Exceeding Expectations

STAYING AT HOME AND SOCIAL ISOLATION

It’s the end of Week 3 and I’m happily engaged in staying at home social isolation. From what I understand, I’ll be here for a few more months. Well, as mentioned in previous blog entries, I’m still working, teaching online, and getting the work done to get this term done remotely. Although I am incredibly surprised how fast things are moving in terms of everything that we need to do to flatten the curve, I am slowly but surely adapting to this life within my apartment in Prince George (away from my kid and my super cute dog). So, it’s been an interesting journey so far living alone and being isolated from others for the past 3-weeks but I am never alone. I get check ins from friends and family every day. My daily connections are never the same. I am also connected on social media. I do see many tweets and posts about being kind to the extroverts that you know. I really think that my 8-year dissertation journey also taught me to appreciate introverted qualities. You have to be. I think I may have overcompensated with social media to stay connected, but how I am feeling now and for the last few weeks, it seems very familiar. I can do this.

CREATING DAILY AND WEEKLY ROUTINES

I’ve decided to return back to my weekly blog. I tried the “daily blog” approach like my friend Ian Landy (@technolandy), who was inspired by George Couros (@gcouros). I could not do it. What I realized is, I need time to reflect and think about what’s important and why. I would only blog when I was inspired. I liked that idea, but blogging was intermittent and I needed good habits to write. Writing is a COMMITMENT. I need to do that. I was a bit overwhelmed with practicum and observing students. It consumed my time, energy, and emotional creativity. No blogging happened for many weeks during practicum and I intended to work on my e-Portfolio too. Again, contributing to my e-Portfolio, blogging, and reflection takes time, practice, and routines. What a better time (during a global pandemic) to make daily and weekly routines. Along with showering and brushing my teeth daily, I am returning back to a weekly blog. This is a good time to make this commitment along with my writing, in general, to make a commitment to what’s important to me and develop my skills. Some of my blogs I will post. Some I won’t. Doesn’t matter. I will also commit to writing my book about my mom, my life-long inquiry about math education and “math stories,” and academic pieces I’ve been putting on hold.

FORMAL TRIAD MEETINGS AND CLOSURE

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, I had my formal triad meetings with my Teacher Candidates and their Coaching Teachers to conclude EDUC 491 practicum. We have 45 Teacher Candidates in our program in Year 2 of our 2-year program. I am responsible for 10 of them as a Faculty/Practicum Mentor, where two are secondary candidates and eight are elementary candidates. I’ve learned a lot about being a Practicum Mentor and I learned a lot from my Teacher Candidates about teaching and learning. I was so proud of them wanting to extend themselves to teach and be observed in lessons that “step out of the box” and I was impressed with their openness to formative feedback. We planned to have these meetings well before spring break. My intention for these meetings was to connect face-to-face, discuss how the practicum went for the Teacher Candidate and Coaching Teacher, and sign forms. With the pandemic, the face-to-face meeting was impossible, but we collectively forged forward to meeting VIRTUALLY on BlueJeans to discuss practicum and figure out a way to digitally sign forms and reports. The meetings went without a hitch (except for a few office procedures). Now you can see in the photo above, beyond my coffee cup, a poster full of Teacher Candidate names and forms I need to collect back from them via email to conclude EDUC 491 practicum. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been their Practicum Mentor. Truly honoured to be a part of your teaching and learning journey. You’ve been a huge part of mine.

Two Weeks In Isolation

It’s March 29th and it’s officially 2-weeks since I have self-isolated myself from THE WORLD. Seems dramatic and it is. I was spooked 2-weeks ago and it’s so weird to think about the last time I was “at work.” It was Friday the 13th, had a meeting, met up with friends, food shopped, and that’s it. Things started to escalate then… I can’t even mention how things have changed since. I am totally convinced by #socialdistancing, #physicaldistancing, and #stayathome. Got it. We need to #flattenthecurve and protect ourselves and others. Here we are in a state of global crisis and all I can feel is gratitude. Even typing that out seemed kind of dark, but what I can say is, I recognize my privilege.

My conferences are cancelled, I’m spending my time trying to get refunds, and I have reports to write (that I am heavily procrastinating). Soon, I will have papers to mark and marks to submit. Am I complaining? No way. I have a warm place to stay, I am in social isolation, and I am safe. Thank goodness for electricity and technology, otherwise I think this pandemic experience would have been dramatically different. Of course, I would love to be with my daughter and be with friends, but the most important thing right now is being safe from the virus and move forward with life, but in a different way. I am also grateful to have a job, food to eat, and some financial security. Right now, things are going well. Moreover, friends and family check in with me to see how I am doing.

One of my struggles so far has been trying to stick to a routine. You hear it on the news. It’s good for you and your mental health. Ack. I could not do it. I think if I was living with my daughter or a roommate, maybe I would have routines and self-imposed expectations to get up, make breakfast, and “go to work” in my dining room/office. Living alone gives me full freedom. I had no routine to stick to, just deadlines and meeting times. That’s it. I tried for 2-weeks to get up at 8am and go to bed at 11pm. I had troubles going to bed and troubles getting up. Surprise… like most people during a pandemic. The news was heavy and we are embarking on a “new lifestyle” and way of being. My moment of celebration was getting a couple of things done last night, going to bed when I was tired, and waking up when I was ready. I feel great. I’ve decided to not judge my actions against a clock. I work way better in afternoon, evenings, and late at night (like this).

What I’ve learned is, be kind to others and be kind to yourself. We are heading into a few more weeks of isolation, if not longer. I’m a little too spooked to travel to see my kid, but we are connected online and I see her everyday. I am getting work done, but as per usual, I can always be a bit more productive. I do need to wean myself from the news and just listen to it at the start and end of my day. I am an extrovert learning how to lead a life of being alone (writing my dissertation helped). I think that’s why the TV is always on. I like a little company. But, I am connected online, I have work to do, and I am learning how to live in isolation. This is my small contribution to #flatteningthecurve.

#physicalisolation #stayhome #flattenthecurve

The New Norm

The Toronto Symphony – March 24, 2020

Hmm… I don’t know what to say… except for “stay home and stay safe.” Save yourself and save others. Seems reasonable. What have I learned so far about #COVID19, #selfisolation, and #socialdistancing. People are amazing creatures. Look at this photo that I took of the Toronto Symphony. They are playing together… online… in isolation. AMAZING. I was impressed, but maybe I’m easily impressed. I love the “good feel” stories that shared on the news and I am grateful for the daily check-ins from my friends and kid. It’s taken me about a week to adjust to this “new lifestyle” and I am very grateful that I get to continue my work online with my students. I opted to teach asynchronous online and it seems to be working. I am also grateful that I am self-isolating because I have to be #physicaldistancing. I’m a hugger, friendly puncher, and high-fiver. I can’t help myself. Another thing I can’t help is touching my face!?! Alarming. I can’t be around others.

I cannot believe how this month transformed so dramatically. March 2020 stared with me presenting at UFV at the Mathematics Education Sq’ep, continuing on with my practicum observations of Year 2 Teacher Candidates, and being interviewed by 2 graduate students on CFUR. Approaching mid-March entailed meetings finalizing our work on the BEd and MEd Program Redesign Committees. That Friday… Friday the 13th BTW… the day ended with a committee meeting, a McGyver experience to the airport, lunch out with my buddy on campus, deep-fried pickles with a colleague, losing and finding my car keys, and returning back to my apartment. It was a cray-cray day. Before heading back to my place, I went food shopping. There was no toilet paper on the shelved, I hugged a colleague in the produce section, and I purchased my last dozen eggs (but did not know it). By Sunday, March 15th, I conceded and brought my office plant home. Spring break begins.

I was very happy to finish my formal observations of Teacher Candidates and bought toilet paper a few weeks ago. I’m OK. I immediately went online with my courses and hunkered down in my apartment, making some effort to go outside. In just a week, we moved from #washyourhands to #stayhome. I am happy to be at home. I am comforted to know that my kid is safe. I am still working (for now) and I have my health. Now, we are adapting. What was faee-to-face is now online. I had a program meeting online and another provincial meeting via BlueJeans, a special edition #bcedchat online with the co-moderators collaborating behind the scenes via Google Hangout, and taught one of my classes via Collaborate Ultra. I chat with my kid and friends on FaceTime, text, or phone. I am establishing a NEW NORM… getting organized, cancelling plans, and cooking at home.

#stayhome #plankthecurve #selfisolate #staysafe

Missed Opportunities

Life in social isolation. I am not sure how I am doing. I needed a little break from work, but now I’m finding myself in complete paralysis. I don’t think this is a bad thing but it’s not business as usual. I am teaching my courses asynchronously and synchronously online. I have a tonne of practicum reports to write and will have a tonne of marking to do before the end of term. I have enough food for a couple of weeks and I am deeply connected to my devices for social interaction. As much as I am a homebody, I am also an extrovert. Social connection is critical to my sanity and survival. I am grateful to be connecting with “the outside world” via video conferencing, Twitter, phone, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Twitter DM, and text. I am not alone. Thank goodness. Admittedly, I am an early adopter to self isolation and social distancing. I am teaching a course on numeracy across the curriculum and watching the numbers on the news is startling.

Pandemic-Math. It’s an excellent “real-life” model of exponential growth. There are plenty of news articles and videos of pandemic-math and I’m watching some math educators on Twitter projecting, predicting, and modelling the pandemic. Wow. The Curricular Competencies of math LIVE on Twitter… and excellent math modelling by our math teachers in the field. I wonder if our K-12 students are watching them. I hope to share some of these resources with my students in my course. I hope that we can seize this opportunity of current events and transforming them into learning opportunities that are relevant, meaningful, and timely. I cannot tell you the number of plans I had for this class. They were off on their 3-week practicum in the middle of our course. Everything changed during this time. I thought about going to Exploration Place and engage in weaving. One of my students got our class tickets to the World Women’s Curling Championships to a game during our class time. No can do. Now we are going to complete some of our work from before practicum and delve into pandemic-math.

I guess these are missed opportunities, but “when one door closes, another one opens.” I do appreciate that I have a housing, wifi, and cable so that I am able to self-isolate and control what I can control. I am grateful to have my health and that I am able to work from home. I do miss my daughter. I would love to go back to my second home to be with her, but as things are unfolding rapidly in BC and Canada it is safer for both of us to stay put. I am managing to “mom her” from a distance. None of this is easy. Even with K-12 schools closing indefinitely until further notice tells me that we need to really focus on our health and safety. Everything else is secondary. I need to put things into perspective and enjoy how people are making the best of a difficult situation. This morning I had the pleasure of watching Trevor Noah on Facebook host the “Daily Social Distancing Show” from his home with the collaboration from his staff who are home. I also watched another video a family produced about the difficulties of extroverts staying home. This afternoon, I participated in a video conference meeting with my department. And tonight, I was invited on Twitter to engage in TP hacky-sac soccer as a #stayathomechallenge.

Gosh. I’m so enamoured by the writing process. This blog went nowhere from where intended and I also feel a lot better. I was to going to talk about “missed opportunities.” For example, yesterday I blogged about this Exceptional School Year. During the strike, I missed out on presenting at the FNESC Fall Conference, having a hotel weekend with my daughter, and presenting at my first ICSEI Conference in Morocco. Now with the pandemic and gaining momentum in BC and Canada, my ticket package to the Women’s World Curling is refunded, my family is not going to visit me in Prince George, and my kid will not fly up to visit me during spring break. The world is shutting down. My classes are online, Year 2 Teacher Candidates are likely not going to return back to practicum, and I don’t get to say goodbye to my students face-to-face at the end of the term. Moreover, my trip to CAfLN in Edmonton has been postponed (aka. cancelled) and it looks like my trip to London, Ontario will be no longer with recent decisions on CSSE 2020 held at Western University and thus my presentation at OTESSA 2020 is unlikely to happen.

Although these are missed opportunities and it has not been a great school year to build my CV via conferencing, I am content. These are first world problems. I have my health. I have my family. I have my kid. My friends are incredible and I get check-ins everyday and my PLN and colleagues are exceptional. I’m not lonely, but I do need to #getoutside. Mental health will be something that we all need to be mindful of and some things are out of our control. Everyone is trying their best. STAY HOME. Stay safe. Wash your hands.

EMBRACE SOCIAL DISTANCING. #FLATTENTHECURVE

Exceptional School Year

definition of “exceptional”

ex·​cep·​tion·​al | \ ik-ˈsep-shnəl  , -shə-nᵊl \

1: forming an exception : RARE
2: better than average : SUPERIOR
3: deviating from the norm:
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Hi. My name is Christine. It’s been exactly one month since my last blog entry. I can’t believe it. I’ve been wanting to write a blog for quite some time. So much has happened since my last blog and beyond. I don’t mean to exaggerate but titling this blog EXCEPTIONAL SCHOOL YEAR is 100% true. It was rare, better than average, and deviating from the norm. I am not sure how I want to approach this blog entry but what I do know is, there will be no picture in this blog that exemplifies SOCIAL DISTANCING.

Today marks the end of Day 2 of self-isolating and staying home. I stay connected online via social media and watch the news 24/7 on COVID-19. After today’s announcement (March 17, 2020) that BC K-12 schools were suspended until further notice, I was feeling a bit oversaturated and bummed. No news for BC universities. We transitioned to online and were called off campus one day earlier than expected. I took my office plant home on Sunday (March 15, 2020), spent Monday putting my classes asynchronous online (as recommended by a tweet on Twitter), and listened to today’s announcement. Our Teacher Candidates will not be returning to practicum. I will not be returning to campus (until the pandemic is over). I am a bit reluctant to be in public spaces. I tend to hug people when I see them and I touch my face a lot. Not good habits to have when there is a pandemic.

So… in this blog… I have photos from the UNBC Faculty Association Strike that happened in the fall. Another exceptional event this school year. The top photo is a photo of my picket crew at the daycare site. I was the afternoon shift picket captain. Below are photos of some of my Teacher Candidates from Year 1 and Year 2 who came out to visit me and other faculty members on the line (which was SUPER nice), but the blog concludes with a photo of me and my EdD Senior Supervisor from SFU who came up with his Faculty Association to provide support and boost morale. I never thought I would be striking at the university. It was a bit deal for us but also for other universities in Canada. People were watching. Aside from the fact it was very cold and wet sometimes on the line, what I loved about the strike was meeting new people, getting to learn more about the university, and connecting with my students in a different way. It was kinda fun.

What I also love about my students is, they all know that I love taking selfies. I know this seems like a small detail, but they are so willing to take a photo with me (because they know I like to take these photos). True educators, I must say. Think of the learner. This is my second year back at the university and this will be my first year going through the entire 2-year rotation with my teacher candidates. I’ve been with them for their 2-year program. I almost feel like I am going to graduate with them. Class of 2020. This was my first year to observe them in their classrooms for practicum for EDUC 490 and EDUC 491 and I got to know my teacher candidates a little bit better. I never thought that I would establish a RELATIONSHIP with my teacher candidates like I did with my secondary math students (in my past life), but I was wrong. I really got to know some of them. I am also MESMERIZED and PROUD of the candidates I got to observe in EDUC 491. You can see the TRANSFORMATION happen right in front of your eyes as they move from student to educator. It’s absolutely amazing and humbling. It was an honour and privilege to be part of their learning journey and incredible to witness their transformation. The vulnerability and willingness to accept and act on feedback was astounding. Thank you for having me.

The Year 1 Teacher Candidates are a pretty awesome crew too. I don’t know the elementary cohort as well because I don’t teach them. I do feel a deep connection to these candidates. They are on Twitter (which I expect my EDUC 431 students to be, but some of these students are early adopters and jumped on board) and I find my secondary cohort crew nimble. They are critical thinkers who are willing to try new things and do not hesitate to provide feedback on how things are going. I appreciate that. This will be our last crew going through our 2-year Teacher Education program because we got our REDESIGNED B.ED. PROGRAM approved by the BC Teachers Council and the university. We just got it done at the very last moment so that we could send out acceptance letters to the next cohort who will be engaged and immersed in this new program, which prescribes to the signature pedagogy of People, Place, and Land. This was a year and a half in the making and we just had our last meeting last week on Friday (March 13, 2020). Proud of this work and the work to come with the REDESIGNED M.ED. PROGRAM. When you study educational leadership in your doctoral program and you get to be a part of a team to discuss educational reform like this (and BC’s New Curriculum)… life is good.

Certainly, I have things to work on. I need to get things published. I need to start writing formally. I need to read more content to deepen my knowledge of what I am interested in that supports my research agenda. As mentioned, I need some time. Observing students as a faculty/practicum mentor and teaching certain courses for the first time TAKE TIME and my job assignment is 80/20, thus designed more for teaching than research. Aside from my current online teaching to the end of the term and the multiple reports I have to write (and there are lots), I had some incredible opportunities at the university and met some amazing people. I serve on senate as a faculty senator, I was interviewed on CFUR (by a former Math 11 student, now grad student), and I made connections with other faculty members from other universities. I am creating a new learning community in higher education. For that, I am grateful. This has been an EXCEPTIONAL SCHOOL YEAR.

I am so glad I returned back for a second year to learn what I need to learn and meet the people who I needed to meet. There are no questions that there were some challenging moments during this school year. Nothing is perfect. What I will say is, everything I have done academically and professionally has brought me here to this place at this time. I am thankful to my mentors, my colleagues, and my students for being part of my pedagogical journey. It’s always transforming and I am always learning. I’m not sure what will happen for me next year. Lots of uncertainties, locally and globally. That said, I have no regrets.

Teacher Education

You know… I never thought I would be here. TEACHER EDUCATION. For the longest time, I thought that “new teachers” were so bright and bubbly that it was going to be a struggle for them to immerse into the K-12 system as educators. I often thought I preferred Master degree students because they have some experience in teaching in the K-12 system and understood the nuances of the practice. This is true, but what I have come to realize is, “new teachers” come out of TEACHER EDUCATION bright and bubbly because they were taught and trained to be that way. I don’t mean that negatively. I mean that wholeheartedly that “new teachers” should be bright and bubbly when they enter the K-12 system. The system needs it. There is nothing wrong with the periodic boost of a “new teacher” or teacher candidate in the classroom and school. It can be humbling and inspiring at the same time. My mindset has shifted on teacher education.

I’ll admit, I did apply to SFU to be a Faculty Associate a couple of times. I was shortlisted twice and interviewed, but never selected. I had always suspected that my application was unusual or different because I did not apply as a practicing teacher. At the time, I was completing my doctorate and I was a school trustee. My work could not be seconded, but applications were not limited to practicing teachers. Nonetheless, it never happened but I was certainly noticed. How do I know this? At the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE) a couple of years ago, I was presenting a few times… once for my dissertation as a poster presentation and a couple times with my EdD supervisor on a couple of projects. I met a few people and went to this workshop led by an SFU Indigenous Scholar. It turned out that half of the people attending the workshop reviewed my SFU FA application. They all seemed to know me. It spooked me out!!! After the workshop, they introduced themselves to me and had only complimentary things to say. In the end, they said it was a tough decision and they filled FA positions based on need.

Timing is everything. Even though I now know that I was a viable candidate to be an FA at SFU, it wasn’t my time. I worked as a sessional instructor at SFU and St. Mark’s College in Education. I wondered how one could create a relationship with students when you only have 13-weeks with students per term. I mean, I did have a relationship with the students. Some hot, some cold… but wondered if I would ever have the deep relationships you would have in K-12. When I taught high school math, I saw students every day for 5 months or every other day for 10 months. Over time, you can build relationships with students… where some were hot and others cold… but they were deeper relationships (I felt) than those created with adults over 13-weeks. Anyway, after I completed my doctorate, I was finding a job in higher education and landed a position teaching at UNBC. I was teaching a wide variety of courses from Research Methodology, Introduction to Curriculum and Instruction, and the practicum seminar course. I’m in my second year at UNBC and I am well immersed in the TEACHER EDUCATION program.

Guess what? This is a 2-year program and the students I started teaching in first and second term of their first year in teacher education. I have taught them also in first term of second year and I get to observe some of them as part of their FINAL PRACTICUM as a Faculty/Practicum Mentor (aka. Faculty Associate). UNBC has a different model of teacher education, but in essence, I am an FA. This is very exciting. Well… I did not realize that it was EXCITING until I had the opportunity to observe some of our Year 2 Teacher Candidates during their final practicum. I was so awestruck by their willingness to learn and accept feedback. It was the first time I understood what INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP was, in practice. We were focussed on teaching and learning but also I was able to see (or witness) the work that was invested over time in the teacher education program and how it is transferred into practice into the classroom. Best of all, I have a deep relationship with these Teacher Candidates that has developed over the 2-years of the program. I am invested in their learning and I have seen their transformation over time from “student” to “educator.” They are learning the nuances of the practice.

Every email I get… every meeting I have… and every lesson plan I read… I get excited. I am excited for these Teacher Candidates to get out in the field to “learn how to teach.” And as they are learning how to teach, I am learning about how they learn and how they learn how to teach. It’s challenging to take tacit knowledge and make it explicit. Strangely, I feel that everything I have done in my career in education has prepared me for this position in Teacher Education today. From my K-12 experience as a secondary math teacher to school trustee to parent (in addition to research, dissertation, and my other experiences teaching in higher education), I can see the different roles and responsibilities of each person in the system and how each role impacts student learning. Now that’s exciting. I continue to learn… as I had recently defined lesson/unit planning as the science of teaching and practicum as the art of teaching. We need both to be successful in the classroom. I never realized how complex teaching is until I became a teacher educator. Now I have a better appreciation for the complexities of teaching.

What I have come to learn about TEACHER EDUCATION is that this is a process, it’s all about the learning, and transformation of self and identity is not easy (and it’s not meant to be easy). I love the people I have met and all of the wonderful things I’ve learned (s0 far). I get to continue my sessional work online, but also I get to build relationships over time with my Teacher Candidates with coursework and practicum. I feel very lucky to be part of their pedagogical journey. I never thought this would be possible. I never thought that teacher education would be part of my trajectory, but here I am and loving it. I also love the idea that I can work with graduate students and move forward with a research agenda. It seems like I am at the beginning of my career… and I am. Learning is amazing and what impresses me about the Teacher Candidates I am working with is, they are LEARNERS. That’s what matters to me the most. To be a teacher, you are the lead learner.

Passion for Curling

Learning takes patience and time.

It has taken me a lifetime to appreciate and fully understand what this First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) is trying to convey and communicate. I read this FPPL in many of the lesson plans and unit plans in teacher education. I love that we in BC are adopting these principles as a way to view the world and to temper our pedagogies so that they are inclusive and holistic. What I mean by… it’s taken me a lifetime… is that I’ve come to realize the role of CURLING in my life and the lessons it has taught me and what it continues to teach me. Curling was more than just a sport. It was a teacher.

Now living “in the North,” I wanted to get back to my roots of curling. I love the sport as a teenager. I was a provincial champion and runner up. I really enjoyed the sport but grew a distaste for it when it was all about “the winning” versus the “joy of playing.” It was because of curling that I was able to understand “the goods internal to the practice” by Alasdair McIntyre. I’m not driven by the goods external. I love how Sir Ken Robinson says that curiosity serves as the engine to learning. Yes!!! I am driven from the inside versus the outside. Anyway, I just bought a new pair of curling shoes and broom to get back into the sport. I can’t wait to get back on the ice. I haven’t yet… but I will.

Just the other day, I went to go visit some teacher candidates and my colleague in Fort St. James. Truth… I was motivated to see the dog sled races but I was super excited to see where our candidates will be teaching this term and take a moment to see the community they were immersed in. It just so happened that the Ladies Bonspiel was happening this weekend too. I talked about checking out the Curling Club during my stay but didn’t manage to do so until I was about to depart and return back to Prince George.

Being in the curling club was like being home. It had a sense of community and belonging. I loved watching the women play but also connect with one another off the ice. I can remember the feelings of being on the ice, strategizing, and implementing. I can see why I love the work that I do in education when I think about all the things I love about curling. It’s about teamwork, communication, and development. We are all working towards a common goal even though each of us has different strengths and styles of play.

I loved playing the skip. I can play other positions and enjoy doing so, but my position was skip. I just love looking at the big picture, analyzing the strengths of each team, and strategizing our way though a game with hopes of a win. I loved the technical aspects of play in terms of how you throw a rock, sweep a stone, and working with angles to set up a shot or make a play. Everyone has a role to play on the team. Communication, trust, and respect are essential elements to a good team. I remember one of my ladies curling teams and we were a “regular” ladies night team with my sister and two friends. We played a gutsy shot to win the local cash spiel. What was cool about that shot was, we were all on board to take a big risk with the last rock to win the game… and we did it!!!

Teaching. Learning. Leading.

Curling played an integral role in my trajectory in life, my career, and academic studies. LEARNING TAKES PATIENCE AND TIME. I am still learning from what curling has taught me and I feel like I am just getting started. Be patient and be open to what each experience teaches you. Sometimes the intended learning doesn’t seem obvious until years later. My childhood friend taught me about this FPPL. For that, I am grateful.

The Right Theme

The month of January 2020 is not over yet but I am convinced that this is the YEAR OF FIRSTS. Since my last blog post, I continue to embark on doing things for the first time. For example, I’ve done my first podcasst. Thank you to Tim Cavey (@MisterCavey) for inviting me to speak on his Teachers On Fire Podcast (@TeachersOnFire). Tim and I first met last year at CAfLN (Canadian Assessment for Learning Network, @CAFLNetwork) in Delta, BC. I invited Tim to speak to my EDUC 431 EdTech Course at UNBC and video conferenced in to tell his story. I had no expectation to be invited to speak on his podcast, but when he asked, I said sure!!! I had no idea what I would be talking about. Beautifully he sends you a list of questions to respond to within the framework of his podcast. I wrote responses to his questions sent by Google Docs and much of it was related assessment. Makes sense… we met at an assessment conference and assessment is one of my passion topics in education. I was so tired that week and I had no time to even think about the podcast itself. I love that my Teachers On Fire Podcast Episode 120 was about “Assessment, Weaving, and Relationships.” That sums it all and I did not even know. All I had to do was JUMP IN and TRUST that everything will work out in the end. I don’t think that I will be able to listen to myself. I shared the podcast on my social networks and pretty much asked my PLN (professional learning network) to give me feedback. It seems like the podcast went well. WHEW!!!

My next FIRST experience was living in -42 degree celsius weather. Whoa. Last year it was my first time experiencing -33 degree weather but I have never been in -40 degree weather. I had to figure out my car situation because I was having “battery problems.” BCAA and I were starting to build a relationship every time I called them to jump start my car. I finally figured out that my plug in was not working for my parking stall. Even though I reported in my last blog entry Year of Firsts that I bought a new extension cord from Canadian Tire with hopes of charging my block heater to keep my battery warm, I realized that my plug in was NEVER working. Thank goodness that I bought a long enough cord to plug in two stalls away from me. Yay. I was putting my “cold woes” on Twitter to get replies back like, “make sure your cord lights up.” What??? I never noticed the light until I actually did a “light test” with a lamp to figure out my plug in was not working. What was I doing all year last year? Hence, my car battery problems. The crazy cold experience included asking for rides to work, staying inside, and taking a cab to the airport to go to EdCamp BC Core Competencies (@EdCampBCCC) in Richmond.

Loved going to #EdCampBCCC 2020. It was the first time I got to see my students from St. Marks in person. We have our course online and it’s was incredible to see them F2F. This event could have been cancelled because the Lower Mainland was getting a tonne of snow and schools were being closed (at the same time as the crazy cold weather in Prince George… and nothing closed), but I was committed to go to the event either way. I just went in for the day. I felt like a jet setter. I never flew down to Vancouver for JUST THE DAY… but I did. No luggage. No security problems at the airport. And, I rented a car and drove all over the place for a mere $35 (gas included). I love going to this event because I get to talk about education with others who want to talk about education. I get to see people from my PLN face-to-face. It’s like an EDU-REUNION. And, I get to meet new people in the field of BC Education. Who doesn’t like to learn? Events like these fill my cup. I loved how I ended #EdCampBCCC being OUTSIDE after our last session about Place-Based Education.

EdCampBCCC was followed by #BCEDCHAT LIVE event (@bcedchat) at Steveston Built (@StevestonBuilt) in Steveston. I had a wonderful time connecting further with our PLN F2F. I am one of the #bcedchat co-moderators and I had a wonderful time talking to my edu-buddies at the pub having lunch. I was such in a better headspace for this event than I was last year and it was my FIRST TIME recording myself to ask a question about the Core Competencies as part of the #bcedchat the next day to be part of the SELFIES chat moderated by @CraigMah, who also organized #bcedchat LIVE. I tried to take my video on the plane, but I didn’t want to get in trouble from the flight attendants for being on my phone. I was also sitting beside someone who was “pretty serious”… so it felt “weird” recording myself. Did it, but no flight attendant commentary in the background. Maybe I’m too serious???

Other FIRSTS include writing “practicum mentor” reports for a handful of teacher candidates (and being a practicum mentor), teaching a course face-to-face and online at the same time, singing “You are my sunshine” with my students to another cohort accompanied by a ukulele, writing learning activities for OSBC (open schools BC), and blind reviewing conference proposals for OTESSA (Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association, @OTESSA_org). I know that there are more FIRSTS to come such as interviewing with the Ministry of Education, submitting an ethics application at UNBC, and getting a paper published (aka. my dissertation). I can see what holds me up. The urgency of the now (i.e. preparing Teacher Candidates for practicum and teaching), being consumed by the Imposter Syndrome and not knowing how to do anything because you’ve never done it before (i.e. serious procrastination), and finding balance between work and life (i.e. socializing, quiet time, and curling). What I am realizing is, the only thing I can do is TRY and JUMP IN. I can only do my best and learn from my mistakes.

Year of Firsts

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.

What’s Your Brand

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

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