Hello to a new decade. I am definitely optimistic. I am hopeful for good things to happen. And, I am declaring 2020 to be the YEAR OF FIRSTS. Last year, my sister, brother, and I proclaimed 2019 to be the YEAR OF YEESH… or YoY for short. “Oy” was all that we could say about 2019. It was not a pleasant year and it persisted. We hope for “new” in 2020.
I noticed a shift in momentum today. After experiencing a “snow shower” last night in Prince George, I had to move my car the next day before noon so that they could clear the parking lot at my apartment building. I didn’t really want to, but I had to. This my was task of the day and in removing the snow off my vehicle, I had to stand in the snow.
Let me be clear. I was not only standing on the snow, but standing in the snow. This was my first time standing in snow that was mid-thigh high. I could not believe it. I used my new car brush that I bought last night to remove the inches of snow off my car (again). I did not think I was going to make it out of the parking lot. The snow was so deep. Made it, but it was my first time driving in snow like this. Thank goodness for winter tires.
I had to be away from my apartment for a few hours to have the snow cleared so I went to the university to get some work done. This is not my typical weekend activity. I guess this would have been the first time when I went to the university on a Saturday willingly to get some work done. Moreover, it was the first time paying for parking with coins.
Of course, I bump into my colleague and friend on campus. She goes to work on the weekend. I don’t know why I was surprised to see her, but really, I was expecting to see no one so that I could get some work done while I wait for my parking lot to be cleared. She just finished the work that she was working on and asked if we should go for lunch.
Yes. Lunch. Why not? Who needs to work? Before going, I wanted to buy a plane ticket for my kid. It will be the first time for her to fly up to Prince George by herself to visit me. I can’t wait. She’s coming during spring break. I also learned that my brother, sister, and dad are coming up to Prince George for the first time since I’ve moved and started working here. They are planning to come during the World Women’s Curling in March.
In the end, my friend took me to Moxies. It was my first time being there and we sat beside the fireplace. I needed that. From snow to fire… it seemed like the right thing to do today. We are both trying to eat better, so it’s a mutual challenge to choose the right thing to eat. I ordered the Vegetarian Power Bowl. My first time and it was delicious!
After lunch, my friend dropped me off at work to get something done. I wanted to get work done, but wanted to get home before it got dark and got super cold. I got a little bit of work done. Before heading home, I stopped by Canadian Tire to get another extension cord for my block heater. The moment I arrived at Canadian Tire, it was the first time the windshield of my vehicle cracked. The upside was, I got an extension cord that was meant for block heaters, it was on sale, and I bought it with my Canadian Tire dollars.
I got my extension cord and I am super pleased with it. I went food shopping and now it’s dark. And, I returned back to my apartment and the snow has been cleared. What an incredible feeling. You’ve got to appreciate the little things. Although I am not outside skiing, hiking through the trails, or snowshoeing… Just clearing my car from snow on a daily basis is a new experience for me. It’s a weird feeling being out in the snow and in the next few days, the temperatures are going to drop to -20 to -30 degrees celsius with a windchill. It’s going to get COLD. I know that this is my second winter here, but each day feels like I’m learning how to live all over again.
Lots more to come in the YEAR OF FIRSTS. I look forward to them.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, January 12th, 2020 | 2 Comments »
Oh yay… my first blog entry for 2020. I’ve been resisting but really wanting to write something that’s been sitting on my mind ever since my “edu-lunch” with my friend on the Sunshine Coast during the winter break. Normally, we tend to go on “edu-walks” to solve all world’s problems (or so it seems) but it rained a lot on the coast this winter. Anyway, what I appreciate about my edu-buddy is that we are critical friends. I feel so lucky (and I’m sure my friend does too) that we each have critical friends in our personal and professional lives. It’s so important to have at least one critical friend as an educator. Someone who you can trust wholeheartedly so that we can share ideas, be vulnerable, and not be judged. During our edu-lunch, we were discussing things like #OneWord 2020, how things were going at work, and what’s next. In that conversation, my friend mentions a speaker from the BCSTA Academy 2019 who spoke about wearing clothes that represent YOUR BRAND. I was provoked. What’s my brand? She said that the conference speaker said to choose clothing that speaks to who you are as a professional and stick to that clothing. For the guest speaker, her brand was a white jacket, so she always wears a white jacket. My friend reduced her work wardrobe to 7 pairs of black pants, 2 jackets, and a variety of blouses. Is my brand Crocs, tights, and hoodies? Very professional.
What a way to start 2020… to think about MY BRAND. All of us are creating our brand whether if we are intending to or not. If anything, I’d like to think that we are creating a brand that shows WHO WE ARE… a classic bit I love from Parker Palmer because we TEACH WHO WE ARE. I am so proud of our Second Year Teacher Candidates at UNBC who are heading out to their final practicum. I’ve read their e-Portfolio submissions (so far) as their EDUC 431 EdTech Instructor and what a beautiful platform to engage in digital storytelling. It’s difficult to look at oneself, self-assess, and then compose a website that shows who we really are. I am so impressed with what the Teacher Candidates have produced so far and look forward to the final product of what they will create with their e-Portfolios at the end of their practicum and thus transition into the teaching profession. Teacher education is an incredible journey for every Teacher Candidate. Transformation DOES happen. I feel privileged to be a part of their learning journey as their professor and faculty mentor. Honoured. Your identity will change over time. Be the learner.
That’s how I feel all of the time. I AM THE LEARNER. It keeps you humble and it keeps you hungry. There is no question that the learning journey is a vulnerable process and mistakes will be mades, risks taken, and some victories to be celebrated. Even where I am in my career in education… it’s been 25 years… and I am still learning. My identity is transforming. I love how my students are my teachers. They always have been. I love what I do and I hope to explore more in this field over time. As much as I am known online for my food pics, selfies, and photos of the ferry/snow/or plane rides… a brand I am creating with my Crocs, tights, and hoodies… I am always learning more about myself, my students, and my field. OK… I’ll admit… I’ve been messing with my name over time (i.e. Chris Ho, Christine Younghusband, Christine Ho Younghusband), but that’s more of an exemplar or evidence of my transformation over time. #Hello2020 #NewDecade
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, January 09th, 2020 | No Comments »
Wow 2019… You were full of surprises. I remember when my mom passed away more than a year ago, I was ready for my life to change. I was done with what I was doing and was ready to do something different. Having the grace and privilege to take care of my mom during her last 20-days with us, I was not prepared for the kind of changes that were set ahead of me AND I know that there is still more change to come in 2020.
It’s been awhile since I’ve last blogged and admittedly, I’ve been uninspired. Last month, I’ve been catching up, marking papers, and anticipating the “family holiday.” Take it a step further, I mulled over how I wanted to write my last blog entry for 2019. I’m at this for the third time today (and it’s almost 2020). This is not exactly a free-write. Editing required. Rethinking and reconsideration necessary. I am making minor revisions with each iteration. I’ve read a few comments on social media where some have suggested that 2019 was a trying year and glad to see it go. I would not disagree. I will admit, 2019 was challenging but also eye-opening. If anything, I learned more about myself and what’s important to me personally and professionally. As much as we relay the message in Teacher Education, WE TEACH WHO WE ARE from Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach, my personal life has influenced my professional life and vice versa. They are one.
At first, I thought about doing a thorough year in review and selecting one photo from each month and writing about each month. MEH. I couldn’t get passed January 2019. I have a lot of photos and could not decide. NVM. My next idea was to write about 2019 from two perspectives… a cup half empty and a cup half full… to compare and contrast. MEH. I could not write about the “cup half empty” without getting stuck in that mindset. No thank you. As much as I may want to delve into the details to appease my ego, that’s not my VIBE and who I am. In this blog, I want to focus on what’s good. A time for reflection is a time for gratitude… and so I’ve chosen to stick to my original model of blogging. I will choose a photo for inspiration and context, free-write, and what emerges from my writing will be what I will share because that’s what I’m inspired to say.
The photo I have chosen above is the LAST photo I took on the picket line during the UNBC strike and job action in November 2019. I am with a few of my Daycare Picket Site Crew – Afternoon Shift members who graciously agreed to take a group selfie with me right before I ran across the street to catch the bus to Strike Headquarters. During the strike, I met some incredible people who teach and work at UNBC. I listened to their stories, passions, and love for their work. I learned more about the university, its culture, and why the Faculty Association was in job action. I also started to understand more about MY WHY and purpose in education and the work that I do (and will do). The strike offered me an opportunity to demonstrate leadership as picket captain but also a chance to create community, connection, and trust amongst crew members and others on the line. We were an eclectic bunch who supported one another and made the best of a challenging situation. I loved my picket crew. We persevered with grit and kindness.
The strike only posed a little bip in my 2019 year. It’s the second Christmas without my mom. No double duck for Christmas dinner. My dad remarried, my marriage ended, and I failed to get a job I applied and interviewed for. Furthermore, I didn’t get into a program I applied for, I opted not to apply for another job, and I turned down two speaking events due to job action and potential financial burden. On paper, these events and decisions seem bleak and unsavoury, but really they were signals telling me to take a different path, to do what I want to do, and to pursue what I am passionate about. Strangely, with all that is said and done… I am relieved. I have a new found freedom, independence, and autonomy I never had before. It’s exciting and uplifting. I’m no longer distracted. My kid continues to be my first priority. Self-care, deliberate action, and building my self-efficacy are new priorities. I have clarity. I am happy. And, I feel more like myself. What a gift!!!
Although 2019 was filled with angst, stress, and massive change… it was also filled with opportunities, new connections, and learning experiences that are unique to the path that I am on. I am so happy to return back to UNBC for a second one-year term. We have amazing students. I am learning more about Teacher Education and contributing. I’ve made collaborations for research with other faculty from other universities and with K-12 educators. I have many opportunities to write and research. And, I love being being a part of both educational research and the teaching profession. This is a gift. I also loved working on the UNBC School of Education Leadership MEd Program Redesign Team and BEd Program Redesign Team, Open Schools BC math videos project, St. Mark’s College CALR 526 and EDUC 420, and the FNESC Math Teachers Resource Guide revisions.
In the end, it did not matter what project or course I was working on, it was the people I met on these projects and the chance to work and collaborate with them were the most memorable and valuable experiences in 2019. I also appreciated the encouragement from my new learning network at UNBC (aka. my picket crew / colleagues) and from those who are currently in my PLN (professional learning network) in K-12 and higher education. I am in the WRITE place (lol). “Write” was my #OneWord2019. I had opportunities to WRITE in 2019. I have much more to write about… I just have to do it. One of my friends and mentors asked me a couple of months ago if I felt like a professor yet. I said, no. He said, I needed something to profess about. He always gets me thinking… and I think I’ve figured it out, but you have to wait for 2020. I’m pretty stoked though and it resonates with me deeply. I am on the right path and I have a learning community who support me. Another gift. My #OneWord2020 is TENURE. Even though I cannot achieve tenure within one-year and without being tenure-track, it’s the intent. Looking forward to 2020.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, December 31st, 2019 | 4 Comments »
My sleep habits are out of whack. I would have never thought that I would be writing a blog post from my phone in my bed at 4am in the morning. I woke up just after 3am and I can’t get back to sleep. My legs are aching. My stomach is unsettled. My brain is going a mile a minute. I might as well write a blog entry because yesterday (12-hours ago), the pickets for the faculty association shut down after 23 days of strike and 16 days on the picket line. We continue to strike as work to rule. Classes resume on Monday.
I never imagined that I would be back on the picket line after my 16-year career in K-12 public education. This time I was made picket captain because of my experience in K-12. I’ve seen and experienced job action from both points of view, as the employer and union. I was a little surprised about strike action at the university. It has a different vibe or momentum compared to K-12. Academics are bargaining with administration. The FA bargaining team is eloquent, thoughtful, and thorough. Much of what is being bargained directly affects me as contract faculty. This job action has been a learning experience for me. I learned more about the university in terms of politics, people, and process.
We can help but be siloed in our workplace situated within our own departments and segregated by buildings, rooms, and floors. On the picket line, there are no walls or departments. At the “Daycare Site,” my crew members were from education but also from psychology, library/archives, biochemistry, political science, math, social work, and natural resources & tourism. Aside from the education faculty, I would not have met any of these people on campus and if I did, I would not remember. I met people on the bus, strike headquarters, and at different picket sites. I also met people between shifts, online via Twitter, and at our solidarity receptions. I stayed near my picket site for a majority of the time during the 3-weeks, but I started to get to know people and build relationships.
On the picket line, it did not take long to build a community. I adored the people who were assigned to my picket site. We seemed to gel over time. Some of us would walk and clock 15000+ steps, some stayed, while others split shifts with the morning crew. Regardless of our preferences, we seemed to establish a rhythm at our picket site that included a lot of laughing, dancing, and good conversations. I also met folks who work in the research ethics office who are willing to help me. I got to see the “human side” of faculty, students, and CUPE staff. I also met people from FA’s from around the country as part of the flying pickets and my EdD Senior Supervisor from SFU came up to say “hi” with the SFUFA. I got to learn more about the history of the university, the passion and love these people have for their students and work, and what’s at stake at the bargaining table. Things started to make sense because I am relatively new to the university.
My biggest impression about the university is THE PEOPLE. My first impressions of the town were significantly less rain, it gets super cold, and people are friendly. I am wowed by the people at the university and how incredible and resilient they are. Some of the stories shared are pretty exceptional, but not in a good way. As much as they love what they do, I listened to stories of trauma, operations, and workloads. The image I got was the university sitting on their backs. The university ranks #2 in the country as a small research university because of these people. How can we help these people help the university rise? There is a clear difference between thriving and surviving. The collective agreement, university budget, and PSEC restrictions are playing a role in this. I am so grateful for tenure and tenure-track faculty who are standing beside contract faculty, senior lab instructors, and librarians. That says a lot about the people at this university.
I loved it when my education students came up the hill to drop off food or coffee, to say hello, or to walk the picket line. I was so excited to see them but also reminded of the importance of RELATIONSHIPS. The students are part of this too. Although I will acknowledge that some are frustrated and given up, others have rose to the occasion to advocate and stand beside faculty during this labour dispute. For that, I am grateful.
I love the photo above. It’s a beautiful exemplar of how people exceeded my expectations during job action. Aside from the amazing folks who are committed to the FA bargaining team and executive, some of the people I’ve met on the picket line are playing in this band. My mind was broadened and I love that we are more than just teaching and research. WE ARE PEOPLE with families, hobbies, and interests. They inspired me to go back to curling, which seems unrelated but it’s something I love to do. I need to make time for it. I am also ready to start reading, researching, and writing in addition to finishing off my classes for this term. I can see why people stay at this university. They love what they do. I still don’t know a lot of people at the university (or a Flying Picket said to me, they don’t know you yet), but I am so happy to meet the people that I did.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 29th, 2019 | No Comments »
I have to admit… the last couple of weeks have been very interesting to me… if I’m really listening TO THE UNIVERSE. Sounds intense, I know… because not only am I feeling Motivated To Write, I feel like I need to carve out time to write. As much as I love to write in my blog because I feel inspired to, there has to be a regularity to the writing process and I would suppose for reading and researching as well. I need to block out time and set goals. It’s so interesting… I think about the First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning involves patience and time.” After talking to my childhood friend, now peer and colleague, learning takes patience and time spans over a lifetime. I am so grateful for what I learn from her. My perceptions and mindsets are challenged, stretched, and provoked.
My #OneWord2019 is WRITE, but I must admit that I have been limited by my own perceptions and mindsets. IRONIC, I know. When I have the unique opportunity to listen to what other people in academia do, what challenges they faced, and what they are accomplishing… I am so WOWED. And yes, they are “regular” people who do research because they are passionate in what they do. Strangely, this is no different from me. I was chatting to a few of my students about my recent revelations about my colleagues with respect to their passion and level of care… my students were quick to respond with “like you’re not passionate or caring” (insert sarcasm) inferring that I was one of them too. I was taken a back. I never perceived or believed myself to be “one of them.”
This brings to mind another First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.” I am captured by what people have been saying to me lately… words like PERMANENCE… did you find a home yet… or you’re here to stay. There was definitely a theme. As I think about “blocking out the time” to write, I securely go to my blog to free write my thoughts as a way to make sense of what I am contemplating. I took a course about “landing and launching” and blocking out time for productivity. I had a conversation with one of mentors about finding out the BEST TIME to write and produce. I had a similar conversation with someone else about the same ideas. I get reminded by my friend and colleagues about what needs to get done and what I am able to do. I am reassured by their confidence, yet unnerved. Sadly, I am in a good place.
SELF-ACTUALIZATION: “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone” (From Google Dictionary).
HOLY BLEEP. Maybe I’m woke… maybe I have arrived… maybe it’s time. I have writing right now that I can start working on. The first is a book I want to write about my mom. She was an amazing woman and as she anticipated, I am realizing this after she passed away. She would be so pissed off that I just said that and even more pissed off that I wrote about her. That said, I think she would also be proud of me for achieving something she knew I could always accomplish and possibly touched that I could see her. She was very special to me. The second piece of writing I am pursuing would be about ETHNOMATHEMATICS. I am encouraged by and collaborating with my friend mentioned above. I have a passion in this with respect to my dissertation of mathematics education, subject matter acquisition, and transformative educational leadership. It’s super exciting.
My academic writing is on hold for the moment, but I have MANY opportunities that are accumulating and all I have to do is GET WRITING. Jump in. Who cares? In the end, it’s about my learning and there are many levels to that. One is, believing that I can do it. Another is, what I am researching and writing about is worthwhile. And another is, do I care about what I am researching and writing about. I loved meeting some folks from the Office of Research Ethics at the university. They only have encouraging words and I realized that it’s “not a big deal.” I’m making it into a big deal… like I did when I was a doctoral student. I have incredible, yet subtle, mentoring from my former supervisor and his belief that I can do it. A librarian told me, he wouldn’t work with me if he didn’t believe that my work was not worthwhile. My fears are my own. I can overcome them. I need to publish a couple of papers, apply for ethics for a few projects, and maybe apply for a grant or two. I can do this. I just have to want it, work wisely, and get writing.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 25th, 2019 | No Comments »
Ahhh yes… a photo from my wide collection of memories from my dissertation days. I can’t believe that it’s been over 2-years since I finished writing and defending my thesis. I still have to get it published as an article with my EdD senior supervisor at SFU, Dan Laitsch, but I have been paralyzed by the “imposter syndrome” ever since… or shall I say, it took on a new life. After the completion of my dissertation, I was a sessional instructor at SFU, then I took care of my mom full-time before she passed away, and now I am a term faculty member at UNBC in the Teacher Education Program and I teach in the MEd programs as well. I spent the whole last year trying to cope with living in a new city away from my family, learning the ups and downs of the program, and teaching/transforming students into educators in the BEd program. I’ve enjoyed my time but I know that writing and researching will be integral to my future as a academic at the university.
I’m one of those people… I have to feel it to do it. At some level, some would say “fake it until you make it.” That’s not my scene. Maybe it’s because I’m too much of an extrovert who hates to lie. Who knows what my problem is, but I have been held back (internally) from writing and I don’t know why. Some may call it “limiting beliefs” and well… I’m calling it, “Imposter Syndrome 2.0.” I felt this way for quite some time during my doctorate degree… “Who do you think you are?” and I feel that way now. I do feel the excitement of research. I love the idea of taking the time to investigate something that you are totally curious about, ask a question, and then… answer it. In the doing of learning, you are collecting data, research the literature, and then synthesizing what you have found with what has been found to come to some conclusions, recommendations, and possibly more questions. I am totally stoked for that… now. You have to write about it. Document it. Share it. I guess this falls in line with, “make your learning VISIBLE.”
I have had some “free time” lately to chat with colleagues in the field, make connections, and build my COURAGE TO WRITE. What I have realized is, everyone in my professional learning community at the university does this… and have experienced similar struggles. They have overcome these cognitive and emotional hurdles and learned how to find their voice in the field. And yet, they are just like everybody else. I know… that sounded strange… but I guess I have this perception of “what is”… and I need to take the time to actualize “what is” and how I fit into “what is.” I have 2 articles to publish… I have about 5 mini-projects I am involved with that require ethics approval, research, and writing… and I have a people in my life who are encouraging me to take the next step. I write this blog because I FEEL READY!!! Yes, we are back to those “feelings” and truth… it has to “feel” like the “write time.” LOL. I just caught myself in that. I am motivated to write.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 21st, 2019 | 1 Comment »
FPPL: Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
OMG… I love this photo of my bub… taken approximately 16-years ago. She looks exactly the same, but she’s 16. It was shocking to me when I had my bub. LIFE CHANGING to say the least, but having her tampered and disrupted my sense of self and my identity. At that time, I remember saying to myself, “who is this?” All of a sudden, my life was thrown upside down. What I knew or understood about “what was life” would no longer be the same. I made decisions about my career because I was a mom and I made decisions about my life because I was a mom. Now, I just know… I am a mom. It’s who I am.
Completing my doctorate 2-years ago was like giving birth to my second baby… but instead of 9-months, it took 9-years and a long “pedagogical journey” of transforming self and my understanding of teaching, learning, and leading in BC education. I had to take that time to understand and restore my love for K-12 education. I had to unpack my research question and just focus on that question to get to “an answer” but also challenge myself of what is AGAIN. I had to tamper and disrupt my understandings of BC education and what I was able to do and accomplish. I think that much of the 9-years was trying to LET GO of what I believed in and SAY HELLO to what is and what could be.
I feel like I’m here again. I am sure that I am experiencing this “change” over and over again in the micro and macro, but now I am at a point where I am noticing that I am HERE AGAIN. I am brought to the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) of exploring one’s identity. I AM LEARNING. I guess this is life’s journey… to engage in change… reflect, explore, and wonder… and figure out our identity within a given context, time, and place. I AM HERE and I am listening. I am information gathering and I am leaning in a particular direction as part of my PEDAGOGICAL JOURNEY. It’s so weird when I feel like I am meandering, but really when I look back, it looks like a straight line. It’s weird.
I am given a gift to really consider who I want to be. WHO AM I? This is where my professional and personal life intersect and right now I can REIMAGINE who I want to be. This is pretty phenomenal… and in the same breath… recognize my self-limiting beliefs and overcome them. Admittedly, I’ve been doing that so far, but now I want to identify them and cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually overcome them as I move forward. I am building up my SELF-EFFICACY as a researcher, writer, and educator. What’s so great is, I have an amazing PLN (professional learning network), amazing mentors, and amazing friends and family who believe in me and support me wholeheartedly. I feel so lucky.
Now, I am taking the time to unpack my next steps and just JUMP IN with two feet. I may not know what I am doing (at first) and I may not be an expert in what I do (yet), but I am willing to forge forward to find out how and build my expertise. I have to be vulnerable to the process and know I will be “punched in the head” (metaphor) from time to time, but my job is to try, get punched in the head, and get up again. I’m Ok with that. As one of my mentors said to me, “Do you feel like a professor yet?” I said, “no.” My mentor said, “You need some thing to profess about.” Ah yes… I spent the last year and a half narrowing my niche, but now I have something I am passionate about. Can’t wait!
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 12th, 2019 | No Comments »
Oh my gosh… the dreaded question… HOW DO YOU CREATE THIS KIND OF CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT, CHRISTINE? I think that students in higher education ask me this question because things are going well, so I do take it as a compliment. On the other hand, the course is not over yet and “this classroom environment” can radically change if we start getting too focussed on the outcome of GRADES or achievement. That’s when my “learning environment” erodes and likely to result in poor course evaluations because there is a clear incongruence to what I have designed and intended in my courses versus what the university designed and intended with final marks, transcripts, and ranking.
I will also admit, I don’t like this question. WHY? I don’t have an answer. I don’t have any explicit strategies that help me to implement or create a class that is collegial, community minded, and cohesive. Part of that involves the students and their willingness to participate. Why I hate answering this question is because I AM LEARNING. I am playing around to figure out what works and doesn’t work. I try to be explicit with my intentions but sometimes I forget some details, sometimes I don’t follow through on some of my intentions, and sometimes things just don’t work. I get fearful of that. I’ll own that because I do not intend on not landing the dismount perfectly, but learning involves trying, making mistakes, and recognizing my mistakes and doing something about it.
When I entered into higher education, I was guided by my curiosity of BC’s New Curriculum and it’s intentions. I taught in BC public schools for 16 years and left it due to misalignment in pedagogy and purpose. I pursued a doctoral degree in leadership and served as a school trustee for two terms. I believed that K-12 schools could have been different. Something had to change. During my doctoral studies, I feel privileged to have worked on BC’s New Curriculum on the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team and I am wholehearted about what this curriculum intends and hope for. I love the ideas of competency based learning, personalized learning, ongoing formative assessment, First Peoples Principles of Learning, and Indigenous Education in every course and every grade. I wanted to try out some of these ideas in higher education as a sessional.
Ever since teaching in higher education in three different institutions in teacher education and leadership, I have designed my courses around three principles or core beliefs:
LEARNING IS FORMATIVE
I am focused on learning, not grading. This is a pedagogical shift for me in my 25-year career in education. Learning is ongoing and continuous. My job is to support, guide, and woo students to engage in learning to take agency and ownership of their own learning. Students can take or leave what I say. Everything we do in class leads up to the summative (or demonstration of learning). Nothing is final until its final (aka. the end of the course).
LEARNING IS COLLABORATIVE
“Sense-making is not a solo affair.” I love that quote that came from one of my leadership books by Spillane, et al. From the constructivist point of view, learning is constructed and co-constructed with others. I love that learning can be dialogical, cooperative, and collaborative. I love saying, “sharing is caring” because there is no cheating when we are sense-making.
LEARNING IS EXPERIENTIAL
I think that I like this approach to learning because this is what I do as a learner. I learn experientially. Learning by doing. I also like Kolb’s experiential learning style theory (1974) where you start with a concrete experience, take a moment to reflect, reconceptualize with a new idea or approach, engage in active experimentation, then you’re back at the beginning of the cycle. I love reflection, I love action, and I love revising and trying again.
This may or may not be what students experience in other higher education course, but this framework is what BC’s New Curriculum hopes and looks for. I fantasize that I would be in a secondary math class again and have the joy and opportunity to try this framework with Grade 8-12 students. It would be super fun and I know that it works because I had many of these ideas and pedagogical approaches when I left teaching in public schools. What I love about implementing this framework in addition to delving into First Peoples Principles of Learning and Indigenous Education is, “there is no back row in this classroom.” That’s a quote from one of my online classes. This feedback tells me that this approach is not just a face-to-face phenomenon. This year, I am driven to learn more about culture in mathematics, decolonizing education, and unpacking my biases. I think in the end, I am guided by my own learning and my willingness to try and experiment. I am open to student input and I am steering my practice to be student-centred and student-led. And finally, I cannot get too engulfed or persuaded by the summative. The final grade is the demonstration of learning and if we did our job well, students should be able to achieve an “A” if we focus on their learning and progress.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 10th, 2019 | 2 Comments »
It’s been a strange day… a tough weekend… and yet, I feel like I’ve landed a perfect dismount. How is this possible? I’ve been wanting to write a blog entry for the past few weeks. I tried a few times, but never finished them. I’ve blogged for my #UNBCed #EDUC431 e-portfolio but that was more about reflecting on our class’s guest speaker rather than writing about what’s inspiring me or what I have learned. For the past couple of months, life has been up and down to say the least, personally and professionally. I am so grateful to take the time to heal and invest in my self-care. I have no regrets, but wonder about the “life events” I have recently experienced and ones that are on the horizon. I could feel depressed, alone, or angry. Instead, I feel happy and joyful.
I noticed over the last few weeks the word HAPPY or happiness. It didn’t matter what I was looking at… a book, a sign… the word “happy” would pop into my psyche, which left me curious. Was I desperate to feel happy? Admittedly, I was in some sort of shallow way, but feeling happy doesn’t happen because we will it to be. It’s a mindset. When I think of it, over the last 2-years, life has been turning upside down with major life events. I have the list of events rattling in my head. It’s shocking to think that all of these life defining events happened in such a short time and my trajectory in life has radically changed.
Today is a special day. I received some news that should have been devastating, ego-crushing, or just simply disappointing. When I heard the news… I was soooooo HAPPY. I was relieved, but also joyful. I could not believe that this defining moment could have damaged my sense of self, to rethink about who I am and who I would like to be. Instead, the news was reassuring, reaffirming, and rejuvenating. I could not believe it. I was stressed anticipating the news, but in the end IT WAS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!
I’ve been pondering my next steps and now it’s clear. I am overwhelmed with happiness that even when I am bombarded with more “bad news,” I can see the good. On the one hand, it’s easy to dwell on the “bad things” like leaving campus at 8:15pm after a 10-hour day. On the other hand, you can look at the “good things” like being fed dinner at your fourth meeting of the day. And yes, I choose to post this photo to represent happy. It’s dark. I saw no moose or other animals. I am leaving campus and going home. Yay me!!!
THE MAKING COMES FROM THE BREAKING. I love that saying. It makes so much sense to me. I leave campus feeling happy. Today was a moment of clarity and solace. I often wonder why some things happen. Most times, I believe it’s serendipity… and it is. Some times there is a lesson to be learned. Other times I think that the “bad things” are the breaking and something good is about to happen. I’ve experienced a lot of crappy things in my life lately that I would not wish on anyone. That said, some of the outcomes to some of these things have been wonderful, surprising, and revolutionary. I am happy.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, November 04th, 2019 | No Comments »
This is not quite a turkey dinner. Instead of turkey, it’s chicken. Instead of mashed potatoes, it’s steamed white rice. It’s a stir fry. But, it does have broccoli and brussel sprouts so I figured it possessed some qualities of a Thanksgiving dinner. In the end, my dinner tonight was very delicious and satisfying. Tonight is about being thankful… and I am. Whenever you think a door is shut or closed, one is just about to open. Just wait…
Being optimistic has generally been my mindset over the past 25-years in education. Sometimes it shocks me to say that… A QUARTER OF A CENTURY. Geez. That’s a long time and some of my teacher candidates are younger than 25 (but I don’t want to talk about that right now). I still think that I’m 25… but better. Ok… maybe 35 (but I didn’t start this career at 10). Sigh, the math on this age-thing is shocking sometimes.
I’ve had a fruitful career in education… so far. I taught secondary math, science, and chemistry in public schools. I served as school trustee for two terms, holding local and provincial roles. I was part of the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team. I worked with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association’s Math Teacher Resource Guide revisions. I’ve also been a part of the B.C. Association of Math Teachers Executive Committee and presented in various events such as TEDxWestVancouverED, EdVent, and IGNITE35. This is just the surface of my CV.
I can’t forget about co-moderating with #BCEdChat on Twitter and my consulting business where I led professional development workshops and tutored math. Now, I am an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education where I am a part of the B.Ed. and M.Ed. Redesign Committees, member of Senate, and faculty sponsor of Education Club. I have incredible people at the university and school district who support and collaborate with me. And, I can’t forget all of the people in my PLN who are helping me out with my EdTech course. AMAZING!!! This just reveals a few things I do and hope to do. Given all of these CV bullets or edu-opportunities, the BEST part of my career are the PEOPLE.
I have many moments where I say, “I love people.” People are so amazing to me!!! I love their kindness, their knowledge, and their BEING. I’ve said this in previous blogs, but I’ve met some pretty AMAZING people in my edu-career. Some are students, some are educators, and some are administrators. I’m quite drawn to those who are generous with their time, wholehearted, and well-intentioned. Don’t get me wrong… there are some people in my pedagogical journey whom I wished I never met. Maybe my trajectory would have been different or maybe I was meant to meet these people to change my trajectory. The latter is highly probable. What I like the most is, people who come back to my life or educational psyche. I find their return even more intriguing and meaningful.
I am sooooooo thankful to all those who have helped me along the way on my pedagogical journey. I would not be where I am without you. Help came from everyone who has entered my career path. There was always something to learn… about education and myself. This pedagogical journey is not over. I might have another 25-years in me. It’s possible in higher education. I guess we will see how this goes over time. In the meantime, I know that what lies ahead will be exciting, interesting, and unpredictable (like my bowl of chicken stir fry). It was suppose to be turkey, but hey… not everything is what it’s suppose to be. Embrace the moment. Be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, October 14th, 2019 | No Comments »