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Teacher Education

You know… I never thought I would be here. TEACHER EDUCATION. For the longest time, I thought that “new teachers” were so bright and bubbly that it was going to be a struggle for them to immerse into the K-12 system as educators. I often thought I preferred Master degree students because they have some experience in teaching in the K-12 system and understood the nuances of the practice. This is true, but what I have come to realize is, “new teachers” come out of TEACHER EDUCATION bright and bubbly because they were taught and trained to be that way. I don’t mean that negatively. I mean that wholeheartedly that “new teachers” should be bright and bubbly when they enter the K-12 system. The system needs it. There is nothing wrong with the periodic boost of a “new teacher” or teacher candidate in the classroom and school. It can be humbling and inspiring at the same time. My mindset has shifted on teacher education.

I’ll admit, I did apply to SFU to be a Faculty Associate a couple of times. I was shortlisted twice and interviewed, but never selected. I had always suspected that my application was unusual or different because I did not apply as a practicing teacher. At the time, I was completing my doctorate and I was a school trustee. My work could not be seconded, but applications were not limited to practicing teachers. Nonetheless, it never happened but I was certainly noticed. How do I know this? At the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE) a couple of years ago, I was presenting a few times… once for my dissertation as a poster presentation and a couple times with my EdD supervisor on a couple of projects. I met a few people and went to this workshop led by an SFU Indigenous Scholar. It turned out that half of the people attending the workshop reviewed my SFU FA application. They all seemed to know me. It spooked me out!!! After the workshop, they introduced themselves to me and had only complimentary things to say. In the end, they said it was a tough decision and they filled FA positions based on need.

Timing is everything. Even though I now know that I was a viable candidate to be an FA at SFU, it wasn’t my time. I worked as a sessional instructor at SFU and St. Mark’s College in Education. I wondered how one could create a relationship with students when you only have 13-weeks with students per term. I mean, I did have a relationship with the students. Some hot, some cold… but wondered if I would ever have the deep relationships you would have in K-12. When I taught high school math, I saw students every day for 5 months or every other day for 10 months. Over time, you can build relationships with students… where some were hot and others cold… but they were deeper relationships (I felt) than those created with adults over 13-weeks. Anyway, after I completed my doctorate, I was finding a job in higher education and landed a position teaching at UNBC. I was teaching a wide variety of courses from Research Methodology, Introduction to Curriculum and Instruction, and the practicum seminar course. I’m in my second year at UNBC and I am well immersed in the TEACHER EDUCATION program.

Guess what? This is a 2-year program and the students I started teaching in first and second term of their first year in teacher education. I have taught them also in first term of second year and I get to observe some of them as part of their FINAL PRACTICUM as a Faculty/Practicum Mentor (aka. Faculty Associate). UNBC has a different model of teacher education, but in essence, I am an FA. This is very exciting. Well… I did not realize that it was EXCITING until I had the opportunity to observe some of our Year 2 Teacher Candidates during their final practicum. I was so awestruck by their willingness to learn and accept feedback. It was the first time I understood what INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP was, in practice. We were focussed on teaching and learning but also I was able to see (or witness) the work that was invested over time in the teacher education program and how it is transferred into practice into the classroom. Best of all, I have a deep relationship with these Teacher Candidates that has developed over the 2-years of the program. I am invested in their learning and I have seen their transformation over time from “student” to “educator.” They are learning the nuances of the practice.

Every email I get… every meeting I have… and every lesson plan I read… I get excited. I am excited for these Teacher Candidates to get out in the field to “learn how to teach.” And as they are learning how to teach, I am learning about how they learn and how they learn how to teach. It’s challenging to take tacit knowledge and make it explicit. Strangely, I feel that everything I have done in my career in education has prepared me for this position in Teacher Education today. From my K-12 experience as a secondary math teacher to school trustee to parent (in addition to research, dissertation, and my other experiences teaching in higher education), I can see the different roles and responsibilities of each person in the system and how each role impacts student learning. Now that’s exciting. I continue to learn… as I had recently defined lesson/unit planning as the science of teaching and practicum as the art of teaching. We need both to be successful in the classroom. I never realized how complex teaching is until I became a teacher educator. Now I have a better appreciation for the complexities of teaching.

What I have come to learn about TEACHER EDUCATION is that this is a process, it’s all about the learning, and transformation of self and identity is not easy (and it’s not meant to be easy). I love the people I have met and all of the wonderful things I’ve learned (s0 far). I get to continue my sessional work online, but also I get to build relationships over time with my Teacher Candidates with coursework and practicum. I feel very lucky to be part of their pedagogical journey. I never thought this would be possible. I never thought that teacher education would be part of my trajectory, but here I am and loving it. I also love the idea that I can work with graduate students and move forward with a research agenda. It seems like I am at the beginning of my career… and I am. Learning is amazing and what impresses me about the Teacher Candidates I am working with is, they are LEARNERS. That’s what matters to me the most. To be a teacher, you are the lead learner.

Passion for Curling

Learning takes patience and time.

It has taken me a lifetime to appreciate and fully understand what this First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) is trying to convey and communicate. I read this FPPL in many of the lesson plans and unit plans in teacher education. I love that we in BC are adopting these principles as a way to view the world and to temper our pedagogies so that they are inclusive and holistic. What I mean by… it’s taken me a lifetime… is that I’ve come to realize the role of CURLING in my life and the lessons it has taught me and what it continues to teach me. Curling was more than just a sport. It was a teacher.

Now living “in the North,” I wanted to get back to my roots of curling. I love the sport as a teenager. I was a provincial champion and runner up. I really enjoyed the sport but grew a distaste for it when it was all about “the winning” versus the “joy of playing.” It was because of curling that I was able to understand “the goods internal to the practice” by Alasdair McIntyre. I’m not driven by the goods external. I love how Sir Ken Robinson says that curiosity serves as the engine to learning. Yes!!! I am driven from the inside versus the outside. Anyway, I just bought a new pair of curling shoes and broom to get back into the sport. I can’t wait to get back on the ice. I haven’t yet… but I will.

Just the other day, I went to go visit some teacher candidates and my colleague in Fort St. James. Truth… I was motivated to see the dog sled races but I was super excited to see where our candidates will be teaching this term and take a moment to see the community they were immersed in. It just so happened that the Ladies Bonspiel was happening this weekend too. I talked about checking out the Curling Club during my stay but didn’t manage to do so until I was about to depart and return back to Prince George.

Being in the curling club was like being home. It had a sense of community and belonging. I loved watching the women play but also connect with one another off the ice. I can remember the feelings of being on the ice, strategizing, and implementing. I can see why I love the work that I do in education when I think about all the things I love about curling. It’s about teamwork, communication, and development. We are all working towards a common goal even though each of us has different strengths and styles of play.

I loved playing the skip. I can play other positions and enjoy doing so, but my position was skip. I just love looking at the big picture, analyzing the strengths of each team, and strategizing our way though a game with hopes of a win. I loved the technical aspects of play in terms of how you throw a rock, sweep a stone, and working with angles to set up a shot or make a play. Everyone has a role to play on the team. Communication, trust, and respect are essential elements to a good team. I remember one of my ladies curling teams and we were a “regular” ladies night team with my sister and two friends. We played a gutsy shot to win the local cash spiel. What was cool about that shot was, we were all on board to take a big risk with the last rock to win the game… and we did it!!!

Teaching. Learning. Leading.

Curling played an integral role in my trajectory in life, my career, and academic studies. LEARNING TAKES PATIENCE AND TIME. I am still learning from what curling has taught me and I feel like I am just getting started. Be patient and be open to what each experience teaches you. Sometimes the intended learning doesn’t seem obvious until years later. My childhood friend taught me about this FPPL. For that, I am grateful.

The Right Theme

The month of January 2020 is not over yet but I am convinced that this is the YEAR OF FIRSTS. Since my last blog post, I continue to embark on doing things for the first time. For example, I’ve done my first podcasst. Thank you to Tim Cavey (@MisterCavey) for inviting me to speak on his Teachers On Fire Podcast (@TeachersOnFire). Tim and I first met last year at CAfLN (Canadian Assessment for Learning Network, @CAFLNetwork) in Delta, BC. I invited Tim to speak to my EDUC 431 EdTech Course at UNBC and video conferenced in to tell his story. I had no expectation to be invited to speak on his podcast, but when he asked, I said sure!!! I had no idea what I would be talking about. Beautifully he sends you a list of questions to respond to within the framework of his podcast. I wrote responses to his questions sent by Google Docs and much of it was related assessment. Makes sense… we met at an assessment conference and assessment is one of my passion topics in education. I was so tired that week and I had no time to even think about the podcast itself. I love that my Teachers On Fire Podcast Episode 120 was about “Assessment, Weaving, and Relationships.” That sums it all and I did not even know. All I had to do was JUMP IN and TRUST that everything will work out in the end. I don’t think that I will be able to listen to myself. I shared the podcast on my social networks and pretty much asked my PLN (professional learning network) to give me feedback. It seems like the podcast went well. WHEW!!!

My next FIRST experience was living in -42 degree celsius weather. Whoa. Last year it was my first time experiencing -33 degree weather but I have never been in -40 degree weather. I had to figure out my car situation because I was having “battery problems.” BCAA and I were starting to build a relationship every time I called them to jump start my car. I finally figured out that my plug in was not working for my parking stall. Even though I reported in my last blog entry Year of Firsts that I bought a new extension cord from Canadian Tire with hopes of charging my block heater to keep my battery warm, I realized that my plug in was NEVER working. Thank goodness that I bought a long enough cord to plug in two stalls away from me. Yay. I was putting my “cold woes” on Twitter to get replies back like, “make sure your cord lights up.” What??? I never noticed the light until I actually did a “light test” with a lamp to figure out my plug in was not working. What was I doing all year last year? Hence, my car battery problems. The crazy cold experience included asking for rides to work, staying inside, and taking a cab to the airport to go to EdCamp BC Core Competencies (@EdCampBCCC) in Richmond.

Loved going to #EdCampBCCC 2020. It was the first time I got to see my students from St. Marks in person. We have our course online and it’s was incredible to see them F2F. This event could have been cancelled because the Lower Mainland was getting a tonne of snow and schools were being closed (at the same time as the crazy cold weather in Prince George… and nothing closed), but I was committed to go to the event either way. I just went in for the day. I felt like a jet setter. I never flew down to Vancouver for JUST THE DAY… but I did. No luggage. No security problems at the airport. And, I rented a car and drove all over the place for a mere $35 (gas included). I love going to this event because I get to talk about education with others who want to talk about education. I get to see people from my PLN face-to-face. It’s like an EDU-REUNION. And, I get to meet new people in the field of BC Education. Who doesn’t like to learn? Events like these fill my cup. I loved how I ended #EdCampBCCC being OUTSIDE after our last session about Place-Based Education.

EdCampBCCC was followed by #BCEDCHAT LIVE event (@bcedchat) at Steveston Built (@StevestonBuilt) in Steveston. I had a wonderful time connecting further with our PLN F2F. I am one of the #bcedchat co-moderators and I had a wonderful time talking to my edu-buddies at the pub having lunch. I was such in a better headspace for this event than I was last year and it was my FIRST TIME recording myself to ask a question about the Core Competencies as part of the #bcedchat the next day to be part of the SELFIES chat moderated by @CraigMah, who also organized #bcedchat LIVE. I tried to take my video on the plane, but I didn’t want to get in trouble from the flight attendants for being on my phone. I was also sitting beside someone who was “pretty serious”… so it felt “weird” recording myself. Did it, but no flight attendant commentary in the background. Maybe I’m too serious???

Other FIRSTS include writing “practicum mentor” reports for a handful of teacher candidates (and being a practicum mentor), teaching a course face-to-face and online at the same time, singing “You are my sunshine” with my students to another cohort accompanied by a ukulele, writing learning activities for OSBC (open schools BC), and blind reviewing conference proposals for OTESSA (Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association, @OTESSA_org). I know that there are more FIRSTS to come such as interviewing with the Ministry of Education, submitting an ethics application at UNBC, and getting a paper published (aka. my dissertation). I can see what holds me up. The urgency of the now (i.e. preparing Teacher Candidates for practicum and teaching), being consumed by the Imposter Syndrome and not knowing how to do anything because you’ve never done it before (i.e. serious procrastination), and finding balance between work and life (i.e. socializing, quiet time, and curling). What I am realizing is, the only thing I can do is TRY and JUMP IN. I can only do my best and learn from my mistakes.

Year of Firsts

Hello to a new decade. I am definitely optimistic. I am hopeful for good things to happen. And, I am declaring 2020 to be the YEAR OF FIRSTS. Last year, my sister, brother, and I proclaimed 2019 to be the YEAR OF YEESH… or YoY for short. “Oy” was all that we could say about 2019. It was not a pleasant year and it persisted. We hope for “new” in 2020.

I noticed a shift in momentum today. After experiencing a “snow shower” last night in Prince George, I had to move my car the next day before noon so that they could clear the parking lot at my apartment building. I didn’t really want to, but I had to. This my was task of the day and in removing the snow off my vehicle, I had to stand in the snow.

Let me be clear. I was not only standing on the snow, but standing in the snow. This was my first time standing in snow that was mid-thigh high. I could not believe it. I used my new car brush that I bought last night to remove the inches of snow off my car (again). I did not think I was going to make it out of the parking lot. The snow was so deep. Made it, but it was my first time driving in snow like this. Thank goodness for winter tires.

I had to be away from my apartment for a few hours to have the snow cleared so I went to the university to get some work done. This is not my typical weekend activity. I guess this would have been the first time when I went to the university on a Saturday willingly to get some work done. Moreover, it was the first time paying for parking with coins.

Of course, I bump into my colleague and friend on campus. She goes to work on the weekend. I don’t know why I was surprised to see her, but really, I was expecting to see no one so that I could get some work done while I wait for my parking lot to be cleared. She just finished the work that she was working on and asked if we should go for lunch.

Yes. Lunch. Why not? Who needs to work? Before going, I wanted to buy a plane ticket for my kid. It will be the first time for her to fly up to Prince George by herself to visit me. I can’t wait. She’s coming during spring break. I also learned that my brother, sister, and dad are coming up to Prince George for the first time since I’ve moved and started working here. They are planning to come during the World Women’s Curling in March.

In the end, my friend took me to Moxies. It was my first time being there and we sat beside the fireplace. I needed that. From snow to fire… it seemed like the right thing to do today. We are both trying to eat better, so it’s a mutual challenge to choose the right thing to eat. I ordered the Vegetarian Power Bowl. My first time and it was delicious!

After lunch, my friend dropped me off at work to get something done. I wanted to get work done, but wanted to get home before it got dark and got super cold. I got a little bit of work done. Before heading home, I stopped by Canadian Tire to get another extension cord for my block heater. The moment I arrived at Canadian Tire, it was the first time the windshield of my vehicle cracked. The upside was, I got an extension cord that was meant for block heaters, it was on sale, and I bought it with my Canadian Tire dollars.

I got my extension cord and I am super pleased with it. I went food shopping and now it’s dark. And, I returned back to my apartment and the snow has been cleared. What an incredible feeling. You’ve got to appreciate the little things. Although I am not outside skiing, hiking through the trails, or snowshoeing… Just clearing my car from snow on a daily basis is a new experience for me. It’s a weird feeling being out in the snow and in the next few days, the temperatures are going to drop to -20 to -30 degrees celsius with a windchill. It’s going to get COLD. I know that this is my second winter here, but each day feels like I’m learning how to live all over again.

Lots more to come in the YEAR OF FIRSTS. I look forward to them.

What’s Your Brand

Oh yay… my first blog entry for 2020. I’ve been resisting but really wanting to write something that’s been sitting on my mind ever since my “edu-lunch” with my friend on the Sunshine Coast during the winter break. Normally, we tend to go on “edu-walks” to solve all world’s problems (or so it seems) but it rained a lot on the coast this winter. Anyway, what I appreciate about my edu-buddy is that we are critical friends. I feel so lucky (and I’m sure my friend does too) that we each have critical friends in our personal and professional lives. It’s so important to have at least one critical friend as an educator. Someone who you can trust wholeheartedly so that we can share ideas, be vulnerable, and not be judged. During our edu-lunch, we were discussing things like #OneWord 2020, how things were going at work, and what’s next. In that conversation, my friend mentions a speaker from the BCSTA Academy 2019 who spoke about wearing clothes that represent YOUR BRAND. I was provoked. What’s my brand? She said that the conference speaker said to choose clothing that speaks to who you are as a professional and stick to that clothing. For the guest speaker, her brand was a white jacket, so she always wears a white jacket. My friend reduced her work wardrobe to 7 pairs of black pants, 2 jackets, and a variety of blouses. Is my brand Crocs, tights, and hoodies? Very professional.

What a way to start 2020… to think about MY BRAND. All of us are creating our brand whether if we are intending to or not. If anything, I’d like to think that we are creating a brand that shows WHO WE ARE… a classic bit I love from Parker Palmer because we TEACH WHO WE ARE. I am so proud of our Second Year Teacher Candidates at UNBC who are heading out to their final practicum. I’ve read their e-Portfolio submissions (so far) as their EDUC 431 EdTech Instructor and what a beautiful platform to engage in digital storytelling. It’s difficult to look at oneself, self-assess, and then compose a website that shows who we really are. I am so impressed with what the Teacher Candidates have produced so far and look forward to the final product of what they will create with their e-Portfolios at the end of their practicum and thus transition into the teaching profession. Teacher education is an incredible journey for every Teacher Candidate. Transformation DOES happen. I feel privileged to be a part of their learning journey as their professor and faculty mentor. Honoured. Your identity will change over time. Be the learner.

That’s how I feel all of the time. I AM THE LEARNER. It keeps you humble and it keeps you hungry. There is no question that the learning journey is a vulnerable process and mistakes will be mades, risks taken, and some victories to be celebrated. Even where I am in my career in education… it’s been 25 years… and I am still learning. My identity is transforming. I love how my students are my teachers. They always have been. I love what I do and I hope to explore more in this field over time. As much as I am known online for my food pics, selfies, and photos of the ferry/snow/or plane rides… a brand I am creating with my Crocs, tights, and hoodies… I am always learning more about myself, my students, and my field. OK… I’ll admit… I’ve been messing with my name over time (i.e. Chris Ho, Christine Younghusband, Christine Ho Younghusband), but that’s more of an exemplar or evidence of my transformation over time. #Hello2020 #NewDecade

Reflecting on 2019

Wow 2019… You were full of surprises. I remember when my mom passed away more than a year ago, I was ready for my life to change. I was done with what I was doing and was ready to do something different. Having the grace and privilege to take care of my mom during her last 20-days with us, I was not prepared for the kind of changes that were set ahead of me AND I know that there is still more change to come in 2020.

It’s been awhile since I’ve last blogged and admittedly, I’ve been uninspired. Last month, I’ve been catching up, marking papers, and anticipating the “family holiday.” Take it a step further, I mulled over how I wanted to write my last blog entry for 2019. I’m at this for the third time today (and it’s almost 2020). This is not exactly a free-write. Editing required. Rethinking and reconsideration necessary. I am making minor revisions with each iteration. I’ve read a few comments on social media where some have suggested that 2019 was a trying year and glad to see it go. I would not disagree. I will admit, 2019 was challenging but also eye-opening. If anything, I learned more about myself and what’s important to me personally and professionally. As much as we relay the message in Teacher Education, WE TEACH WHO WE ARE from Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach, my personal life has influenced my professional life and vice versa. They are one.

At first, I thought about doing a thorough year in review and selecting one photo from each month and writing about each month. MEH. I couldn’t get passed January 2019. I have a lot of photos and could not decide. NVM. My next idea was to write about 2019 from two perspectives… a cup half empty and a cup half full… to compare and contrast. MEH. I could not write about the “cup half empty” without getting stuck in that mindset. No thank you. As much as I may want to delve into the details to appease my ego, that’s not my VIBE and who I am. In this blog, I want to focus on what’s good. A time for reflection is a time for gratitude… and so I’ve chosen to stick to my original model of blogging. I will choose a photo for inspiration and context, free-write, and what emerges from my writing will be what I will share because that’s what I’m inspired to say.

The photo I have chosen above is the LAST photo I took on the picket line during the UNBC strike and job action in November 2019. I am with a few of my Daycare Picket Site Crew – Afternoon Shift members who graciously agreed to take a group selfie with me right before I ran across the street to catch the bus to Strike Headquarters. During the strike, I met some incredible people who teach and work at UNBC. I listened to their stories, passions, and love for their work. I learned more about the university, its culture, and why the Faculty Association was in job action. I also started to understand more about MY WHY and purpose in education and the work that I do (and will do). The strike offered me an opportunity to demonstrate leadership as picket captain but also a chance to create community, connection, and trust amongst crew members and others on the line. We were an eclectic bunch who supported one another and made the best of a challenging situation. I loved my picket crew. We persevered with grit and kindness.

The strike only posed a little bip in my 2019 year. It’s the second Christmas without my mom. No double duck for Christmas dinner. My dad remarried, my marriage ended, and I failed to get a job I applied and interviewed for. Furthermore, I didn’t get into a program I applied for, I opted not to apply for another job, and I turned down two speaking events due to job action and potential financial burden. On paper, these events and decisions seem bleak and unsavoury, but really they were signals telling me to take a different path, to do what I want to do, and to pursue what I am passionate about. Strangely, with all that is said and done… I am relieved. I have a new found freedom, independence, and autonomy I never had before. It’s exciting and uplifting. I’m no longer distracted. My kid continues to be my first priority. Self-care, deliberate action, and building my self-efficacy are new priorities. I have clarity. I am happy. And, I feel more like myself. What a gift!!!

Although 2019 was filled with angst, stress, and massive change… it was also filled with opportunities, new connections, and learning experiences that are unique to the path that I am on. I am so happy to return back to UNBC for a second one-year term. We have amazing students. I am learning more about Teacher Education and contributing. I’ve made collaborations for research with other faculty from other universities and with K-12 educators. I have many opportunities to write and research. And, I love being being a part of both educational research and the teaching profession. This is a gift. I also loved working on the UNBC School of Education Leadership MEd Program Redesign Team and BEd Program Redesign Team, Open Schools BC math videos project, St. Mark’s College CALR 526 and EDUC 420, and the FNESC Math Teachers Resource Guide revisions.

In the end, it did not matter what project or course I was working on, it was the people I met on these projects and the chance to work and collaborate with them were the most memorable and valuable experiences in 2019. I also appreciated the encouragement from my new learning network at UNBC (aka. my picket crew / colleagues) and from those who are currently in my PLN (professional learning network) in K-12 and higher education. I am in the WRITE place (lol). “Write” was my #OneWord2019. I had opportunities to WRITE in 2019. I have much more to write about… I just have to do it. One of my friends and mentors asked me a couple of months ago if I felt like a professor yet. I said, no. He said, I needed something to profess about. He always gets me thinking… and I think I’ve figured it out, but you have to wait for 2020. I’m pretty stoked though and it resonates with me deeply. I am on the right path and I have a learning community who support me. Another gift. My #OneWord2020 is TENURE. Even though I cannot achieve tenure within one-year and without being tenure-track, it’s the intent. Looking forward to 2020.

Learning from the Line

My sleep habits are out of whack. I would have never thought that I would be writing a blog post from my phone in my bed at 4am in the morning. I woke up just after 3am and I can’t get back to sleep. My legs are aching. My stomach is unsettled. My brain is going a mile a minute. I might as well write a blog entry because yesterday (12-hours ago), the pickets for the faculty association shut down after 23 days of strike and 16 days on the picket line. We continue to strike as work to rule. Classes resume on Monday.

I never imagined that I would be back on the picket line after my 16-year career in K-12 public education. This time I was made picket captain because of my experience in K-12. I’ve seen and experienced job action from both points of view, as the employer and union. I was a little surprised about strike action at the university. It has a different vibe or momentum compared to K-12. Academics are bargaining with administration. The FA bargaining team is eloquent, thoughtful, and thorough. Much of what is being bargained directly affects me as contract faculty. This job action has been a learning experience for me. I learned more about the university in terms of politics, people, and process.

We can help but be siloed in our workplace situated within our own departments and segregated by buildings, rooms, and floors. On the picket line, there are no walls or departments. At the “Daycare Site,” my crew members were from education but also from psychology, library/archives, biochemistry, political science, math, social work, and natural resources & tourism. Aside from the education faculty, I would not have met any of these people on campus and if I did, I would not remember. I met people on the bus, strike headquarters, and at different picket sites. I also met people between shifts, online via Twitter, and at our solidarity receptions. I stayed near my picket site for a majority of the time during the 3-weeks, but I started to get to know people and build relationships.

On the picket line, it did not take long to build a community. I adored the people who were assigned to my picket site. We seemed to gel over time. Some of us would walk and clock 15000+ steps, some stayed, while others split shifts with the morning crew. Regardless of our preferences, we seemed to establish a rhythm at our picket site that included a lot of laughing, dancing, and good conversations. I also met folks who work in the research ethics office who are willing to help me. I got to see the “human side” of faculty, students, and CUPE staff. I also met people from FA’s from around the country as part of the flying pickets and my EdD Senior Supervisor from SFU came up to say “hi” with the SFUFA. I got to learn more about the history of the university, the passion and love these people have for their students and work, and what’s at stake at the bargaining table. Things started to make sense because I am relatively new to the university.

My biggest impression about the university is THE PEOPLE. My first impressions of the town were significantly less rain, it gets super cold, and people are friendly. I am wowed by the people at the university and how incredible and resilient they are. Some of the stories shared are pretty exceptional, but not in a good way. As much as they love what they do, I listened to stories of trauma, operations, and workloads. The image I got was the university sitting on their backs. The university ranks #2 in the country as a small research university because of these people. How can we help these people help the university rise? There is a clear difference between thriving and surviving. The collective agreement, university budget, and PSEC restrictions are playing a role in this. I am so grateful for tenure and tenure-track faculty who are standing beside contract faculty, senior lab instructors, and librarians. That says a lot about the people at this university.

I loved it when my education students came up the hill to drop off food or coffee, to say hello, or to walk the picket line. I was so excited to see them but also reminded of the importance of RELATIONSHIPS. The students are part of this too. Although I will acknowledge that some are frustrated and given up, others have rose to the occasion to advocate and stand beside faculty during this labour dispute. For that, I am grateful.

I love the photo above. It’s a beautiful exemplar of how people exceeded my expectations during job action. Aside from the amazing folks who are committed to the FA bargaining team and executive, some of the people I’ve met on the picket line are playing in this band. My mind was broadened and I love that we are more than just teaching and research. WE ARE PEOPLE with families, hobbies, and interests. They inspired me to go back to curling, which seems unrelated but it’s something I love to do. I need to make time for it. I am also ready to start reading, researching, and writing in addition to finishing off my classes for this term. I can see why people stay at this university. They love what they do. I still don’t know a lot of people at the university (or a Flying Picket said to me, they don’t know you yet), but I am so happy to meet the people that I did.

Carving Out Time

I have to admit… the last couple of weeks have been very interesting to me… if I’m really listening TO THE UNIVERSE. Sounds intense, I know… because not only am I feeling Motivated To Write, I feel like I need to carve out time to write. As much as I love to write in my blog because I feel inspired to, there has to be a regularity to the writing process and I would suppose for reading and researching as well. I need to block out time and set goals. It’s so interesting… I think about the First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning involves patience and time.” After talking to my childhood friend, now peer and colleague, learning takes patience and time spans over a lifetime. I am so grateful for what I learn from her. My perceptions and mindsets are challenged, stretched, and provoked.

My #OneWord2019 is WRITE, but I must admit that I have been limited by my own perceptions and mindsets. IRONIC, I know. When I have the unique opportunity to listen to what other people in academia do, what challenges they faced, and what they are accomplishing… I am so WOWED. And yes, they are “regular” people who do research because they are passionate in what they do. Strangely, this is no different from me. I was chatting to a few of my students about my recent revelations about my colleagues with respect to their passion and level of care… my students were quick to respond with “like you’re not passionate or caring” (insert sarcasm) inferring that I was one of them too. I was taken a back. I never perceived or believed myself to be “one of them.”

This brings to mind another First Peoples Principles of Learning: “Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.” I am captured by what people have been saying to me lately… words like PERMANENCE… did you find a home yet… or you’re here to stay. There was definitely a theme. As I think about “blocking out the time” to write, I securely go to my blog to free write my thoughts as a way to make sense of what I am contemplating. I took a course about “landing and launching” and blocking out time for productivity. I had a conversation with one of mentors about finding out the BEST TIME to write and produce. I had a similar conversation with someone else about the same ideas. I get reminded by my friend and colleagues about what needs to get done and what I am able to do. I am reassured by their confidence, yet unnerved. Sadly, I am in a good place.

SELF-ACTUALIZATION: “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone” (From Google Dictionary).

HOLY BLEEP. Maybe I’m woke… maybe I have arrived… maybe it’s time. I have writing right now that I can start working on. The first is a book I want to write about my mom. She was an amazing woman and as she anticipated, I am realizing this after she passed away. She would be so pissed off that I just said that and even more pissed off that I wrote about her. That said, I think she would also be proud of me for achieving something she knew I could always accomplish and possibly touched that I could see her. She was very special to me. The second piece of writing I am pursuing would be about ETHNOMATHEMATICS. I am encouraged by and collaborating with my friend mentioned above. I have a passion in this with respect to my dissertation of mathematics education, subject matter acquisition, and transformative educational leadership. It’s super exciting.

My academic writing is on hold for the moment, but I have MANY opportunities that are accumulating and all I have to do is GET WRITING. Jump in. Who cares? In the end, it’s about my learning and there are many levels to that. One is, believing that I can do it. Another is, what I am researching and writing about is worthwhile. And another is, do I care about what I am researching and writing about. I loved meeting some folks from the Office of Research Ethics at the university. They only have encouraging words and I realized that it’s “not a big deal.” I’m making it into a big deal… like I did when I was a doctoral student. I have incredible, yet subtle, mentoring from my former supervisor and his belief that I can do it. A librarian told me, he wouldn’t work with me if he didn’t believe that my work was not worthwhile. My fears are my own. I can overcome them. I need to publish a couple of papers, apply for ethics for a few projects, and maybe apply for a grant or two. I can do this. I just have to want it, work wisely, and get writing.

Motivated to Write

Ahhh yes… a photo from my wide collection of memories from my dissertation days. I can’t believe that it’s been over 2-years since I finished writing and defending my thesis. I still have to get it published as an article with my EdD senior supervisor at SFU, Dan Laitsch, but I have been paralyzed by the “imposter syndrome” ever since… or shall I say, it took on a new life. After the completion of my dissertation, I was a sessional instructor at SFU, then I took care of my mom full-time before she passed away, and now I am a term faculty member at UNBC in the Teacher Education Program and I teach in the MEd programs as well. I spent the whole last year trying to cope with living in a new city away from my family, learning the ups and downs of the program, and teaching/transforming students into educators in the BEd program. I’ve enjoyed my time but I know that writing and researching will be integral to my future as a academic at the university.

I’m one of those people… I have to feel it to do it. At some level, some would say “fake it until you make it.” That’s not my scene. Maybe it’s because I’m too much of an extrovert who hates to lie. Who knows what my problem is, but I have been held back (internally) from writing and I don’t know why. Some may call it “limiting beliefs” and well… I’m calling it, “Imposter Syndrome 2.0.” I felt this way for quite some time during my doctorate degree… “Who do you think you are?” and I feel that way now. I do feel the excitement of research. I love the idea of taking the time to investigate something that you are totally curious about, ask a question, and then… answer it. In the doing of learning, you are collecting data, research the literature, and then synthesizing what you have found with what has been found to come to some conclusions, recommendations, and possibly more questions. I am totally stoked for that… now. You have to write about it. Document it. Share it. I guess this falls in line with, “make your learning VISIBLE.”

I have had some “free time” lately to chat with colleagues in the field, make connections, and build my COURAGE TO WRITE. What I have realized is, everyone in my professional learning community at the university does this… and have experienced similar struggles. They have overcome these cognitive and emotional hurdles and learned how to find their voice in the field. And yet, they are just like everybody else. I know… that sounded strange… but I guess I have this perception of “what is”… and I need to take the time to actualize “what is” and how I fit into “what is.” I have 2 articles to publish… I have about 5 mini-projects I am involved with that require ethics approval, research, and writing… and I have a people in my life who are encouraging me to take the next step. I write this blog because I FEEL READY!!! Yes, we are back to those “feelings” and truth… it has to “feel” like the “write time.” LOL. I just caught myself in that. I am motivated to write.

Finding My Niche

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FPPL: Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.

OMG… I love this photo of my bub… taken approximately 16-years ago. She looks exactly the same, but she’s 16. It was shocking to me when I had my bub. LIFE CHANGING to say the least, but having her tampered and disrupted my sense of self and my identity. At that time, I remember saying to myself, “who is this?” All of a sudden, my life was thrown upside down. What I knew or understood about “what was life” would no longer be the same. I made decisions about my career because I was a mom and I made decisions about my life because I was a mom. Now, I just know… I am a mom. It’s who I am.

Completing my doctorate 2-years ago was like giving birth to my second baby… but instead of 9-months, it took 9-years and a long “pedagogical journey” of transforming self and my understanding of teaching, learning, and leading in BC education. I had to take that time to understand and restore my love for K-12 education. I had to unpack my research question and just focus on that question to get to “an answer” but also challenge myself of what is AGAIN. I had to tamper and disrupt my understandings of BC education and what I was able to do and accomplish. I think that much of the 9-years was trying to LET GO of what I believed in and SAY HELLO to what is and what could be.

I feel like I’m here again. I am sure that I am experiencing this “change” over and over again in the micro and macro, but now I am at a point where I am noticing that I am HERE AGAIN. I am brought to the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) of exploring one’s identity. I AM LEARNING. I guess this is life’s journey… to engage in change… reflect, explore, and wonder… and figure out our identity within a given context, time, and place. I AM HERE and I am listening. I am information gathering and I am leaning in a particular direction as part of my PEDAGOGICAL JOURNEY. It’s so weird when I feel like I am meandering, but really when I look back, it looks like a straight line. It’s weird.

I am given a gift to really consider who I want to be. WHO AM I? This is where my professional and personal life intersect and right now I can REIMAGINE who I want to be. This is pretty phenomenal… and in the same breath… recognize my self-limiting beliefs and overcome them. Admittedly, I’ve been doing that so far, but now I want to identify them and cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually overcome them as I move forward. I am building up my SELF-EFFICACY as a researcher, writer, and educator. What’s so great is, I have an amazing PLN (professional learning network), amazing mentors, and amazing friends and family who believe in me and support me wholeheartedly. I feel so lucky.

Now, I am taking the time to unpack my next steps and just JUMP IN with two feet. I may not know what I am doing (at first) and I may not be an expert in what I do (yet), but I am willing to forge forward to find out how and build my expertise. I have to be vulnerable to the process and know I will be “punched in the head” (metaphor) from time to time, but my job is to try, get punched in the head, and get up again. I’m Ok with that. As one of my mentors said to me, “Do you feel like a professor yet?” I said, “no.” My mentor said, “You need some thing to profess about.” Ah yes… I spent the last year and a half narrowing my niche, but now I have something I am passionate about. Can’t wait!

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