Learning from the Line

My sleep habits are out of whack. I would have never thought that I would be writing a blog post from my phone in my bed at 4am in the morning. I woke up just after 3am and I can’t get back to sleep. My legs are aching. My stomach is unsettled. My brain is going a mile a minute. I might as well write a blog entry because yesterday (12-hours ago), the pickets for the faculty association shut down after 23 days of strike and 16 days on the picket line. We continue to strike as work to rule. Classes resume on Monday.

I never imagined that I would be back on the picket line after my 16-year career in K-12 public education. This time I was made picket captain because of my experience in K-12. I’ve seen and experienced job action from both points of view, as the employer and union. I was a little surprised about strike action at the university. It has a different vibe or momentum compared to K-12. Academics are bargaining with administration. The FA bargaining team is eloquent, thoughtful, and thorough. Much of what is being bargained directly affects me as contract faculty. This job action has been a learning experience for me. I learned more about the university in terms of politics, people, and process.

We can help but be siloed in our workplace situated within our own departments and segregated by buildings, rooms, and floors. On the picket line, there are no walls or departments. At the “Daycare Site,” my crew members were from education but also from psychology, library/archives, biochemistry, political science, math, social work, and natural resources & tourism. Aside from the education faculty, I would not have met any of these people on campus and if I did, I would not remember. I met people on the bus, strike headquarters, and at different picket sites. I also met people between shifts, online via Twitter, and at our solidarity receptions. I stayed near my picket site for a majority of the time during the 3-weeks, but I started to get to know people and build relationships.

On the picket line, it did not take long to build a community. I adored the people who were assigned to my picket site. We seemed to gel over time. Some of us would walk and clock 15000+ steps, some stayed, while others split shifts with the morning crew. Regardless of our preferences, we seemed to establish a rhythm at our picket site that included a lot of laughing, dancing, and good conversations. I also met folks who work in the research ethics office who are willing to help me. I got to see the “human side” of faculty, students, and CUPE staff. I also met people from FA’s from around the country as part of the flying pickets and my EdD Senior Supervisor from SFU came up to say “hi” with the SFUFA. I got to learn more about the history of the university, the passion and love these people have for their students and work, and what’s at stake at the bargaining table. Things started to make sense because I am relatively new to the university.

My biggest impression about the university is THE PEOPLE. My first impressions of the town were significantly less rain, it gets super cold, and people are friendly. I am wowed by the people at the university and how incredible and resilient they are. Some of the stories shared are pretty exceptional, but not in a good way. As much as they love what they do, I listened to stories of trauma, operations, and workloads. The image I got was the university sitting on their backs. The university ranks #2 in the country as a small research university because of these people. How can we help these people help the university rise? There is a clear difference between thriving and surviving. The collective agreement, university budget, and PSEC restrictions are playing a role in this. I am so grateful for tenure and tenure-track faculty who are standing beside contract faculty, senior lab instructors, and librarians. That says a lot about the people at this university.

I loved it when my education students came up the hill to drop off food or coffee, to say hello, or to walk the picket line. I was so excited to see them but also reminded of the importance of RELATIONSHIPS. The students are part of this too. Although I will acknowledge that some are frustrated and given up, others have rose to the occasion to advocate and stand beside faculty during this labour dispute. For that, I am grateful.

I love the photo above. It’s a beautiful exemplar of how people exceeded my expectations during job action. Aside from the amazing folks who are committed to the FA bargaining team and executive, some of the people I’ve met on the picket line are playing in this band. My mind was broadened and I love that we are more than just teaching and research. WE ARE PEOPLE with families, hobbies, and interests. They inspired me to go back to curling, which seems unrelated but it’s something I love to do. I need to make time for it. I am also ready to start reading, researching, and writing in addition to finishing off my classes for this term. I can see why people stay at this university. They love what they do. I still don’t know a lot of people at the university (or a Flying Picket said to me, they don’t know you yet), but I am so happy to meet the people that I did.

Carving Out Time

I have to admit… the last couple of weeks have been very interesting to me… if I’m really listening TO THE UNIVERSE. Sounds intense, I know… because not only am I feeling Motivated To Write, I feel like I need to carve out time to write. As much as I love to write in my blog because I feel inspired to, there has to be a regularity to the writing process and I would suppose for reading and researching as well. I need to block out time and set goals. It’s so interesting… I think about the First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning involves patience and time.” After talking to my childhood friend, now peer and colleague, learning takes patience and time spans over a lifetime. I am so grateful for what I learn from her. My perceptions and mindsets are challenged, stretched, and provoked.

My #OneWord2019 is WRITE, but I must admit that I have been limited by my own perceptions and mindsets. IRONIC, I know. When I have the unique opportunity to listen to what other people in academia do, what challenges they faced, and what they are accomplishing… I am so WOWED. And yes, they are “regular” people who do research because they are passionate in what they do. Strangely, this is no different from me. I was chatting to a few of my students about my recent revelations about my colleagues with respect to their passion and level of care… my students were quick to respond with “like you’re not passionate or caring” (insert sarcasm) inferring that I was one of them too. I was taken a back. I never perceived or believed myself to be “one of them.”

This brings to mind another First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.” I am captured by what people have been saying to me lately… words like PERMANENCE… did you find a home yet… or you’re here to stay. There was definitely a theme. As I think about “blocking out the time” to write, I securely go to my blog to free write my thoughts as a way to make sense of what I am contemplating. I took a course about “landing and launching” and blocking out time for productivity. I had a conversation with one of mentors about finding out the BEST TIME to write and produce. I had a similar conversation with someone else about the same ideas. I get reminded by my friend and colleagues about what needs to get done and what I am able to do. I am reassured by their confidence, yet unnerved. Sadly, I am in a good place.

SELF-ACTUALIZATION: “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone” (From Google Dictionary).

HOLY BLEEP. Maybe I’m woke… maybe I have arrived… maybe it’s time. I have writing right now that I can start working on. The first is a book I want to write about my mom. She was an amazing woman and as she anticipated, I am realizing this after she passed away. She would be so pissed off that I just said that and even more pissed off that I wrote about her. That said, I think she would also be proud of me for achieving something she knew I could always accomplish and possibly touched that I could see her. She was very special to me. The second piece of writing I am pursuing would be about ETHNOMATHEMATICS. I am encouraged by and collaborating with my friend mentioned above. I have a passion in this with respect to my dissertation of mathematics education, subject matter acquisition, and transformative educational leadership. It’s super exciting.

My academic writing is on hold for the moment, but I have MANY opportunities that are accumulating and all I have to do is GET WRITING. Jump in. Who cares? In the end, it’s about my learning and there are many levels to that. One is, believing that I can do it. Another is, what I am researching and writing about is worthwhile. And another is, do I care about what I am researching and writing about. I loved meeting some folks from the Office of Research Ethics at the university. They only have encouraging words and I realized that it’s “not a big deal.” I’m making it into a big deal… like I did when I was a doctoral student. I have incredible, yet subtle, mentoring from my former supervisor and his belief that I can do it. A librarian told me, he wouldn’t work with me if he didn’t believe that my work was not worthwhile. My fears are my own. I can overcome them. I need to publish a couple of papers, apply for ethics for a few projects, and maybe apply for a grant or two. I can do this. I just have to want it, work wisely, and get writing.

Motivated to Write

Ahhh yes… a photo from my wide collection of memories from my dissertation days. I can’t believe that it’s been over 2-years since I finished writing and defending my thesis. I still have to get it published as an article with my EdD senior supervisor at SFU, Dan Laitsch, but I have been paralyzed by the “imposter syndrome” ever since… or shall I say, it took on a new life. After the completion of my dissertation, I was a sessional instructor at SFU, then I took care of my mom full-time before she passed away, and now I am a term faculty member at UNBC in the Teacher Education Program and I teach in the MEd programs as well. I spent the whole last year trying to cope with living in a new city away from my family, learning the ups and downs of the program, and teaching/transforming students into educators in the BEd program. I’ve enjoyed my time but I know that writing and researching will be integral to my future as a academic at the university.

I’m one of those people… I have to feel it to do it. At some level, some would say “fake it until you make it.” That’s not my scene. Maybe it’s because I’m too much of an extrovert who hates to lie. Who knows what my problem is, but I have been held back (internally) from writing and I don’t know why. Some may call it “limiting beliefs” and well… I’m calling it, “Imposter Syndrome 2.0.” I felt this way for quite some time during my doctorate degree… “Who do you think you are?” and I feel that way now. I do feel the excitement of research. I love the idea of taking the time to investigate something that you are totally curious about, ask a question, and then… answer it. In the doing of learning, you are collecting data, research the literature, and then synthesizing what you have found with what has been found to come to some conclusions, recommendations, and possibly more questions. I am totally stoked for that… now. You have to write about it. Document it. Share it. I guess this falls in line with, “make your learning VISIBLE.”

I have had some “free time” lately to chat with colleagues in the field, make connections, and build my COURAGE TO WRITE. What I have realized is, everyone in my professional learning community at the university does this… and have experienced similar struggles. They have overcome these cognitive and emotional hurdles and learned how to find their voice in the field. And yet, they are just like everybody else. I know… that sounded strange… but I guess I have this perception of “what is”… and I need to take the time to actualize “what is” and how I fit into “what is.” I have 2 articles to publish… I have about 5 mini-projects I am involved with that require ethics approval, research, and writing… and I have a people in my life who are encouraging me to take the next step. I write this blog because I FEEL READY!!! Yes, we are back to those “feelings” and truth… it has to “feel” like the “write time.” LOL. I just caught myself in that. I am motivated to write.

Finding My Niche

No photo description available.

FPPL: Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.

OMG… I love this photo of my bub… taken approximately 16-years ago. She looks exactly the same, but she’s 16. It was shocking to me when I had my bub. LIFE CHANGING to say the least, but having her tampered and disrupted my sense of self and my identity. At that time, I remember saying to myself, “who is this?” All of a sudden, my life was thrown upside down. What I knew or understood about “what was life” would no longer be the same. I made decisions about my career because I was a mom and I made decisions about my life because I was a mom. Now, I just know… I am a mom. It’s who I am.

Completing my doctorate 2-years ago was like giving birth to my second baby… but instead of 9-months, it took 9-years and a long “pedagogical journey” of transforming self and my understanding of teaching, learning, and leading in BC education. I had to take that time to understand and restore my love for K-12 education. I had to unpack my research question and just focus on that question to get to “an answer” but also challenge myself of what is AGAIN. I had to tamper and disrupt my understandings of BC education and what I was able to do and accomplish. I think that much of the 9-years was trying to LET GO of what I believed in and SAY HELLO to what is and what could be.

I feel like I’m here again. I am sure that I am experiencing this “change” over and over again in the micro and macro, but now I am at a point where I am noticing that I am HERE AGAIN. I am brought to the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) of exploring one’s identity. I AM LEARNING. I guess this is life’s journey… to engage in change… reflect, explore, and wonder… and figure out our identity within a given context, time, and place. I AM HERE and I am listening. I am information gathering and I am leaning in a particular direction as part of my PEDAGOGICAL JOURNEY. It’s so weird when I feel like I am meandering, but really when I look back, it looks like a straight line. It’s weird.

I am given a gift to really consider who I want to be. WHO AM I? This is where my professional and personal life intersect and right now I can REIMAGINE who I want to be. This is pretty phenomenal… and in the same breath… recognize my self-limiting beliefs and overcome them. Admittedly, I’ve been doing that so far, but now I want to identify them and cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually overcome them as I move forward. I am building up my SELF-EFFICACY as a researcher, writer, and educator. What’s so great is, I have an amazing PLN (professional learning network), amazing mentors, and amazing friends and family who believe in me and support me wholeheartedly. I feel so lucky.

Now, I am taking the time to unpack my next steps and just JUMP IN with two feet. I may not know what I am doing (at first) and I may not be an expert in what I do (yet), but I am willing to forge forward to find out how and build my expertise. I have to be vulnerable to the process and know I will be “punched in the head” (metaphor) from time to time, but my job is to try, get punched in the head, and get up again. I’m Ok with that. As one of my mentors said to me, “Do you feel like a professor yet?” I said, “no.” My mentor said, “You need some thing to profess about.” Ah yes… I spent the last year and a half narrowing my niche, but now I have something I am passionate about. Can’t wait!

Dreaded Question

Oh my gosh… the dreaded question… HOW DO YOU CREATE THIS KIND OF CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT, CHRISTINE? I think that students in higher education ask me this question because things are going well, so I do take it as a compliment. On the other hand, the course is not over yet and “this classroom environment” can radically change if we start getting too focussed on the outcome of GRADES or achievement. That’s when my “learning environment” erodes and likely to result in poor course evaluations because there is a clear incongruence to what I have designed and intended in my courses versus what the university designed and intended with final marks, transcripts, and ranking.

I will also admit, I don’t like this question. WHY? I don’t have an answer. I don’t have any explicit strategies that help me to implement or create a class that is collegial, community minded, and cohesive. Part of that involves the students and their willingness to participate. Why I hate answering this question is because I AM LEARNING. I am playing around to figure out what works and doesn’t work. I try to be explicit with my intentions but sometimes I forget some details, sometimes I don’t follow through on some of my intentions, and sometimes things just don’t work. I get fearful of that. I’ll own that because I do not intend on not landing the dismount perfectly, but learning involves trying, making mistakes, and recognizing my mistakes and doing something about it.

When I entered into higher education, I was guided by my curiosity of BC’s New Curriculum and it’s intentions. I taught in BC public schools for 16 years and left it due to misalignment in pedagogy and purpose. I pursued a doctoral degree in leadership and served as a school trustee for two terms. I believed that K-12 schools could have been different. Something had to change. During my doctoral studies, I feel privileged to have worked on BC’s New Curriculum on the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team and I am wholehearted about what this curriculum intends and hope for. I love the ideas of competency based learning, personalized learning, ongoing formative assessment, First Peoples Principles of Learning, and Indigenous Education in every course and every grade. I wanted to try out some of these ideas in higher education as a sessional.

Ever since teaching in higher education in three different institutions in teacher education and leadership, I have designed my courses around three principles or core beliefs:

  1. LEARNING IS FORMATIVE
    • I am focused on learning, not grading. This is a pedagogical shift for me in my 25-year career in education. Learning is ongoing and continuous. My job is to support, guide, and woo students to engage in learning to take agency and ownership of their own learning. Students can take or leave what I say. Everything we do in class leads up to the summative (or demonstration of learning). Nothing is final until its final (aka. the end of the course).
  2. LEARNING IS COLLABORATIVE
    • “Sense-making is not a solo affair.” I love that quote that came from one of my leadership books by Spillane, et al. From the constructivist point of view, learning is constructed and co-constructed with others. I love that learning can be dialogical, cooperative, and collaborative. I love saying, “sharing is caring” because there is not cheating when we are sense-making.
  3. LEARNING IS EXPERIENTIAL
    • I think that I like this approach to learning because this is what I do as a learner. I learn experientially. Learning by doing. I also like Kolb’s¬†experiential learning style theory (1974) where you start with a concrete experience, take a moment to reflect, reconceptualize with a new idea or approach, engage in active experimentation, then you’re back at the beginning of the cycle. I love reflection, I love action, and I love revising and trying again.

This may or may not be what students experience in other higher education course, but this framework is what BC’s New Curriculum hopes and looks for. I fantasize that I would be in a secondary math class again and have the joy and opportunity to try this framework with Grade 8-12 students. It would be super fun and I know that it works because I had many of these ideas and pedagogical approaches when I left teaching in public schools. What I love about implementing this framework in addition to delving into First Peoples Principles of Learning and Indigenous Education, is that “there is not back row in this classroom.” That’s a quote from one of my online classes. This feedback tells me that this approach is not just a face-to-face phenomenon. This year, I am driven to learn more about culture in mathematics, decolonizing education, and unpacking my biases. I think in the end, I am guided by my own learning and my willingness to try and experiment. I am open to student input and I am steering my practice to be student-centred and student-led. And finally, I cannot get too engulfed or persuaded by the summative. The final grade is the demonstration of learning and if we did our job well, students should be able to achieve an “A” if we focus on their learning and progress.

Happy

It’s been a strange day… a tough weekend… and yet, I feel like I’ve landed a perfect dismount. How is this possible? I’ve been wanting to write a blog entry for the past few weeks. I tried a few times, but never finished them. I’ve blogged for my #UNBCed #EDUC431 e-portfolio but that was more about reflecting on our class’s guest speaker rather than writing about what’s inspiring me or what I have learned. For the past couple of months, life has been up and down to say the least, personally and professionally. I am so grateful to take the time to heal and invest in my self-care. I have no regrets, but wonder about the “life events” I have recently experienced and ones that are on the horizon. I could feel depressed, alone, or angry. Instead, I feel happy and joyful.

I noticed over the last few weeks the word HAPPY or happiness. It didn’t matter what I was looking at… a book, a sign… the word “happy” would pop into my psyche, which left me curious. Was I desperate to feel happy? Admittedly, I was in some sort of shallow way, but feeling happy doesn’t happen because we will it to be. It’s a mindset. When I think of it, over the last 2-years, life has been turning upside down with major life events. I have the list of events rattling in my head. It’s shocking to think that all of these life defining events happened in such a short time and my trajectory in life has radically changed.

Today is a special day. I received some news that should have been devastating, ego-crushing, or just simply disappointing. When I heard the news… I was soooooo HAPPY. I was relieved, but also joyful. I could not believe that this defining moment could have damaged my sense of self, to rethink about who I am and who I would like to be. Instead, the news was reassuring, reaffirming, and rejuvenating. I could not believe it. I was stressed anticipating the news, but in the end IT WAS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!

I’ve been pondering my next steps and now it’s clear. I am overwhelmed with happiness that even when I am bombarded with more “bad news,” I can see the good. On the one hand, it’s easy to dwell on the “bad things” like leaving campus at 8:15pm after a 10-hour day. On the other hand, you can look at the “good things” like being fed dinner at your fourth meeting of the day. And yes, I choose to post this photo to represent happy. It’s dark. I saw no moose or other animals. I am leaving campus and going home. Yay me!!!

THE MAKING COMES FROM THE BREAKING. I love that saying. It makes so much sense to me. I leave campus feeling happy. Today was a moment of clarity and solace. I often wonder why some things happen. Most times, I believe it’s serendipity… and it is. Some times there is a lesson to be learned. Other times I think that the “bad things” are the breaking and something good is about to happen. I’ve experienced a lot of crappy things in my life lately that I would not wish on anyone. That said, some of the outcomes to some of these things have been wonderful, surprising, and revolutionary. I am happy.

Giving Thanks 2019

This is not quite a turkey dinner. Instead of turkey, it’s chicken. Instead of mashed potatoes, it’s steamed white rice. It’s a stir fry. But, it does have broccoli and brussel sprouts so I figured it possessed some qualities of a Thanksgiving dinner. In the end, my dinner tonight was very delicious and satisfying. Tonight is about being thankful… and I am. Whenever you think a door is shut or closed, one is just about to open. Just wait…

Being optimistic has generally been my mindset over the past 25-years in education. Sometimes it shocks me to say that… A QUARTER OF A CENTURY. Geez. That’s a long time and some of my teacher candidates are younger than 25 (but I don’t want to talk about that right now). I still think that I’m 25… but better. Ok… maybe 35 (but I didn’t start this career at 10). Sigh, the math on this age-thing is shocking sometimes.

I’ve had a fruitful career in education… so far. I taught secondary math, science, and chemistry in public schools. I served as school trustee for two terms, holding local and provincial roles. I was part of the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team. I worked with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association’s Math Teacher Resource Guide revisions. I’ve also been a part of the B.C. Association of Math Teachers Executive Committee and presented in various events such as TEDxWestVancouverED, EdVent, and IGNITE35. This is just the surface of my CV.

I can’t forget about co-moderating with #BCEdChat on Twitter and my consulting business where I led professional development workshops and tutored math. Now, I am an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education where I am a part of the B.Ed. and M.Ed. Redesign Committees, member of Senate, and faculty sponsor of Education Club. I have incredible people at the university and school district who support and collaborate with me. And, I can’t forget all of the people in my PLN who are helping me out with my EdTech course. AMAZING!!! This just reveals a few things I do and hope to do. Given all of these CV bullets or edu-opportunities, the BEST part of my career are the PEOPLE.

I have many moments where I say, “I love people.” People are so amazing to me!!! I love their kindness, their knowledge, and their BEING. I’ve said this in previous blogs, but I’ve met some pretty AMAZING people in my edu-career. Some are students, some are educators, and some are administrators. I’m quite drawn to those who are generous with their time, wholehearted, and well-intentioned. Don’t get me wrong… there are some people in my pedagogical journey whom I wished I never met. Maybe my trajectory would have been different or maybe I was meant to meet these people to change my trajectory. The latter is highly probable. What I like the most is, people who come back to my life or educational psyche. I find their return even more intriguing and meaningful.

I am sooooooo thankful to all those who have helped me along the way on my pedagogical journey. I would not be where I am without you. Help came from everyone who has entered my career path. There was always something to learn… about education and myself. This pedagogical journey is not over. I might have another 25-years in me. It’s possible in higher education. I guess we will see how this goes over time. In the meantime, I know that what lies ahead will be exciting, interesting, and unpredictable (like my bowl of chicken stir fry). It was suppose to be turkey, but hey… not everything is what it’s suppose to be. Embrace the moment. Be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving.

Not in Sync – Time Lag

The irony does not escape me. Here I sit at the Service BC office in downtown Prince George waiting to renew my drivers licence. It’s OVERDUE… expired… and I was notified months ago but opened my friendly reminder letter this weekend. I’m experiencing a TIME LAG in many ways and this is just one example. I was rudely reminded of this TIME LAG after the second segment of TEDxUNBC on Saturday. First of all, what an amazing event!!! Kudos to the executive team, volunteers, and #TEDxUNBC2019 speakers. It was exceptional and I loved the theme “Past the Future.” In the end, I was captured by the INCOHERENCE with respect to time in terms of what we want to do from what we are doing. IDEAS WORTH SHARING ranged from education, the spruce tree, housing, data collection, governance, Indigenous language, dance, philanthropy, water resources, fear of science, and mental health. What an incredible array of topics and local speakers. I was wowed by their willingness to be bold, to share their passions, and to make a point of this TIME LAG. Each speaker clearly spoke to what we know is good but we are unable to realize this potential or possibilities because of due to economics, policy, or mindsets. These are limitations. I am provoked by the idea of moving forward with any of these ideas and I appreciated what each speaker is doing in terms of advocacy, awareness, and change. I was so inspired. Thank you to everyone who made TEDxUNBC possible.

In Constant Motion

Here is a photo of me being in one of my most favourite places to be. I love how you can stand so close to the water to listen to the waves and take a moment to wonder… to think… and to reflect. I am reminded of one of the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL), “learning requires exploration of one’s identity.” It’s something that we teach at the School of Education… “you teach who you are” (Palmer, 1989). So understanding who you are as a person will shed some light on who you will be as a teacher. What are your values? What are your strengths? What is your teaching philosophy? I asked some of my students to reflect on this FPPL. I loved what they had to say. It’s in constant motion. It depends on who is in your life and where you are. It’s something that is difficult to define. I would totally agree. Even when you think you know who you are, it changes. That change creates a disruption with self and it takes time to re-establish a new equilibrium.

Every opportunity is a learning opportunity. We have to seize those opportunities as gifts. We can grow, be stronger, and take a different direction. Strangely, I think we are guided in many ways whether if we know it or not. Sometimes we make “mistakes” but I am a strong believer that we don’t make mistakes but we are meant to try again or realize that this isn’t the right path so try something else. I’ve always wondered about some of the career moves I have made in education and wondered many times what it would be like if I just stayed the course. I also think about why I was compelled to take a different path and I think about how much I have learned on my pedagogical journey and all of the wonderful people I’ve met. I’ve often imagined life had I took the pension route and continued teaching mathematics. I’ve also imagined what it would be like in different positions and in different places. Truth… I have no regrets. I am meant to be where I am but also learn what I am suppose to learn. I am confident if I did not get it the first time, the lesson will come my way again. This is the fun part about learning. It’s iterative.

I am grateful for my kid, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and my students. It’s the people around me that make my pedagogical journey rewarding, challenging, and somewhat adventurous. The journey is not easy at times. It’s in constant motion and I’m ok with that. I am curious where the tide will take me next. Learning is about keeping the mind open, being vulnerable to new information, and taking risks with hopes of being on the right path. Be kind to yourself. Find your people. Keep learning. And, have fun!

Tears in my Ears

The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Some might call it the 5-stages of grief. I’m calling it a rollercoaster ride and I can’t get off. I didn’t choose to be here but here I am. I am very grateful for those who know me well to give me the space and kindness I need to get through the day. I am also grateful for those who don’t know me well and give me very little patience and call me out on my bad behaviour. At least they care enough about me to tell me. I really appreciate that. Admittedly, it’s been challenging to keep a straight face and positive attitude at work, with my kid, or at home alone watching TV given the circumstances.

The conversation on #bcedchat on “Teacher Wellness: Early in the School Year” resonates with me deeply as well as the possibilities of joining a dance group or running group with my teacher candidates to “get moving” as part of my self care. I also appreciated a student presentation on Indigenous Education today and their message was about taking care of self because your wellness is connected to the family, community, and land. How can I make myself stronger? It was true serendipity to hear that today. I reached a moment of saturation and I felt that I just needed something more… right NOW!!!

I have a long term plan and a short term plan for wellness so that I can be authentic and wholehearted in my classes and be the teacher who I want to be. This is always a moving target and there are ups and downs. The goal is to NOTICE AND LISTEN. Once you hear it, you have to act. And, so I did. I need to heal from the inside to be whole on the outside. We ironically discussed educating the whole student and holistic education tonight in my evening online synchronous leadership course at St. Mark’s College at UBC.

We also need to take care of ourselves as whole people as educators so that we can help others. So I went to Reiki this afternoon. I’ve been to Reiki before (during another difficult time in my life) and that Reiki master helped me a lot. I am in a new town but felt that I needed to go to Reiki once again with hopes of feeling calm, peace, and clarity. What was so interesting, the technique of Reiki was different with this Reiki practitioner. I was so intrigued and some of the experience felt familiar but the approach was so different.

The whole time I was curious about her process and methodology in addition to the messages she shared with me. It was so powerful. The “massage” was AMAZING and I left the session feeling calm, peace, and clarity. I am so grateful. Tears were rolling into my ears during this process. I needed the emotional release and spiritual guidance. This may seem like an odd edu-blog entry to submit and share but this is about self care in one of the toughest professions IMHO. If we are not whole, then we cannot teach well. My job right now is to find the joy in what I do, laugh as often as I can, and have fun. I feel great after my Reiki session and truth… you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

PS. One of my edu-besties sent me this picture today!!! See below. It’s one of my favourite places to be. Today has been an incredible day and I am super thankful.

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