Feeling Vulnerable

Week 30 (of 38) – April 15 to 18, 2019

I’m a linear sequential thinker… YAY ME!!! Back to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator… I am an ESTJ. While working on my dissertation, I was leaning towards being ENTP… but now I’m back to ESTJ, as an educator… just like I was when I was teaching secondary mathematics 10-years ago. One thing at a time… and I have to be OK with that. Knowing this, I can only handle one thing at a time. It’s OK, but when I am working on one thing… EVERYTHING ELSE HAS TO STOP. I can’t even imagine right now having research on the side of my desk… I have reviewed a couple master degree projects, contributed to the renewed BEd/MEd program committees, and marked a pile papers to conclude this term.

Talk about feeling vulnerable. I have to get back on track. I’m not sure how people multi-task. When I try, it’s a lot of things happening at the same time, but nothing is getting done. On the other hand, when I am doing one thing at a time, a lot of other things are not getting done. Hello Spring/Summer Term!!! I have an online course to prep for and teach in May/June, I need to catch up on work for Open Schools BC and the FNESC Math Teacher Resource Guide, and I have lined myself up for some professional learning activities to participate in and present for. I’m only capturing the next big things on my things to do such as reading, writing, and editing… committee work… and well, planning for the fall. Woohoo. I hate not getting things done. Talk about feeling vulnerable…

Last night I was at Science World learning from a master teacher about coding. That was the most engaging workshop I’ve attended as learner and my first time learning about Coding in K-12. We were working with Micro:bits. We just scraped the surface of this contraption and my mind was blown. I thought about how much I didn’t know, what learning really feels like, and where coding can go if fully embraced. I was overwhelmed. I was learning something way out of my comfort zone and I just wanted to quit. Reforming education is massive and I know it takes one step a time, patience, and resilience. There is so much to do. Thank goodness for Carrie, the facilitator, for connecting tonight’s learning to the Core Competencies. “I can celebrate my personal successes and achievement.” It was one step at a time and thank goodness for collaboration and excellent facilitation and expertise. It was a fun learning experience.

I needed that. That was a humbling experience. Learning requires vulnerability from the student and teacher. I really enjoyed the planning, engagement, and relevance of the workshop. I had to be vulnerable to take in what I have learned and remain curious to what I would like to learn next. I want to learn more about ADST, computational thinking, and coding and how all of this connects to pedagogy, student engagement, and BC’s New Curriculum. Thank you Carrie and Science World for the workshop. Thank you for reminding me what it means to feel vulnerable and how we need to develop our Core Competencies to be resilient, persistent, and playful with our learning experiences. 🙂


It Will Never End

Week 29 (of 38) – April 8 to 13, 2019

Thank you George Couros for posting this today on Instagram. Needed it. Soon after last week and ending the term with the Celebration of Learning on April 5th, it was marking time. The way I designed the course was to have students engage in the course content with ongoing reflections and writing throughout the 13-week course, partake in 4-iterations with a case study to see how their thinking was evolving over time as they acquired professional knowledge over time, and conclude the course with their own case study and analysis. Conceptually, it sounds great. Reality, it was a lot to read. Much of what we worked on was formative. The final case study and fourth iteration a was summative. A long story made short, the story continues. I spent a week reading through student work, but realizing that “holistic” grading (which is aligned to my pedagogy) is not aligned to the grading process that we all know (and love… I suppose). Count every mark. I’ll admit, every counts but not everything counts. What kind of change am I expecting as an instructor. I want to focus on learning… but the demonstration of learning varies in quality… and how do you “count” that? I will continue to wrestle with my ethical dilemma. What’s more important? Student achievement or student learning? Sadly, they are not equal.



Week 28 (of 38) – April 1 to 5, 2019

It’s been a hectic 3-weeks and now I am attempting to catch up with my weekly blogs of learning. When put into situations that may be perceived difficult, challenging, or almost impossible… there is something to learn about yourself. This week was the last week of classes for the winter term. This was the calm before the storm. What do I mean by this? See next week’s blog (Week 29). I was planning and facilitating a summative event for all teacher candidates, staff, and faculty for April 5th… A Celebration of Learning.

Although this program has concluded with similar events, I wanted to celebrate their achievements from practicum and second year teacher candidates share what  have learned with our first year teacher candidates and faculty (aka. BC Teacher Standards 7 and 8). It was an opportunity contribute back to the profession but also learn from each other. I am very thankful for those who helped me along the way and during the event. I could not have done this alone. You name it, people helped out. For that, I was very grateful. It was intended to be a fun day… summative… and celebratory. Nothing is perfect… particularly when it’s your first time. As great as the event was, it was also met with some resistance, apprehension, and unanticipated obstacles. This was the work.

You don’t realize how interconnected we really are until you have a summative event like this. Everyone had to be on board to make this event successful. I definitely earned my keep as the EDUC 491 Instructor. The second year teacher candidates followed through and I really appreciated what they had presented. The first year teacher candidates recorded key ideas from each presentation to goal set for next year. And faculty provided feedback for each second year teacher candidate and presented them with a certificate and pin to day congratulations and goodbye. We had a first year teacher candidate to acknowledge the unceded territory, we had door prizes, and staff honoured one of our colleagues. Overall, the event went well, but I walked away with mixed feelings.

It’s been a challenging year for many reasons. I was happy for our second year teacher candidates for completing their program and I am excited for the first year teacher candidates to return back to the university to complete their transformation to induct themselves into the teaching profession as well. It’s been a hectic year with learning a new position, building relationships, and learning how to teach in higher education in my new role as assistant professor. I am happy to be learning, but it’s also stressful at times. Much of what I am faced with is out of my control. After the event, I was on a plane to Toronto with my siblings. Not the best timing, but we planned this a few months ago.

Unfortunately, we landed in Winnipeg because someone on the plane was found non-responsive and it was an emergency landing. The flight crew and passengers who were doctors and nurses gathered together to save this man’s life. You can see policies in action, liability prevention, and professional responsibilities. It was leadership at it’s finest (even though it was a less than ideal situation). Perspective. As difficult as life seems to be, nothing seems to compare to fighting for your own life. Everything else is extraneous. Do the best that you can and celebrate the small victories. Enjoy and appreciate the little things. Congratulations second year teacher candidates. Happy teaching and learning.

Challenge Yourself

Week 27 (of 38) – March 25 to 29, 2019

Learning comes in different forms and our job is to pay attention. This week was filled with subtle and not so subtle moments that nudged me to step out of my box… or at least consider it. I wondered what my “weekly blog of learning” would be about this week. My week entailed having my little family visiting me in Prince George for a few days, reuniting with my colleagues on campus, listening to news that took some time to synthesize, and immersing myself in a field of cows on a farm outside of Quesnel.

Learning is not meant to be easy. It’s not something that you just do… but it’s something that transforms you. I never understood that for a long time. For years I thought that “learning” was about getting grades, getting degrees, and getting promoted. I could not be more wrong… and I had to learn that. It was a tough lesson to learn and it was only myself that held myself back from that truth. Thank goodness for teachers, mentors, and good friends who are willing to tell you the truth to guide your thinking. I am so lucky.

It was during my doctorate when my supervisor said to me… “you wouldn’t be in this program if you didn’t expect to change?” I never expected to change, but I did. I’m sure that I have transformed many times during my lifetime up until my doctorate but I never acknowledged those changes until that moment with my supervisor. I was overwhelmed when he said that to me and somewhat bewildered as well. It took me some time to understand my why for completing my doctorate and those reasons changed from when I started the program to when I finally ended it. They changed because I changed.

This week, I learned that I love my family very deeply and being apart from them is challenging. Ironically, this separation is keeping us together. I have more gratitude and I appreciate my little family. I am also grateful for my colleagues on campus. I work with an incredible bunch of people at the university. It’s amazing what these people do and I was so happy to reconnect with them. They lift me up. Yet, there were moments this week that made me wonder about what educational reform and the leadership required to create change. Things to consider for research. Finally, my friend from Quesnel is a cattle rancher. Her gentle ways got me out of my comfort zone to be on the farm, wake up at 2 am to check the cows and their calves, and drive a quad. Although I did not ride a horse, I loved the experience. It’s something that I would have never done or understood.

What I learned this week is, learning takes time and patience. Notice. Be grateful. Change is happening. Learning is not about getting stuff done or jumping hoops, even though it may feel like that sometimes. And when it does, take a moment to question what you are learning at that moment and what you are suppose to learn. Learning can be frightening or a subtle experience so make the effort to reflect, wonder, and acknowledge change.

Turning A Corner

Week 26 (of 38) – March 18 to 22, 2019

Can you believe that I am reflecting on my week EARLY? It’s really unheard of. I had full intentions of catching up on my marking… finally, but the server is down. How does that happen? Is this karma? I’m not sure, but I thought I should take the opportunity to catch up on other things. It’s so amazing how many things on my “things to do” for work accumulate and EVERYTHING is pressing. As a result, many things get put on the back burner and continues to accumulate. Admittedly, I am finding it a bit frustrating looking at my social media to see that EVERYONE is in Hawaii. Welcome to the 2-week spring break in BC. I’m very happy for my colleagues in the K-12 system who can take the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate. This time is needed by all educators. I guess I had my time in weeks prior when my students were on practicum. It was a break from teaching but I continued to work. Now I’m back on campus teaching and still catching up on work.

I am feeling good now and turned a corner. Thank goodness for the first day of spring on March 20th. That might have been my TSN Turning Point this week. I’ll admit, I was feeling down this week. It was really tough to get myself out of that mindset. I think I spent one evening watching as many American Idol clips as I could with hopes of lifting my spirits. Sounds strange, I know. I am just so lucky to have colleagues I can reach out to who have my back. It’s absolutely amazing to me knowing that I have a team of colleagues standing beside me. I feel very privileged. Moreover, the students I work with lifted my spirits. One by one, each student I interacted with on campus this week brought me hope. I loved having the spontaneous conversations in the hallway, at my office, or in the classroom. All of these conversations are unsolicited and I get to be a part of their learning journey. This brings me incredible joy. I could feel myself turning the corner and I am so grateful. It’s these “little things” that become A BIG THING. Thank you. 🙂

Staying Grounded

Week 25 (of 38) – March 11 to 15, 2019

Catching up on weekly blogs of learning is saying something. I need to take every opportunity to get organized and get things done. ONE THING AT A TIME. That’s the beauty of being an educator… you spend massive amounts of time (or at least you should) reflecting on self and practice to understand who you are, your strengths, and places where you can do things better. What I have learned and learned over again is, I am a UNI-TASKER. It’s really one thing at a time. I’m OK with that, but I’ve got to get things done. It’s almost impossible to get things done when there are many different things happening at the same time that want equal attention and you have to prioritize. Welcome to life, I suppose. What I resent (a bit) is that getting organized TAKES TIME.

Also grounding myself… takes time. After a few days being at home, I am back to Prince George to do my job. I don’t live with my family when I’m in Prince George. They stay on the Sunshine Coast. I love how people ask… “Do you live in Prince George? Is your family moving to Prince George? Are you planning to move from the Sunshine Coast?”… along those lines. You can hear the assumption… we are heading to Prince George. I would like to say NADA. That’s not the case. My response is: “I live in two places.” That’s it. I do live in two places. I live on the Sunshine Coast and Prince George. One place is where my family lives and my house is. The other place is where I work and I have an apartment. I find myself resisting calling Prince George my home, but it is. They are both my homes.

I have to get back to the Sunshine Coast every two to three weeks to get grounded. I love walking along the ocean, being home with my family, and reconnect with friends. It’s absolutely amazing. It makes me appreciate what I have on the Sunshine Coast. I love listening to the waves of the ocean, breathing in the sea air, and feeling the warmth of the sun. It helps me to appreciate MY PLACE. Where I am from is part of my identity… of who I am. Returning this week reminded me that THIS IS MY HOME. I am from the Sunshine Coast. I don’t have intentions of leaving. We are almost finished our mortgage, my kid has 2 more years of high school, and my husband’s career can continue and thrive on the Sunshine Coast. I’m not leaving. That said, it was time to get back to Prince George… to get work done, to reconnect with my colleagues, and support my students as they return back from practicum. I feel grounded here, but in a different way.

It’s clear that the central interior is NOT my place… but I am learning. That’s all I can ask for. I saw a moose (well part of one behind trees) the other day, I am acquiring a larger footwear and jacket collection, and I am learning what it means to be an educator (and researcher) in higher education. There is a tonne on my plate and I am learning what it means to be “productive” in my new position. It is very different from working in K-12. In many ways, the deadlines are set by self. I am the creator of my work, production, and success. It’s very much like being an edu-preneur. Nonetheless, I am learning and I have to feel grounded in my work and my place. In the end, I feel very lucky to have people in both places who are my family, friends, and colleagues. It’s absolutely amazing!!!

Creativity is Messy

Week 24 (of 38) – March 4 to 8, 2019

This week begins and ends off campus. I started the week in Vancouver… I went back home to Sechelt for a day… flew to Victoria… then back to Vancouver… meeting in Richmond… and back home to Sechelt for a few days. Hmm… I guess I travel a bit. Teacher candidates are on practicum, thus classes are not in session. This was an excellent time for me to explore and pursue some of my professional learning and contribution. I started and ended the week working with FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) and midweek at the BC Ministry of Education Open Schools (OSBC). In both opportunities, I am working on creating math resources for teachers: revising the Math Teacher Resource Guide (TRG) with FNESC and creating math videos for OSBC.

The first meeting with FNESC was working with a focus group who provided feedback on the initial draft of revisions of the TRG and the second meeting was reconnecting with the writing team to review this feedback. That was a learning experience. First, I love our writing team and the people I work with. The work is challenging and I am learning so much. Listening to the focus group was challenging at times because they are critiquing your work. The brighter side is, I learned that the field is ready for more authentic Indigenous Education in mathematics. I loved that. A great take-away which lent itself to my other work at OSBC. With much discussion with math educators from around the province, we decided to produce 5 videos: four of which will represent the 4 curricular competencies categories in mathematics BC curriculum and one and and with an Indigenous Education focus. Although 4 of the videos will have an Indigenous component, we decided to have one video that puts Indigenous Education at the front of the learning and math is embedded. Guess which group I’m a part of and spearheaded for? I love that we are doing both approaches of embedding Indigenous Education and mathematics.

I love my team too… Max and Jared. All three of us are non-Indigenous but want to model for the field the learning process it takes to learn about our local Indigenous community and how we can embed this into our teaching of mathematics in light of BC’s Curriculum. WE ARE THE LEARNERS. I love how our motto is: We don’t know, but we will learn and try. We are scared to do this in many ways but really excited as well. LOOK AT OUR THINKING. I love this… a white wash WALL. I need one of these. But what we did was brainstormed a bunch of ideas around a framework focussed on Bentwood Box. To date, we have been doing our local homework. How would this lesson activity apply to non-coastal Indigenous Communities and how can Teacher Candidates be part of the learning process. We aren’t the experts but we are making connections to those who are… local to our communities. We are not the knowledge keepers. We are the math educators and we want to learn about our local Indigenous communities, urban and rural.

I love this kind of work. Teaching, learning, creating, leading, sense-making, exploring, connecting, problem solving, communicating, personalizing, imagining, and co-developing. I am a part of two incredible learning teams with FNESC and OSBC. It’s in these opportunities I see myself growing as a learner and educator. The work is not easy and we often have dispel what we think we know to learn something new. I am learning. The content I get to learn with the FNESC writing team is invaluable. The material we are creating with the OSBC team is inspirational. I get overwhelmed with gratitude (and humbled) when I am reminded in situations like this of where I came from and where I am going. Although I am an Assistant Professor at a university and involved in teacher education and graduate studies, I am a secondary mathematics educator. I was a math teacher. I am a math teacher. I am supporting math teachers. I feel very grateful.

An Interesting Week

Week 23 (of 38) – February 25 to March 1, 2019

On Thursday, I flew out of Prince George to Vancouver, then to the Sunshine Coast. All I can say is, this has been an interesting week. I know that I am trying to keep this as a professional blog, but sometimes life’s events do influence the work that you do. As much as we want to keep the professional face on, things that are extraordinary within the ordinary do side swipe you from what you want to achieve and be. I have to keep this weekly blog short. What have I learned this week? Sometimes it’s ok to “lay low.” This would be one of those times. My students are out on practicum, I have a tonne of marking, forms to fill, and well… I’ve got work to do. Of course, some things take priority and it’s not in my control. That’s ok. I’ve just got to make it a priority. This week started with me taking the time to get organized. That takes time… and I didn’t have the time to tend to that due to other work that was pressing. I can see this is how life in higher education and teacher education will be. I’m just finding my rhythm. All I can do is one thing at a time. What I know for sure is, I’m not a multitasker. I’m a solid unitasker. I can only do one thing at a time. OWN IT and I’m ok with it. My mind is a bit preoccupied as well. My mom passed one year ago on February 28, 2018. It took me some time to process and grieve. I still intend to write about my mom and her last 20 days. I just acquired the text messages (aka. data) from February 2018 to remember the sequence of events and the conversations we had with one another. Thank goodness for texting at the time to stay connected and thank goodness for texting for data collection. That’s me putting the researcher lens on this situation. I was worried that I left it too late but I found the data on my desktop messages. Finally, the week concludes with my dad’s wedding on Sunday. I have no words except I feel lucky that I was in the Lower Mainland at the time for work. I am slowly but surely getting things done, but also I have to remember to be kind to myself. You can’t give what you don’t have. I need to find ways to fill my cup. I’m so glad to be working with FNESC and the Ministry of Education this coming week. Math and math education has served me well. I will never forget where I came from. I am a math educator… now teacher educator and researcher. Life is good.

Meta Learning

Week 22 (of 38) – February 18-22, 2019

I went to my first WestCAST conference in Calgary, AB this week. It’s a conference composed of teacher educators and teacher candidates. I went with my colleague, Deb Koehn, from UNBC and we co-presented one session on “peer-oriented triads” during practicum as we frantically wrote a draft paper a few days prior for the conference. We hope to publish and continue on with our action research with our teacher candidates to find ways to enhance and deepen their learning during practicum in connection to their coursework at the university. We presented at the end of the day of the first day of the conference. I wasn’t expecting too many people to be present because it was 4pm, but we had a full room and our presentation tied so nicely to the one before us. They were talking about teacher authenticity and the relationship between the teacher candidates and coaching teacher. We were talking about giving a framework and autonomy to our teacher candidates during practicum so that they can find their voice and teacher identity, collectively and collaboratively. We were surprised by the support for our work in addition to the beautiful marriage of our presentation with the previous. Very encouraging.

We also presented in another session where we collaborated with instructors from VIU, UBC, and WKTEP in a metissage. We each contributed to the presentation by writing a 100-300 word excerpt on “self, place, and community” in teacher education. We submitted our thoughts and two of the team members took what was submitted, cut them into smaller passages, and then reconstructed the multiple entries into a singular coherent passage about “self, place, and community” in teacher education. We were telling a story. At the presentation, we each read out our part of the passage as we were individually situated in different places in the room. So what you experience are voices from all directions of the room telling the story of “self, place, and community” in teacher education. The metissage was a metaphor (or vice versa) of the Metis sash and how our stories were interwoven to create one. I loved the experience and equal contribution. I enjoyed listening to the composition as a whole and I appreciated how all of our diverse points of view could make an insightful and unique story. We talked about identity, transformation, and how we are influenced by others and where we are from. Writing my 300 words was very satisfying, but the cohesion of our collective voices was gratifying.

Three other teacher candidates from UNBC presented at WestCAST 2019 as well. Two candidates are in second year (their last year) of the secondary education cohort and finishing off their final practicum. One teacher candidate is in the first year elementary education cohort and just about to start his first 3-week practicum. The pair from the secondary education presented in the morning of the first day of the conference on place-based learning and eloquently expressed their passion, their practicum/teaching practice, and connection to community and self. They cited BC’s New Curriculum and beautifully made connections to their practice and interests by showing examples of how others could embed placed-based learning into their classrooms. Moreover, I really appreciated how they got us to acknowledge the territory by imagining a place that we love and adore. The first year teacher candidate presented in the last concurrent session on the second day of the conference about mindfulness and meditation. Again, he made connections to BC’s New Curriculum and First Peoples Principles of Learning. He described what he valued as a teacher and learner and got us to do several activities during his session such that we went outside twice!!! Furthermore, this teacher candidate had the with-it-ness to overcome technical difficulties, being in a basement, and having an unusual room set-up for his session. He was very natural and confident. It was amazing to see our teacher candidates present at WestCAST 2019. We are very proud.

What was great about going to a conference with your Teacher Candidates is that we are all going to the conference as presenters and learners. We were equals. EDUCATORS. The best part of this conference was that I could really see THE TEACHER in each of our candidates. Amazing!!! I look forward to attending WestCAST2020 in Vancouver, BC.

One More Year

Week 21 (of 38) – February 11-15, 2019

As the dust begins to settle and we approach reading week (so that I can catch up with my work), I made the executive decision with my little family to sign another one year contract with the university. It wasn’t a difficult decision. Although I am living away from my little family and enduring winter weather I have never experienced before, I am enjoying the work at the university. I am meeting a lot of great people (i.e. students, faculty, and K-12 practitioners), I am honing my craft, and I am learning a tonne about teacher education and leadership. I really enjoy working with the students and being a part of Education Club in addition to contributing to the university and school as a member of the BEd and MEd Program Renewal Committees. As I learn how to become an academic while staying very close to the K-12 system, I am gifted with unsolicited help from colleagues and opportunities that I would not normally be a part of if I was in K-12.

You just don’t know what you don’t know unless you try. This is a longstanding mantra for me. I often would give this advice to others, but it certainly applies to me. You can guess… you can hypothesize… you can anticipate and make predictions. But truth? Who really knows, unless you try? I guess you could call this a “growth mindset” or “experiential learning” but for me, it’s an opportunity for me to learn, test my boundaries, and determine what I am capable of. This is pretty exciting. The more I learn, the more questions I have. This the BEST place to be. Be CURIOUS, WONDER, and CREATE. I’m pretty sure that my very first school principal, Bev Terry, could easily tell me my potential from when she first met me in 1994. I never asked and I’m still figuring this out. Self-assessing one’s self-efficacy is challenging, but I’m enjoying the journey. JUMP and take risks. I am so lucky to teach, learn, and lead at UNBC. Looking forward to another year.