Having My Back

Yes… I am having one of those days. I LOVE PEOPLE. Do you ever get those kind of days? I do. The feeling overwhelms me. Sometimes it fills me up with joy, while other times I am filled of gratitude. This time, it was the latter. I feel so fortunate that I have people in my life who I can lean on but also help me rise.

There is not one incident or person that made me feel the way I do. As much as I would love to point my finger at one cause or event, there were a few things on the go that needed addressing. And, that’s ok. I started to believe that things were not working out, like it’s a sign from the universe and I couldn’t quite figure out the message… so it relents.

I almost felt like that hamster running in a wheel. Run faster or run slower… It didn’t matter. I felt like I was running in a circle and going nowhere. Although I may be exaggerating at bit, I started to think… “Really? Is this a test?” Life is based on what you focus on. I had to make decisions, take a stand, and commit. For a long while, I was focused the “wrong” things. Ok… they weren’t “wrong”… hence the quotation marks… but I was entranced by what was happening and avoiding particular outcomes versus thinking about what I could do. As a result, I could not see an end to my perceived misery.

Again, as vague as my blog is (on purpose)… what was happening overall was mind boggling. I had a choice… wallow in the struggle or reach out for help. With one conversation, one text message, and one email… I started to see my situation from a different point of view. All of a sudden, I was looking at something that was completely transformed into an opportunity for empowerment, choices, and possibilities. I am so grateful to those in my tribe who are there for me unconditionally to lend me a hand, listen, and enlighten me with their wisdom, kindness, and love. It feels good to know that someone has my back. The least I can do is have your back too. Thank you!!!

Younghusband for BCSTA President

Christine Younghusband
School District No.46 (Sunshine Coast)

I am proud to be running for the position of President of the BCSTA Board of Directors. I have 24 years of experience in BC education as an educator, researcher, curriculum developer, sessional instructor, and school trustee. I am deeply invested in BC public education and passionate about teaching and learning. I believe that boards of education are integral to the success of students in BC. We can influence the learning experiences of students while we advocate for quality public education in our communities and province. We are, collectively, educational leaders. Our role as boards of education is to effectively connect community values and identity to the operations of our schools to help students learn and thrive.

“Our task is to educate their (our students) whole being so they can face the future. We may not see the future, but they will and our job is to help them make something of it.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Returning back to the BCSTA Board of Directors as President would be an honour and privilege. I am able to effectively connect with others, listen to the concerns of others, and critically look at and question BC public education through multiple lenses. These are essential competencies as we move forward together as a provincial organization in terms of decision-making, policy-making, and building our collective efficacy. Although I took last year off from the Board of Directors to complete my dissertation and doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, upon completion I took the time to reflect and consider what was important to me. Boards of education make a difference in the lives of students and student learning. Being a school trustee is a leadership role I value in education. Boards of education have voice, choice, and agency. What we want for our students should be what we want for ourselves. My desire is to lead BCSTA with a common purpose focused on student learning. Thank you for considering my candidacy as president.

BCSTA Board of Directors, 3-years (2014-2017)

  • Liaison with the BCSTA Legislative Committee
  • Liaison with the (former) BCSTA Education Committee
  • Liaison with the Metro Branch, Northwest Branch, and VISTA Branch
  • Member of the BCSTA Trustee Learning Guide Ad Hoc Committee
  • Metro Branch New Trustee Mentor

School Trustee with the SD46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education (2011-present)

  • Chair of the SD46 Policy Committee
  • Chair of the SD46 Education Committee
  • Represented BCSTA on the Standing Committee on Provincial Curriculum
  • South Coast Branch Representative on the BCSTA Education Committee
  • South Coast Branch Secretary

Email: cyounghusband@sd46.bc.ca

Questioning Pedagogy

EdCan Network – Signals of Change
The Signal: Questioning Pedagogy (March 2018)

https://www.edcan.ca/articles/signal-questioning-pedagogy/ 

I am pretty proud of this publication. I would say it’s my first official publication as “Dr. Younghusband.” It’s a Canadian Education magazine and this edition was about the “Signals of Change.” I was fortunate to participate in this Canada-wide discussion on the signals of change in Canadian Education. I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Hurley at Rose Point School in Vancouver and enjoyed the group discussion. I also enjoyed our phone conversation prior to this meeting. We spoke about ourselves and my dissertation. I was still in the writing process. Stephen gave me some insight on the direction of K-12 math education in Ontario and educational reform, which made it into my dissertation. For that, I am very thankful for the conversation and this experience.

Participants of the “Signals of Change” had the opportunity to write a brief submission on one signal we are observing. With many submissions, only five were going to be chosen to be published and the others available electronically. At the time, I was inspired to write about student voice and student agency. Students desire agency and empowerment. I was enlightened by students in the writing of this article. It was based on listening to secondary students and observing what I see. Students are QUESTIONING PEDAGOGY and I wonder if we are listening. How things are taught, assessed, and evaluated are important to students. Are we listening? If so, what are we doing about it? In the end, students realize they just have to get through, so compliance and silence prevails.

Thank you Education Canada for selecting my article as one of the five and publishing it as the first of five in the magazine in the section “A Slew of Change.” Students need their voice heard, but also we are also called to action: to listen and respond accordingly. Aside from the fact that I have learned that being published takes time and writing from the heart matters, my writing was verified by a conversation I had the other day with a student. I am always curious about teaching and learning. As a result, I like to ask questions. I was chatting with a student and wondered about how this student felt about a certain initiative that was happening at school. I loved what this student had to say. The way this student articulated their thoughts, beliefs, and point of view resonated with my EdCan article. Who can they tell? Where does student voice go? Do we even ask?

Students have a lot to say and what they have to say can be insightful, thoughtful, and worthwhile listening too. At one level, we have to give students “the space” to have their voice as critical thinkers and agents of their learning, but we have to take what was heard and take it to a different level. It’s an opportunity for reflection, professional development, or contribution to decision making. This is a power-shift, but also a paradigm shift. We need to give up a little power to empower students. Is this what we are hoping for, for students? Are we doing what it takes to make this happen for (and with) students? I wonder if we are aware of what students think and if we are tokenizing student voice. Students have something to say and getting their point of view is the best formative feedback education systems can receive. Are we prepared to listen? Ask yourself.

Making Math Fun

Guest Blog for McGraw-Hill Education: The Art of Teaching (April 9, 2018)

https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/making-math-fun-with-collaboration-games-and-formative-assessment-45d4bfe75363

That was super fun… and unexpected. I am so glad to be asked to guest blog for McGraw-Hill Education for the Art of Teaching section. I wrote about a collaborative and competitive summative review game I used to play with my Math 12 students (in preparation for the provincial exams) and other math courses as we approached the end of the school year. It was a great way to learn more about what students know and understand but also learn about what I have done well and what I need to do to bridge any math-gaps. I wanted to provide some photos (from the CYH Archives) to depict how fun and how awesome this learning experience was for students… and for me. What a great way to build a learning community and celebrate mathematics. This is definitely one of my career highlights as a secondary mathematics teacher. Learning math is FUN.

Keep Growing

This is one of my favourite images… a tree growing from another tree. A friendly reminder that we have to keep growing and growth can come from anything and anywhere. Growth is not always a straight line. Yesterday, I spent time updating my LinkedIN page and resume. I attended a few alumni workshops held at SFU and wanted to apply what I had learned. Updating took some time and it’s still in progress. My friend took a look at what I had written and said…

“Your path is so untraditional, for someone like me and yet we have so much in common.”

I take this as a compliment. I am thankful that my friend could see this. Sometimes it’s not all about going the traditional route from A to B. I could have “climbed the ladder” to move through or up the system, but opted to take my own route… a personalized route that filled my heart and mind. I left teaching to pursue doctoral studies. In the meantime, I started a business as sole proprietor and called myself an educational consultant. Is this how it works? I was soon find out. At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted but I loved the freedom and flexibility to create and learn. I had to go beyond the status quo.

Much like my dissertation, I want to get under the problem. Sometimes “problems” in education seem cyclic thus difficult to see its starting point. To make a long story short, I had to take a different route to see what I wanted to and needed to see. Leaving K-12 helped me to complete my dissertation and make the recommendations to practice and research I did, so that we could create system change in the context of professional learning and subject matter acquisition. I know that I would not have accomplished this had I stayed in the system as a teacher. I was able to see and understand the system, as a whole, in a deeper and broader way as a school trustee. For this, I am grateful.

The other part of my friend’s comment… “yet we have so much in common”… raises my spirit. On the one hand, it surprises me and on the other hand, it pleases me. I am surprised because I did not move up the rungs of the education system to understand what my friend understands about the system… what’s working… what’s not working… and what needs improvement. I will say that I have not done some of the super awesome things my friend has done or the super awful things my friend had to do… vice versa in terms of research and politics… but happy to know that the BIG IDEAS are the same.

It’s time for new growth. I love being the learner. My goal is to follow the path of learning. I think about returning back to the system often. I love teaching at the university and I would love to teach high school mathematics again… particularly in BC’s New Curriculum. But I wonder about the kind of freedom that exists in the system. I also wonder about what I have to contribute. I think that I have a lot to contribute but it has to be aligned to the direction of the school district. I would love to see some of my recommendations from my dissertation to come to practice, but I am also excited about doing more research to bring meaningful information back to practice. Right now, I am writing a book. It’s fun.

Student Leadership

Published in The Local Weekly on March 21, 2018 as “Student Trustees Bring Vital Input” http://www.thelocalweekly.ca/student-trustees-bring-vital-input/


School District No.46 (Sunshine Coast) was one of two school districts out of 60 to first have a student trustee and policy that supports having a student trustee as part of the Board of Education. Although the student trustee does not vote or participate in closed meetings, the student trustee represents the voice of students and the District Student Leadership Team (DSLT). The DSLT is composed of two student representatives from each of the 4 secondary schools: Pender Harbour Secondary, Chatelech Secondary, Elphinstone Secondary, and Alternative Schools. The student trustee has the opportunity to have his or her voice at the table, share ideas from the DSLT, and ask questions.

Pearl Deasey from Chatelech Secondary is our fifth student trustee. A student trustee is elected by the DSLT annually. Soon after her election, Pearl presented with former Board Chair Betty Baxter, Superintendent Patrick Bocking, and Early Learning Coordinator Kirsten Deasey at the 2017 BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) Academy. She spoke about her experience as a student trustee and fielded questions on her role on the board and how other school districts could adopt a similar model of student leadership.

To connect with students, members of this year’s DSLT decided to moderate a closed Facebook Page for students to access and share their thoughts with the DSLT. Other DSLT initiatives include the district-wide talent show and North vs. South hockey game. Both events are well attended and very successful. The DSLT also facilitates a student leadership forum where several secondary students from each school meet with the DSLT, senior management, and school trustees to discuss important topics identified by the DSLT.

Student leadership is not isolated to the DSLT, student trustee, or student forums. Schools offer leadership classes, extra curricular sports and clubs, WEday experiences, student councils, and exchange opportunities. The Board of Education is proud of our students and student leadership in our school district. Student can and do make a difference. Next month, the Board of Education will be moving three motions regarding student leadership, supported by our student trustee and DSLT, at the BCSTA Annual General Meeting.


Redefining Tribe

Today has been an amazing day. I have no words to describe my gratitude for those who are in my life. Look at these flowers… GORGEOUS… and unsolicited. It comes from people I care deeply about and I feel that they care deeply about me. I am blessed. The day continues with moments of inspiration from those I was working with. From their learning experiences, I was inspired to write an article to question what I see. In the meantime, I am connecting to those on Twitter and found the courage to ask for help via email. This nice part is, my tribe are always willing to help. They support me in so many ways. I feel very lucky. I struggled with Finding My Tribe. At one time, I believed finding my tribe meant belonging to a group, but surrendered knowing that members of my tribe come from many groups, they share a similar mindset of disruption, and they lift me up. After today, I am redefining TRIBE as wholehearted kinship. There is deep trust, respect, and love. Feelings are reciprocated. There is no second guessing or self-doubt, only clarity.

Running for President

Here we go… there are a few days left of the nomination period and I have decided to run in the upcoming municipal election in October and run in the BC Association of School Trustees Association (BCSTA) for the position of president in April. Left on a cliffhanger from my previous blog entry, Gaining Perspective, I was undecided for quite some time. I loved the encouraging words from colleagues throughout the year, but I had to make this decision for the right reasons and my decision to run was not taken lightly.

Last year, I stepped down from the BCSTA Board of Directors and did not run. When I look back at my blog entry, Trajectory, it was not an easy decision then. I took the year off from the BCSTA Board of Directors and took other things off my plate so that I could finish my dissertation and deliberate what would be next for me. I needed to create some space for me to complete my doctoral work and make space for what’s next. I am proud to have completed my dissertation. I successfully defended my research on August 17, 2017 (while teaching EDUC 454 that term) and walked across the stage at convocation on Friday, October 6, 2017 (after I taught my morning class of EDUC 471) at SFU. I ended the fall term by starting the new year with a trip to Honolulu, HI to present my dissertation and two other studies at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. It was a memorable experience and excellent capstone to my academic achievements.

After Hawaii, the spring term started slow. I was not teaching at the university and I had not established full-time employment as an academic. I had considered returning to K-12 but did not feel that it was the right fit for me. That said, I am very thankful to continue my research and academic writing as an affiliate scholar at the Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy (CSELP) as part of my post-doctoral experience. I am currently working with a school district looking at communicating student learning and effective reporting practices, I am working on being published with my research partner Dr. Daniel Laitsch, and I am also working on some independent writing. With this work, I am reminded of my 5 core values: (1) integrity and truth; (2) self-respect and pride in my work; (3) having a positive impact on society and others; (4) using creativity, imagination, and being innovative; and (5) autonomy, independence, and freedom. I am aligned.

I believe in serendipity where things happen for a reason. Last month, my mom passed away. I believe that it was suppose to be a “light term” for better or worse so that I could spend time with my mom in her final days. I had the luxury of being by her side almost full-time along with my brother, sister, and dad. I have no words to express my gratitude that I was able to spend this time with her, to take care of her, and to love her. I miss her deeply. I have no regrets of not running for BCSTA last year. Everything happened as it was suppose to be. Now that I have turned the page on my dissertation and looking forward to what’s next, I am following my intuition, my heart, and my passion in BC public education. I am an educator, researcher, and school trustee. I am an advocate of BC public education and believe that boards of education are integral to the success of students in BC public schools. I am announcing that I am running for BCSTA president.

Feels Good

One thing that I love about teaching and learning is the immediate gratification of success. I just had a wonderful experience this morning. I helped a student with their math via SnapChat. This student was sending “streaks” via SnapChat and I happened to be one of the recipients. I replied, “looks like fun.” It was a picture of a math book. The student replies, “idek and test is Thursday.” Classic frustration and disengagement. Our conversation moved from distress to sending a picture of a question, taking a screenshot, and sending a picture back of the solution with steps… a short delay, another screenshot, and another picture of another solution. BINGO. Engagement. The student asks, “is it right?” I reply, “yup.” The student replies, “yippppeeee.” Immediate gratification experienced by ME and the student.

I love that. I miss that. The sheer joy of learning. This is why I love to teach mathematics in comparison to other subject areas like science or chemistry. There is an immediate gratification when you “get” something, solve a problem, or realize your math efficacy. It’s AMAZING. Yes, certainly, it works the other way as well. When things “get down” in math… things get DOWN. Sometimes it feels like a hole (or vortex to others) that almost feels impossible to get out of. We get stuck there and form another type of math efficacy that sounds like “I will never do math again.” Albeit a dramatization, but it’s not too far off the truth. But there is nothing more satisfying than hearing a student say, “hey, I can do this”… “that wasn’t so hard”… “I can do better next time” after you helped them out.

Another social media experience to CELEBRATE MATH involved a school principal from my school district sending me a photo of a TTOC doing math OUTSIDE with grade 1/2 students with sticks and chalk. I love that!!! Social engagement, experiential learning, and being outside to learn with your classmates are AWESOME. Furthermore, this teacher is taking a risk, doing something different, and figuring out what will help students learn math. I love how doing math on the playground also makes learning VISIBLE… to self and classmates as they are learning, but also makes it visible to the rest of the school when students have an opportunity to look and learn during recess and lunchtime. This is AMAZING (again). Celebrate learning via social media. I love how I got this information from Twitter with a tweet and a tag. Of course I’m retweeting, commenting, and replying to this tweet. It doesn’t take that much to get me excited about teaching, learning, and MATH, and in both cases, via social media. Happy learning.

Is it me?

Wow. It does not take much to trigger me. “Is it me?” A classic question that NO ONE wants to answer. I appreciate that someone is willing to speak to someone face-to-face and inquire if the problem is him or her. Unfortunately, you’re NEVER going to hear the answer that would reflect the truth. So why ask? Is there another way to ask the question? NO ONE is going to say the problem is YOU. That’s just a fact. How can we get around this issue in an educational system that desires and hopes for vulnerability? As you can see, one question provokes me to ask many other questions. It makes me curious.

I just spoke with a student who was faced with this situation. “Is it me?” This student could not confirm or deny that the problem was the teacher. Why would this student do so anyway? Horrifying. If the roles were reversed, we would never say that the problem in our classroom is the student. We would say it’s his/her behaviour, actions, or mindset… SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN CHANGE. It’s a strange phenomenon in education that I question. How can we have a more vulnerable education system that encourages more formative feedback amongst stakeholders to leverage learning when all those involved are somewhat defensive, politically paranoid, or easily hurt? We end up “functioning” in a edu-vacuum where not much is said except for pleasantries and workplace politeness.

Formative feedback is NOT PERSONAL. It should reflect your performance and competencies. Not only should it reflect these attributes, but also should provide you with what to strive for and how to get there. In fact, receiving formative feedback is in your best interest… to be come a better YOU… and those who are providing feedback provide an expertise and want YOU to be a better you. They have your best interest in mind. Formative feedback is about helping each other and the information shared benefits both the evaluator and recipient. It goes beyond collective efficacy… formative feedback is more like COLLECTIVE WINNING. The mantra would be, “we’re in this together.”

But no… “Is it me?” sets people apart… to an US vs. THEM scenario. The power differential is in full play and of course, the subordinate in this relationship would naturally concede and say… “no, no, no… it’s me.” Unbelievable… and in the end, NOTHING CHANGES. There is no opportunity for “real” formative feedback and an opportunity to get better, be better, or make the situation better. All that this scenario perpetuates is the status quo… and if it’s not good??? It remains NOT GOOD. Is this an educational model that we can tolerate? Apparently, the answer is yes. This is disheartening. Education is ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. It’s fragile and resilient at the same time. We need to be asking the right questions. We are the creators of what we see. So, what do you see?

We are constantly immersed in the formative. From the viewpoint of the teacher, are your students engaged, empowered, and passionate about what they are learning? Or are your students disengaged, on their phones, and indifferent? Maybe they are somewhere in between… but guess what? You are creating that behaviour. This is the challenge of teaching. It’s complex and dynamic. There is never THE SAME at any one moment in time… nor should we strive for that. We are not hoping for robot-like students who are homogenous in their thinking or doing. We want to nourish their competencies, strengths, and interests. How do we create a love for learning for all stakeholders? Wouldn’t it be great to develop passionate learners instead of compliant consumers? This is my hope.

The worst part about this question, “Is it me?,” is asking the same question to self. “Is it me?” Self-assessment and self-reflection are integral to the teaching/learning/leading process and when we question self inappropriately or inaccurately because we are functioning in a vacuous silo, then this is when it goes wrong and ugly. How can someone take ownership of something when they don’t know if it’s them or not? It’s a poor assumption. Similarly, one cannot take ownership for something when no one is talking formatively or if one is confronted with “Is it YOU?” No one is winning. Nothing and no one gets “better.” And yes, the status quo persists. Are we really learning in education?

Let’s end this edu-rant with a bit of research. According to John Hattie’s (2016) updated results… factors with the greatest effect size on student learning include feedback (0.73), teacher clarity (0.75), and teacher credibility (0.90). Teacher credibility ranked NUMBER ONE. Do not underestimate the power of the teacher and your influence on student learning. Student looks up to the teacher. It’s important to be a role model but also provide feedback and clarity. It can’t be “Is it me?” anymore. This message goes to all levels in education. We are in this together. It has to be, “It is WE.” Think formative.

css.php