inquiries of minimal risk. Furthermore, I had several students who wanted to investigate Indigenous worldviews and ways and that had stricter limitations. I had to make adaptations. So instead of a personal inquiry, some students could choose to do a unit plan. Personally, I thought that the unit plan would be more difficult to achieve but I wanted to give an option.

Final assessments ache me… truly. As much as I want everyone to personalize their learning and every project that submitted have been very different from each other… the level of inquiry varied… and what was learned varied. Moreover, the clock struck midnight and not all of my students handed something in. Truth be told, all of them had passed the course before the final assignment but I had hoped that all would be willing to accept the challenge of inquiry as a learner to inform their practice as a teacher. Some students rose to the challenge while others fell short. Not only did I get a diverse set of final assignments, I also had a diverse set of outcomes.

Some assignments made me giggle (in a good way)… some made me wonder… and others just wowed me. I have to remind myself that we all have strengths. Some of us are better face-to-face in discussion. Some of us are better at reading and reflection. Some like to perform while others can synthesize their thoughts eloquently as a final paper or exam. I will admit, it agonizes me to differentiate my students by grading. A part of me wants them to be all the same, but I understand that this is the end of the course and the final assignment was a an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in the course and from inquiry. In the end, I am happy to hear my students enjoyed the course. Many of them shared that with me. For that, I am grateful.

Two Weeks

Oh my goodness… I am having heart palpitations writing this blog entry. I have 2-weeks until my oral examination to defend my dissertation for my Doctor of Education degree. My 9-year journey is coming to an end. 2-weeks does not seem that far away anymore… IT’S COMING. Ahh… Such a funny place to be considering I thought it would never end. It took so much time to get to the question never mind about getting the data and research done. It seems so crazy to me. I invested everything into this degree and research study. Was it worth it? I would say YES.

Where to start? I wanted to get into the doctorate program in 2006. Back then, my daughter was only 3-years old and I was back to work. I had my dream job of teaching secondary mathematics and calculus, why not add something else to my plate? Well, that start date was never meant to be. I got undecided and withdrew from the program before it even started. LAME. My decision not to pursue the degree wained on me so I applied again in 2008. I was accepted and wanted to follow-through.

I completed my coursework and comprehensive exam while teaching full-time and being a mom with my daughter just entering the K-12 school system. It was a crazy time trying to manage everything in addition to being the mathematics department head and staff representative. Classic teacher. I just kept on doing more and not considered the consequences of work-life balance. Moreover, our school was appointed a new school administrator. With a change to my assignment and feeling like I was putting my career on the line to advocate for students… I had to leave.

Admittedly, quitting my job was not the best career move but in hindsight it was the best academic move I could make. When I was teaching, I could not get past the problem from which my research question was derived from. What I love about my degree is, I can take a question from practice, go into research, then bring back recommendations to practice. I could not have completed my degree had I stayed in the practice. Sounds crazy, I know… and becoming a school trustee and independent educational consultant opened my eyes such that I could see “the big picture.”

As a result, leaving the practice forced me to change my reason why I was pursuing a doctorate degree. That took some time… and I am so glad it did because now I can say that my primary reason for completing my doctorate degree is to answer my research question. It’s as simple as that. The root of my research question has been something that I had pondered and wrestled with for about 20+ years. I know, that’s so crazy (again)… but the problem continues to exist so my findings and recommendations are still relevant. Best of all, my research gave me solace.

Although completing my dissertation took 5-years longer than I had anticipated, I would not have it any other way. Mentioned many times in previous blog entries, I have met so many wonder people, experienced so many learning opportunities, and regained my love for education once again. Looking back, I know that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time such that I had to make some key decisions to be where I am today. I am so grateful. Deepest gratitude to my EdD supervisor, family, friends, colleagues, and editors who stuck it out with me. I have no words.

No more looking back. No more self-doubt. No more perceived limitations. I have accomplished what I’ve set out to do. I’ve answered my research question. I am satisfied with my findings and recommendations. I am no longer hung up on reading and writing. I am a lifelong learner and I will persevere. I had a brief meeting with my EdD supervisor last week about preparing for my oral examination. I was looking for words of advice, hidden secrets, or gaps I need to bridge in preparation for my defence. It spooked me out when the meeting was brief and there were no surprises. What did surprise me though was him acknowledging me and my transformation during this academic process. <<mind blown>> Agreed. I am not the same person.

This will be my last blog reflection regarding my dissertation until after my oral defence. I hope to “getter done” and get my final version of my dissertation published and submitted into the SFU library ON TIME and graduate during the Fall Convocation. My kid is now 14-years old and 4 inches taller than me. It will be a time to celebrate. I can’t wait. However, the work is not done until it’s done. Soon after I publish this blog entry, I will be writing my script to my 6-slide PowerPoint (well, it’s 8… one for the title page, one for acknowledgements, and one for each chapter of my dissertation). I’m getting stoked about this and looking forward to COMPLETION.

Final Reflections

Week 13 – EDUC454D100 – August 1, 2017

We did it. We finally made it to the end of the course (with exception to your final quantitative inquiry project/paper that is due on August 8th). Wow. Not a bad way to end the course. Thank you Candace Campo for taking our class on the Talking Trees Tour in Stanley Park. It was a beautiful way to end the course (even though a few of us were unable to attend). You captured many of the learning intentions discussed in EDUC454 such as place-based learning, Indigenous education, and strength-based learning. Some of my curiosities and take-aways from the tour included oral history and knowledge of local Indigenous and non-Indigenous plants, oral history and knowledge of one’s ancestry and lineage, and the role of potlatches and communal living. I think that my biggest take-away, which was reiterated during the tour but also in EDUC454, was the importance of RELATIONSHIPS. This is so true in education and integral to Indigenous ways, knowing, and being. You had shared so many great stories and knowledge that my class and I are truly grateful. Thank you Candace!!!

It’s been my deepest pleasure this term to teach EDUC454 at SFU. This was my first time teaching EDUC454 and my second time teaching at SFU as a sessional instructor. It was an incredible teaching and learning experience. THANK YOU EDUC454D100 for being so open and willing to participate in my inquiry, or shall I say “social experiment,” to realize the potential of BC’s New Curriculum. You had given me the opportunity to PLAY, experiment, and learn with you. I am deeply honoured. To do what we have achieved takes vulnerability, courage, and creativity. WE KILLED IT. I cannot express enough my gratitude and pride. As a collective, you have exceeded my expectations over and over again. Collaboration, facilitation, and reflection… we were a stellar class. Best of all, we had the opportunity to dispel some of your beliefs about mathematics (and expose others who were closet math-nerds). I am convinced that teaching outdoors and embedding environmental education into our practice will help us make connections, be inclusive, and create cross-curricular opportunities to co-construct knowledge and develop the Core Competencies.

Thank you all for your final reflections of EDUC454D100. A reflective practice is key to teaching and learning. Your final journal reflection was also an exemplar of personalized learning. You can have one framework that is designed by you… the teacher… and get varying results, which would be expected because we all come with different prior knowledge, perspectives, and Zone of Proximal Development. We also accomplished this with our Philosophy presentations and hopefully with our Inquiry Projects. What I have realized (after reading a few inquiry project/papers prior to this blog entry) that we have walked away from EDUC454 with the same learning intentions and conclusions… but how we got there was different. This is the beauty of teaching. Thank you everyone for this exceptional teaching/learning experience.

Don’t Be Boring

Carlo… the Closer. #EDUC454D100 #IGNITE #philosophypresentation

Week 12 – EDUC454D100 – July 25, 2017

Wow. What a way to end a course. Well… we do have a field trip planned for Stanley Park on August 1st with Candace Campo from Talaysay Tours. I cannot wait to participate in the “Talking Trees” Tour and have the opportunity to look at some culturally modified trees. This will conclude my cedar inquiry, for now. I travelled to Squamish soon after our class (and meeting with my EdD supervisor) to the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, but I was unsuccessful… meaning, I did not see any culturally modified trees (or walk on the suspension bridge). Now I can say, I’m not a big fan of extreme heights. There… I said it. The views were beautiful but I was happy to look at it from afar (holding onto something). OK. That’s enough about that… now let’s get back to my EDUC454 reflection. It’s “unofficial,” but I like reflecting (unlike my students).

DON’T BE BORING. Words to live by. Thank you Carlo. Over two classes, we embarked on listening and providing peer feedback to 26 Philosophy Presentations as IGNITE presentations. In 20 slides and 5 minutes, students were asked to share their educational philosophy in light of this course. The BIG IDEA was: Environmental Education and Quantitative Approaches are embedded in my teaching practice. What I loved about the presentations was that not one was the same. Yet, they all had the same PowerPoint framework, the same co-constructed curricular competencies to satisfy, and the same content to cover (i.e. environmental education/studies, quantitative approaches/math, their subject specialty/specialities, and teaching & learning). The presentations were not boring. I love listening to their learning. I would like to share some themes I heard over the last two weeks that warm my heart.

THEME ONE:
Not the greatest math efficacy before entering the course… but math ain’t so bad…
MATH IS EVERYWHERE.

THEME TWO:
Gotta go outside… it makes learning inclusive, accessible, mobile, and worthwhile…
I can do this with my classes.

THEME THREE:
Enjoyed the course… “Christine opened my eyes…” (meh, something like that)
Learning is FUN. 🙂

I wanted to take a class photo… which would be impossible because I never had full attendance during my 13-weeks of teaching EDUC454. This was interesting to me. I’m drawn to looking at some statistics and making some inferences, but I will restrain. HOLD BACK ON THE MATH. I made some assumptions… but I was wrong. This has been my BIG LEARNING in this course. When you are teaching… you are never the expert… although it seems to be. Initially, I thought that this blog would be titled “Don’t Make Assumptions” or “Not Meeting Expectations.” The truth is, that’s my junk. Ironically, this was one of my messages to my EDUC454 students… don’t assume.

I don’t know why I was wrapped around the whole concept of attendance. I guess it is a measurable way of knowing that students are possibly interested in your class, particularly if it’s an elective. What I have learned is, even though this is a group who has completed a degree (or two) and have been vetted by the PDP program at SFU… they are a diverse group of learners… with unique lives. That’s it. This was not a homogenized group and I’m not sure why I expected that, but I did. They are diverse and wonderful like all other classes out there… and life got in the way for some of them. For others, I’m not sure… but I was also reminded that students are putting on a show for us, as teachers. Generally, students are trying to make an impression…

Well… here’s my impression, which you can also read in previous blog entries about EDUC454D100. I’m excited for this group of pre-service teachers. They are an exciting group with a wonderful personality. I’m excited for the students they will teach. They have the love and passion for teaching & learning and I appreciate their diversity and NEW LOVE for learning mathematics/quantitative approaches and environmental education. I share this same love. They guided me throughout the course. I was led by them. From their inquiries, group discussion, and group facilitation, I was learning. In fact, I feel TRANSFORMED. I too had learned more about mathematics. I too want to bring my classes outside. And, I too had a lot of fun teaching and learning.

So, like any good teacher… I adapted the class photo with a EDUC454D100 collage made on Pixlr Express of my class during their Philosophy Presentation… sans Carlo. BTW: He was the “feature image” but also a 5×5 grid (aka. 25 students) worked much nicer than a 2×13 (aka. 26 = actual number of students). Sorry Carlo. It’s not personal… it’s math. 🙂 Thank you all for having me as your sessional instructor this summer session. I wish all of my student a happy practicum, a happy convocation, and/or happy future employment as secondary teachers. Until we meet again… C

PS. Oh wait… that made for a dramatic close, but I will see some of you next week at Stanley Park at our Talking Trees Field Trip (Week 13). What was I thinking? #lol

Teaching and Learning

Here’s a tip… don’t drink a latte at 9pm at night. Resist. Even though it goes beautifully with your baklava and ice cream… DON’T DO IT. Learning from experience… you could be blogging at 4am wishing that you didn’t have that latte. I can’t sleep. At first I thought it was because I finished my (draft) PowerPoint presentation for my dissertation oral examination, but nope… I’m wrong. It was definitely the latte.

Moving on… I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the POWER OF TEACHING AND LEARNING. I am in a wonderful and unique position. Not only am I teaching pre-service teachers at the university as a sessional instructor, I am also learning at the university as a doctoral student. I have always been enamoured by the wonders of teaching and learning. On the one hand, it seems almost magical. On the other hand, it’s more about technique, strategies, and rigour. I would like to focus on the MAGIC OF TEACHING AND LEARNING.

In my EDUC454 course, we are approaching the end with only a couple classes to go. I’m hoping that all I have constructed, designed, and orchestrated is starting to make sense to the students. Initially, the course feels like a conceptual mess. I build my courses on a concept and get to the details later. Now, we’re in “the later” and students are asking questions on how to complete some of the tasks they are asked to do for the course. I encourage them to ask questions and I will happily answer them. As a student, I’m not so forthcoming. I need to model what I want to see.

For the last few days, I’ve been stewing on my EdD Oral Examination PowerPoint presentation. I sent out an email to my supervisor last week indicating to him that I would like to meet with him some time soon. He replied by saying when he could meet and where we could meet. He also indicated to me that LESS IS MORE and recommended that I do 6 SLIDES FOR 6 CHAPTERS of my dissertation. Whoa. I was stumped. I was planning for 20. This is a slight deviation from what I intended.

It took the few days to ask my supervisor for a room number even though I knew that he wanted to preview my PowerPoint before our meeting. I was running out of time. What was I thinking??? Or not thinking. Nonetheless, my supervisor promptly replied with a room number while I was composing and posting a tweet on 6 SLIDES FOR 6 CHAPTERS. Moments later, he sent an unsolicited follow up email with the intentions of minimizing my stress regarding 6 slides for 6 chapters. He said 6 slides are great, 12 slides are fine, and 24 slides are too many. OMG. He must have read my Tweet!!! Not. He looked for my tweet after I asked him if he read it or not… and he LIKED it. This was a very serendipitous moment. He helped me on something I needed help on.

I needed to hear a few encouraging words… or words of advice… to change my lens on how I was approaching my PowerPoint presentation. Trust me. I have watched several YouTube videos, searched many webpages on preparing for the oral examination, and previewed some sample PowerPoint presentations online. I had an idea of what I needed to do but my supervisor (aka. teacher) quickly set me on the right path… or trajectory, shall I say… to get this task done. Oh… and I’m done. A handful of hours soon after our last email, I completed the task. It feels good.

This is the power of teaching and learning… I’m not sure if I’ve described it well or not, but it’s THE RELATIONSHIP. It’s more than liking or respecting each other… although, that helps. It’s about connecting at a cognitive level but almost intuitively where one is willing and able to help and the other is willing and able to receive. When this connection occurs at the right time, right place… MAGIC HAPPENS. I love this about teaching and learning. Without this relationship, magic would not happen.

Mixed Feelings

Week 11 – EDUC454D100 – July 11, 2017

Yup. Here is my “unofficial” blog reflection on this week’s EDUC454D100 class. I must admit. I walked into this week’s class with mixed feelings. I wanted to check to see if it was a full moon or not. The day before our WEEK 11 class, I fielded a few emails from students that ranged from questions about our upcoming assignments to rescheduling presentations. I was unsure how this day would unfold. This week was our first day of two for “Philosophy Presentations.” Ten of 26 presented. Next week will be an endurance class, but this week’s presentations met my expectations.

I can understand why the Philosophy Presentation (aka. IGNITE or pecha kucha) can be intimidating at first. I structured the activity around BC’s New Curriculum with a BIG IDEA, curricular competencies, and content as it relates to the course, EDUC454. The structure and expectations were the same for all, but what was to come was personalized and unique. Everyone had their voice and opportunity to express their learning and BIG AHAs. Although I did expect that each presentation would be different, what I did not expect was the level of learning that was established.

I will reserve my final evaluation with a follow up email for each student with some feedback, but also each presenter received handwritten formative feedback from their peers based on the structure of the activity. What do you perceive to be their biggest takeaway? Not one presentation was the same. I loved it. What I do hope is that students gave similar responses per presentation but recognized that everyone’s takeaways were different. We are all different. We have different subject specialities. But also, we all have different prior knowledge and readiness to learn. This is the power of the new curriculum. We can acknowledge these differences in each other and have takeaways that are personally and professionally meaningful.

Of course, my students asked me if I would be doing an IGNITE as well. I agreed to do so. One thing that I had committed to doing during this course was to be the learner alongside with them. I have reflected on journals (via blog) as they did, I have facilitated a learning activity (e.g. weaving), and I am engaged in my own inquiry (e.g. cedar bark, bark harvesting, and culturally modified trees). So, why not? I guess I will be “the closer.” Thus, I am resisting what I will say in my Philosophy Presentation. It’s stewing in my mind (as well as creating my PowerPoint for my upcoming dissertation oral defence and TEDxWestVancouverED presentation). I hope that I can do it justice. I have learned a tonne and personally, my practice has been transformed.

Thank you EDUC454. It’s been incredible!!! Two more classes to go… can’t wait.

My Big Aha

Photo Credit: Amie Le Blanc

EDUC454D100 SUMMATIVE REFLECTION

I will admit… that teaching “Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education” was not my area of expertise or course that I had initially applied to for the 2017 Summer Session. When I was offered EDUC454 to teach, I had a moment of hesitation because my subject specialty was Secondary Mathematics Education… and Curriculum Development as my next area of interest. I had agreed to teach EDUC454 but was uncertain how I would approach the course. So, I asked a few of my colleague friends who teach science on how they would teach the course, then I templated my expertise and pedagogical preferences to the course.

I wanted to include the intentions of BC’s New Curriculum to this course as well as engage in inquiry as learners. I have a core belief, based on my research, that you have to experience/learn what it’s like to teach what you are about to teach. Ideally, this would occur prior to teaching something or you can be so bold as to do it concurrently. I wanted the students to engage in Level 4 of inquiry as learners so that they can transfer what they had experienced and learned into their teaching practice. Furthermore, I wanted them to engage in cooperative group teaching facilitations to experience/learn what it would to be like to collaborate with others and teach.

I took some risks in this course. I learned that I had to get Ethics Approval to implement an inquiry project within my own course at the university. I learned that my lack of subject speciality really, really showed when I selected articles to read months in advance to the course (there was little room to deviate) and my students would have preferred articles written within the last 5 years. I learned that group facilitations were diverse in topic, depth, and breath even though every group had the same parameters of including environmental education, quantitative approaches, their subject specialty, and going outside. Finally, I learned that this class is equally diverse, they are critical thinkers, and they are pretty good at math.

My biggest aha from teaching and learning from EDUC454 is that I want to be outside. Embedding environmental education into my practice is not difficult to do and it can take on may roles, meaning it could be the setting, it could be the learning resource, or it could be part of the inquiry. There were many times that I wanted to implement some of the ideas presented during this course as part of my Math 8-12 classes if I was back or still in the classroom. I did not realize this until we had one class (Week 9) when we were inside the whole time. I walked away from the class feeling flat. Teaching and learning outside is possible regardless of what subject we teach… in addition to incorporating mathematics or quantitative approaches.

I am honing my practice to include and honour personalized learning, competency based assessments, and student-led learning. These three aspects were foreign to my former teaching practice as a secondary mathematics teacher, but having the opportunity to play, experiment, and learn with my students in EDUC454 made me realize the potential and power of BC’s New Curriculum and how we can engage students in their own learning so that it’s meaningful, purposeful, and joyful. It’s been an incredible teaching and learning experience. I look forward to the next few weeks left with them. We will be doing two classes of Philosophy Presentations (aka. IGNITE) and our last class with a field trip to Stanley Park with Candace Campo.

My goal right now is to figure out how we can go outside during our class in the next couple of weeks while facilitating the Philosophy Presentations. I am committed to going outside and wonder if going outside for the sake of going outside is enough. I have considered @perfinker’s (Gillian Judson’s) Walking Curriculum, but I don’t want to be disruptive or tangental either. We are approaching the end of the course and hope to bring our learning to a close by the end of the month. Thank you EDUC454 for the learning and helping me see that environmental education is cross-curricular.

Connecting the Dots

I look back at this photo… and many others that I have… of students and I begin to wonder about their journeys as I look upon mine. How does one connect the dots? There’s a huge need of mine (and I’m sure for other people) to see what’s ahead. I guess it’s my huge desire for certainty, but the truth is, I haven’t been on that train for quite some time. Why is this time any different? Why can’t I just focus on what I need to do (i.e. prepare for my oral defence) and take it from there? Admittedly, I am a bit anxious… not about the oral defence but what will happen after it.

This is exactly how Grade 12’s feel. After 13 years of schooling, what’s next? We all ask them… What are you going to do with your life? What school will you be attending? Where do you want to travel? This is STRESSFUL. I am there. What’s the plan? Life would have been much easier, straightforward, and somewhat predictable had I stayed teaching high school mathematics in public schools. I miss many of my students from teaching in high school and I love that I am still in contact with some of them via social media. I feel connected to them as I glimpse into their lives and learn about where the are going and where they have been. I will say that it’s crazy when I get Facebook updates on their 35th birthday. How is that possible when I’m 35?

Just the other day I was explaining to a colleague the other day that when we discover our passions and we have the will to pursue them, the path forward is not always clear or straightforward. I mentioned that same idea in my Chatelech Grad 2017 Speech as well. Hmm… this is the lesson I am suppose to learn. I was actually nervous during my speech at Chatelech, which is unusual. In hindsight, maybe my speech was not only a speech for the 2017 Grads but for me as well. The journey is not easy, but just learn from your lessons on move on. You have to make decisions that are best for you and true to you. I look back at some of the decisions I have made in my career and often wonder if I did the right thing. In turn, I would compare myself with others who were able to persist and persevere and wonder why I opted to walk away.

Depending on how you know me, I’ve walked away from something that was perceived “important” in each chapter of my life. Whether it be curling, professional development chair, my teaching position in public schools, or running for re-election on the provincial board, I opted not to “reach for the top.” Was I satisfied? Hmm… I would say yes and no. It depends. I was satisfied with what I’ve accomplished but I knew I was meant to be somewhere else. It’s a feeling that has no words to describe. As I reflect on my life’s history, I did walk away from several situations I deeply cared about. What’s unusual about this reflection is that I am at the verge of defending my dissertation… a 9-year long journey. I thought about walking away from my research 4-years ago, but I’m bringing it to completion. Why was this situation so different?

Right now, I am driven to get a job in place for September but feel that it’s not the right thing to do at this point in time. What has provoked my curiosity about my pedagogical journey so far is my current thought process in preparation for my TEDxWestVancouverED presentation. I am called to question. If I had to generalize or make a pattern, I believe I walked away from certain situations because I did not feel aligned to the situation at the time. I was unwilling to compromise my values, integrity, and mindset to just “suck it up.” That’s not my style. I am willing to endure the ups and downs. I have grit. I am resilient. But there comes a time when YOU KNOW you have to go. And when you don’t respond, that’s when it gets ugly.

Maybe the difference between my dissertation and other life’s situations is that I came into alignment. I will admit that I may have started my dissertation for the “wrong reasons.”  After leaving teaching, I had to rediscover a new reason for completing my doctoral studies. What was my purpose? I struggled with this. I was in a state of transition, but now I realize that I was meant to answer the question, a question that I had for more than 20 years. I had to leave the practice go get perspective, a broader scope, and a deeper understanding. I had to learn from others and learn from experience. I could not have completed my dissertation had I not done what I have done. I feel blessed to have answered my research question.

It feels right and it’s the right thing to do for me. I feel content. I feel solace. I guess my worry or what’s different from before is… What’s next? There is no question in my mind that if I had followed through on my curling career, my leadership role in professional development, teaching career, or campaigned for the provincial board, I would be somewhere else, but also I would not be where I am. When I look back… all of the dots connect in a straight line as it was meant to be. The phenomena reminds me of Steve Jobs address at Stanford. The dots have connected. I would not trade-in anything that I have experienced so far that would have deviated me from where I am today. I am in a good place. As my good friend has said to me, trust your intuition.

Greatest Impact

Dr. Geoff Madoc-Jones, PhD (photo creds: SFU.ca)

Week 10 – EDUC454D100 – July 11, 2017

This is the last “official” journal reflection for EDUC 454 D100 Summer Session 2017 at SFU. Wow. That sounded BIG… and it is. The final journal refection question is: What teacher made the biggest impact on you? It’s a BIG question because teachers play a BIG role in people’s lives and they have an integral part in setting the trajectory of your future and sense of self. Again, this sounds BIG… and it is. Teachers have a BIG responsibility and it goes beyond teaching curriculum and keeping students safe.

Even though I asked my students to reflect on this question, it has taken me some time to really think about what teachers had an impact on me which one had THE BIGGEST. Well, I have to admit, I don’t even remember the names of all of my teachers from K-12. So when I read Chris Kennedy’s Blog “Culture of Yes” and he names ALL of his teachers from K-12 in How Many Can You Name, I am humbled. I can’t do it. I can remember a few from elementary school, some from secondary, none from my undergraduate studies, and a few from my graduate studies.

Of these teachers, which one of them played the TSN Turning Point Teacher in my life? Many of the teachers I highly regard are those who believed in me, loved their subject area, and provoked my thinking. All three criteria are important to me (as well as it is for my daughter… go figure). Anyway, I can also think of two teachers who were mentors in my first year of teaching. They were equally wonderful. Admittedly, I would not be where I am without any of my teachers. This includes my supervisor and members of my EdD examining committee. Our learning experiences, in and out of school, influence what direction we choose or want to take. This is powerful.

Dr. Geoff Madoc-Jones is my edu-super hero. Why? Geoff definitely satisfied the criteria of believing in me, loving his subject matter, and being intellectually provocative. No question. So what about him that made him so special… to me? He was a risk taker, an innovator, and disrupter. I loved his creativity and willingness to make things happen. His kindness and ethics of care was seen behind the scenes. It’s not something that would be done in public. In fact, to the outside, he could be perceived as loud, arrogant, and pompous. Truth? He’s the kind of teacher I hope to be… an inspiration, a motivator, a visionary. I would not be here without him.


Pictures below are of my EDUC454D100 class participating in our last group facilitation project. First of all, I am so glad to be outside again… if feels so good. Second, we participated in another unique group facilitation project on FOOD and how food is sourced from around the world. Third, I learned more about eggs, rice, and salmon… and shopping organic. Wow. It’s so amazing when students lead the learning. It’s so incredible to learn from students, what they find interesting, and what they perceive as important. It’s so wonderful to have these student teachers engaged in the kind of learning that we want their studenst to engage in. Thank you EDUC454D100 for playing along with me. I loved that I had the opportunity to learn and understand the potential of BC’s New Curriculum with you and how to embed “quantitative approaches to environmental education” into my practice.

Student Driven Learning

Week 9 – EDUC454D100 – July 4, 2017

This week’s reflection question is: What does student-driven learning mean to you? We watched the TEDxWestVancouverED talk by Shelley Wright titled: The Power of Student-Driven Learning. Throughout this course we’ve been modelling student-driven learning where students take control of the class and teach it with our group facilitation projects. They decide what they are going to teach and how they are going to teach it. The group facilitation project must include environmental education/studies, quantitative approaches/mathematics, and their curricular area(s). Other than that, the freedom is theirs. We have completed 5 of 6 group facilitations and they have all been great. I look forward to our last one next class.

The irony does not get past me with this week’s class. There are no great photos to share because it was an INDOOR TEACHER DAY. It was such a downer. I left the class feeling uninspired and heavy. I facilitated most of the class and sadly we were inside the whole time. Furthermore, the activity was inconclusive and 9 students were missing my class. The dynamics were different overall and I wished that my activity worked out better than it did. We were designing Curricular Competencies for our upcoming Philosophy Presentation (aka. IGNITE) and how they would be assessed. Tough conversations. We decided to evaluate 2-3 curricular competencies as meeting or not meeting with feedback. Students will also be providing formative feedback.

The content of the Philosophy Presentation is environmental education, quantitative approaches, teaching & learning, and their subject area. The big idea is: Environmental education and quantitive approaches are embedded in my teaching practice. The approach attempts to use BC’s New Curriculum as a framework for students to demonstrate their learning. We still have to complete our vote and I hope that it will work out in the end. By the end of class, students seemed tired and listless… or that might have been me. This week’s class did not meet the expectations for the group facilitation and it wasn’t suppose to. It didn’t feel good. I’m happy that this class happened to help me realize that I want to be outside everyday with my class and students take the lead. My job is to help facilitate their learning.

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