Turning Point

It’s hard to define what will be a turning point. For the longest time, I thought it would be my dissertation that would be a “significant” turning point… and it was, but not in the way that I had expected. Well, I didn’t know what to expect. Once I was able to LET GO of my expectations, I was able to think and write about my research in a wholehearted way. I loved that I could answer my research question and I loved that the results and my recommendations were not what I had expected. That’s exciting to me. Best of all, the recommendations are doable and research based. I guess the turning point for me with my dissertation is that I realized that I can write and do research. I also learned that I LOVE data analysis. I like it more than I should. I love finding patterns to make meaning.

What didn’t happen with my PhD was walking into a job. I’m not even sure what job that would be, but I thought that getting my PhD would open some doors to job opportunities. Don’t get me wrong. I have opened some doors with my degree. I am doing post-doctoral research that is closely connected to practice. This excites me. Although I did not walk away with a professorship… yet… I have much to do to get there, like publishing some papers and figuring out what’s possible to connect research and practice with policy. I am very interested in this… but there is no “job title” per se that would best capture this. Once again, I am set off on a trajectory towards something that does not have a known destination. This is not “cool” with A-types, so I’ve learned from my sister. Boxes are not being checked off. Quotas are not being met. I am pursing a VISION… a concept.

As I write, not being an A-type was verified by a workshop I took at SFU. It was an evening session downtown Vancouver where we used reflection, checklists (ironically), and visioning to figure out which direction we should take with our career. The workshop started off by asking… “What was the WORSE job you’ve ever done?” We had to imagine it… either go back in time or make something up that we would not like to do. This was an interesting start to the 3-hour workshop, but what I disliked was very clear to me. I hated being a receptionist. We had to write down what we disliked about this job in terms of place, people, type of work, etc. and why, and then we had to share these thoughts with two other people in the room. Afterwards, we reflected on the activity.

It was brilliant. I never done a career exploration activity that started with what I hate to do. Normally, we would focus on strengths, dispositions, or interests. Although this would be helpful and I did so last week at another SFU workshop on campus, imaging a job we disliked CLEARLY identifies aspects of work I do not prefer and rather not do. I had an epiphany and realized that I was striving for a job that was very similar to the attributes of being a receptionist. A HUGE AWAKENING. I had no idea. I was trapped in a way of thinking I could not see my way out of. It is not in my alignment. Now I know… I am NOT an A-TYPE. The workshop proceeded with us figuring out our 5 core values and areas of interest/perceived strength. This was telling as well. I felt good about the 5 core values I identified and realized that I am on the right track… and never knew. So crazy!!!

Finally, this workshop concludes with us imagining what our DREAM JOB is. Wow. The facilitator walked us through this process. I was so glad to do this because I had fulfilled my lifelong vision not too long ago. As mentioned in previous blogs, I have fulfilled my dreams that I thought would not be possible. My INBETWEENIDNESS is because I have no VISION to strive for. During this final exercise, I could see myself moving through my work day and loving every minute of it. All of my core values were in place and I was fulfilling my purpose and passion. What a great place to be. Of course, I’m not going to describe my new vision. I’d hate to spoil it or be disappointed. What I know for sure is, I have a NEW vision, which is my NEW goal and I am super excited to pursue it.

Pot Kettle Black

Here’s a photo from the archives. Me and my kid… more than 10 years ago. Where does the time go? I just dropped off my kid at school… “nagging” her about something… of which, I followed up with a text message, “don’t be your own barrier to your success.” Can this be the pot calling the kettle black? Here I am THINKING about what my next GOALS are in life. This is a great place to be when I have recently met my life goals. The sad part is, I’m panicking. This is worse than “what am I going to do when I grow up?” because I’m a grown up. I have friends who are within 10 years of full pension and I’m thinking about what my next career.

I don’t want to be a pessimist about the whole situation. I love that I can spend time with my daughter in ways that I could not had I been working full-time or commuting into Vancouver. I feel very lucky. I could not have finished my dissertation (my lifelong goal) had I not left teaching. I understand that now. The struggle for me right now is letting go of what was and imagining what could be. I have lofty dreams for education and how it could be. I think we are moving in the right direction, but I often wonder about teaching, learning, and leading. What is my role in education? I am a parent and school trustee. I know this for sure. I am doing some research and in the midst of writing academic articles to be published. I know this for sure as well. But, what is my next goal?

Letting go is part of this process. I’ve been working on my CV. It is pretty clear that I have left teaching in K-12 schools and working on research. The last time I taught in public schools was in 2010… which by the way a former parent, now teacher, recently complimented me on my teaching from 8 years ago. I taught her eldest son Math 8. It’s nice to know that my legacy still lives on and I know I had a positive impact on students and their learning learning as a secondary mathematics teacher. My former students are my biggest cheerleaders. I would consider myself a researcher practitioner but find that my “qualifications” are not a perfect fit for various positions that I have applied for and wish to apply for. It’s either I don’t have enough experience as a researcher or I am no longer in the classroom, which means I don’t have recent experiences. The domino effect begins. Then I start to believe that I’m not qualified for any job. This is a problem.

Maybe I should be considering something else. I am heartened when former colleagues, current colleagues, and administrators are willing to give me a reference. I have plenty of references. I feel very lucky. I even cried once because I never knew I had this kind of support. I am very grateful. I am also overwhelmed when colleagues say that I am meant to do something “bigger” and that one friend had encouraged me to “take the leap” so that we could “save education” together. Timing was not great for me because I was still trying to complete my first lifelong goal of becoming “Dr. Christine Younghusband.” My husband always says that I’m too busy “saving the world” via education… and I know that there are many, many other edu-folk out there who have spent their lifetime trying to shift education (and continue to do so). What is my place in this edu-movement?

Well, as you can read, I am still in the midst of figuring this out. In the meantime, I will continue to be a mom, I will publish a few articles, and I will complete the research project I am currently engaged in as an affiliated scholar at the Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy (CSELP) at SFU. I don’t want to be my own barrier to my future success. Anything is possible. It’s about setting a goal and making it happen.

Curling as an Exemplar

I’ve returned back to curling after YEARS of not doing it… and I returned part-time. What I love about curling is, you can do this sport at any age and anytime. I learned how to curl when I was 13-years old at the Prince Rupert Curling Club, I had an 8-ender scored against me in my first bonspiel, and I was a high school provincial champion… in the 80’s!!! Yes. Good times. I curled during my days at university, curled at the Gibsons Curling Club when I started teaching, and left the sport when I had my kid. So why did I return back to curling? It’s been an on-and-off love affair with the sport. I love to curl and being in my post-doctoral self, curling does “feel a bit different.” But, that’s ok. I still have fun on the ice, I am driven to make the kick-ass shot, and I love looking at the big picture of the game to strategize “a win” with my team. It’s an exemplar of what I like to do.

The more I begin to understand myself, my strengths, and my purpose… what I know for sure is, I am interested in systems, leadership, and alignment. Systems are complicated because it’s created by people for people. You should share the same objectives, but you don’t share the same role. You can’t. Much like a curling team, the Lead, Second, Third, and Skip all play different roles and each player has their strengths. It’s important for each member of the team to understand their roles, what strengths they possess to contribute to the team, and what role each team member plays and what strengths they possess to contribute to the team. This is KEY for teamwork, communication, and flow.

When one misunderstands their role or another players role… or if one believes that they are in the wrong position or is unaware of their strengths or others… or if one player thinks that they are responsible for doing all of the roles, the system is disrupted. As a result, the team becomes disfunctional and it is highly unlikely for the team to be successful when there is a misalignment in roles and misunderstanding of how all the roles must work in tandem to make the shot and win the game. The struggle becomes internal, not with the opponent of the game. Focus is distracted by the “little things.” In the end, the game is not fun to play. It becomes too serious and nobody is winning.

A shared understanding, trust, and respect are key elements to a good curling team. What helps establish these key elements and thus maintains and nourishes these key elements is communication. Do we feel safe to question the skip? Does the skip have a clear vision? Is the team working together to make the best outcome of every shot (because every execution is rarely perfect 100% of the time)? Are we clear about our WHY for each shot, the role we play, and how it plays in the big picture? This cohesion is only established with clear and concise communication. Furthermore, it takes LEADERSHIP… from all players. The skip is the leader of the team but each player is a leader based on their strengths, knowledge, and expertise. Everyone is a contributor. Collectively, the team makes the shot and wins the game. No one player is better or more important than the other. We each have a role to play… so know it and play it well.

Any second guessing, ego bruising, or parking lot conversations will automatically disrupt the flow of the team and the harmony that’s needed amongst all players to achieve a common goal. Ideally, you want other teams and team members looking at your team and have them ask questions about your team and how they can be just like you. You can’t control others but you can certainly influence them through your actions that this is what we are all about, we are a team, and we are open to any inquiries to help your team or team members be a better team or player. Being a cohesive and collaborative team builds on our collective efficacy but also our own individual confidence and competence.

I loved it when players from the other team asked me last night what I would do in their situation. It was the end of the game. My team had a rock over the pin and nestled in front of our opponent’s rock. There were two rocks covering our shot rock and many other rocks surrounded the house. It was pretty clear to me that my team would steal the point, but we would still lose the game. Nonetheless, the opponent wanted to throw their last rock. I told them that I would throw the rock through. They said, what if it wasn’t the last end? I said, I would still throw the rock through if we had 2 more ends to play. They did not understand my rationale and proceeded with the call of drawing to the button. My advice was not taken. Truth… they didn’t have to throw their last rock to win the game.

As anticipated, we got the point and lost the game… but the opposing team members asked me a follow up question: Why would you want to throw the rock through? I explained my WHY and how it played in the bigger strategy of the game and demonstrated to them by moving the rocks how it was impossible for them to get one point. Get two points with the hammer next end and you’re up by 3 coming home. You got the game. They watched me kick the rocks as if it was a take-out and we looked at the rocks. The yellow rock was still closer to the pin by half a centimetre. My team would have still stolen a point if they had thrown hail-mary shot with hopes of getting one.

A BIG AHA from my opponents and I love how they had questions about the game. Solace. This is what I love that about teaching and learning… and how leadership, teamwork, and influence play a huge role in the success of my team, the teams we play against, and for the sport as a whole. I love that I have returned back to curling to be reminded of these lessons and metaphors of what I like to do and why I love the sport. What’s the big picture, who are the players, and how are we going to get there?

New Goals

I took this picture on Waikiki beach in Honolulu on the last day of our trip. I saw the tree the night before and was mesmerized by the complexity of its branches. We returned back the next day and I had to take a picture. I never seen a tree like this before. Moreover, it’s one of my favourite images… Light coming through trees. I just love it.

This is a nice image to start 2018. What’s next? We’re in the new year and it’s time to take the next step. My 2018 One-Word is CREATE and I am faced with the challenge of MAKING NEW GOALS. It’s hard to believe that I met my lifelong goals and now I understand that making goals is about achieving them, adapting them, and yes… making new ones. When I was teaching secondary mathematics, I dreamt about speaking in front of a large audience about education and getting my doctorate. I never imagined it would happen. I left teaching in public schools and spoke in front of a large audience about education and became a doctor. Truth… for years, I thought it was only a dream.

I guess this is a great place to be. I’ve met my lifelong goals. It’s absolutely amazing!!! What I have learned is, you take big risks to achieve your goals. You may not realize it at the time. Leaving the classroom was not easy for me, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. That was 7-years ago. It’s pretty clear that my love for education, teaching, and learning has not stopped. I love the opportunity to teach at the university as a sessional instructor and being a school trustee has helped me to keep in touch with the K-12 system. What’s next? For the last week, I have been chatting with others face-to-face and online about what I will do next. It’s been a question mark and the advice I get in return is to take a break and what you are meant to do next will present itself.

Ahhh yes… back to TRUST. Today I woke with the notion of being open to anything. What I’ve learned about achieving my lifelong dreams mid-career is that anything is possible, if you want it to be and you believe it’s possible. Believe it or not, I got my BIG AHA on what’s next? from the #bcedchat I co-moderated with @DAliceMarsh on TIME SHIFTING. The topic was about big life changes that influenced our careers in education. For me, I named leaving K-12 and my dissertation. As the edu-chat continued, I ended the chat with “A8. I don’t know exactly, but it’s going to be fun, engaging, and transformational. Likely education related and I am deep into my purpose and passion” to answer what I am expecting or hoping for next. The crazy part is, I wrote the #bcedchat questions.

For those who follow my Twitter feed, I also appreciated the learning from BIG LIFE EVENTS and I have much gratitude because I would not know what I know today and have met the people whom I met since leaving the K-12 classroom. Yes, “a plan” would have been ideal but in hindsight, I had a plan: talk to a large audience about education and get my doctorate. DONE. Now it’s time for a NEW PLAN. I am the creator of what’s next and I never perceive “rejection” or “no” as failure or not being worthy. I look at it as a sign that this is not the way to go, it’s not the right time, or my alignment is elsewhere. What I realize is, I cannot have a narrow focus on what’s next and I am able and willing to do more or something different. I met my lifelong goals. It’s time for NEW GOALS and I am open to anything who would benefit from my expertise, mindset, and experience.

Of course, I am not going to stand still. I will be sending out my CV to opportunities that I could contribute to but also learn from. I want to be learning and build on my expertise. In the meantime, I will embark on more research as a post-doctoral experience and hope to publish a few articles. I have more to learn about research as it relates to practice, leadership, and the K-12 system in addition to what it takes to publish research. This is my learning. I would also like to publish a book and what it takes to do that. That said, I am also interested in opportunities where I am teaching and learning, or helping others to engage in teaching and learning. This is the extension. I look forward to what’s next.

Critical Thinking Pedagogy

What a way to start the new year. I feel incredibly grateful to end 2017 with a family vacation in Puerto Vallarta and start 2018 with a conference in Hawaii. Who gets to do TWO vacations back-to-back that straddles the new year? Well, me and my family did.

This blog entry will focus on my professional learning experience at the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE). This is my second time attending this conference. The first time I went to HICE was with my Sunshine Coast EdD Sub-Cohort 5-years ago at the early beginnings of my dissertation. However, the day after I defended my dissertation, I applied to present at HICE2018. It was a way for me to celebrate my dissertation completion with a “conference capstone” but also I had the opportunity to present my findings. I had so much fun. Secretly, I wanted to learn how to make a research poster. Success. Presenting my dissertation as a research poster was the best experience. I presented on the last day of the conference and I loved connecting with others to discuss my research. I also presented the School Trustee Study on Information Sources, co-authored with Dr. Daniel Laitsch, and Dan’s paper on class size reduction. Presenting research is a fun way to build my CV. My time at HICE was exceptional.

One of my most favourite moments at HICE were the breakfast networking session. I met so many interesting people during breakfast. You have to meet people. I knew no one. I met people who teach in Japan. I met someone who is doing her PhD studies at SFU. I met someone who was a teacher in BC. I met other educators from the US. What I loved about the breakfast networking session was making connections, sharing our learning, and learning more about these educators FROM AROUND THE WORLD. What was even more amazing is… we shared the same learning outcome… we’re doing the same thing!!! We share a common purpose but how we got there is different. I was humbled.

I also met some amazing people at the sessions I attended and presented at. I started the conference presenting Dr. Daniel Laitsch’s paper on class size reduction. That was challenging in a few ways. I was new to Dan’s paper and this was MY FIRST TIME presenting a paper at an academic conference. It went very well. I also met a few teachers from BC too who attended the session. Then I went to a session on CRITICAL THINKING PEDAGOGY and CIVICS. This was my biggest take away from the conference. I just loved this presentation. They spoke about using critical thinking pedagogy as the underpinning of all their teaching, which in turn united subject specialty teachers. The project was implemented in Indigenous schools in Australia in partnership with a university and government. Finally, they connected with another researcher from the US to make connections between critical thinking pedagogy and civics. I felt so aligned to what was being presented that I was compelled to connect with the presenters after the session. I was so impressed by their work and what they were achieving, I wanted to learn more. Furthermore, it was aligned to what BC’s New Curriculum is trying to achieve. Sheer happenstance, these presenters are also presenting at SFU in February. They invited me to attend their workshop in Vancouver, which is fully booked. I was deeply honoured and I am looking forward to seeing and learning more from them again.

I also met some great folks at the table round session and I went “out of the box” and attended a session on learning Hawaiian without words. That was fun. I was observing but I was so amazed by the patterning and complete immersion to language acquisition and sense making. Mid-conference I presented my paper with Dr. Daniel Laitsch on BC School Trustees and Information Sources. In hindsight, I will categorize my research with “educational leadership,” not as “other.” I was sub-grouped with computer programmers. There was somewhat of a disconnect with my presentation with theirs but I appreciated our overall engagement. I LOVED THE KEYNOTE on MoonShot Labs and “making the impossible, possible.” I was so inspired by they keynote’s passion and purpose. My conference ended with a session facilitated by a SFU PhD student on Indigenous Science Education where I met some more amazing people… from Canada, BC, and SFU. It was very serendipitous to meet these people and I hope to meet them again. My conference experience ended with the LAST conference session and I presented my dissertation as a poster presentation. I loved connecting with those who were presenting with me.

I ended HICE with good feelings. I was also grateful to be in Hawaii with my family. It was fun to spend time with them post-conference, but also knowing they were having fun learning how to surf and looking at fish in a submarine. We also bumped in to a couple of my friends from the Sunshine Coast in Honolulu. Small world. We chatted over drinks before going the the LUAU with my little family. A few other highlights of my Hawaiian vacation beside the HICE conference and LUAU was meeting up with my mom & dad’s family friends to see the Dole Plantation, to drive along the North Shore to have shaved iced and BBQ chicken, and to be in the presence of this super AWESOME sea turtle (see picture above). I also went out of my way to “eat Hawaiian.” I had pineapple everyday. I just had to. Sooooo delicious. I found and had my Hawaiian Breakfast (aka. eggs, rice, and spam) at McDonalds. But I also went out of my way to eat the loco moco, spam sushi, and ahi tuna. I have to admit… I was learning in the conference and out. I much enjoyed the Hawaiian vacation. NO REGRETS. I am ready for my next international conference. But before then, I want to learn more about “critical thinking pedagogy.”

Reflecting on 2017

Can this photo get any more accurate? Me… at convocation… taking a selfie. What a great way to depict my YEAR IN REVIEW for 2017. The underlying theme for 2017 was DISSERTATION… and my One Word for 2017 was JOY. Seems serendipitous. I realize that my doctoral studies was integral to my state of being for many years. It was 2017 when I completed my dissertation (the many versions of it), I excelled in my oral examination, and I submitted my FINAL draft to my supervisor within a day of my oral defence. I only had a few minor changes to complete for my final FINAL draft to the SFU Library. August 17, 2017… my defence date… and convocation in October… were HIGHLIGHTS of 2017. Thank you Dr. Dan Laitsch and my examination committee. Dissertation is done!!! #yayme

Looking back at previous blogs to review the year, I can see that I have been turning the page onto the next chapter of my pedagogical journey. I started my year off with guest blogging on Gillian Judson‘s blog, Education That Inspires, about my Math 8 project, “Math Embedded: A Tribute to Susan Point.” The blog entry was shared many times on Twitter and I am so proud to have created and collaborated on this math project with my friend and colleague, Kerry Mahlman, while I was teaching at Chatelech Secondary School almost 10 years ago. I also started off 2017 going to the Abbotsford Christian Academy to see Sir Ken Robinson LIVE and then to TEDxLangleyED. It was a strong start to 2017.

I also had the pleasure of teaching two courses at Simon Fraser University. The first was EDUC454 (Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education) in the summer and EDUC471 (Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice) in the fall. I am also supervising a masters student at St.Mark’s College and the completion of her capstone project/paper on inquiry based learning. I wrote blog entries for both EDUC454 and EDUC471. You can find them by searching “EDUC454D100” and “EDUC471D100” on my blog page. I was committed to reflecting at the same time as my students were. I wanted to model the REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER but also document my teaching/learning in both of these courses. I love looking back at these blog entries and pictures. Both courses modelled the principles of BC’s New Curriculum and students learned from experience. Both courses were student-led and teacher-facilitated. Teaching at SFU helped me to learn and understand the potential of BC’s New Curriculum. BTW: IT’S INCREDIBLE!!!

I had 3 outstanding opportunities to present… at (1) EDVENT 2017; (2) IGNITE 35; and (3) TEDxWestVancouverED. I was super excited to present at EDvent… “Better Than Pho” gave me an opportunity to put some of my food pics into a presentation and make connections between my favourite foods and professional learning. I loved presenting at IGNITE 35 (Mixed Tape) with my friend/colleague, to re-declare my love for professional learning with “SING.” Finally, I was able to speak at TEDxWestVancouverED to use the Russian Nesting Doll as a metaphor for the education system and find your place (aka. ALIGNMENT). What I have learned is, I love to public speak but I am not the best at MEMORIZING a script, rehearsing it, and then reiterating it within a time constraint. It’s not natural for me… thus, I spoke REALLY really fast. That said, I would like to thank Gabriel Pillay, Nick Ubels, and Craig Cantile for giving me the opportunity to speak.

This year, I also took the time to participate in TWO MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course)… The first was #IMMOOC Season 3. This was an online learning experience based on George Couros‘s Innovator’s Mindset book. It involved blogging, Twitter Chats, and interviews with educators via YouTube. It was an amazing professional learning experience. You can also find my blog reflections by searching #IMMOOC on my blog page as well. Furthermore, I had the most awesomest experience meeting George Couros in-person at the 2017 BCSSA Fall Conference. He even mentioned me (and pointed me out) during his keynote presentation. We communicated on Twitter DM and we took a selfie. The other MOOC I participated in was offered at UBC titled “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education.” Again, another AMAZING professional learning experience. There was a tonne of information and insight offered. I was so inspired and understand the importance of land to one’s identity. I recommend this MOOC to all those in education.

It’s always a pleasure being a part of the #BCEdChat co-moderator team and serving on the SD46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education. I have recently rejoined the BC Association of Mathematics Teachers (BCAMT) Executive Committee and curling at the Gibsons Curling Club. Curling aside, I am grateful and proud of the opportunities I am involved with to serve and contribute to BC Education that is different from teaching secondary mathematics. I love my #bcedchat co-mod team and PLN, and I am satisfied with the work accomplished by the SD46 Board of Education. Curling is a sport I’ve played since high school but it reminds me of what I like about education and the roles I play. I love the BIG PICTURE. I am interested in systems, policy, and leadership. And, I am driven to find ways to improve the learning experiences of others in the system.

With that clarity… 2017 seemed muddled with UNCERTAINTY. I was uncertain if/when I would finish my dissertation as seen in “data denial.” I struggled with “my story” and perplexed by the “next step” and “now what” to get to “the other side.” There were several blog entries about clarifying and reconnecting to my purpose… ranging from “deep sadness” to “apply and publish” to “it doesn’t matter” to “put in my place.” I deliberately stepped away from leadership opportunities to make time (and space) to complete my dissertation. I needed to stop “living in the wake” to realize life “beyond the wake.” Here’s serendipity… during my vacation, my friend and colleague Karl Lindgren-Streicher tweeted an image of what he was reading on his vacation: PURPOSE TRUMPS PASSION. I could not agree more. A defining moment… I am passionate about teaching & learning, but my purpose is to find ways to enhance the student learning experience.

This holiday AHA was verified with my vacay reading, DRIVE, written by Daniel Pink. BTW: I also met Daniel Pink in-person at the FISA 2016 Conference in Vancouver and used his TED Talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation” several times in my SFU classes to discuss assessment and evaluation. I found his book DRIVE inspiring and validating. AUTONOMY, MASTERY, and PURPOSE… Three variables that TYPE I folks need to thrive in the 21st Century. I love autonomy (aka. freedom), “mastery is a mindset,” and our motivation is driven by a purpose that is greater than ourselves. The idea of FLOW and use of research to define/describe INTRINSIC MOTIVATION resonated with me because it reminded me of Alasdair MacIntyre’s work on excellence and achieving “goods internal to the practice.”

I have come full circle. As uncertain 2017 was, I have accomplished so much and took the time to heal from my story such that I feel that 2018 will be an awesome year. My 2018 One Word is CREATE. Right now I am revising my CV to apply for sessional, tenure, and research positions. I am preparing to present (three times) at the Hawaii International Conference on Education that’s happening on January 4-7. I found an opportunity to facilitate a research study with a school district on communicating student learning. Finally, I hope to do academic writing and publishing, in addition to moving forward with applications to acquire a post-doctoral position and/or funding to pursue further research on mathematics education, teaching & learning, and mentorship. This year has been about LETTING GO, completion, and JOY… but also realizing what’s possible. If I want to help others to realize what’s possible in teaching & learning, I have to do the same.

Thank you 2017. Many lessons learned. Much gratitude.


Wow. I feel wonderful. Finally, I have achieved COMPLETION… my 2015 word. Alignment was 2016 and JOY was 2017. I think it’s all coming all together. This is the first time I have felt free from any deadlines or “work” looming in the back of my mind. I’ve just finished my marking for EDUC471, I completed my writing fo the Trustee Study, and I am done my dissertation. That’s it. I’m at a turning point and it feels great!!! This blog entry could be an unofficial year-in-review because I am satisfied with what I have accomplished and I made space to get things done. It’s seems so counterintuitive but the more I took off my plate, the more I accomplished. More is not better. It’s just more.

With a family vacation and international conference on the horizon, I can take a moment to relax and reflect on where I have come from and be open to what’s to come. I have to pay attention to what excites me and brings me joy. These are signals to what I am aligned to. I also have to be willing to let go of the stories of the person who I perceive myself to be. I have learned over the past few weeks that I am capable of achieving anything I would like to achieve. Anything is possible, if I believe it to be, and I am willing to take the steps forward to get where I want to be. This takes vision and commitment.

I look forward to 2018. The year holds lots of promise and I am making space for more opportunities. As I approach the end of 2017, I am hugely humbled by my PLN and those around me who are ROOTING FOR MY RISE. It overwhelms me to know that there are so many people in my tribe who have my back. I feel blessed and honoured. I have no words except for HOPE, love, and kindness. I cannot believe that I am surrounded by so many wonderful people. This is my biggest awakening. Yes, I am having that moment… an I LOVE PEOPLE moment. Thank you all… you know who you are. I am ready for 2018.

2018 Word: CREATE

I know that we are not quite at 2018. It’s only 2-weeks away. YIKES. I still have marking to do, grades to submit, and bags to pack before heading out on a family vacay. No pressure. But of course, everything takes a sidestep when I get inspired to write. I hope this happens to everyone… when you get inspired, stop everything that you do, and just do what inspires you. I am trying to make this a new habit. DROP EVERYTHING and WRITE. It seems like the “write” thing to do. Originally, I had a “CYH stock photo” of one of my scribblings for this blog, but it was from my dissertation. The photo did not “feel” right. I’m done my dissertation. I need to move forward and welcome 2018 with a NEW scribble… and voila. It’s one I’ve just composed before being inspired to write.

For those in education, you can kind of make out what I have written. As you can see, I was not one of those teachers who was blessed with TEACHER WRITING. I’m one of those other teachers, who’s now a doctor, that likes to mimic the classic doctoral scribble as if it had something very, very important to say. Well, I would like to think it does as it sets out the framework for the book I would like to write. It’s funny how good ideas come to you. They just… come to you. I was thinking about this book for quite some time about “math stories” but I could not figure out the SO WHAT. Classic. I think I’ve got it thanks to the inspiration of my EDUC471D100 class. I’m in the middle of reading their final papers and they have collectively pointed out some key points that are worth highlighting.

Certainly, what the students are writing about is based on what I have taught in the course, but what’s amazing is how students articulate some of the concepts and what they found were important. Of the papers that I have read so far, I really think that they get the principles behind BC’s New Curriculum and the various factors that influenced it’s development but also influences it’s implementation. I love their aha’s because it feeds into my aha’s. As much as I used this course (and previous courses) as an opportunity for me to learn as my students are learning, they are willing to engage in the experimental nature of my course to discover something new and self-actualize what is possible.

This brings me to my 2018 Word of the Year: CREATE. The word came to me a few days ago, but I was uncertain and unclear why that would be important to me. I feel that I have achieved other words in the past like COMPLETION, JOY, WHOLEHEARTEDNESS, ABUNDANCE, and AUTHENTICITY. I am rarely motivated by money and power… because I continue to believe and know that the money (and influence) will come when I am doing what I love to do. My ALIGNMENT… as mentioned in my TEDxWestVancouverED talk.

Strangely, I think I did say in my talk… underneath my final mumble… “maybe I’ll write a book.” Now, that’s a broad concept. I do want to be published. I am working on a couple of projects to get my dissertation and another study published. I am presenting both of these studies at the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE) in Honolulu in January, a great start to my 2018 year. That said, I am looking to publish and research more. I hope to be teaching more at the university. And yes… maybe write a book which my scribble above so implies. CREATE takes on so many meanings… not just to create in terms of writing and researching… but also create opportunities. That gets me excited.

Anytime I find myself in a fear-based, fixed mindset… I look back. It’s not to say that I was not good at what I used to do or am currently doing. What it does say is, I am worried about what’s ahead and there is an extraordinary comfort in keeping with doing the same things or returning to what I used to know. If I look back and beyond, the path I created is a straight line. One event lead to the next event. Sadly, when moving forward, it NEVER feels like a straight line… and that’s ok. When I decided to turn left, stay left… and trust the journey. Going back to what I used to do will not bring me the joy and happiness I believed had back then. I need to CREATE in 2018. This is the time.

Marking Mania

Final Reflection for #EDUC471D100

It’s after midnight and officially December 9th. All final papers for EDUC471D100 were due on December 8th at midnight. Now I have the honour of evaluating my students’ unit plan or term paper. They had a choice. They could apply what they have learned about curriculum development and factors that influence curriculum development by designing a unit or lesson plan. Or, they could have delved deeper into one of the topics in the course syllabus with a research/term paper. It was one way to personalize their learning, but the students had designed and mutually decided on three curriculum competencies to be evaluated on. Therefore, my students are being evaluated on what they have learned in EDUC471D100 and must demonstrate three curricular competencies, which reflect the core competencies, in their final paper. This is what brings all of our papers together.

It was only by today when I finished sending their evaluations for their IGNITE presentations from the last two weeks and evaluated their summative journal reflection. Admittedly, I’m a FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT girl, but the course is ending and I must assess what they have learned so far. The whole goal of the course was to focus on learning and competencies. I’d use formative assessment throughout the course and modelled what BC’s New Curriculum intends in the context of this course. Teaching this course is a friendly reminder to me that education is complex, many variables influence student learning and success, and there are no quick and simple answers. I do possess an expertise and realize that I am motivated by student learning and their success.

I blog about the courses I teach to make teaching and learning visible. With each class, I am learning. This class has humbled me. I have learned that I am making a difference one student at a time. I provide hope and understanding. I am open to discovering student strengths and wonder what is possible. I am so lucky to have students who are willing to play and learn with me. It’s exciting. This is my only opportunity to realize the potential of BC’s New Curriculum. I also realized the influence of my dissertation to my practice. I have a core belief that students have to experience what they are learning. It’s not about reading a paper, memorizing a few facts, and regurgitating it on a final paper or exam. It’s about doing it. EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING at it’s finest and my students modelled that too with student-led participation activities. They rose to the challenge.

Take a look at the picture above. This was one of the student-led activities. It was a staring contest, which could have lasted all class but we had to move on. It was a tie. Prizes were given… by the student facilitator. I was so impressed by the creativity and innovation of some of the activities, but also I was so proud of students who “stepped out of their box” to public speak, took and adapted with immediate feedback, and submitted notes for all of us to share online on Canvas. We were an amazing learning community. Our job was to support each other with our learning. We were outstanding and I love that we could have fun with our learning experiences together. It’s a crazy and challenging opportunity to teach and facilitate a course that was not grade or mark driven.

Their job was to meet expectations. My job was to provide students with formative feedback to help them meet expectations. This required trust, mutual respect, and a relationship. I recall that this was a new concept. Learning was a choice and we co-created our knowledge. This was not going to be an “easy A” course if you were not invested in the course. Yet, if you were engaged and actively contributing then the “A” would come relatively easy. I always believed in this concept as a secondary mathematics teacher, but also as an athlete (aka. competitive curler… LOL). When you focus on the outcome, then you are likely to fail or lose. When you focus on your job, your role, and doing your best, then the grade or win will come. I’ve seen this over and over again.

I look forward to reading their final papers and deliberating their final grade for the course. As mentioned, if they focused on the learning and demonstrated their learning well, then the grade will come. What I do appreciate greatly are the kind, thoughtful, and unsolicited emails from students saying thank you, mentioning that it’s been one of their favourite courses, or wishing me happy holidays. It reminds me why I got into education almost 25 years ago. I was tutoring ABE Math at Kwantlen College while I was attending UBC. I loved it. I would help someone with their math and the adult learner would always say THANK YOU or “I get it, thanks!” That’s what makes teaching and learning so rewarding. I have come full circle and I am ready for my next step in education.

THANK YOU EDUC471D100. The feeling is mutual. 🙂


Over Weeks 12 and 13 of EDUC471D100 Fall 2018, students shared their BIG AHAs about curriculum development and factors that may influence it under the umbrella of BC’s New Curriculum. IGNITE is one opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding via 20 slides, 5 minutes, 15 seconds per slide. Students collaborated, co-designed, and mutually selected the curricular competencies to be evaluated on. These competencies can also be used as a self-assessment tool for students to self-determine if they are meeting expectations. IGNITE is also an opportunity for students to personalize learning.

Students select a topic that interested them the most and explain the personal relevance of that topic within the framework of the course content and IGNITE. Students also participate in peer assessments by providing formative feedback to each presenter on what they perceived was the BIG IDEA being presented. In turn, students who receive this feedback via anonymous note papers can reflect on their IGNITE by reading these peer assessments and self-assess how well they had conveyed their ideas. As much as I love the IGNITE presentations and learning about what students found important or interesting, the process of creating an IGNITE is where the real learning occurs. It’s been a pleasure teaching this class and I hope that they learned something about curriculum.