Professional Learning

Understanding Place

Week 71 – Monday, July 19, 2021 – Saskatoon Berries

I’ve been contemplating the daily blog, as I have attempted before, inspired by a couple of colleagues on Twitter who do this wholeheartedly, particularly during the school year. I need to commit to a daily practice of writing, even though this may not be the type of writing that I need to be doing. I think it’s about practice and developing skills. It’s been a whirlwind to come to a place in midlife to realize that I am starting all over again. I am at the beginning and this is a scary place. You spend most of your life building an expertise and thinking that you have something to profess, when really you take your first step in that direction to realize that you are a novice or beginner at best. This is humbling, but also refreshing. I can start again.

I can rediscover what’s important to me and why. I’ve been grappling with my values and what’s important to me for the last 18-months in my pandemic reflections and I am wondering if anything has changed. My kid is my first priority. Student learning and their experiences are very important to me. Professional learning is central to my being as a learner and practitioner. I think that is my top 3 of “what’s important to me.” I start thinking about myself and my needs. What about me? I’ve been wrestling with my next steps and wonder about research and it’s importance to me. Research is a new landscape to me. The rules are different, but familiar. My role, how I see myself, and how I show up would be different. A person, colleague, and mentor said to me that research is not work, but something for myself. What I am researching is something I am passionate about, it’s important to me, and it’s driven by my why.

According to Simon Sinek, your why does not change. The how and the what might change, but never the why. Wow. I love the writing process. Another friend and colleague shared with me that “writing is thinking.” That could not be more true. I’m experiencing that right now. Although the landscape has changed, I have prior knowledge and experiences that can help me to adapt, learn, and adjust. My friend took me out to walk around their neigbourhood so that I could find new happy places to be in my new community. I’ve been a coastal girl my whole life and now I live in the central interior where there are 4 clear seasons, more snow and mosquitos I can handle, and the land is surrounded by rivers, not the ocean. Yet, we picked Saskatoon berries (not salmon berries, like we do on the coast), we walked along the river (which had beach sand to my surprise), and we had coffee and something yummy to eat at the local campsite (because nothing beats a double espresso). To my delight along the walk, my friend mentioned that the local hall used to be a curling rink. DAMN.

Here we go… CONNECTION. I was so excited to learn about this local two-sheet rink. What I am learning is, even though I am living in a different place, there are many things that are familiar to me, but also new to me. I can find things that are close to my heart that resonates with me deeply. I feel the same about research. The last few years has been a treacherous journey to move from practitioner to researcher. I am a novice and I can see what I need to do now. I am at the beginning. That said, I am reassured that pursuing a life of research is for me. It’s not selfish, but more about an opportunity to realize my vocation, my why, and my passion in education. Research aligns to my why and it’s ok to be engaged in healthy striving. This is the work. As I make decisions that are more attuned to who I am and what I want to do, the more I am beginning to understand my place. I am excited to see what happens next.

#OneWord2021 = READ

Week 43 – January 8, 2021 – Welcome Back to Work

Gah. It happens so fast. Admittedly, I would have used another week of winter break but the School of Education started the new year as scheduled with other professional programs while the rest of the university delayed their start for the Winter 2021 term. As a compromise or an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons, I started the work-week asynchronously. That will be the nature of this term. I am teaching the final practicum course and Block 2 of the interwoven inquiry/e-portfolio course. I look forward to a different momentum of this teaching term, but also I look forward to finding ways to restructure my time and work so that I can FILL MY CUP with what’s important to me. As you can see, I’m off to a MEH start.

My #oneword2021 is READ. I have to carve out time to READ. Reading is not an area of strength, but it’s a skill I would like to develop. You are never too late to learn. I started blogging so that I can develop my writing skills. I think that blogging is going very well and it did take some time to develop my voice and momentum to write and reflect. I have learned to love the writing process as a means to reflect. I love the unexpectedness of blogging and where it often leads me in my thinking. It’s time to move onto READing. It’s not just about reading, per se, but reading is intentional, you are still, and it’s for me. What I have learned from the last term is, I cannot take care of others if I cannot take care of me. You have to take care of self to be SELFLESS.

Reading is an act of self-care. I need to do more of that. I need to sleep, go for walks, and prioritize what’s important to me. In one of my doodle reflections, I realized that what’s important to me is (1) my kid; (2) my students; and (3) my research. You’ve got to name it to claim it. And truth, I can do a lot better at focusing on what’s important to me. I will do better this term. I almost lost myself last term. I didn’t take a break during the spring/summer term and I was so invested in having the fall term that I almost burned out. I can only what I can do and I need to let go of the outcome.

So, I started the new year READing a manuscript that I had in hand for a couple of months. I do not perceive myself to be a “reader” and not a reader of fiction. And so I did… and loved it. I could not put “the book” (aka. my computer) down. I was so engaged with the storyline and I finished the book from beginning to end within 24-hours. I don’t I have ever done something like that in my life. I was pretty happy with the book, but also pretty happy with myself. Who knew what 50 could bring? Put your intentions to what you feel is most important and who knows what you can accomplish? I miss the characters already and I secretly want her to write a sequel.

Well… I’m hooked… on reading. I have a tonne of books to read and I have just downloaded the next one. “From the Ashes” by Jesse Thistle. Shelley Moore hosts a reading club with her wife and looks like a good read. From what I am gathering from Twitter, it seems like it will be a great read. A non-fiction novel. I’m ready for this. In fact, as soon as I finish this blog post, I am going to bed with my iPad to READ.

#pandemicreflections #anewstart #oneword2021 #read

EDUFAIR2020 and Intentionality

Week 39 – December 7, 2020 – EARLY START TO BLOGGING

I am giving myself some grace. I spent the weekend planning and prepping #EDUFAIR2020 to end the term at UNBC School of Education for teacher candidates, instructors, and practice evaluators. Hosted and facilitated #EDUFAIR2020 this morning and I think the event went very well. Of course I would ask my colleagues soon after the event for feedback. It went well. This ties in so closely to what I advise teacher candidates about lesson planning. When you plan with intention and prep accordingly, all will go well. You are able to flex and adapt because you’ve planned for it. Well, that’s how things went this morning. That said, I am grateful for the #UNBCED teacher candidates who supported and encouraged me just before the Celebration of Learning event started. TECH ISSUES. #classic. They helped and walked me through, and we were back on track soon after 9am. Honestly, it takes a village and I am 100% grateful for this learning community. Thank you all for participating!!!

The power of INTENTIONALITY. Everything that I do has to come from a good place. My WHY is tied in to who I am and I will act accordingly. This has taken me some time to learn my authentic power. I am still learning. What I am understanding is, when we move forward honouring our purpose, karma will work in your favour. Sounds spiritual or “fluffy” but it’s starting to make sense to me. What I need to focus on is, where am I going to spend my time. This is big. I’m back to “what’s important to me?” What I do know is, the work invested in #EDUFAIR2020 was worth it. It came from the intention of community, connection, and collaboration. HELLO? This is completely aligned to My Manifesto. Huh. That’s a wonderful realization. The day was meant to honour the learner and celebrate the learning. From what I understand, mission accomplished. I am also focused on FEELINGS. How are people learning the learning activity? Do they feel good? Do they feel inspired? This is the aim of teacher education. If anything, I also appreciate the SENSE-MAKING opportunity of #EDUFAIR2020, which is based on the framework of Edcamp. Focus on learning.

Anyway, I am happy as to how the morning ended and I am very happy about feeling satisfied. It’s a good feeling. This state of transformation is complicated and shifting mindsets takes time. I am so proud of the teacher candidates. All 5 cohorts reconnected today… from Prince George, Terrace, and Skidegate. Being online and teaching/learning remotely at the university is NOTHING like teaching/learning face-to-face, but it as radically improved accessibility and what can be possible. I don’t want to be limited by the status quo and I don’t want to rely on what was comfortable. I am struck by the term LAZY and motivated to develop my practice to transform my pedagogy to maximize the learning experience of teacher candidates, thus K-12 students they will teach during practicum. I am set on my 2021 challenge. Not only will I get that selfie-stick and tripod in action to video record asynchronous learning that is situated in place and on the land, but also to find ways to design learning experiences that are engaging, participatory, and transformational.

#pandemicreflections #2021ambition #beingintentional

Indigenous Day of Learning

Week 28 – September 25, 2020 – SD57 Lhulh’uts’ut’en

What an incredible day of learning. I am so grateful that SD57 Indigenous Education Department invited the UNBC Teacher Candidates and Instructors from the School of Education B.Ed. to participate in this day of professional learning. It’s an opportunity for our teacher candidates to learn from Indigenous Canadian Scholars, Dr. Dustin Louie and Dr. Niigaanwewidam Sinclair, but also learn with currently practicing teachers and from community members from the north and central interior of BC. This gesture of generosity and grace from the SD57 Director of Indigenous Education Pam Spooner strengthens the relationship between the school district and School of Education. I am so honoured and humbled to be part of this Indigenous Day of Learning as an instructor, educator, and learning.

The pandemic lent to a unique opportunity for myself, our teacher candidates, and BC educators to access professional learning via online. I was learning from home. I loved both of the keynote speakers, but I also appreciated the break out sessions I attended to deepen my understanding of Indigenizing, Decolonizing, and local and national lived experiences with respect to Truth and Reconciliation. What resonated with me the most was MAKING SPACE. I’ve been thinking about this as an educator but also as educational leader in higher education. How do I make space for Indigenous Voices? How do I become an activist as an educator? What does it mean to Indigenize and Decolonize my teaching practice? How can I contribute to Truth and Reconciliation in Canada? How will I deepen my understanding on Indigenous Education and deepen relationships in community?

I love how a professional learning opportunity leaves me thinking and left with questions to ponder, address, and hopefully answer. The goal and hope of professional learning days like this one is to KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING. Professional learning days serve as a catalyst, but now the work is in our hands. What are you going to do about it? It’s so easy to move forward and forget about some of the lessons learned on these incredible and inspirational days of learning. I was so provoked on this day of learning and I took many photos of powerpoint slides for me to return to and consider. I also tweet during these days with some of the big ideas I walk away with. For the remainder of my blog post, I will share the tweets I made on this day. This is a great way to collate and re-share what I have learned that day. Thank you again to SD57 Indigenous Education Department and to all the speakers, staff, and participants who made this incredible event possible. All my relations.