pandemic reflections

New Phone, Locked Out

The first photo I took with my new phone.

Week 92 – December 20, 2021 – Password Deficient

Yes. I am blogging on my phone and so grateful it works here. I’m locked out of my account on my laptop. For “security reasons” I installed a two-step Authenticator and lost connection when I got my new phone. This is what I fear most about changing phones. That’s probably why I held onto my iPhone7 for so long. I hated the idea of losing stuff. Now that I’ve learned more about the two-step Authenticator, I’m pretty sure I set it up wrong with no back up. I do recall having the base codes and printed them but who know where it is. I have no idea. Until I can figure things out, I guess I will be blogging from my phone.

Might be a good thing to be working from my phone. Now I don’t have too over-obsess with formatting, which I often do. I can just write what’s on my mind and hope that autofill does not use words I never intend (like it does when I’m texting). I’ve been anticipating this blog post as I wanted to celebrate. Actually, it’s been a roller coaster and not being able to access my blog through my laptop is an excellent metaphor as to how things are going. Things are going but certainly there are obstacles.

I will say that it has been a week of learning. Real life learning that can only be accomplished experientially. I am personally and professionally challenged while I may be challenging others in the meantime. I am learning what’s important to me and when it’s at risk, it’s heart wrenching and emotionally draining. It makes me question and wonder why certain things matter to me. But what I am realizing is my value and to value myself.

Hence the phone… I always put myself second or third in the list of priorities. Sometimes I’m lady and don’t have a good sense of self. Getting a new phone (and finalizing some personal stuff) is to honour who I am as a person. I have strengths and areas of growth. I was also proud of myself to take the weekend off (even though I was a bit overwhelmed with what the week holds for me before Christmas).

I am grateful I can text from my phone as I am grateful for the people who support me, personally and professionally. Take one step at a time, be present, and notice the little things are parts of my mantra. it’s finding the joy in the little things and sometimes to feel joy, there’s a little pain or anxiety. You can’t numb the pain or deny my strengths or limitations. With any ups or downs, I am still ok. ☺️

I’m enjoying blogging from my phone. It might lead to shorter blog posts but it also lends itself to more free writing. I am looking forward to Christmas. Laying low. And avoiding COVID at all costs. There might be more #patiopics as I continue to hibernate in my apartment with my kid. We are so lucky to be together and I have nothing to complain about. Life is good.

Life Starts Today

Week 91 – December 12, 2021 – I am enough

I cannot believe that we are in the middle of December, it’s marking weekend to get the term over, and we are heading into a new year in a couple of weeks. I am not sure where the year (or time) has gone, but I have learned a lot about myself, what’s important to me, and where I need to go next. It’s been a turbulent year, like 2020 and 2019. Oh wait… let’s not exclude 2018. Maybe this change process would have been less rocky had I not been resistant or doubtful of the process and in my abilities.

I love that I have returned back to curling. It’s my childhood sport. I played in the provincials and won one and runner up in another. I loved being on the ice. I played a bit during university and into my adulthood. I wanted to play competitively once and commuted from the Sunshine Coast to New Westminster, but got pregnant and stopped. Gosh… I loved playing in bonspiels and winning a lamp or car battery (LOL), but what I loved more were the people, community, and the lessons learned.

Here is a beautiful example. Look a the photo above. It came from the last end. It was our opponent calling the last shot. My team was yellow. The game was tied and we had to steal to win the game. The house was looking very good for us and the opponent had to make a pretty spectacular shot to take one. They had one sweeper and the skip made a pretty good shot and we ended up stealing one to win the game. It was a super close game, in the end. But during the game, it was a gong show.

In the first end, none of us made a shot. The other team stole 2-points. We then took 3-points in the second end, but they took 3-points too in the third, then two points, then one. We were down by 4-points in the 5th end. This was not looking good for us and we did not have the momentum we needed to get our game together. We were taking ourselves too seriously for Friday Fun League. A few words with the skip (I’m the third) and we shifted our game. We took 3 in the 6th and stole one in the 7th.

We started to joke around in the 6th end. “Were the one shot wonders.” And, we would say… “that’s the end of the game, we made our one shot.” Then, we rebranded to the “Two-shot wonders” in the 7th end. I love joking around with the skip, but have fun with the team. We started to get our groove by the 8th end to leave us with 4 rocks in the house with several guards. We did the best we could do. It was one shot at a time, we set up the end well to steal, and we had no control of the outcome.

Although we stole one point versus four, we still won the game. That’s all that mattered. We won. That’s the whole point of playing any sport, but what was more important to me was having fun, connection, and the flow of our team. We gelled by the end of the game and the end result provides a summative and formative feedback on how we were doing. I am so glad that we were able to shift our mindset mid-game to be the “Two Shot Wonders.” I love that we are able to laugh and play.

What did I learn from this curling game? I’m in the 5th end and heading into the 6th. Change my mindset to change the trajectory of my pedagogy journey but also enjoy the process. Don’t take myself so seriously, but find times to  laugh and play along the way. It’s ok to have fun. Trust the outcome. When we shifted our mindsets in the game, we focused more on each shot and present situation versus the outcome and dwelling on the past. It’s great when my skip threw two guards as his last rocks.

Life begins today. I need to live for me and embrace next steps to make things happen. I’m not going to dwell on the  past or focus on any outcome or expectation. I know what I am working towards, but it’s more about taking one step at a time and take joy in all that I am doing, what I am learning, and who I am meeting. I love the lessons I’ve learned because I curl. Today’s learning was about parking the ego, focussing on the present, and being patient. Thankful for my team. I can do this.

Underestimated and Overestimated

Week 90 – December 4, 2021 – Catching Up, Slowing Down

Who would have thought? Three weeks… gone… just like that. Time is passing by so fast and I am not slowing  down to take the time to reflect. I am also not taking the time for me… to be a person… for self-care and mental wellness. COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon. I committed to a weekly blog from the start of the pandemic and we are into Week 90 with a new variant, Omicron, on the horizon.

I feel overtired and overworked that I’ve lost all sight of what’s important (or at least, what’s important to me). I am doing everything and nothing is getting done. It’s frustrating and disheartening. As of Friday, I surrendered to what was. I could not sustain what I doing anymore. I had to say NO, concede, and rest. I was not my best self and did not sleep the night before. This way of being is not sustainable.

Here I am thinking that I can write 3-blog posts in one to catch up on what’s missed. It’s already tomorrow. I’ve been wanting and waiting to write and reflect, but set conditions on myself that holds me back from what I love to do. I’m not sure why I do that and honestly, it’s not serving me. I missed out on school visits and connecting with Teacher Candidates, but also enjoying what brings me joy and happiness.

Friday morning was a very low moment for me and I took the day to rest (with a few emails and phone calls). In the second half of the day, I experienced what made me happy… CONNECTION. I need to be connected to people again. The afternoon started with short visit from a former teacher candidate who was dropping off a poinsettia to me as part of a fundraiser. It felt so good to reconnect with her and catch up.

My friend and colleague is moving to Ontario at the end of the month. He got a new position at another university and I was invited to his farewell party hosted by his department. I felt so blessed to to have the opportunity to laugh and reconnect up with him and meet some of his friends and colleagues. I love this person. We can’t stop laughing. Such a good person. We shared appies and dinner. It was too much fun.

The day concluded with a Friday night curling game. What can I say? I LOVE CURLING. I am so happy to return to the sport and so happy that we won that game. 9-2. I felt that my “curling muscles” are coming back, slowly but surely, but I love playing with my team and the positive vibes we share with each other. Fist pumping, high fiving. I just love that. I’m so in the present and joyful connecting with others on the ice.

I need to feel connected again. I needed to feel happy and energized. I love people. I love learning. I’m also realizing that this blog will be SUPER LONG because I intended to write 3 short ones, but I am so grateful to be returning back to my reflective practice and blogging is integral to my practice. Do I need to reassess my goals and what’s important to me? ABSOLUTELY. I am so grateful for Friday night. Thank you.

Week 89 – November 27, 2021 – Unrealistic Expectations

This is a meta moment. I underestimated how much I wanted to write and the time required to catch up and overestimated my abilities and expectations to get things done. I just want to do EVERYTHING within the constraints I am given, but I am realizing time is a commodity I could use more of. And if I had the time, where do I want to spend it? I feel that I am brought the same question, “What’s really important to me?” I know that my students are important to me and ensuring their success.

I love being on the committees I’m a part of and I love innovating in practicum and the B.Ed. Program. What I am struggling with is the writing and research… and finding the time to do it. My contract is 80/20, but doing research is key for me to move forward in higher education. I’m not sure if this is possible. I have a few projects on the go, but many are not reaching to any closure and honestly, could be in jeopardy. I might be overdramatic, which may be true, but I just don’t know what to expect.

Finding my voice is key, but also finding the time and prioritizing it. I tried. I parked everything to get some writing done, which took way longer than expected. I learned a lot from the process, but in the end, there were several situations during practicum I needed to attend to. Responding to the urgency of the now is unpredictable and can be very time consuming. Although it’s time well spent, it’s also  at the expense of some of my priorities. Making concessions is disappointing, but seems inevitable.

I am left wondering, while feeling humbled and somewhat defeated. I can see that higher education requires a focus and determination that I am learning more about. I need to be more patient with myself and more kind. I need to be more intentional and strategic, such that I will schedule times to pause and rest too. This week has been an excellent learning experience and I see the value of getting a tenure-track position that has a 40-40-20 framework that values one’s time to do research.

Week 88 – November 20, 2021 – Learning Experientially

I am doing my best to have a career in academia with an 80/20 contract. My focus is teaching and service, but I need to engage in research if I have any aspirations to get a tenure-track position. That said, here I am taking the time to catch up on my blog posts (3-weeks later). Honestly, what’s really important to me? I love my kid. I love to curl. I love people. I love learning. What else? I love my reflective practice. I love connection. I love enacting change. I love wrestling with ideas. I love shopping???

I don’t know. What I do know is, learning is humbling and I am in 100% of how I respond to anything. I have people who want to support me, but I have to support myself. As much as I am learning more about what it means to be in higher education (transitioning SLOWLY from K-12), I am also learning more about myself. I think that’s the biggest challenge. As much as I want to connect with others, I need to (re)connect with myself. Gosh I love the writing process and how it can bring some clarity.

This is a good place to end on this 3-week blog catch up and take time to rest. 🙂

Just for Me

Week 87 – November 13, 2021 – Understanding My Agency

This is a strange journey indeed. I spend a lot of time helping others in my work to understand their agency. Now the tables have turned and I need to understand my agency and why it’s important. I feel that I have turned corner in life and having to make decisions for myself. I am not driven by external forces, although they are giving me plenty of formative feedback. It’s my turn and this is a new place for me. Making choices for me. Thinking about what would benefit me. Wondering about what would be best for me, personally and professionally. Admittedly, this way of being is new territory for me and what I am understanding is, I have to embrace my agency, develop me sense of self efficacy, and honour my strengths and research.

I feel like THAT math student. “I can’t do this.” “I’m not good at math.” “I don’t get any of it.” Classic comments from a student with low math efficacy, lack of self confidence, and too scared to ask a question. Gosh. I remember one student in my Math 11 class. He was a force, a large person, and influential amongst his peers. He started the term strong because he relied on his natural talent. He was a very smart but the content is not so intuitive. His grades quickly plummeted. In class, he was “not very nice” and he refused to do any homework. I’ll admit, I was scared of this student. He used intimidation to protect himself. The strategy was effective. One day, he came into my class during lunch tutorial asking for help but saying the same quotations as above.

I said he could do it… if he really wanted it. He did not believe me. We would have a few power exchanges in class, even though he scared the kajeebees out of me (never let them know that as the teacher). And then one day, he came to my room after class to ask me privately how to succeed in math class. One step at a time, with guidance and support, he took my advice and started doing the work. You could see him build momentum. With one assignment to the next, he was starting to pick up his rhythm and confidence and his grade started to improve dramatically. At the time, I had 100% final exams. If you can beat your overall grade, then that’s the mark you keep. This student finished the course with an A and continued that path onto Math 12.

Gosh. I love students. They teach you so much. I am also reminded by the First Principles Principles of Learning, “Learning takes patience and time.” Although this principle applies to this student’s journey in mathematics, his story definitely applies to me at this very moment. I am saying to self, “I can’t do this. I don’t get it.” I often wonder if I am meant to do this work. I am reaching for help and have people trying to guide and support me but I have to do my part. It’s my work to believe it, want it, and do something about it. I can only imagine what that student had to do to change his habits, mindset, and priorities. He had to step away from his pride to succeed. He did the work and now it’s my turn. I’ve always wondered why I had that experience.

Gratitude for Being Home

Week 86 – November 7, 2021 – Flying During the Pandemic

It feels so good to be back home. I never thought I would find myself saying that. I resisted for several years and now that I’m back home, I can wholeheartedly say that I am in the right place at the right time. It’s been a challenging few years on my pedagogical journey. A lot of internal work was required to get my dissertation done (4-years ago) and that work continues. My mom passed in 2018 and not being employed at that time was a blessing. I took care of her in her last 20-days. It was the least that I could do. I got to know her better as a person, but also had the privilege of watching her transform as she faced death with courage, strength, and clarity.

After my mom’s passing, I accepted a job in Prince George. It was a term contract, so it was tough to make a “full commitment” to the institution. My family stayed on the Sunshine Coast and I struggled with the move and my identity while grieving the lost of the most important person in my life. Calling Prince George “home” seemed like betrayal, to my kid, my identity, and my marriage. As it turned out, my marriage ended after the first year and returning back to Prince George was bitter sweet. I was away from my kid for another year, I was angry and disillusioned about my marriage, and I was on another term contract. Commitment was lacking on my end of things and all I wanted to do was take my kid… and I was not sure what to do next.

My work was challenging and so was my mental health. I felt disconnected. There was a strike at the university in 2019, then the pandemic in 2020. I was separated from my kid more than ever. I felt trapped and alone. Not only did I have to pivot in my work with remote learning, I had to pivot in my life. On Mother’s Day, I returned back to the Sunshine Coast to live in my house, with my kid and estranged husband, for 15 months. Separating from my husband was confirmed, being with my kid was essential, and saying goodbye to the ocean and coastal life was needed. Even though I did not realize that I was subjecting myself to a toxic relationship that I had to walk away from, I also spent many hours contemplating what’s important to me.

When I finally left the Sunshine Coast to officially live in Prince George with my kid in August 2021, I was tired, exhausted, and liberated. Now that I am away from that life and my two feet planted in Prince George (with my kid), I can make the commitment to this community. I still have a term contract and who knows what that will bring in the future, but was feels so wonderful is the ability to make choices for me, to listen to my heart and spirit to truly understand what’s important to me, and to have friends and family standing beside me and holding me or lifting me up during the good times and bad. The journey was treacherous and the journey continues.

The journey is not over. That said, I am more clear, more happy, and more certain about what path I need to take and I can feel good about it. I know my purpose and I am living 100% aligned to that purpose. I was in Vancouver last week for the week to observe Teacher Candidates living in the Lower Mainland. I had the opportunity to visit with family and friends, but also see Teacher Candidates in action. They were amazing!!! Flying back to Prince George was a good feeling. I am returning back to my kid, I am returning back to community, and I was returning home. Feels good.

Doing What’s Right

Week 85 – October 31, 2021 – Trick or Treat?

It’s the end of birthday month. Mixed feelings. I enjoyed having my family visit me in Prince George on my birthday weekend. Lots happening since with work, with life. Things are shifting and I am learning. Some of this learning was humbling. Some of it was heartbreaking, bewildering, and clarifying. This journey has been phenomenal to say the least and I am learning what I am ready to learn. It’s Halloween and I’m typing this blog from the airport. I’m flying out for the week for work and I’m my new car “Musubi” (and apartment) with my kid. No stress. Actually, there is no stress. I’m feeling kind of neutral about the trip. I’m not 100% in favour of travel, but this work needs to be done and my kid needs opportunities for adulting. It’s all good.

I’m landing today at the end of this month with a billion things on my plate, but observing and reflecting on what’s important to me. I’ve been reading, listening to blogs, and journalling about where I am and where I would like to go. There is a huge part of me who is unwilling to commit and there’s another part of me not sure about taking action and being the agent of my own change in my pedagogical journey. It takes me sooooooooo long to realize that I am able to do and believe what I have accomplished. Lots to reflect on in terms of my sense of self-efficacy, trust, and ambition. I never thought I would get here and in they way the journey has traveled so far. Much of what I am wrestling with is worthiness, authenticity, and purpose.

Well, here I am. I never felt more like myself in such a long time and I often feel like I am now learning more about me. I don’t say this is a ego-centric way. In fact, I’m often trying to park my ego to really listen to what I value and I am passionate about. Sometimes I need people pointing that out to me, explicitly and implicitly, but in the last few weeks of birthday month I am brought to one of my take-aways from my doctoral classes in leadership about choosing between “doing it right” and “doing what’s right.” You’d think that they would be the same thing, but really, lots depends on intentions. That’s where my internal dilemma or struggle resided. I needed the clarity, drive, and confidence to move forward. I need to feel good about what’s next.

I think I’m here. Just in time… I think. Creating space. Understanding what’s important. And people in your life who remind you of what’s wonderful and not so wonderful. Self-reflection is not possible without the feedback from people and experiences. I can see what I need to do, what I value, and it feels good. I have so much gratitude for this pedagogical journey and I don’t think that I will have it any other way. Life comes to you in many serendipitous ways. I need to be patient, intentional, and wholehearted. This will guide me to next steps. I am so happy to be with my kid. That’s making a huge difference. I love my friends who lift me up, mentors who invest in me, and family who believe in me. I have nothing to fear.

Changing the Lens

Week 84 – Part 2 – October 25, 2021 – Turning Around

It’s taking me all weekend to turnaround. I spent a lot of last week thinking about the graduate course I am teaching. I was so happy how it turned out. We scaffolded and returned back to what we know and wrestled with a few key questions. I created and shared criteria of their final assignment on a single point rubric, but the best part of that class was checking in with them. I was not the only one feeling the way I did. I was looking for some grace and the least I could do was offer the same in return. We had some wholehearted and fulsome conversations that evening. I felt some solace after a really long day. However, on Friday, I woke with some anxiety. I started the day with lots of moaning and sighing, which  I’m sure my kid really enjoyed listening to when I drove her to work that morning. I felt disconnected and disheartened.

It was suppose to be professional development day for K-12, but my day was filled with meetings. I did catch a bit of the opening  keynote address, but moved forward through my day meeting people either online or in person. What was so wonderful, with each person I connected with, the better my day got. Knowingly or not, each person was shedding some light on what was important to me. When I think about my connections on Friday, I feel so lucky that I was able to connect with each person who was informing and fuelling MY WHY. None of these meetings were perceived as a major event, but it was “the little things” from each meeting I was collecting and the people whom I was meeting with filled my heart and spirit in different ways.

I took Friday night off… and apparently Saturday too. I need time to rest and reflect. I had much to think about. I wanted to be by the water on Saturday and went for a walk with a friend. It was so nice to walk along the river. I can appreciate the fall colours and the movement of the river. I needed to feel connected to the water again. It’s not quite the ocean, but this water speaks a different dialect in the Central Interior and it’s just gorgeous. I really enjoyed my time being outside and connecting with others. I need the cognitive sparing with others to share or sense-make what is.

I also started reading a book. The author was recommended to me and I downloaded all 3 books from Amazon.ca. I started reading one book and could not put it down. The contents of the book resonated with me, for good and for bad, and helped guide my thinking, my lens, and my approach to reconsider my mindset on what is. It was almost truth telling, personally and  professionally. What was being offered made sense to me and helped me to refocus on MY WHY and take action accordingly. I  feel good. I spent Sunday with my kid, and today observing Teacher Candidates in a neighbouring community. I am aligned to my why and doors are opening for me to see and walk through. I can see my next steps and they come from a good place.

Bag of Miss Vickie’s

Week 84 – Part 1 – October 20, 2021 – What brings you joy?

Oh my gosh… Foreboding joy… a finding in Brené Brown’s research. Call me a data point. There is no denying that I do this… and I get caught up on the SHOULD’S and what I perceive what I think I SHOULD be doing based on what I think everyone else is doing. Then, I’m not authentic to self. I fear failure. I’m scared of being judged or hurt. All I want to do is HIDE and lay low. You could say that this is the 20-ton shield protecting me from any pain. How can you experience joy when you are too busy numbing your feelings, pretending to be someone else, and not living your best life?

This week has been extraordinary so far. I misstepped in a conversation and unintentionally triggered someone. I felt sick after I got some pushback and sat in that discomfort for most of that day. In another situation, I submitted a paper for publication and received feedback a couple of weeks ago requiring revisions and a second review. I was admittedly avoiding that work and they sent me another email with deadlines and decisions. I did not want to respond. Finally, I’m writing this blog instead of writing something else that’s due tomorrow (with full intentions of writing it after this blog post) because there is a part of me to scared or unwilling to like what I am doing because I fear failure and rejection. Voilà. I’m approaching a hat trick.

What I have learned, given the first two scenarios is… nothing major happens, meaning I was not struck by lightning, I’m alive, and I can move forward. Second, it’s all in my head. I’m not saying that me offending a colleague and having to make major revisions to a paper are not real. That happened. But my perceived level of angst is in my head. I replied back to the journal editor with a commitment and they replied with much enthusiasm back. I apologized for my thoughtless misuse of words and I received grace and forgiveness in return. It reminds me when I dinged a rental car a couple of years ago and I thought of the worst. Instead, I returned the car, signed some forms, and paid a bill for repairs. That’s it. There was no judgement.

As a friend would say to me, “it’s just feedback. The most powerful part of this is what you do with that feedback.” I could not agree more. I could wallow in the angst and fear, foreboding joy, and never be seen. Or, I could just do something about it. In the big picture, what I am doing is “not risky” even though (in my head) I think it is. I started this week with a new attitude and perspective and in return, I got a few lessons to reflect on and learn from. First, I need to give myself some grace. I have a tonne to accomplish and limited time. It’s OK to sleep (although, maybe not tonight to write that paper). It’s OK to eat (and make stuff at home). It’s ok to set boundaries and prioritize  (based on timelines and importance). That’s all I can do… and find the joy.

Second, I have to be OK with what I like and find important (and not try to be anyone else or please other people). I have to be authentic to who I am to thrive (and not burnout). I love being with my kid. I love being a mom. I love being with my students. I love learning with my students. I love my mom and the lessons she’s taught me and continues to teach me. I love STATS and data analysis. I am learning more about my ethnic identity and heritage. EDI is important to me. Participating in system change is important to me. Enhancing student learning experiences are important to me. Leadership, advocacy, and governance are important to me. I love meeting and connecting with people who share a common vision. I love Miss Vickie’s chips.

Finally, to experience joy is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable, you have to be seen. This is where I pause for a moment. I was brought to this blog post because I was asked a few questions about “what brings me joy?” I said, being with my kid, watching “Somebody Feed Phil,” and eating Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe Chips. All three are TRUE. Love them all and how they make me feel. But this week I made a commitment to be myself. That’s it. I created boundaries around myself that have been forming over time during the pandemic and I think that I’m in a good place to see where these boundaries lie. Dang. I deleted a whole bunch of YouTube videos of me from the Winter Term because I could not stand “having myself out there.” Some regret, but now I need to get into the reading, writing, research world. It’s time. No fear.

Finding My People

Week 83 – Part 2 – October 18, 2021 – It’s ok to be myself.

What a whirlwind of a day. I was grieving all weekend after learning about a friend, colleague, and mentor passing. I gasped when I received the text. I had no idea and her passing was somewhat sudden. She hired me to teach secondary math and science. She opened doors for me and always believed in me. She knew my potential, while I continue to  learn more about it. I just saw her this summer. She’s always been in my life since 1994. I will miss her smile, her giggle, and encouraging words. Her passing forced me to reflect (even more). I am committed to meet the potential that she saw in me, much like another mentor who passed away in the middle of my doctoral work and like my former supervisor whom I continue to work with. As much as  they encourage me, they also take a clear step back to wait and allow me to take that first step for myself. I’ve always hesitated. Call it fear. Call it uncertainty. What I do know is, I have to be myself. I have to stand in my truth. It’s ok to be me.

Today, I was committed to starting on a positive step and focus on work. The goal was to be productive but also be my authentic self.  Unfortunately… or  fortunately… I misstepped and got push back. It hit me hard and I was apologetic, shocked, and stepped right back. I was struck by fear in the worst way, but what I realized is, that’s ok. I’m ok. Whatever happening in my life or what people perceive do not define who I am. The only person I need to belong to is myself. I sat in uneasiness and discomfort throughout the day. I had a couple of meetings and multiple emails to engage in, but in the end my truth came out and a moment of forgiveness which I accepted with grace and compassion. Nothing is perfect, I work with some incredible people, and I am committed to making clear boundaries that benefit myself and others. Although I wanted to cry today, I am so grateful to have friends in my life who can lift me up.

Now to this brilliant picture. I end my day with an incredible group of people… my people. We gathered together to solve a problem, but we were able to connect and socialize in a truthful, kind, and joyful way. We all have different roles in education, which in turn makes our group stronger because we have a learning community based on trust and respect. I can be myself. Here I am… eating a prawn… leftovers from my kid’s dinner that she got from work. They were so delicious (2 prawns) and I was mildly distracted. At that very time, my friend was trying to get my attention but I was too busy eating (on mute, of course). They were also teasing me throughout the meeting about me sharing my “real background.” No thank you. I loved living in my VIRTUAL loft in the middle of metro Vancouver. My real life is living in a one-room apartment with my kid in Northern BC. Live a little, I’d say. All in all, we were able to have fun, solve problems, and connect in a personal way. For this, I am grateful.

I Needed This

Week 83 – Part 1 – October 13, 2021 – Reminded of my WHY

Wow. I will admit,  I’ve been in a cognitive slump. I have no other words to describe how I’ve been feeling recently (during the pandemic), but I am wondering if I was experiencing an implementation dip (Fullan, 2008)… in my life. I’m undergoing a system change, metaphorically speaking and I was approaching a low moment today. It was almost like I was approaching the bottom of the dip. Tonight was a turning point and felt that I had to write about it. A couple of my students responded to a last minute email, carved out the time in their evening during a very busy time in their program, and presented their learning experiences to other students and faculty who are new to the program. THEY WERE AMAZING. I was so heartened with what they had to say. It was like watching the transformed perform. My fire was stoked again.

I was abruptly reminded of MY WHY. I was so proud of them, but I was more in awe to see who they have become with 7 more weeks of practicum to go. They are going to be phenomenal. Then, I thought about a couple of other students who were unable to make it tonight but were willing to share their work; and then, I thought of a couple other students who I’ve been emailing. My reflections continued from one student to another and MY WHY was so clear to me. Honestly, it never changed. This is what Simon Sinek would say. I would agree with him. I have caught myself sometimes thinking about my teaching and feeling like how I was… in the FLOW… when I taught secondary mathematics. I felt the same way teaching in teacher education or teaching courses in education. It feels great when you are in flow. I felt that again.

I’ve been so preoccupied by becoming someone who I am not. As a result, I start self-doubting myself, second guessing my actions, and worried about what others think. The truth is, I was becoming more misaligned to who I am and what I want to achieve. It’s so weird, because this is the same advice I gave a student recently. I need to listen to my own advice and focus on MY WHY again. Tonight was a beautiful reminder of MY WHY and I am grateful to my students everyday who remind me of what’s important. I felt this way when I taught secondary mathematics and feel this way again in teacher education. Listening and recognizing these familiar feelings and acknowledging what’s important to me and why are grounding and humbling. I often wonder what if… but find myself saying thank goodness that didn’t happen instead.

My gratitude extends to my students… always. I feel that I am on the upswing and inspired by my students. I learn so much from them about my practice, my identity, and my sense of self-efficacy. I love the connections I make with students, but I also have to remember to stay true to myself. The support, care, and respect we share are reciprocated. I don’t have to be like other teachers (or researchers). I’m not here to impress anyone but myself. This is authenticity and true belonging. It’s taken me a long time to learn this. I often wonder about life’s lessons and figuring out the connections between different events or experiences and the lessons I need to learn. Tonight, it was returning to MY WHY. My hope and faith are restored. My love for students and their learning experiences are immense and will always fuel my fire.

Thank you to my students. I know that sounded a little possessive and I apologize to those who may be offended by that term “my students.” You are students who I’ve taught in the past, present, and future. You make me a better person. I am always humbled and honoured to be a part of your learning journey, because I know you are an integral and instrumental part of my pedagogical journey. For that, I am grateful.