Professional Learning

A Tipping Point

February 25, 2024 – A Critical Conversation

As much as I would like to say that I’ve celebrated the Lunar New Year with a mini-family reunion in Vancouver last weekend, but I got sick and spent my time isolating myself in a hotel room with hopes of feeling better to fly back on my return flight. Not the best way to spend my time or money, but I did have one critical conversation with one of my aunties that served as a tipping point to move forward with my research program investigating my heritage, family history, and ethnic identity. In doing so, how does this understanding impact my understandings and implementation of policies in BC education relating to anti-racism, decolonization, and curriculum.

I’ve just celebrated 5-years of service at the university. The last 5-years entailed many ups and downs, personally and professionally. In all of that, I had to learn more about myself. I never thought when I had left teaching over a decade ago, that I would be on a pedagogical journey that extended beyond life as a doctoral student and school trustee. It’s almost like I had to unravel in a way to find myself again. Now, I’m in a place where I want to learn more. My co-author and I will be returning to a recently submitted manuscript on our ethnic identity as second-generation Asian Canadian women growing up in northern BC and becoming BC educators to make revisions.

That writing experience opened a pandora’s box. There’s a part of me that is very interested in Chinese immigrants to BC and understanding how Chinese people are perceived in BC. After George Floyd’s death and the pandemic, Chinese people are racialized and marginalized in ways that I’ve never seen before. Even as “advanced” as we may believe that we are with racism in Canada, I have experienced lateral violence, micro-aggression, and hate that I have no words to rhyme or reason why it would happen. I learned in the last year that I’ve been living my life as a model minority and that people don’t get recognized for doing good deeds for others.

That said, I also struggled with the idea of being assimilated into Canadian culture (by my parents) through policy such that I have no language, no culture, and no understanding of what it means to be Cantonese. I was also positioned in my family as “number 3” of three children where I had always perceived my older sister as “number 1” and my twin brother as “number 1a.” Even though I felt this way for more than half a century, it was sadly confirmed by one of my aunties at this mini-reunion I missed most of last weekend. She said that she noticed this “mistreatment” and had once approached my dad about the issue when I was young. It did not go well.

What I know for sure is, this is a journey I need to pursue further. This conversation I had with my aunty was instrumental to understanding that this feeling within my family (and my identity) was not in my head. It was real. My deep desire to seek approval from my father was real and that need sadly transcended into everything else in my life which essentially meant abandoning my values and beliefs to seek the approval of others. This is not belonging. It’s taken me some time to realize that true belonging is to belong to oneself, to love oneself, and to accept oneself. I am now determined to learn more about my family as part of my research program

A Curling Mindset

February 11, 2024 – One day into the Lunar New Year

Gong hei fat choy. The Year of the Dragon. I welcome the new year wholeheartedly.

I am not sure if I want to start my blog post with situations of stress or moments of inspiration. I actually have both such that one interplays with the other If anything, I feel the ship turning as we approach the Lunar New Year. Yes, I begin and end with curling. I recall last week that I’ve deliberated whether or not to talk about curling on this WordPress site or the one I use for work. As it turned out, I wrote it on my work WordPress site. The Science of Curling. The blog post was inspired my science project I did in Grade 9 and a curling game I had a couple of weeks ago. Writing about curling was inspired by a shot a made a few weeks ago to win a game. What I have learned last week that I would like to unpack in my blog is the MINDSET for curling. Again, I am learning about very complex ideas from my expertise and understanding of the game of curling. I did the same association to learn about “the goods internal.”

Where to start…

THE PERFECT CURLING SHOT. The new year begins with my skip injuring himself mid-game and me picking up the skip’s role after the 5th end. I took the 6th end to figure out the ice. The 7th end to figure out my game. And, the 8th end to assure the team of my new role as skip. The end got a little crowded with lots of rocks in play and we had one shot hidden behind a few guards sitting in the four foot. I can remember the house. There were many rocks in play and the ice was tricky. The opponents throw their last rock and it sits as shot in the 4-foot just above our rock which was second shot. They thought we won the game, but really, they tied the game. I had my last rock to throw. Again, the ice was unpredictable and we had to go around a few guards to tap back their rock and hit it in such a way that would have to curl around the guards enough to hit their rock on the inside. I called the shot. The second held the broom and the lead was ready to sweep my rock. No questions asked and we were all on board. We were playing the 8th end during the first draw. This timing meant that we had an audience. The two teams were waiting to play next and stood behind the house to watch our shot. I remember the CLARITY, the silence, and certainty. I threw the stone, I called sweeping, and we made the shot… perfectly. It was amazing. We ended up winning the game by 3-points. 8-5. It was an amazing moment. We celebrated and winning the game was a great way to start the year.

PICKING UP A SPARE. The next game we picked up a spare to play third. This player normally plays skip on other nights but can play any position. I was grateful that she was willing to play third. Deep down inside, I wanted to play skip. It was a humbling game. What I mean by that was, the spare had a lot of things to say about the game. It was a good thing. I called it “curling school.” My comments were not meant to make fun of what was being said, but we were learning a tonne about the game in terms of strategy, ice, and execution. I really appreciated this help and we won that game 12-3. Although our team needed this support and nudge to focus more on the game, I needed to learn how to listen to my voice too versus feeling tempted to second-guess my calls or ask for input for every shot to prevent myself from second-guessing. In the end, it does not become “my game” by doing that. The spare understood this.

BEING CONSISTENT. My skip remains injured and we continued playing with the spare as third. The spare took a step back from being the instructor of “curling school” but they remained focussed and competitive, which was healthy for me and the team. There was a healthy balance between calling our own game and asking for help when we needed it. One shot at a time. One after the other, we established an amazing FLOW as a team. It was not a matter of making or missing the shot, but more about playing the game. We were focused on every moment and making the most of every shot. We were still figuring out the quirks of our “new team” in terms of the amount of ice, how we throw, and communication. Our opponents were equally in the game and every shot for them mattered too. We played a full 8-ends and played every rock. I even threw my last rock even though we had already won our game. It felt amazing to end the game by making both of my shots, which were take outs to clear the house and maintain our lead. We won 8-4. We shook hands and one player on the other team said to me, “you were consistent.” That was a nice compliment.

YOU’RE NOT MAKING THIS GAME FUN. I held that compliment into my work week. I was reflecting on how this mindset could be translated into my everyday life. Be consistent. Focus on the game. One shot at a time. In the end, no one is trying to miss their shot or lose the game. There is definitely a synergy in every shot and being consistent matters. I tried to transfer my CURLING MINDSET to my life and way of being. By the time we got to this week’s game, I was exhausted, distracted, and discouraged. I could not let my work interfere with my curling game. My curling mindset was enacted. I had a cup of coffee before the game and had a “different song in my head” to ground my thinking. One rock at a time, we started the game. We stole one point in the first end, then stole two points in the second end, etc. We stole every point for 6-ends, the buzzer went, and the opponents shook hands after the 6th end. We won the game 8-0. There was no way for the opponents to win in the 7th end. It was an amazing game. I stayed focused. I stayed calm. I did not let things distract, annoy, or disappoint me. We just played the game. Every end, the skip’s last rock for the opponent were very difficult to make. They kept chasing us. We did not waiver.

I was so proud of myself and my team. I did not feel sorry for the other team. I had not malicious or ill intent. We were playing within the rules of the game to win the game. That’s it. We were just playing the game. We were focused and had fun. I had some really nice compliments from the other team, like “nice shot” or “you’re not making this game fun” or “you had an excellent game.” I don’t expect those comment, but I do expect etiquette, respectful play, and a good game. We got that. Apparently, the other team has not been shut out this year. What I am so impressed with is, we stole every point. Statistically, it’s very challenging to achieve. It was never the goal, but it’s an achievement that is worth noting. We have won every game I’ve skipped so far this year and we won one game during the first half of the season. I played third. Maybe it’s not my position. I don’t mention the win-loss record to nourish my ego, I say it to affirm the importance of mindset and intention. The wins and loses are only by-products of how we play the game. This idea is the lesson learned from curling.

Being Happy

What’s hiding behind the trees? Is this what’s it’s meant about seeing the forest through the trees? I’ve spent the week recovering from the week previous. I did not expect to need so much rest, but apparently I needed it. Today, I feel 1000 times better than I did yesterday and a 1000 times better that I did the day before. Repeat the sequence to the beginning of 2024. Wowza. You do the math!!

I also thought I would have been blogging about “beading with the kid” but that will have to wait as well. It’s not the right time or my inspiration. Today, I am going to be plowing into writing about teacher leadership and building up my momentum by writing in my blogs to recognize and appreciate the joy I feel. Admittedly, the joy comes from the little things and that’s what I’m holding on to. Right now, I’m rested.

Gosh. When I’m not feeling happy, I’m distracted by looking at places to live on MLS, looking at jobs at other universities, or deliberating returning back to teaching mathematics in K-12. Looking OUT (where the grass may be greener) is not an effective way to find happiness. What I am learning is, being happy comes from within… and feeling rested helps. LOL. I am reminded about what’s important to me. Do what you love. The little things make the difference. Just enjoy and savour.

My friend called me last week. She’s in the middle of some major treatments and dealing with a condition that has transformed her life beyond one’s imagination. Her life pivoted in a moment and it has never been and never will be the same. She had a “good day” because she was not able to engage in a treatment that day and felt well enough to give me a call while her family was out. I was honoured and humbled. She wanted to talk about the ordinary, but truth, the ordinary is not extraordinary. I loved connecting with her again and miss our long conversations we used to have before. If anything, the phone call was more about enjoying and savouring the moment.

I am brought back to my curling game. Do what you love. Be in the company of good friends. One moment at a time, in the zone, and not in the grip of worrying about outcomes, people’s opinions, or the perception of high stakes and risk. I love that feeling. I imagine myself “throwing the rock.” If you’re lucky, you might see me doing that in the hallway, in my office, or at the mall. I do that to remind myself of the “good feelings” of the game and being in the zone. It’s this place, curling as a metaphor, is what’s really important to me. Also, it’s a place where I am happy. Curling continues to teach me life’s lessons… including Alasdair MacIntyre. Yes!! The goods internal.

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.