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.

Notice and Listen

Wow. I’m looking through my phone to see if I have an appropriate photo in my MASSIVE collection (you can only imagine) and VOILA… a “pocket photo”… an accidental snapshot makes the cut. I love how this captures NOTHING and yet, it captures everything. We just finished a #bcedchat on Twitter and some of my EDUC 431 students are participating and I hope that all of my students are at least lurking and seeing some benefits of using Twitter as a professional development tool. I love giving students a minimum expectation with plenty of room to explore and extend themselves. For some of these students, this was their second edu-chat and many of them are new to Twitter. So far, many students are exceeding my minimum expectations for EDUC 431 and THIS excites me.

The topic last night was “Teacher Wellness: Early in the School Year.” I was co-modding / mentoring our two newest #bcedchat co-moderators and showing them the ropes from behind the scenes. They were also exceeding expectations as they were learning while they were doing. NO FEAR. Loved it… so fun to work with educators who are learners!!! During this chat, it was so wonderful to read and connect with so many educators who wanted to discuss self-care. I appreciated the tips and tricks #bcedchat participants were willing to offer, but also I also appreciated those who revealed some vulnerability by admitting that maintaining balance and prioritizing “things to do” can be very difficult. What caught my attention during last night’s chat was “checking in” or self-assessment.

Self-assessing oneself and critically looking at what’s happening around you and how you are feeling. It’s so easy to get distracted with all the things that educators can do. Often, it feels infinite or limitless… so how does one say NO? How does one know that they have reached the tipping point and can pull themselves back so that they don’t experience burnout or a sense of hopelessness. Teaching is a helping profession… and as someone said last night, you cannot help others if you are not helping yourself? This is so true. I also loved the idea of having a CRITICAL FRIEND or mentor who can pull you aside to have that fireside chat and check in with you if you can’t do it yourself.

What can happen when you are so immersed in the work that you do (life included), is that we NUMB what’s actually happening to us and NUMB how we are feeling. We just say to ourselves, “just one more thing, then I can…” However, over time… we don’t even acknowledge that we are doing this and the stress escalates. We put ourselves second, third, fourth or less and all of a sudden… the subtle signals of “hey, slow down”… “hey, I’m feeling tired”… “hey, take a break.” When those subtle signals are ignored or misinterpreted, the signals escalate in amplitude. Sometimes we get sick, overtired, or overwhelmed. Before you know it, you’re on your way to TEACHER BURNOUT.

I was so happy that we were able to discuss TEACHER WELLNESS: Early in the School Year. Our minds are still fresh, start-up should be over, and we are capable of being MINDFUL of checking in to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. I loved the WORD OF WISDOM for question 8 on last night’s #bcedchat. I also loved how people out there on Twitterverse are willing to help out and have each other’s backs. I LOVE MY PLN!!! Teaching is not for the faint of hearts. It is challenging, rigorous, and extremely rewarding. In someways, it’s a lifestyle so you have to find ways to embed it into your life and find balance. Thank you to all those who participated last night. Here’s a few Words of Wisdom I would like to share. Be good to yourself. Be kind. And, LISTEN.

  • Don’t check your email on the weekend. Take your breaks when you can and give yourself some space and breathing room.
  • There will ALWAYS be more work… ALWAYS something else to mark….ALWAYS another meeting… you CAN take time for you.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Don’t get lost in the overwhelming and remember to see the amazing.
  • Laugh! There is always something you can laugh about even when things go sideways.
  • Remember no matter what you think you messed up… or how badly you think you did it… it can turn into a teachable moment.
  • Don’t HAVE a good day but MAKE a good day. Be intentional.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes — don’t beat yourself up when things go sideways.
  • There are times when you feel like you can’t do it anymore. This isn’t a reflection on you, it’s the job. A
  • There is only so much you can do. Pace yourself.
  • Never forget to be present.
  • Take your time! Don’t feel like you have to do it all! Have fun with your class!
  • Find your marigolds

My Research Triad

What can I say? Yay for my PLN. I would not be who I am without them. I am so grateful for these people. So caring, loving, and supportive. It goes to one of my core beliefs… We are better together than apart. I was reminded of that during my meeting this morning with Nina Pak Lui from Trinity Western University (TWU) and Dr. Gillian Judson from Simon Fraser University (SFU). We want to be transparent with our study and one way to collect data is blogging. They won’t mind me mentioning them in my blog. We are embarking on a unique research study where we will be the principal investigator at our universities and we will collaborate mid-process to compare our findings and interpret results. We are moving forward together on three (makes one) research project that is looking at Assessment for Learning (AFL), Imaginative Education, and Higher Education.

I love how we are all able to meet from three different areas of the province via video conferences. We talk about where we are in our careers and how we are doing. Then we discuss what we are doing with respect to AFL, Imaginative Education, and Higher Education. I love how we can share ideas, be curious together, and discuss what we are observing and experiencing. It’s a different world in higher education when research and publishing is a fierce endeavour. What I am enjoying about our RESEARCH TRIAD is that we are mutually supporting each other. We are simultaneously working on our own research. And, we will collaborate throughout and at a later time mutually agreeing on timelines, action plans, and regular check-ins. I like how we are learning together. I also like each of us walked away with ideas such as using the single point rubric, using objects as metaphors of self/teaching/learning, and using hashtags to pre-and post-assess.

We also talked about not putting any percentages on our course syllabus. I did it. One got permission. And the other wished she had. It’s a bold move in higher education not to put percentages for each assignment or percentages next to letter grades. We are trying to shift a mindset with AFL from grade acquisition to learning and meeting an expectations. This is a specific set of criteria that can be made into a SINGLE POINT RUBRIC. From “getting it” and reflecting and self-assessing what one has to work on next… to “got it,” they have mastered the intended learning outcome and the student has evidence of their learning to substantiate their academic achievement. The student becomes part of the assessing and evaluating process. We do this at the UNBC School of Education during practicum where students self-assess their “ability to teach” and “be a teaching professional” by referring to the standards. What are they working on or what have they achieved, they need to provide evidence to track their learning and growth.

I really like the single point rubric but it’s pretty difficult to translate this framework back into a letter grade. We get back into the competition and acquisition of grades versus learning and achieving high standards, knowing why they met expectations, and/or know what they have to work on next (and why). Isn’t that what learning is all about?

Get Inspired


Image may contain: people sleeping

Welcome back to school… and it’s been INCREDIBLE. How can one not be INSPIRED. We are going outside with our learning. I loved being a part of the UNBC School of Education Teacher Candidate Orientation 2019 and we were learning IN PLACE. I really appreciated that we were able to learn at the UNBC Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC) in downtown Prince George, the Two River Gallery near the Civic Centre, and the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. Students from all 4-cohorts had the opportunity to connect with Prince George as place and as teacher. We had several guest speakers for School District No. 57 (Prince George) and UNBC. I had fun meeting some of teacher candidates and reuniting with others. We are tinkering this year with different ideas in anticipation of our NEW Teacher Education Program at UNBC that focusses on People, Place, and Land.

I loved how responsive the students were and how open they are about Teacher Education. This is going to be an AMAZING school year at UNBC School of Education. I look forward to digging deep into different pedagogies, places, and experiences as learner and teacher. Thank you to Deb Koehn, the UNBC BEd Coordinator, for making this happen and thank you to all those from SD57 and UNBC who helped to make this happen. Teacher Candidate Orientation sets the stage for the program and I think we made a good impression. I can’t wait to get inspired at the UNBC School of Education. I am constantly working on my practice and I am always learning. This year will be my year to jump in. I am really happy about returning back to UNBC. It feels different. I am not familiarizing myself with my workplace, I am now embedded into it. I love my professional learning community. TRANSFORMATION is on the horizon. It’s going to be super fun!!!

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Davis Bay, Sunshine Coast

What a way to end the summer and start the new school year with an inspiring blog entry about REJECTION. I’ve been meaning to write this for some time but it’s been a whirlwind leaving the Sunshine Coast and returning back to Prince George. Why I want to write about REJECTION is that it is often perceived as negative. From what I have been blogging in previous entries, the “making is in the breaking.” We are wanders and sometimes you have to put yourself out there to realize if something was meant to happen or not. Whether it be an application for a job or program… a relationship… or the stomach flu, you invite something in with hopes of it working out (or not).

I may sound indifferent, but really I’m grateful. What REJECTION means to me is, this is the WRONG way. Thanks for trying, but try again. It’s not so say that you couldn’t try again and depending on context that might be the most appropriate thing to do. It reminds me of Assessment for Learning and Formative Feedback. Try. Get feedback. What are you going to do about it. Try again. But “trying again” can also mean in another context to try something else. This is not the direction to take. The universe is talking, shall we say… or serendipity. You are meant to be somewhere else. I embrace that thinking. Don’t define yourself by REJECTION but rather, ask yourself what’s next?

I am brought to the First Peoples Principles of Learning: LEARNING TAKES PATIENCE AND TIME. It’s more than just the western/euro point of view of giving time and being patient. It’s more about being on a journey and you are learning certain things at certain times and you might not be totally aware as to why you are learning something at a particular time or at a particular place, but you are meant to learn it in preparation for something else. There is a bigger picture or intention meant for all of us and each of us know what that is, whether if we can admit it to ourselves or not. We need to trust the process and deeply engage in the present with the understanding it will help us in the future.

I just came back from a professional learning experience in the Nechako Lakes School District at the Nadleh Whut’En First Nations at the Nautley River with KOH-Learning. It was an amazing experience and I had realized the importance of connecting oneself to the land because LAND IS IDENTITY. I have a deeper understanding of that, as I am a visitor to this territory, but also as someone who lives in two places. It is incredibly challenging and diverse. For me, it’s not to reject where I am but to embrace and invite where I am to understand who I am. And when I look around the Central Interior of BC (compared the the Coast), it is equally spectacular and beautiful here as it is at my other home. CONNECTION. PASSION. IDENTITY. We were asked to think of 3 words after our learning experience and this is what I’ve come to learn. Love where you are.

Being on the land that day and being next to the river helped me to rebuild my relationship with WATER. I love the water. I’ve always felt connected to it as a child and as an adult. This is not to say I swim or like to be in a boat, but I love listening to and watching the ripples form in water. I was born and raised by the ocean and my adult years living near the ocean. I remember noticing when returning to the Sunshine Coast from Prince George was the sound of the ocean waves and the smell of the salt air. It’s incredible. The water speaks to me. But being at Nautley River, I realized that the water rippling through the river was equally amazing and wonderful. She is speaking to me.

My biggest take-away from the KOH-Learning experience was “What is the watershed/waterways teaching us?” We engaged in a World Cafe activity and I was facilitating this table. We are all connected and interconnected. The river is resilient. THE SALMON ARE RESILIENT. Yes!!! They are. They will always know how to swim upstream when the conditions have changed. The river will continue to flow even if it’s been traumatized by a damn or landslide. We will find a way. Therefore, there is no such thing as REJECTION. We are resilient. We are meant to take a different path.


Nadleh Whut’En First Nations

Pursuing Your Jam

Here is something that I thought I would never do. I got a tattoo. This is my first and thus my tattoo-virginity is now gone. I got this tattoo with my daughter last week. She got a picture of orchids on the side of her arm. We got these tattoos as a tribute to my mom. I loved when I showed my tattoo to my friend today… she said, “it’s like it was always there.” Like it was meant to be… Thank you. Yes. My mom has always been with me. I love looking at my arm and seeing her name VIVIEN. She named herself after the actress Vivien Leigh when she moved to Canada. I love how her name is spelled… with an “e” instead of an “a.” It’s so unique and special to me. I love how my friend said that she can see the word “vie” in the name, which means “life” in French. Even better!!!

I’ve just finished my mini-blog series about my year of professional learning in 2018/19 and what I have learned from reflecting on my learning experiences is… you have to be PURSUING YOUR JAM. Am I pursing my jam? When you are pursuing “your jam”… you are doing what you love to do, you know who are are, and you understand your “why.” This is one of my most favourite things to do… chatting with people who have found their jam. I love going to Circle Craft in Vancouver because I love chatting with people about why they do what they do. Some of these people create jewelry, others make clothing while others make food. Why are you doing what you are doing? What motivates you?

If I am really listening… to myself and others… I have constructed my edu-trajectory from the beginning I was about 16-years old, the same age as my daughter, and I used to write on a piece of paper “Dr. Christine Ho, BSc, MSc, PhD.” I guess this was a form of visioning, but I would do that often when I was in high school. My dad reminded me of this story at the end of my doctoral oral defence. What the? Not only do you tell this story to my examination panel but I learned that you used to sneak into my bedroom and looked at my stuff. What a strange way to find out. Anyway, this caught my attention in addition to another event. At a BCSTA/CSBA conference in Whistler, I was the emcee. I was a trustee and debated whether to apply for a job with BCSTA or continue on with being a school trustee. I was chatting with the two educators who helped organize this conference and I learned that they both had their PhD. One said to me, “I’m not like you. You do research.” She was an educational leader from the Vancouver School District.

I went to Oprah’s event in Vancouver on June 24th about “The Path Made Clear – Discovering your Life’s Direction and Purpose” and what she had to say at the end of her presentation is, “you’ve always known.” You know what your life path is going to be. I was a bit stunned about what she had said and yet, she is right. I have always known and sometimes I had BETRAYED myself many times on this journey. The story about my dad and educational leader from Vancouver were only two examples of many that reminds me that I have always known. In my last blog entry “Six of Six – Transformative,” I wondered how teaching mathematics had anything to do with educational research. Now, I understand. I think about one of my edu-heroes, Nel Nodding. I saw her spoke almost 10-years ago at SFU. She is a former secondary mathematics teacher who now known as a scholar who researches about the ethics of care. Teaching mathematics and serving a school trustee, for example, are only steps on our path. Oprah speaks about this as well.

I am filled with fear. I will not be shy about that. It’s challenging to think about being a “writer” or “researcher.” It seems like a lofty goal or dream (for me) but it seems that this is my life’s direction or purpose. I never thought I would be writing on a blog and enjoy writing. I never thought during my dissertation that I would enjoy data analysis. I do. I have to remember that everything I am doing (whether perceived right or wrong) contributes to my life’s path. I feel myself holding myself back because I am “scared” or “fearful” of what could be and where it will take me. What I am realizing is, I need to pursue my jam. My jam is my curiosity about leadership, teaching, and learning in the K-12 context. I am interested in systems, assessment, and professional learning.

What I need to do is WRITE… my #OneWord2019… and READ (more)… to deepen my understandings and propel myself towards RESEARCH… which will help me to investigate and learn more about what I am curious about in education. Although this is a “required process” to survive (and get promoted) in higher education in addition to teaching (my source of joy), my motivation is to fuel my passion, be vulnerable, and pursue my jam.

What are you passionate about? What’s your jam? What are you doing about it?

I Am Happy

JOY (noun): a state of happiness or felicity.

Wow. I started this blog entry on August 16, 2019 and many, many things have changed since. And yet, I am still happy. This is AMAZING and I am so HAPPY that I am still happy. Can it get any more meta than that? I don’t think so. This is what I wrote back then…

August 16, 2019

Here I am. HAPPY. I was driving home tonight… alone… knowing that my kid was at a friend’s place and my husband was out of town. The only one waiting at home for me was my dog. So I could not resist and pulled aside to stop at Davis Bay and take a short walk along the pier and ocean. My initial intention was to take a picture… and I did… but I also wanted to embrace this moment of solitude to reflect and be grateful. Life is good.

It’s been an extraordinary week (so far) and I met up with a few friends from past and present over the past few days. Some are visiting the Sunshine Coast while others live here. I’m returning back to Prince George soon and connecting up with different people before I go to the university to teach is important to me. HELLO and GOODBYE. I would say that the people I’ve met and spoke to over the last few days have been serendipitous.

I am reminded of where I came from and where I am today. I would consider it a real-life meta-reflection via face-to-face dialogue and connection. I reunited with folks from my teaching days in the 90’s; I spoke with folks from my school board days; and, I met up with a student from the university I teach at. This is not to mention I was also connecting with a friend and colleague of mine who was with me throughout all these stages of my teaching profession. We call ourselves Grass-Fed Butter and Margarine. I feel very lucky.

Focus on the feeling… It was fun reminiscing with my former colleagues and friends of teaching in the late 90’s. It was early in my teaching career. I remember very vividly the people I taught and taught with. I have very fond memories and I believe I was the most autonomous and effective as a teacher at that time. We were a community… or dare I say, a FAMILY… who had FUN at our workplace. We loved what we did and we loved the students, even though it was challenging as heck. In the end, we had each other’s backs.

I loved laughing with my friends at OUR 20 year reunion and realized that none of us are teaching at that school anymore. Times have changed and we moved into different directions. That was clear evidence of growth, but we were true alumni. What I realized that day is, even though there were only a few of us meeting up that day, I remember every teacher’s name. They had a lasting impact on me and who I am as a teacher.

Meeting up with a couple of folks who served on the board with me was also telling. I was very happy to see them and to see how they were doing, but I learned that this chapter of my life is also closed. I have moved on and I am back to my calling of teaching and being an educator (and researcher). Meeting up with one of my students on the Sunshine Coast was spectacular. We had a brief conversation in Prince George about the summer, camping, and presence of wildfire smoke. A few months later, my student and their family arrived on the Sunshine Coast to camp and immerse themselves in this amazing place.

Connecting, reminiscing, listening, laughing, and conversing with these people this week made me realize that my “midlife moment” is over. I know what I am meant to do and want to do. I understand my why and I was reminded today that THE MAKING COMES FROM THE BREAKING. I was broken a few months ago. I will own that. I am grateful to have people who stood beside me, particularly Grass-Fed Butter. I took the time to heal. But when you are broken, as painful and agonizing it is, a new chapter is just beginning.

Today… August 14, 2019… I AM HAPPY. Revelation. Thank you for everyone who have been integral to my personal and professional growth and development. There are many. TRANSFORMATION can be very difficult. Think of a butterfly. Once the caterpillar has fed, grown, and fully developed… it pupates in a chrysalis. When metamorphosis is complete, the adult insect (aka. butterfly) climbs out, it’s wings dry, and flies off. It’s tough work. There is ongoing growth. After a brief incubation time… there’s a new you!!! #yayme

September 7, 2019

I am back in Prince George and happy to be back at work. We’ve been running ever since I arrived. My mind has been pretty busy nonetheless, but I was broken again with the news on the day of my arrival to Prince George that my husband ended our marriage. I’ll admit, it took me about 8-years to finally complete my “midlife moment” but now it’s time for my soon to be ex-husband. After our 28-year relationship, we are officially separated.

I was spooked by seeing so many people from my past. I thought I was going to die. I even met my mentor from my first year of teaching just days before I returned back to Prince George. It was a 25-year reunion. Come to think about it, I did die. My marriage is dead, yet we will continue to co-parent. I am keeping his name as well as mine. I am rebranding. He is part of my identity. What disappoints me is, I had it all wrong. My bad. My TRANSFORMATION is now complete. I’m not sad or depressed. I was very angry, but now I am very excited, optimistic, and curious. The making comes from the breaking. 

Our separation created space for me… and I’m stoked. Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband is turning a corner. I hope my soon-to-be ex-husband finds happiness and is happy with his new trajectory. Big picture, I am happy too. The future is bright… and I can’t wait.

Six of Six: Transformative

The day after… Six of Six is REVISED. I was motivated by the wrong reasons of “getting it done.” This is not to say that completion of tasks is a bad thing, but I normally like to write when I take the time to reflect and get inspired to write. I woke up this morning feeling like I was not my authentic self to really depict the TRANSFORMATIVE nature of my professional learning this year. Yes, I scraped the surface with some thinking and topics in the first iteration of this blog entry, but I want to take the moment to delve into what I mean by “transformative” in my professional learning (and self), so this blog may require some to take a second read.

This is my last blog entry for this #miniblogchallenge. As much as I love reflecting on my year of professional learning via 6 words, as asked by @JanetChowMSc on #bcedchat in June (celebrating our 6th anniversary), and challenged by @RosePillay1 to write more about each word… I have other writing to do (my #OneWord for 2019: Write). It’s taken a full year to get to this point of understanding. Let’s do this!!!

In this mini-blog challenge series, there are 5 blog entries that precede this one…

One of Six: Collaborative
Two of Six: Dialogical
Three of Six: Networks
Four of Six: Exploratory
Five of Six: Exciting

Without further anticipation… here is blog Six of Six: Transformative. THIS is the word that Rose was waiting for… TRANSFORMATIVE. How was my professional learning experience transformative in 2018/19? A great question… and it’s time to address this question TODAY. It’s a back-to-back blog day as I just wrote “Five of Six: Exciting.”

I’ve just posted a few of these pictures on Facebook and Instagram. My little family and I ventured to Gibsons to go to the GARLIC FESTIVAL at the Persephone Brewing Company. What an amazing community event… and it was busy. I was so happy to find a parking spot. There were a half a dozen stands selling garlic (of course) and other locally grown or made foods. There was honey, vegetables, and vegan chocolate. What more can you ask for? Oh wait, there was locally brewed beer and cider as well as a food truck on the side. It was the place to be on BC Day. We bought some tomatoes and garlic (see above).

I got inspired to make a tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil salad for dinner with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing… served with BBQ spareribs and garlic bread. We bought cheese and basil from SuperValu and VOILA… salad. Slice the tomato, slice the cheese, and tear off basil leaves. It got a little messy but together (see photo below) it made a beautiful and tasty dish. It was AMAZING. I was so happy. What a beautiful metaphor to my TRANSFORMATIVE mini-blog on my year of professional learning. Each ingredient equates to a part or element of my professional expertise. Each ingredient needed time to grow. Each ingredient possesses different qualities and characteristics that is unique to itself. But when the ingredients are put together to make something else, this is where the magic begins and there is something new to discover. The process of transformation is messy and unpredictable, but once assembled, it was really delicious.

Transformation is not a linear process. You have to let go of some core beliefs and develop a deep understanding of who you are. Currently I am working with a group of educators talking about making changes to one of the MEd programs at UNBC. What I love about this group is that they are willing to CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO. They are thinking about things that excite me and makes me think. But also, they are talking about “transformative leadership” and “transformative learning.” What is this, what does it look like, and how are we going to get there? I love the concept and even though we are still in the talking-phase of our work. I am very interested to see how these ideas will manifest over time and if/when it will be implemented. On the other hand, working with FNESC (First Nations Steering Committee) on the Math and Secondary Science Teachers Resource Guide, I had many moments that felt like “a punch in the head.” I don’t mean that the experience awful or frightening. Quite the contrary. What I was learning kept on challenging my thinking and beliefs. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I’m still learning. My job is to listen, understand, and get back up to be punched in the head again. It’s not an easy process to hear the truth to get to a place of reconciliation but it’s the work that has to be done and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do so. I have many plans for the new year.

When I think about previous blogs that I have written about the things I’ve done professionally, I spoke of different positions I’ve held in education. I was a secondary mathematics teacher (16 years), school trustee (7 years), doctoral student/research assistant (?? years), curriculum developer (3 years), sessional instructor (3 years), math tutor (8 years), educational consultant (9 years), and Assistant Professor (one year). How are these positions interconnected? Why did I take this path? I wonder about that often.

Although I’ve accomplished some pretty incredible things this year at UNBC, I have not fully embraced the idea (yet) that I am an assistant professor and educational researcher. This year, I got to teach full-time in the teacher education program with a couple graduate level courses; I participated in two committees looking at educational reform in the teacher education and MEd programs. And, I am a UNBC senator. This is not to mention my first publication with Dr. Daniel Laitsch from SFU (my EdD supervisor) and worked with FNESC and OSBC (Open Schools BC). I continued my work with #bcedchat and BCAMT, but for doors to open, I have to close some doors. This is the challenging part. In the end, I could not let go of my teaching roots of teaching secondary math.

For the past school year, I felt lost or disconnected along with my unwillingness to let go. I could not believe that I was living in Prince George and living the life of an academic. How does reading, writing, and research have a thing to do with teaching mathematics? Nothing and everything. Talk about the IMPOSTER SYNDROME. Yet, I would not be the person I am today without the experiences of being a math teacher, school trustee, and early researcher during my doctorate. All of these INGREDIENTS (and more) are coming together very nicely in my professorship at UNBC. The process has been messy and uncertain, but also “collaborative, dialogical, networked, exploratory, and exciting.” I found myself second guessing while transforming, but I am so content with where I am TODAY. It’s taken the whole year to realize this. The barrier in my professional learning and growth is MYSELF and the belief in myself that I can do it and that I am doing it. THIS IS WHERE I AM MEANT TO BE.

When I took the picture below with Rose and April McKnight (@rilmcknight) at CAfLN in May I was beside myself and feeling uncertain. Transformation is not fun, challenging, and extremely disruptive. You have to subject yourself to EXTREME VULNERABILITY to challenge your core beliefs… and change. Get out of the comfort zone and put yourself out there. This process of transformation is very reminiscent of the change I witness our teacher candidates experiencing in our teacher education program. As my EdD supervisor Dan Laitsch said to me during my doctoral work, “why would you enrol in this program if you didn’t expect to change?” I am returning back to this learning all over again.

There is no question that after this past year working at UNBC, engaging in various professional learning activities that are new to me, and challenging myself to extend beyond my perceived capabilities have been incredibly transformative. This is not to hide the internal struggle of disrupting who I think I am and what I am able to do. My job is to get up and always try again. This is the journey I have chosen and now I think the pieces are all fitting together. Thank you to my friends, colleagues, and PLN for having my back and believing in me. And, I am very grateful to all of those who I have met and reconnected with in Prince George. I do feel at home here. It’s been a challenging year of professional learning at the university for many reasons, but also a rewarding year. I never thought THIS was possible, but all the pieces have come together, I am learning, and this is what I am meant to do. I have transformed and will continue to change.