Happy Birthday Mom

Today is a personal blog entry. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! She would have been 82 years old today. I miss her greatly. I cannot believe that this photo (aka. Instagram memory) was taken 2-years ago. She looked great. She looked completely different when she passed away on February 27, 2018. She died from cancer in the liver and opted for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Although it’s been only 16-months ago when we last spoke, I feel that she is with me everyday. I see her at everyday on my phone (see below) and I take screenshots of her when it’s 1:11 or 11:11. I feel like she’s saying “hi” to me.

I have a zillion of tasks to do but I find that “I’m on hold” when I feel the urge to blog. So, until I blog… NOTHING GETS DONE. Aside from seeing my mom everyday on my phone, I think about her all of the time. Just the other day at my twin brother’s new condo (with air conditioning), I said, “Mom would love this!!!” She would have. She loves AC. She would also love my brother’s condo. So new. So nice. Near her condo. Perfect location. Today I also thought of her because it rained. She would have appreciated a cooler day, so it rains on her birthday. CLASSIC. So I had to take a picture (see below).

I thought about blogging about my mom and deliberated if it would be appropriate to blog about her on my blog. Well, here I am. I’ve been wanting to write about my mom since she passed away. I tried many times last year, but I got overwhelmed. I could not do it. So, I parked that project, titled “20 days.” Even thinking about writing this blog entry brought up some emotions. I am grateful everyday that she was teaching and guiding me until her very last moments with me (and my family). She may have hated school, but she was the greatest TEACHER. Much of who I am and much of what I know are because of her. I still wonder, how she do it? She kept all 5 of us together. She was the nucleus of our family… and now we’re floating electrons.

Thank you mom for being you. Thank you for your strength. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, kindness, and love. You are so right… I can’t call you anymore. But I will stick to my commitment and write about you and your last 20 days. I only have gratitude. Love you always.

Evolution of My PLN

Tracy in the middle and Robyn on the right.

I am super excited to blog without feeling tethered to blogging daily or weekly. On the one hand, it’s a form of accountability. On the other hand, it did not lend to blogging at moments of inspiration. Oh yes, the allowing for the whimsy of writing. I miss that. You don’t know what you miss until you return back to it. I am very happy to do so.

My moment of inspiration comes from my short trip to Kelowna, BC. I stayed at my friends house for a few days. I met Tracy first online on Twitter via #bcedchat. She was friends with some of my friends from Langley, BC (who I’ve also met on Twitter via #bcedchat). I am very active on Twitter because I was able to find and create my PLN (Professional Learning Network). I was craving to find educators “like me.” Well, they didn’t have to be exactly like me, but folks I could have edu-chats with. I wonder if I had Twitter 10 years ago if I would have stayed in K-12 education. I established my PLN after I left public schools and joined the #bcedchat moderator team. I’ve never looked back.

I was so grateful to take the time to visit and stay with Tracy during my short visit. I was called to Kelowna for a meeting with TCsquared to brainstorm ways to indigenize some science learning resources. I could have just flown in that morning and fly out that night. I opted to make this one day meeting into a micro-professional-development-field-trip. I had a great meeting with those who participated in the TCsquared session and I enjoyed that I was somewhat embedded into Tracy’s daily family routines. The next day, I spend the day with my other friend Des who teaches at UBCO. I met Des on the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team and I am grateful that she invites me along her edu-adventures. We spent the day at UBCO working on the FNESC Math Teacher Resource.

My last day in Kelowna, I went to Tracy’s school. I had the chance to observe her class, meet some of her colleagues, and briefly observe an SD23 Learning Community. It was all very interesting to me. I really enjoyed chatting with some of the EA’s, teachers, and administrators at her school. These are really informal conversations, but really I was more curious about what they were doing and why. My friend’s school is Lake Country… a rural area of the school district. I really enjoyed what I have learned but what struck me was meeting one of Tracy’s friends, Robyn. We “knew” each other on Twitter. She is a member of my PLN and vice versa. We meet face-to-face. It was very serendipitous.

What is more interesting to me is, I was just talking about this very phenomena… or “evolution” shall we say with social media (aka. my PLN)… with Matt, another colleague of Tracy’s. He was flipping crepes, but I was talking about how I know Tracy and how I found it weird to meet people from my PLN for the first time because you feel like you know them but you’ve never met them. That’s how Twitter has evolved for me. At first, it was about finding people who are in my tribe. Then Twitter was about sharing ideas, lifting others up, and connecting other teachers with other teachers (virtually). Now, it’s become an opportunity to make “real” connections face-to-face, sans the social formalities, and jumping right into a professional and collegial friendship. I would not have met all of the people I had today without Twitter. For that, I am super grateful.

Des on the left… and Noelle on the right (also met first on Twitter)

Collaborative Teaming

Week 38 (of 38) – June 10 to 14, 2019

This is my last weekly blog reflection for this school year. This marks the end of my teaching year at UNBC in the School of Education. It’s been an adventure to say the least. There was so much to learn professionally… pedagogically… and personally. Even though this blog entry marks “the end” of the school year, I suspect that I will continue to write (maybe not as regularly) until the fall term. The photo above marks the end of my school year. A black rectangle. This is what I would normally look at (with the student’s name in the centre of the screen) or my face when I taught my online course this spring term. Although I saw a few of my students briefly online, the cameras were off for my students throughout the course. Teaching synchronously online, teaching a course out of my subject specialty, and teaching a class I could not see were new experiences for me.

We had our last class on Wednesday where we had a role play as a collaborative summative assessment. It was AMAZING. All of our learning was leading up to this moment. Reading our textbook, having student led discussions, reading policy, and co-constructing the role play to make sense of the course content and find take-aways that were meaningful and actionable captured the essence of this course. I was so lucky to have students who were willing to play and take a risk with their learning to engage in learning experience where “there is no back row in this class.” (I love that. This was something one of my students had said.) We essentially shared our learning and engaged in sense-making together. I am very proud of what my class has accomplished.

For some reason, it was the right number of people in my class, the right amount of diversity and expertise, and the right disposition and people who were enrolled in the course to make this magic happen. I always looked forward to this class and challenged myself on how to make this a student-centred learning experience that is personalized, meaningful, and dialogical. I wanted to be the learner too… not just with what we were learning… but as an educator. I wanted to try out new ideas in terms of pedagogy and I wanted all of us to be mutually accountable for our actions and contribution. The class went very well and all of the students met expectations. Thank you for being you!!!

What I am grateful for the most was them reminding me what I do what I do. I love to teach. I love systems and processes. I love looking at the big picture and analyzing. I love co-constructing knowledge. I love it when my students have an “aha” (much like teaching high school math). I love how the course was about collaborative teams and we became a collaborative team. I love doing the meta. The last 8-weeks were difficult for me and 6 of them were with my class. They saved me. Teaching this class kept me grounded in my why. I feel stronger than ever, standing on my two feet, knowing that I had an impact on their learning and possibly their practice. Does that excite me? Yes it does!!!

Thank you spring session class. I really enjoyed teaching and learning with you. You are the last of my “new” at UNBC. I am sure there there are more “new” experiences ahead of me, but I am so thankful when I get a comment from one student that said, “I thought this course would have been dry” to another comment that said, “This is probably one of my favourite courses I’ve taken.” You have made my day!!! I’m not sure it’s because you are all educators or if you were just willing to play with me, but being together with you in this course was perfectly timed for me. All I can say is, “right back at you.”

Returning Back

Week 37 (of 38) – June 3 to 7, 2019

The week is almost over and YES… I’m writing my weekly blog of reflection one day early. Why not? Most times I’m a week late with my weekly blog of reflections. Often I need time to reflect, synthesize, and realized the so what. Much has happened already this week. I wrote an EXTRA blog entry on Convocation 2019 at UNBC and it was a beautiful ceremony, day, and experience. That made an impression on me. One more week in Prince George before returning back to the Sunshine Coast and I had the pleasure of helping out and supporting my colleague with a northern initiative.

On Monday and Tuesday the UNBC School of Education hosted the 2nd Annual Northern Small Schools Think Tank under the leadership of UNBC BEd Coordinator Deb Koehn, guidance of Dr. Susan Crichton from UBCO, and supported by Dr. Leyton Schenellert from UBC and Dr. Paige Fisher from VIU. Of course, as part of the UNBC School of Education, I will support Deb Koehn and this academic team to facilitate 2-days of learning from tech work, to fetching things, to participating in Think Tank activities and announcements.

Over 40 attendees came to the Northern Small Secondary Schools Think Tank at UNBC. It’s a spin-off from the Small Secondary Schools Think Tanks hosted in the Okanagan and Kootenays. It was so wonderful to hear “the cases.” First, we heard from Rod Allen, Interim Superintendent of SD57 (and super great guy) who FaceTimed in to talk about the OECD 2030 Education Compass and focus on 3 competencies (creating new value, reconciling tensions and dilemmas, and taking responsibility), the concept of equity and “What are we willing to give up” to get it, and the importance of small schools. We then hear from last year’s case from Fort St. James Secondary School in SD91 (Nechako Lakes) and from this year’s case, McBride Secondary School in SD57 (Prince George).

The UNBC School of Education also presented “as a small school” to talk about the BEd Renewal of the Teacher Education Program. I was so happy that it was well received and that we got plenty of feedback from the Think Tank on how it can be that much better. I really appreciated it. We also heard from Leona Prince and Manu Madhok from SD91 about their school district initiatives and from Leyton Schellert from UBC about the Small School Think Tank in the Okanagan/Kootenays. But what I am still reflecting on is the whole design thinking process facilitated during the 2-days by Susan Crichton.

We started with “the case.” This year we focussed on McBride Secondary School. We listened to their story. We did some origami work with this piece of paper (as seen below) and used both sides as a tool to work and listen to our team. We went through the DESIGN THINKING process of (1) empathize, (2) define, (3) ideate, (4) prototype, and (5) test. What you see below is my ideation process. We listened to each other, in partners, as we talked about “the potential and promise” of McBride Secondary (empathizing). We wrote about the potential and promise of McBride Secondary (defining). We were then asked to design 4 metaphors of what we heard (ideating). From this, we switched partners and shared our ideas. From that, the two sets of pairs shared their best idea… and built a METAPHOR… we went from divergent to convergent.

This is our team’s (yellow happy face) maker space beauty… OUR METAPHOR for McBride Secondary School. There were 10 teams. Each team is given a “maker bag.” You have to use everything at least once in our metaphor. For example, if there are tongue depressors, you have to use at least one. There was a hot glue gun, glue stick, and scissors to help construct this beautiful beast. The staff of McBride Secondary School presented their CASE to the Think Tank delegates. It’s a small school with 56 students, an incredible outdoor space, and a community that supports. Our metaphor tried to capture these ideas… the heart on the land (love where you are)… mountains, lakes, and rivers (the environment as teacher)… student centred learning surrounded by community and staff (interconnected and held together by the fluidity and interwoven structures of policy and practice)… we are situated outside (learning doesn’t just happen in the school)… and the underpinning of this school is the community (aka. the clothespin).

We accomplished all this after the first day of two of the Northern Small School Think Tank. Admittedly. I was left hanging. I loved that we were able to bring our ideas together to harvest the BEST IDEAS in this co-creation… but now what? That was Day 2… the follow up. We had the night to digest and think about our learning experience and how we can help McBride Secondary take their next steps in their journey with their small secondary school. In the background, there is Susan (on both days) and Leyton (on day one) working behind the scenes gathering evidence from participants and identifying emerging themes and direction. By the end of the 2-days, the McBride Secondary School walked away with a MOUNTAIN OF GIFTS ranging from the design thinking papers (as seen above), poster papers, and index cards that carry pieces of information to help guide and support this school. Before the 2-days have ended, 3 more small schools have put their name forward to be THE NEXT CASE. That in itself was excellent feedback on the value of design thinking, collaboration, and the Northern Small School Think Tank.

Convocation 2019

Blog EXTRA – May 31, 2019 – UNBC Convocation

I’ve been to several convocations… 4 in fact… two at UBC and two at SFU. This is my first convocation ceremony at UNBC, my first convocation as faculty (not student), and my first time wearing my SFU EdD gown (in public… lol). The ceremony was absolutely incredible. I loved the induction of our new Chancellor Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell Sr. and presenting an LLD honorary degree to Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald. I wanted to hug Dr. Gosnell after he spoke at convocation but I had the opportunity to say hello to and shake hands with Dr. Archibald the day before at the Aboriginal Graduation Ceremony. SHE KNOW ME… from my involvement with the UBC Math K-12 Aboriginal Math Symposium. Wow!!! The little things that make my day. Did it help when I said that “I am fan”? Maybe. šŸ™‚

I feel very lucky to have been part of the university and part of the learning experience of our students from the UNBC School of Education – Teacher Education Program. They were noticeably the most enthusiastic crew when we were “doing the wave” around the circle before we entered the UNBC Northern Sports Centre. I was inspired by the process, rituals and tradition. Every university has its signature. I was proud to see my colleague Dr. John Sherry from the Counselling Department be honoured for EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING. He’s an excellent person and deserving candidate. In the end, the 2.5 hour ceremony went by very quickly and I appreciated having the opportunity to greet our BEd graduates after they crossed the stage being acknowledged for their accomplishments and success. It was a gorgeous day, as you can see. Reconnecting with former teacher candidates (aka. new teachers) was heartwarming and validating. TRANSFORMATION is not an easy process and it’s not suppose to be. Congratulations #UNBCgrad2019!!!

At The Beginning

Week 36 (of 38) – May 27 to 31, 2019

My kid turned 16 this week. It’s official… she’s on the road. I had the privilege to drive with her as a passenger in the backseat. This was her third time behind the wheel… and she got her first HONK from the driver behind her. For her Sweet 16, it was a pretty low key birthday and I am grateful. I am so proud of her for getting 98% on the exam, but I was also reminded that she is a beginner driver. YIKES! She was holding that steering wheel pretty tightly at 10 and 2. I think the only one not nervous in the car was the dog.

As much as I appreciated the family walk on the waterfront on my kid’s 16th birthday, I was reminded of “traditional expertise.” She is a beginner driver. A novice. She was nervous driving for the first time on the highway (with her parents in the car). There was a lot of information to consider and you had to perform LIVE. Consequences are REAL. And, quality of her performance was evident. I remember a course I took during my doctorate program and the visiting professor, Dr. David Berliner, said that he would never put his children into a novice teacher’s classroom versus and expert. I can see why.

Did we die in the car? Nope. I’m here writing my weekly blog of reflection. So, we’re good. Was my daughter fluent in her driving skills? Nope. It was somewhat mechanical and robotic. Was it terrible? Nope. Was it great? Nope. Does she have a lot to learn? Yup. Will deliberate practice help? Absolutely. Keep trying. Learn from your mistakes. Listen to experts. Try again. You will get better. She did amazing on the Learner’s Test and I know that she learned the content (in her own way) and practiced demonstrating her knowledge online such that she successfully walked away with her learner’s license.

Thank goodness for my kid. I say that everyday. She makes me a better person, a better teacher, and a better learner. My dissertation talked about “traditional expertise” and how do non-math specialist teachers learn the subject matter of math to teach math. For these out-of-field teachers, when they teach secondary mathematics, there is a high level of vulnerability, a high level of stress, and low to moderate performance. Over time, they can build their expertise and content knowledge with deliberate practice. You have to invest the time and effort to reflect, learn, and get better. Be patient and be kind (to yourself).

It was in my research. It’s the advice I would give my daughter. It’s the advice and words of wisdom I need to give myself. I started thinking about SELF-EFFICACY (one’s belief in one’s ability to produce a desired or intended result). Last week, I realized that I am a doctor!!! I know… I earned my credentials almost 2 years ago and I just believe it… now. Sounds strange, I know. It’s all over my social media feed that I’m “Dr. Christine Younghusband” but I never really internalized that about myself. This was my first year teaching full-time at a university and the first time away from my family. Although I do come to this position with an expertise in teaching secondary mathematics and developing expertise in research, I am new to teaching and leading in higher education.

I am at the beginning. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded at the university. I am happy to have people in my circle who I connect with and can learn from. I love the class I’m teaching online this spring (and it’s my first time teaching this graduate course and teaching online). I love learning with them and extending our expertise with practicing teachers engaged in higher education. It’s been really fun. I am so glad to have this spring session course. My students are awesome. But what I have learned in the last year is know my limitations, my abilities, and my capacity. As my friend would say, I always want to go from novice to expert in one step. Be patient. Be kind.

Rebuilding Comfort

Week 35 (of 38) – May 20 to 24, 2019

It’s been a month. It has taken time to restore who I am. Ever since returning home and staying here for longer than two days created a disruption. I was compelled to re-evaluate of who I am and who I want to be. As much as I enjoyed my pedagogical journey during the last school year, there was much uncertainty, muddiness, and negativity. It was tough to overcome, but would guess that it got the best of me. Returning home and being with my family brings me some comfort that cannot be replaced. I was forced to self-evaluate. I wanted CERTAINTY. I wanted some predictability, structure, and routine. For those who know me, this is not like me. I do appreciate frameworks and a clear direction, but would rather freedom, autonomy, and voice. I have that at home and work, but in two places.

Being in two places is something I need to wrestle with. If my intention is to pursue a career in higher education, then there is no university where I live except for a satellite location where postings for faculty are rare and specific. I just looked. One position is for a part-time Adult Basic Education Instructor in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics OR a lead administrative position as Regional Director working with the local First Nation. Neither are aligned to where I want to be. Moreover, I need time to build my experience and expertise as an academic. On the other hand, I could be located in a different province or different country. In many ways, I am glad to still be in BC, but I have to have another residence. A 4-hour commute to Vancouver or seaplane flight to Vancouver Island are not any better. In all circumstances, I am in two places. This is the Sunshine Coast dilemma.

To rebuild my comfort, I had many bowls of pho and meals at the Village Restaurant (as seen in the photo above) with my family. I have also enjoyed teaching my online course. This is the first time I have taught an asynchronous course. I am also happy that much of what my students wonder about are LEADERSHIP questions. We are half way through the course and I look forward to how this course will end. Ironically, having this course has kept me on track to refocus on what’s important to me. I am passionate about leadership in education and how leadership can enhance the teaching and learning experience. It’s been a slow climb back. I needed this time to reflect. I am lucky to have colleagues, friends, and family who inspire and support me where I am. Today, the story changed.

Change The Story

Week 34 (of 38) – May 13 to 17, 2019

Oh wow… back-to-back weekly blogs of learning… and I am so grateful for the power of writing. It’s my #OneWord2019: Writing. Although my intentions to WRITE is more directed towards research, publishing, and writing the book about my mom, I appreciate the blog platform. THIS IS FORMATIVE. It’s a way for me to reflect, self-assess, and learn… aka. Assessment As Learning. Since returning home to the Sunshine Coast, I’ve been struggling with deep sadness and desperately wanting to get out of it. This lack of willingness to be vulnerable and take risks is holding me back from doing my work. It’s a little frustrating (for everyone). After writing my last blog entry, I’ve realized that my number one priority… what I value and believe in… is my kid. I am kid centric. I would not admit to helicopter parenting, but I do admit to being a WET BLANKET. I just want to smother her (with my love and attention). And, I would do anything to be with her.

My next priority is my pedagogical journey… aka. MY CAREER. I’ve been a secondary math teacher, school trustee, educational consultant, sessional instructor, and assistant professor. I will have to admit, it’s pretty tough to let go of my OLD STORY. In fact, I am just holding onto it as if my career depended on it. In some ways, it does. My history made me who I am today. That said, holding onto what was is preventing me from exploring and engaging with what could be. After attending CAfLN19 and NOIIE2019, I realized a few things: (1) I’m at the beginning. I have so much to learn. I am not the expert. (2) There is work to do. I am super excited about the potential research opportunities. I want to jump in and consider ADAPTIVE EXPERTISE, formative assessment, and Spirals of Inquiry. (3) Networking is key. I have met so many new people and reconnected with those I already know in the field. I have MENTORS!!!

As much as I am recovering from a VULNERABILITY HANGOVER… and realizing that students, their learning, and their learning experiences are my priority (next to my daughter and her wellbeing)… I need to outweigh what is possible from what is or was. Even entering a new workplace, I had to understand the workplace culture and practices to understand what I see. Basically, you have to learn more about “the story.” As much as I thought I could separate myself from the story, you get trapped in the story. I become part of the story. That story exists, but I also have my own stories. I am always the last to know my potential because of my damn stories. As much as I want to see change in the field and in my workplace, I have to start with MYSELF. We are back to Dr. Helen Timperley’s pre-conference message at NOIIE2019. What do I believe? I started this blog with the title of “Create a Story” but revised it to CHANGE THE STORY. Change the story.

This was a great place to start… at the pier at Davis Bay on the Sunshine Coast walking with my daughter. I need to understand who I am. This may require DECLUTTERING… REBRANDING… and REDEFINING. I am in a new place and I am becoming more clear about what’s important to me and what I am motivated about, personally and professionally. Attending CAfLN19 and NOIIE2019 was a godsend. Even though I was not in the best state of mind… I have many friends and supportive colleagues around me. I am reminded of my love for FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT and how each of us will make a difference. I loved listening to Dr. Linda Kaser when she sat at my table for one of the discussion talks at NOIIE2019. She said that she will not give up until students know what they are learning, why they are learning it, and where they are going next. I love her persistence and resilience. There is work to do. I have no regrets. I am meant to be here.

Second Chance

Week 33 (of 38) – May 6 to 10, 2019

I am a week late in writing my weekly blog of learning… and truth, it was not because I was “too busy.” I am busy but I have not been doing much. I am in a state of SADNESS and I am unable to shake it. I feel very lucky to be a part of the CAfLN conference and reuniting with some of my colleagues at NOIIE2019. I had to leave the the NOIIE2019 early to rush home to bring my daughter to the hospital. She’s been sickĀ  since she’s come home from Florida. We went to the doctor when she first returned a couple of weeks ago and treated her with some penicillin with hopes of the inflamed area would cease after a one week of treatment. She got better, briefly… but she remained sick and missed a few days of school. I left for my second conference thinking that all would be well… but she persisted to tell me that it was getting worse. As much as my professional learning experience was lifting my spirit, I had to leave the conference early to help her.

As soon as I arrived at home from Richmond to the Sunshine Coast, I dropped off my bags and got back into my car to take my daughter to emergency. She was not looking good and had troubles talking. We walked into emergency and well… we walked right in. Got immediate service and before I knew it, she was attached to an IV, her vitals were taken along with a blood sample, and was immediately signed up for a CT scan. OK. This is bad. In fact, I’ve seen this before (with my mom). My job was to keep my kid company. She’s old enough not to have me there… but I look young enough that they thought I was her friend (and not her mom). My kid soon corrected that idea… reiterating the fact that I’M OLD. Looking back, my kid did a great job describing her condition (even though I think she down plays it a bit). We soon learn after the CT scan that she had a tonsil abscess. If we had waited any longer, her airway would have been completely blocked.

We were then armed with more antibiotics, steroids, and pain killers. We also went to Lions Gate Hospital the next morning to get her abscess drained by the Ear-Nose-Mouth doctor. The draining procedure was somewhat successful (and my kid would also say painful). We were then sent back to Sechelt Hospital for more antibiotics and steroids to be taken by intravenously for the next few days. In the meantime, I missed another conference I was presenting at, stepped down from one committee, and missed a meeting (I stepped down from that committee as well). My friend called it “decluttering”… I called it necessary. With my full attention on my daughter, nothing else mattered.

In my last blog entry, I claimed that was not given many (if any) second chances. I stand corrected. I was given a second chance with my kid and her wellbeing. I was given a second chance with my work. In fact, I am given many second chances, but it was my decision and responsibility for me to recognize the opportunity and to seize it. Sometimes I took the opportunity. Sometimes I didn’t . I am so grateful that my daughter is on the mend and her (almost sixteen year old) sassy self is alive and well. Dr. Helen Timperley from NOIIE2019 pre-conference (and I’m sure on Day 2 of the conference) talked about ADAPTIVE EXPERTISE and asked each of us WHAT ARE YOUR BELIEFS? What do I believe in? What do I value? She asked us to look inwards to self-assess what our beliefs are to understand ourselves and how we would behave in our practice. What do I value?

What I believe in and value is MY KID. That sounds completely crazy… but it’s true. I would drop anything to help her or be with her (even though she wants to be independent and autonomous). She has a high level of efficacy (more than me, for sure) and she has a better sense of herself (way more than me). I love her to bits. Looking back on my last 16 years with her… my BIG LIFE decisions had much to do with her (and she would hate that). My career is definitely second. This is part of my struggle. My kid aside, what I value the most and believe in wholeheartedly are MY STUDENTS. It didn’t matter if they were my high school math students or students in teacher education or graduate studies, their learning and learning experiences are my primary concern.

I have some core beliefs about student learning. I want them to be the agents of their learning. I want to use ongoing formative assessment strategies to support their learning. And, I want them to feel efficacious with what they are learning. In doing so, I am learning. If I am learning, I am vulnerable. When I am in a state of vulnerability and learning while I am doing, sometimes things don’t work out as planned. This is EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING. I am driven to challenge the status quo. Unfortunately, when it doesn’t work out and you are taking students on the ride with you on this pedagogical journey… it may not be received by those who are experiencing it. Negative feedback… it can be relentless and I am unforgiving (to myself). We are back to Dr. Brene Brown’s work with vulnerability and shame. I deeply internalize my mistakes such that it takes a lot time to get back up, to forgive myself, and to try again. I feel shame. It will be a long road. Brene calls this the VULNERABILITY HANGOVER. I hope to get over it soon.

Review Reflect Redo

Week 32 (of 38) – April 29 to May 3, 2019

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve returned home to the Sunshine Coast or if it was the tail end of a long semester, but I have been in a place of sadnessĀ that I have not been able to shake. Last week was filled with cognitive and emotional anguish and this week was consumed by sadness, hopelessness, and feeling down. This is not like me. I’m normally the extroverted optimist. Lately, all that I have been wanting to do is lay-low and disconnect. I know that I am a lot stronger than this but wonder if I reached a tipping point. Sadly, I’ve been here before, which tells me that I still have a lesson to learn.

This week, I signed up to attend some pretty awesome edu-events… such the viewing of Secret Path in North Vancouver, EDvent2019 in Burnaby, and CAfLN Pre-Conference touring schools in Delta/Richmond. I could not do it. Aside from all the things I had to do, I just didn’t have the will to attend and gave my tickets away. The joy I get is knowing that someone else enjoyed the learning experience. I went to the #CAfLN19 conference because… I was presenting. Thank you to those who attended my session. It was definitely the “B-side” of my pedagogical journey with Assessment for Learning.

I will admit, I am not myself. I am actually standing beside myself. Going to CAfLN (Canadian Assessment for Learning Network) 2019 Conference was a blessing in disguise. I got to reunite with my teaching partner, Deb, from UNBC… I met some pretty incredible people in teacher education… and, I reunited with many edu-folks face-to-face from my Professional Learning Network (PLN). How can you not be lifted up? Furthermore, it was great to briefly chat with Lorna Earl, Ken O’Connor, Damien Cooper, Judy Halbert, and Linda Kaiser. You can’t ask for anything more? Oh wait, there was more. The students.

There was a student panel from School District No. 37 (Delta) who opened and closed the CAfLN19 Conference. They were talking about assessment. It was AMAZING. Truth telling, really. And this reminded my of my why for many years when I taught high school mathematics where I had embedded Assessment for Learning principles into my pedagogy so that we could focus on learning… and not the grade (even though the achieving a final grade was the summative EVENT, shall I say, of our learning experience). They were passionate and articulate. I resonated with their message and myth busting.

The Grade 10-12 students presented a model for learning: REVIEW, REFLECT, and REDO. They called it their “3 R’s.” I would also suspect that the cycle would begin with DO… then review, reflect, and redo. They left the conference delegates with this question. “Would you be here today, if you hadn’t been given a second chance?” Since the conference, I’ve been thinking about this question and their model for learning. Although I believe I implemented AFL well with my Math 8-12 students… and trying to implement with my teacher candidates… I don’t often give myself the opportunity for a second chance.

Let me clarify… I do believe in making mistakes, learning from mistakes, and having the opportunity to try again (if permitted or expected). That’s how people learn… me included. It’s situations where I do not believe a second chance is possible. Is this the time to be resilient and persistent? To what end? Can I go back? Am I suppose to go back? Do I want to go back? It’s not that I’m not able. I am. However, I think back to similar situations in my career and life where I made a big decision and family (and my self-care) was part of the equation. What if there was a second chance? Take it?

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