Removing Barriers

Me and @gcouros

Best experience ever… Let me explain myself. There is no question that having a selfie with George Couros (@gcouros)… the author of The Innovator’s Mindset was a highlight, but there is more to this professional learning experience. I was so stoked to see and meet George. I’ve read his book a few times and recently participated in #IMMOOC (Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course) Season 3. I am aligned to his message. I love the idea of having a school hashtag, using Twitter to make my professional learning visible, and doing what’s best to serve students to support their learning. I am all-around that like BACON. George was incredible to watch and listen to at the BCSSA Fall Conference. I love his energy, enthusiasm, and passion for innovation and student learning. My favourite memory of that day was him REMOVING BARRIERS.

Let’s start from the beginning… I’m a HUGE fan of George and Sarah Garr (@garr_s) from my PLN mentioned to me on Twitter that he was speaking in Vancouver this month at BCSSA. I could not miss this opportunity and contacted my EA from the Board Office to sign me up. I was so stoked. The night before the conference I realized that I did not have email confirmation to attend this conference. I could not find it anywhere… I was so bummed and wanted let George know via Twitter DM to postpone my selfie opportunity with him. Yes… no shame… I kinda cyber-stalked George via my #bcedchat colleague and friend Bryn Williams (@brynmw) that I was interested in getting a selfie with George (and Bryn too). They both agreed but now I was afraid that I might not be going.

Online registration was closed. My EA was non-responsive (as she should be because it was 10pm at night). And, I was reluctant to contact senior staff because the admin team were going to be team-building and learning together at this conference. I just wanted to give George the courtesy via Twitter (after all that subtle selfie cyberstalking) that I would not be there. I did not expect him to reply. I just wanted to ask for a selfie rain-cheque. Do you know what happened? George replied. I expressed my sadness and the possibility of not being registered. He asked about online registration, but I pretty much conceded at that point in time. He said that he would make a few calls to make this happen for ME.

I replied, “Are you serious?” I could not believe it. He asked if I was willing to register onsite. I said, “yes.” He then said that if I did not hear back from him later that night that I was in. Wow. Even the gesture was overwhelming. Woohoo. I was pretty satisfied at that time even though I was hoping not to hear back from him… but I did. He said, “You are good to go.” Whaaaatttt??? I was floored yet so excited. He replied to confirm. Wow. He did it. He removed a barrier to my professional learning. I was so wowed. George is the real-thing. This is an exemplar of practicing what you preach. As it turned out, I was registered for the next day and my EA corrected that via email that morning.

Up and ready… I caught the first ferry (aka. 6:20am, up at 4:30am), bussed it into Vancouver, and walked to the hotel. I was prepared with my story (aka. sequence of events) to clarify my registration for that morning. I started to tell my story at the registration desk but my name tag was given to me with a smile and that was it. Wow, it happened again!!! My registration was settled by the time I arrived at the hotel. I got there in time for breakfast and bumped into Bryn in the foyer. We got our selfie. I was looking forward to hearing George speak. As it turned out, I bumped into many friends at BCSSA. It’s nice to reconnect with kindred spirits. I also learned that George contacted one of these friends the night before who gave me the thumbs up. I felt so loved.

All of these barriers taken down in front of me. I’ve never experienced this before. Sounds strange, I know… but, it’s true. I have either persevered, avoided, or quit due to barriers. I never had anyone explicitly remove barriers for me. I didn’t even ask, but really hoped it would happen… and, it did. I was not disappointed. George’s opening keynote was AMAZING!!! His book is incredible, #IMMOOC was awesome, and seeing George LIVE was inspiring. I felt validated. He is a TRUTH TELLER. I loved how he used storytelling, personal experiences, professional experiences, videos, photos, and quotes to send a clear message to SERVE students, use technology, and create space for student learning. He even called me out during his keynote, “Where’s Dr. Christine Younghusband?” and referred to this story to use Twitter and make our professional learning visible.

THANK YOU GEORGE. This was a memorable day for many reasons. I am learning.

Me and @brynmw

Bringing It Together

Week 11 – EDUC471D100 – November 17, 2017

Today was our LAST student-led Warm-Up Activity, WildCard Activity, Oral & Written Reading Reflection, Journal Reflection, and TBA Activity. Whew!!! We are approaching the end of the course. I was so impressed with the LAST student-led learning activities. The first one needed tables moved (and so we did) so that we can play charades/pictionary collaborative-competitive game. It was so engaging. Once again, the 3 core competencies in action and we were having FUN. Lots of laughs and students were so willing to participate and activate. The second student-led learning activity involved MATH.

Choose a number from 1 to 100, write it on a piece of paper, and the average of these numbers x 2/3 will be calculated. The number closest to this number wins a PRIZE!!! The learning intention from this activity was to think about other people’s thinking and decision making. I loved this facilitation, the discussion between students, and what’s possible. So simple and so engaging. The class ends with “2 truths & a lie” facilitated in small groups. You know the activity went well when the room got louder and louder.

I am proud of this class and how wonderful and diverse the student-led activities were. The oral presentations, written reading reflections, and class summaries were equally done well. My students were contributors to our course. Together we developed our core competencies, built our learning community, and strengthened our interconnectedness.

Journal Reflection Questions

Who is/was your champion? Why did you pick this person?

My mom. It feels good when you know when someone has your back. My mom has always had my best interests in mind and could always see my strengths, especially when I could not. She had a gentle approach, even though I may have wrote many papers during my masters program about my mom that were not so friendly. The more I get to know her as I get older, the more that I understand that she was doing the best that she could and her love for me was relentless… I just couldn’t see it. I am grateful for her unconditional support and encouragement. She never wants credit, but she rocks. I want to also say that members of my doctorate examining committee also exemplify qualities of my mom. I have friends and colleagues who also have my back. I feel very lucky.

Who was your favourite teacher? Why did you pick this person?

Dr. Geoff Madoc-Jones. What I love about Geoff is his authenticity, his willingness to be bold, and his deep care and love for students and their well-being to reach their potential. To some students, Geoff was perceived as an A-hole… which I could understand because he had a deep understanding of the subject matter and terrible bed-side manner at times that it would give someone a bad impression. Personally, I knew that it was only his public persona or guise. Truth, he only wanted to make a difference. And, he did. He made a HUGE difference in my life. He was instrumental in making me believe in myself and what I am able to do. He believed in me and encouraged me all of the way. He was part of my masters program on the Sunshine Coast and brought me into my doctoral program (twice, but that’s another story). His kind and gentle soul was appreciated.

Who was your least favourite teacher? Why did you pick this person?

Maybe my Math 100 professor… but I had no connection with him anyway. He was my least favourite teacher because he gave us his unpublished math book as the learning resource, he asked how many people took Calculus in Grade 12 and started at a point in the course I was nowhere near, and I recall this lengthy solution to a problem that ended in an answer of ZERO. This is not to mention that the class enrolment declined rapidly over time, but I did not pick up this social cue until after the fact. I was disengaged and confused. It was not a good experience or feeling. All I can say is, it could have been much better… which it was in the next semester with my other Math 100 professor.


Solace. We are unofficially done “the learning” and heading into Summative Assessment. In Weeks 12 and 13, students will be presenting their #EDUC471D100 Big Aha as an IGNITE presentation. Their journal reflections and summary of these personal reflections are also due in addition to a final paper or unit plan. All three summative assessments are THREE different opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned in this course. What brings me solace is the the full understanding of how this course was designed, assessed, and implemented. In Week 10, I was feeling uncertain and uneasy. With only 3 weeks left in the course, students started to feel uncertain and uneasy about how they were going to be evaluated. After that class I felt that my students wanted CERTAINTY with their final assessment, but does a “multiple-choice final exam” create certainty?

A long rant made short… no it does not. A multiple-choice final exam would have changed how the students learned the content, how I would have taught the content, and how students engaged during class time. It puts the locus on control ALL in my hands and personalization would have been impossible… developing the core competencies with student-led learning activities would have been non-existent… and, the concept of STUDENT CHOICE would only happen during the multiple-choice exam by choosing A, B, C, or D. Much of what we do in this class is “going META.” Meaning, we are learning as we are doing. We are experiencing what we are learning.  Students collaborated, composed, and selected the curricular competencies to be evaluated on. I wanted to put the locus on control into the students’ hands to empower them via student agency.

I think we get it. Bringing it together. I look forward to learning about what they have learned in the next few weeks. This is the LAST journal reflection journal on my part. I enjoy reflecting as my students reflect. I will be composing my final journal reflection at the end of the course. I will post some intermediate blog entries for Week 12, Week 13, and possibly Week 14 (extra) before I submit my “summative journal” for this course.

PS. I was inspired to get my EDUC471D100 Week 11 done ASAP because the Week 11 class summary was handed in ASAP. So, thank you Jessica for getting things done!!!

Coming To An End

WEEK 10 – EDUC471D100 – November 10, 2017

Unfortunately, today was a catch up day. We fell behind last class and postponed a couple of the student-led activities from last week to this week. It was a jammed packed day. We started off the day with a staring contest with prizes to be won. Then we embarked on another collaborative activity that emphasized creativity. Each group was given a deck of cards, elastics, and an objective… build the tallest structure. These collaborative-competitive activities are super engaging and emphasize the three core competencies of BC’s New Curriculum even though the objective of this activity (as seen in the picture) was looking for creativity. I loved how members of each team started looking at what others were doing. Another example of we are better working together than apart. It also reminds me of the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL)… see below. This activity demonstrates that (1) learning involves the consequences of one’s actions; (2) learning involves patience and time; and, (3) learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational. We did another student-led activity where students were required to memorize a list of unrelated words. We learn that the best way to remember these words was to embed these words into story or (4) learning is embedded in memory, history, and story. We spend time in this course reflecting and sense-making in group discussions and in journals where (5) learning requires exploration of one’s identity. We try to embed the FPPL into EDUC471D100 but I would love to connect to land and place more often in the learning experience, recognize the role of Indigenous knowledge, and learning involves generational roles and responsibilities. I am still learning and I appreciate that I have the opportunity to learn-by-doing in my class and with my class to see what’s possible. There is much work to be done but we are moving forward and making progress.

Journal Reflection Questions – Answered Above

What parts of the First Peoples Principles of Learning have your experienced in K-12, higher education, at home or in the workplace? Describe the experience.

What parts of the First Peoples Principles of Learning would you like to see in the K-12 learning experience? Why do you think this would be important?


The course is coming to an end but with we are only at the beginning of indigenizing curriculum and embedding Indigenous Education into our learning experience. I am currently working on a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at UBC on Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education. I delved into it recently and I am humbled by the content, delivery, and amount of learning resources available. What I have learned is my pedagogy and education philosophy are aligned to what is being taught in this course. We need to try new ideas and collaborate with the Indigenous community and elders as our teachers. My biggest aha is, Land is Part of My Identity. This put together ideas of recognizing the territory and where one comes from because the land defines who that person is. I realize the importance of land. During EDUC454, I appreciated the land. After UBC MOOC, I respect the land. I wished that I had participated in this MOOC earlier, but I am grateful what I have learned so far and look forward to embedding, exploring, and experimenting with many of these ideas into my practice. As a result, I am modifying EDUC471D100 IGNITE presentation to be a STORY that has meaning and reflects their learning.

It Doesn’t Matter

I meant to write the blog entry a few years ago when I worked on the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team. We worked in small groups discussing curriculum and what students “should” or “should not” learn. Of course the conversation always veered into practice and what happens in the workplace with respect to math education. My big aha THEN was, regardless of where we come from, the problems that we perceived were the same. I was coming from a private practice, another person was from a rural public school, and the other person was from an urban independent school. I was so fascinated by this phenomena. Our perceived problems in math education were not unique.

Here I am again, reminded of this phenomena… but in a different context. Again, I am wowed. My friend/colleague and I both started in education basically doing the same thing.. teaching secondary math. We were kindred spirits THEN and I loved working across the hall from this person. As time passed on, we proceeded with our careers in different directions. My friend went into administration and I opted to quit teaching in public schools to pursue doctoral studies and I became a school trustee. To make a super long story short… we ended up in the same place of being NOW. How can this be?

We took different paths and assumed different roles in education but reunited we realized that we have the same concerns about education but also the same vision for education. I love this metaphor: grass-fed butter versus margarine. My friend is like grass-fed butter valued at $11 for 250g and I am like a tub of margarine valued at $5.50 for 907g. One may have earned more than the other and took a greater responsibility in education, but in the end, you find us on on the same piece of toast. I find this fascinating… again.

I look at research and my own teaching practice to find and experiment with viable solutions. My friend reads a tonne of books and implements what was learned into the workplace. I continue to feel concerned about some aspects of education, yet feel hopeful about other aspects. I am aware of the potential of the education system and how it would benefit student learning but the machine does not move easily. One person cannot move the machine into a particular direction; it’s the collective. How does the saying go? CULTURE EATS POLICY FOR BREAKFAST. It also eats mindsets, dreams, and possibilities.

How do you create a SOCIAL CONTAGION, something that the keynote speaker from the BCPSEA Symposium spoke of? Although her keynote was referring to HAPPINESS IN THE WORKPLACE, I am wondering about how “we” could change culture that would nourish student learning for all. Happiness is a huge part of it. BC’s New Curriculum is one avenue. It’s a policy document that creates space for those in the field to implement 21st Century Learning opportunities for students. It will take time to successfully implement this curriculum. LEADERSHIP is another key to shifting culture in schools.

The leader has influence on those whom he or she leads. The leader has a vision and clear purpose. The leader must also be resilient, passionate, and persistent. The leader is courageous and models what he or she wants to see. The leader is kind, caring, and empathetic to those around him or her. The leader is selfless and not driven by his or her ego. The leader builds people up, not break them down. The leader is transparent, has good relationships with others, and listens. The leader is also willing to the break the rules (i.e. find new ground) because it’s best for all students and student learning.

I always thought my love for education was math education… but I realize that I am more consumed by leadership and systems. Math education brings light to my passion and purpose. Teaching secondary mathematics brought me to where I am today… as an educator, educational leader, and researcher. I am looking for system change. How can we leverage change together? And, do we want it? I wonder about that. I am about to write a brief blurb on the SIGNALS OF CHANGE. I see one signal and I am curious if it will embark on a social contagion or go underground, which will sustain the status quo.

Acknowledging the grass-fed butter / margarine phenomena brings some solace to my pedagogical journey. To understand what I understand today, I did not have to go through the system and climb the rungs of the public education hierarchy to realize that there is work to be done, I am looking for system change, and shifting culture as a collective is at the heart of it. Leadership is key. Breaking down barriers are as well. But also having the courage to speak up, having your voice heard, and doing something about it. I have great admiration for all those who want to “make a difference” in education and are doing something about it. We need more of us. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter where we come from or what role we possess. What matters is our common purpose.

Exceeded Expectations

Week 9 – EDUC471D100 – November 3, 2017

Today’s topic was growth mindset… and today’s warm-up activity exemplified that. What an awesome challenge. Using LEGO is an outstanding vehicle for students to exercise and develop their core competencies of thinking, communication, and personal/social. The challenge? Build a LEGO structure that resembles the picture given. I did not even realize that each picture was different. Students were sub-divided into teams of 4-5 and off they went. The student facilitator prepped this activity so that each bag of LEGO had some very challenging pieces. It was student engagement at its finest. A 10-minute activity turned into a 30-minute activity. We ended the activity doing MUSEUM where students had the opportunity to “show off” their house designs. Overall, it was amazing!!!

Journal Reflection Responses

Would you consider yourself to have a fixed mindset or growth mindset? Give examples as to why you think so.

  • I really, really would like to think that I have a growth mindset… but I find myself at times that I might not. Take today’s class for example… I have an expectation as to how things will go and I am always surprised and delighted to learn what you have learned. I love what we achieve as a class and I cannot believe how this class exceeds my expectations every week. This class helps me realize what’s possible. I guess that might resemble a growth mindset. Admittedly, I had that dark feeling while doing my dissertation or anything I thought I could not do… by saying “I can’t” (which, BTW is different from saying “I won’t”). “I can’t” provokes me to try. OH YES I CAN… but it’s about patience and kindness… with passion and perseverance… I CAN.

What are the advantages of having a growth mindset?

  • You won’t be limited by what you perceive you cannot do. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. That’s been my mantra… during municipal elections, as a secondary mathematics teacher, and as a learner/researcher. Who know’s what’s possible unless you try. Last night, I co-moderated #bcedchat on Twitter with my colleague and friend @tracycramer. The chat was about TAKING THE LEAP. It was about risk-taking, learning, and making mistakes. We need to model what we want to see. Anything is possible, if we want it to be. The “fixed mindset” limits people and creates an unnecessary struggle. An early acceptance of what is, is not good enough. The joy comes from the challenge and achieving what you set out to do. You may not know the outcome but maybe when things don’t work out, that’s the learning too.

How does having a growth mindset influence the implementation of BC’s New Curriculum?

  • BC’s New Curriculum is about possibilities. Teachers, administrators, policy makers, parents, and students need to realize this as a collective… and not in isolated pockets. The more I implement the ideals of BC’s New Curriculum in the courses I teach at SFU, I am heartened. Personalized learning, formative assessment, competencies-based curriculum, student-led learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning… need an open-mind and flexibility to realize what’s possible to create a kind of student achievement I have never witnessed before. Students are not motivated by “marks” or “grades”… they are motivated by their own learning and interests. Student choice is key to student empowerment. Students take ownership of their learning and learning more about their learning. Metacognition is a gift so that students can realize their strengths, what they need to work on, and what they enjoy learning.


I love the idea of Carol Dweck’s concept of the Growth Mindset and “not yet.” My class is getting their groove in this course. Reporting out on this week’s reading, student derived discussion questions, and small group discussions are almost seamless. Students reporting out what was discussed is succinct and thought-provoking. As mentioned, the student-led learning activities are amazing and aligned to what we are learning. Furthermore, my journal questions that I pose to students closely resemble the discussion questions, which makes be believe that my students and I are aligned. We all have roles in this class and as a group… We’re exceeding my expectations. It can only get better.

Practice what you preach. Not only am I curious as a learner/teacher about the potential of BC’s New Curriculum, I want to model what I want to see. What is 21st Century Learning? Let’s not just read about it, let’s do it. I am so glad that I have students who are willing to play along with me to realize what’s possible. I’m getting feedback now that students are amazed how the class is unfolding. It’s engaging and they look forward to this class. One student said that they were glad that they get this course on Friday to end their week on a high note. Wow. Thanks! I will take that compliment. I love the litmus… Do you teach the class in a way that students will want to buy tickets to go to it?

To take this modelling a bit further, we did not complete what I had planned to do today. Carol Dweck’s NOT YET. We were on time before the break with the warm-up activity, reading reflections, and small group discussion. After the break, we were learning how to develop curriculum by co-creating draft curricular competencies for the course in the context of their final paper/unit plan. Our final assignment models BC’s New Curriculum and I wanted students to compose their own curricular competencies to be evaluated on. This is not an easy task. Curriculum writing teams took weeks to accomplish this. I gave them 30 minutes. As it turned out, it took longer than expected. I had a choice. Stop their learning and engagement OR move on with my lesson plan. Meh. Post-pone the closing student-led learning activities and continue with what we were doing. They were making good progress and it took time to wrap our minds around the task. We will get there.

Math in BC

Published in the Local Weekly – October 25, 2017


**Please note: the BC Ministry of Education announced during publication that the implementation of Grades 11/12 curriculum will be postponed to September 2019.

BC’s New Curriculum is in full-implementation for grades K-9. We are still learning, so expect some changes over time in your school. This is the pilot year for grades 10-12. Full implementation for grades 10-12 begins September 2018. This article will highlight Math in BC in light of BC’s New Curriculum. As mentioned, Math K-9 courses are in full swing in BC schools. There are some curricular changes if compared to the former curriculum from 2007 and 2008, but all students will engage in these courses as they approach the graduating years.

In grade 10, students will choose between two courses: Foundations & Pre-Calculus Math 10 and Workplace Math 10. Students must complete one of these courses for high school graduation. Students entering grade 12 in 2018 must also complete one Math 11 or Math 12 course for graduation requirements. In September 2018, there could be a wide variety of “new” math courses offered at your school in addition to Foundations and Pre-Calculus Math 11 and 12 that students can choose from. Some examples include History of Math 11, Computer Science 11 and 12, Apprenticeship 12, Statistics 12, and Geometry 12. Students can take more than one math course in grades 11 and 12, like they do with science.

Students interested in post-secondary education or training are encouraged look at the math pre-requisites for the program or programs they are interested in. Another change with BC’s New Curriculum is no provincial exams in Math 10. This exam was replaced with the Provincial Numeracy Assessment that students can complete in grades 10 to 12. Successful completion is also required for graduation for students entering grade 12 in 2018. This provincial assessment embraces the direction of BC’s New Curriculum by including core and curricular competencies, personalization, collaboration, First Nations, and self-reflection. The pilot for this Provincial Numeracy Assessment is scheduled for January 2018.

The FSA or Foundation Skills Assessment in grades 4 and 7, which includes a numeracy component, is currently being implemented in schools. For more information about Math in BC and provincial numeracy assessments, go online to

Nobody Has The Answers #IMMOOC

Week 6 – #IMMOOC – Last part of the book

What a nice close to the #IMMOOC learning experience. Thank you #IMMOOC Team and Guest Speakers for making my first experience with a Massive Online Open Course AWESOME. “Nobody has the answers” – George Couros. This captures the BIG IDEA that we are all learners. In light of tonight’s #IMMOOC episode on YouTube, I will only be doing one final blog post for #IMMOOC instead of two. As Kayla Delzer had mentioned, “we all have the same 24 hours.” I have not read other people’s blogs during the past 6 weeks and I might not be able to attend tomorrow night’s Twitter chat. That said, I will write my final blog post for #IMMOOC Season 3 and its impact on me.

I used the Innovator’s Mindset as a recommended reading for a course that I taught a couple of years ago. I returned back to the book post-dissertation with hopes of looking at this book with new eyes and #IMMOOC was an excellent opportunity to engage with others as giant book club. The impact that #IMMOOC has made on me is VALIDATION. I loved the guest speakers and I loved the challenge of writing blog posts with the Innovator’s Mindset. I feel comforted and inspired. I wished that I had the #IMMOOC PLC 10 years ago. I might have taken a different direction. That said, I am so happy to be a part of #IMMOOC (Season 3) today and with its influence on me and my practice.

I appreciated Kayla Delzer as “the closer” for #IMMOOC Season 3. I liked her attitude and her willingness to do what she feels is best for student learning. In this case it was “flexible seating” like Starbucks. I never realized that Starbucks had flexible seating… I have always liked Starbucks for the background noise and audience for accountability to get things done. Come to think of it, I do choose what seating I prefer over others. I like sitting at the big wooden table (as seen in the photo) that’s close to an outlet for my laptop and I have room to spread my stuff all over. Oh… and a triple grande non-fat latte to compliment the learning experience (no product placement here, of course).

I love the idea of using your teaching practice as a form of research. I’ve just completed my dissertation and I loved how I was able to look at my practice in a critical way while doing research. That said, I did research at arms length from my practice such that distancing my emotions from what I was researching was critical so that I could look at what I was researching with some objectivity and make recommendations to practice and research that were viable. Action research in the classroom… and observing what’s around you… as mentioned in tonight’s video… are key. We need to be always changing and trying something new to see if it works or not. This makes teaching fun.

This is not necessarily an opportunity to TRY EVERYTHING but what resonates with you and your educational philosophy. Whatever you implement or try, it must be aligned to your core values and what you would like to provide to enhance the student learning experience. In doing so, you become the learner. Students love that… especially if they know they are part of the learning experience and can contribute to your learning experience. Students are amazing and I would agree with Kayla Delzer that students do/will exceed your expectations. Focus on the learning and the results will  come. I have always believed in that as a mathematics teacher and now sessional instructor.

I am choosing to be bold in my classroom. I will continue being the researcher. I will take-risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. My students are at the heart of what I do and student voice matters. #IMMOOC was validating. I had always felt this way about teaching and learning. It’s nice to know that there are members of my tribe out there. I am not alone. I love how Kayla Delzer said that “you choose to be isolated.” As mentioned, it’s easy to feel isolated or alone pre-Twitter. For me, Twitter has opened my eyes and broadened my PLN to find and connect with likeminded people. For that, I am grateful. To all the #IMMOOC participants and facilitators… THANK YOU!!!

#IMMOOC Season 3, Episode 6, with Kayla Delzer


We Are One

Week 8 – EDUC471D100 – October 27, 2017

What an amazing day… WEEK 8… How lucky am I? Seize the day. This is my third course at SFU and I had always adapted to the room’s structure… meaning, the placement of chairs and tables. Of course, I could not move rooms or change the windows, walls, or even chalk boards. I believed that I was a “skilled” teacher and that I would make things happen. At some capacity, that is true, but I really, really wanted to move the tables into pods. Voila. MAKE IT HAPPEN. And, so I did. Let there be pods. I just loved it.

Moving chairs and tables are within my control… just as it is for others in the same room before me. I’ve been participating in #IMMOOC (The Innovator’s Mindset) and I realized that we just have to make it happen for our students, not for ourselves. Let’s take this further… this has a dual meaning. For most of my teaching career, it’s always been about the student in the centre, but what I learned was when I’m adapting (aka. coping), so are my students. That’s not a good thing. I felt EMPOWERED to move the tables and chairs.

I’m moving the tables for the rest of the course. I just loved it. Group discussions were sooooo much easier to do and facilitate. The students were more willing to speak with one another, so much so that they did not stop talking during the journal reflection time. Truth… I loved that too. Learning is dialogical. “Sense-making is not a solo affair” (Spillane, Reiser & Gomez, 2006). We are better together than apart. What a way to honour our EDUC471D100 Learning Community with PODS. We rocked it today!!


  • With BC’s New Curriculum, what is possible?

Today’s class was about MEANINGFUL LEARNING and STUDENT-DRIVEN LEARNING. We are trying to model the intentions of BC’s New Curriculum in EDUC471D100. What’s so cool is, I think we got it today. When we focus on competencies, we can focus on personalized learning and find our strengths with problem-based, inquiry-based, or design oriented learning. It’s my job as the teacher/facilitator to create the framework for learning, guide learning, and share my expertise. It’s the students’ job to make sense of what they are learning and collaborate with others to gain a deeper understanding of the content while developing the competencies and walking away with the big ideas.

  • What are the advantages of student-driven learning?

Witness this class… Go meta… Today’s class I believe that WE ARE ONE. As mentioned, I create the framework for learning and the students take control of the class soon after that. Almost 90% of the class is led by students. What I loved about today’s class was, all of our student-led activities were ALIGNED. There was cohesion with the theme of today’s class, this week’s reading, and TEDx video. The strange part is, we did not collectively plan it that way. We planned the class and student-led activities separately and yet by the end of the class all of what we collectively contributed tied together. It blew me away. This is the power of student-driven learning. Students have choice. Students have agency.

  • What are some challenges to inquiry-based learning and cooperative learning in the context of curriculum?

One of the things that would be challenging about inquiry-based learning are teachers trying to facilitate inquiry-based learning as if they were experts but they themselves as learners have never experienced inquiry-based learning. You can’t teach what you don’t know. As my friend would say, she loves it when I go BETA… learn while I am doing. I am not an expert in inquiry-based learning and I am not an expert in BC’s New Curriculum… but I do have some tools and I am willing to learn. So, I deliberately design the course so that I am learning too. I’m not learning what the students are learning, but I am learning more about my practice and how to make it better so that it enhances the student learning experience. I am so honoured that students are willing to learn with me.


We are one. I cannot describe how I feel today. I’m just blown away how nicely everything flowed in class this week. I the class with a big take-away from my students. What tweaked my awareness to the amazingness of today’s class was the fact that the student-driven discussion questions were very similar to the reflection questions I posed (as seen here in this blog) for their journal reflection. During class discussion, one group said that one of the difficulties of collaboration is group projects and assessment. It’s tough for students to be “collaborative” when they are being “marked” on the group assignment as a group. Some students do everything while other students do nothing.

There is a lot at stake when summative assessment practices happen throughout the group assignment. As a result, “authentic” collaborative learning does not happen. SOLUTION: Ongoing formative assessment throughout the group activity, then a summative activity (if needed) at the end of the learning process (which is the most appropriate time to do a summative assessment) for each student to demonstrate their learning. Have the collaborative learning precede the summative assessment and provide as much formative assessment as the teacher to help students with their learning. Then… and only then, can collaborative learning happen authentically. Assessment matters.

Finding My Tribe

“I will attract into my life what I am.” – Wayne Dyer

I am always looking for some clarity. It’s an interesting time for me as an educator. There are no absolutes or guarantees. For those who acknowledge the completion of my doctoral studies… I curtsey. For those who ask me “what’s next?”… I respond with “I’m in transition.” I made a conscious decision as I approached the end of my dissertation not actively seek out full-time employment to focus on my academic studies. The application process tends to be rigorous and time-consuming so I understood that once I completed my dissertation I would be in a transitional period. So, here I am… in progress.

The picture above reminds me of my TEDxWestVancouverED talk… well, a part of it. It’s a picture of school trustees from around the province meeting at the BCSTA Provincial Council. As a representative collective, they are making decisions and giving direction to the provincial organization. You can’t create educational change alone. You have to find your tribe. Change is a collective effort. I wonder… Who’s in my tribe and why? It’s not like I am recruiting anyone or have intentions to. That’s not my style. What I am looking for is ALIGNMENT. Does this person resonate with me? What do I like about them? I love the idea that I attract who I am. It’s a crazy thought, but the more I think of it… it’s true.

Change what you see by changing who you are. I am changing and who I interact with are too. Slowly but surely I am finding my way and I am paying attention. I am grateful to see the right people at the right time. It’s serendipitous. I can feel my alignment. It’s unfolding and I can’t wait to see where my next steps take me. When I experienced great change before, I was scared. I did not know or understand why some people were in my life and why others had left. I was resistant. Although I wanted change, I did not want or expect members of my tribe to change, but they did. It was a natural occurrence.

If I want things around me to stay the same, then I would have to stay the same. Sometimes I look back and consider going back to what I used to do. Based on my behaviour, this seems unlikely. I am noticing what excites me, what provokes me, and what brings me joy. I want to do what I love and what makes a difference to student learning. Furthermore, I am surrounding myself with people who belong to my tribe. Members of my tribe do not come from one particular organization or profession, but rather they are dreamers, disruptors, and do-gooders. They are willing to take risks, ask questions, and challenge the status quo to activate system change. This is my tribe.

My love for teaching and learning has not changed. My passion and purpose to improve student learning hasn’t changed either. What continues to change are the people around me. There are some people I will forever resonate with. Some people I don’t resonate with any more. Some people are returning while others are entering. I feel so lucky because I love what I see. These changes mirror what’s happening with me on the inside. I have clarity. I am passionate. I am choosing what I love to do. I have my tribe.

I am overwhelmed and heartened by those who support me, encourage me, and help me to rise. I never expect it and I cannot believe the love I receive. I feel soooooo lucky to have people in my tribe who care for me and can see my light in education. I have no words to describe how I feel. It’s incredibly humbling and I have moments of crying… but these are happy tears. I only have gratitude for these people and I hope that I can do the exact same for others. It’s about people ROOTING FOR YOUR RISE, as Oprah Winfrey would say. I will continue to teach, learn, and lead in education. I love what I do, I am grateful for the people I meet, and I am learning. What more can I ask for?


Mini Blogs #IMMOOC

This week’s blog challenge for #IMMOOC is to write 3 mini-blogs of 250 words or less. It’s an opportunity to make our edu-thoughts succinct, but also invite the reader to your edu-thoughts with short responses. I am ready for the challenge but I have enclosed all 3 mini-blogs into ONE BIG BLOG. Why? I’m wary about posting 3 blogs this week in addition to my #EDUC471D100 weekly entry and moments of edu-inspiration. The frequency of my posts may deter those from reading my blog, but also how my do ME do people need? Really? It’s a lot of ME. Clearly I am overthinking this and well… that happens (for me) and I am self-conscious about it, but I’m going to do it this way… so here are my 3 mini-blog #IMMOOC responses below. Thanks for reading this blog’s preamble.


Do I know and build upon the strengths of those I serve?

I am stuck on the word “know.” I don’t actually know the strengths of those I serve, in the absolute. I learn about that they perceive as their strengths and build upon them by making connections to what they perceive as something they are not good at or don’t know about. I like to believe that I serve as a guide rather than someone who “knows” how to build strengths in others. I serve many types of people in the roles I play and how I like to build upon people’s strengths is building their sense of efficacy and self-confidence by reframing and redefining what they believe is true. My lens is focussed on what people can do and where they can go (if they like to). The deficit model does not work, nor does it build one’s sense of efficacy. My job is to remove barriers and lift others.

For example, I just did it. I was tutoring a student. 20 minutes into our session, I met his learning needs and we could have moved forward to complete the hour, but instead I acknowledged that he was feeling good about what we had learned and he was anticipating possible questions he may have (currently undetermined) for his upcoming unit test this week. Instead of feeling pressured to complete our session, I said “come back in a few days when you have figured out what questions you have in preparation for your unit test and we can resume our tutoring session then.” I like to put the student in the driver seat and I am the one who can facilitate and support his learning.


How do we share openly and regularly to further our own learning and development?

Blogging. For me, blogging helps me to reflect and look at my learning with a critical eye. It’s open for feedback, but also it helps me to make my aha-moments explicit. Blogging is public, so I feel that whatever I post/publish, it is something that I am celebrating (or deliberating) that is worthwhile to share but also something that I am committed to. When I teach my classes, my mantra is: THERE ARE NO SECRETS. While this is in the context of formative assessment, I feel that blogging (and Tweeting as well on Twitter) are awesome ways to connect with myself and others that is purposeful and meaningful.

As a compliment to reflection via blog and social media would be the idea of experimentation and trying out new ideas in your classroom or in your professional practice. The reflection is based on “something” and it comes from our experience. What I like to do is to try something “out of the box” with hopes of benefiting student learning. Try it a few times. Identify your mistakes and tweak it along the way. Learn from your mistakes. Listen to feedback. Take more risks and learning together with your students/learners. Co-create the outcome and then share. I love the process of learning and its IMPERFECTNESS. This is what learning in schools (and in our lives) is all about. It’s not about dwelling on failure but celebrating our courage to get back up again.


Do our professional learning opportunities mirror the learning we want to create for our students?

Truthfully… NO. It seems that many of the professional learning opportunities I participate in involve THE BIG HEAD… meaning, someone is telling me something. It’s not a learning opportunity where I am connecting with others (even though I may be doing that before or after the scheduled event) and sense-making with others to establish a shared (and deep) understanding of the subject matter. I had opportunities to learn outside from my friend and colleague (as she posts these learning opportunities on Twitter), but I have not been able to attend them due to time conflicts. My intention is to go one day… I would like to engage in professional learning that is experiential and dialogical with a learning community that is willing to push the envelope and ask the tough questions. I have not experienced this yet to its fullest capacity or vision… but I hope to soon.

I have participated in EdCamp several times. I like the organic nature of this professional learning opportunity. It’s professional development that comes from the grassroots of the practitioner in the company of other practitioners. The day is created from the input and contributions of those attending EdCamp, but also facilitated by those who are interested or passionate about the particular topics posed. Like minded people collect with other like minded people and authentic discussions may ensue. EdCamp is the closest professional learning opportunity to what I hope for. It’s missing the experiential aspect of immersing ourselves in the subject matter, but I do appreciate the dialogue and it’s learner-driven.

#IMMOOC Session 3, Episode 5 with Dwight Carter