Happy New Year 2019

Week 15 (of 38) – Friday – January 4, 2019

I flew back to Prince George from the Sunshine Coast/Vancouver on January 1st. Happy New Year!!! I was back on campus on January 2nd and spent a solid hour shovelling snow off my car. I’ve never done that before. Welcome to my learning. As much as I enjoyed my holidays to Vegas with my family and time at home on the Sunshine Coast with my little family, there was much work to do (aside from shovelling snow) at the university to prepare our second year teacher candidates for final practicum and course design for our first year teacher candidates. It was a cramming opportunity. It was an incredible 2-days of unit planning with our Year 2 students and an awesome start with the Year 1 students. What I am grateful for and impressed with are my colleagues who were willing to come to campus to support our students and support me in my work to support our students. I love being a part of a TEAM… a winning team. It was a great start to the new year.

Year in Review 2018

I cannot believe 2018 is coming to an end. I had some amazing moments in 2018 that happened to me professionally, but also some NOT so amazing moments. I know that it’s all about learning and the learning process but some events were so traumatizing that I am still working on it. That said, I walk away from 2018 with lots of gratitude. I took the the opportunity to review my 2018 photos on my phone and selected one photo per month as highlights of my 2018 year, which I briefly describe each event below:

January 2018: This was an excellent way to start the year. I presented my dissertation as a poster at the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE) in Honolulu. I also presented a paper on behalf of Dr. Daniel Laitsch and presented our paper on BC School Trustees and their use of research and information for decision making.

February 2018: I wasn’t working… and very thankful. Karma has a funny way of working and I had the time to take care of my mom full-time. My mom was not well for months (if not years). We reached a moment where we went to emergency and within 20 days she passed away from cancer in the liver. I was grateful to have this time with her.

March 2018: I was PUBLISHED in the Education Canada magazine. Woohoo!!! I attended a couple sessions in Vancouver looking at “The Signals of Change” in education. Participants were encouraged to submit a 300 word article and mine was 1 of 5 published in the magazine. https://www.edcan.ca/articles/signal-questioning-pedagogy/

April 2018: A TSN Turning Point in my School Trustee career. It was an “all or none” situation for me and I ran for President of the BCSTA… and lost. No loss though. I learned a lot during that AGM conference weekend and seized the opportunity to say what wanted to say about public education, educational leadership, and school boards in my speech.

May 2018: Decided to change my trajectory and opted to walk away from organizations that I was involved with to pursue another direction in education. I was unexpectedly nominated as the VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR at the Sunshine Coast Community Futures. Serving on the Board of Directors as director for 5-years was very rewarding.

June 2018: This was my last speech to give to the Chatelech Secondary School Graduates on behalf of the SD46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education. I taught math at this school for 16-years and served in the district as school trustee for 7-years. It was time. Saying Goodbye… and HELLO. https://christineyounghusband.com/saying-goodbye/

July 2018: Flew up to Prince George for an interview at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). It was an amazing experience. It felt right from the beginning. I had an other interview a few days after this one. It wasn’t good and didn’t feel good. I got the position at UNBC (and not the other). A one-year, full-time contract here I come.

August 2018: I taught an amazing course during the summer. What I hoped to achieve in this course was to design and facilitate student led learning that was competency based, which used current content knowledge. I was so proud of what this group accomplished. It could have been better, but it was my WORST COURSE REVEW EVER.

September 2018: I moved to Prince George and started teaching in the Teacher Education Program at UNBC. I taught a secondary Year 1 cohort, an elementary Year 2 cohort, and a research methods class. The learning curve is huge and rewarding. Love the people I’ve met and continue to meet within the School of Education and Prince George.

October 2018: Presented at the Northwest Math Conference in Whistler. I loved reconnecting with fellow math educators and meeting new ones. I presented on my teaching and learning experience from a couple summers ago on Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education. I had about 200 attendees and positive reviews. Reassuring.

November 2018: The fall term ends at UNBC School of Education with the inaugural EDUCATION FAIR 2018. Students from all 4 cohorts volunteered and demonstrated their term’s learning to fellow classmates, university instructors, local educators, and the public. I was proud that half a dozen of my students presented their IGNITE presentations.

December 2018: I feel very lucky to be mentored by and to work with Deb Kohen at UNBC. She invited me to partake in a collaborative event with Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Dr. Paige Fisher and the Ministry of Education. Together with other instructors and teacher candidates from each university, we went to the Vancouver Public Library to collectively learn more about Place Based Education in Teacher Education.

“I eat a little bit of Everything and not a lot of Anything.”

Giada De Laurentis (Giada Vegas 2018)

It’s been an amazing year. I am so happy to have the people in my life who help me rise.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. Looking forward to 2019.


Week 14 (of 38) – December 3-7, 2018

This is my first week at the university without classes in session. It’s exam week. My undergraduate students handed in their assignments at the end of last week and my graduate students are finishing up their papers to be handed in next week. I am “happy” to have scheduled my plane ticket back home for December 15th instead of December 1st. There is still much to do. I had the pleasure of collaborating with colleagues to develop comprehensive exam questions a few weeks ago and invigilated part of the comprehensive exam period last weekend. This week was spent reading these papers, marking assignments, and finalizing grades for this term. This week concluded by heading out to Vancouver with another colleague and half-a dozen students from our elementary year-one program to collaborate with faculty and teacher candidates from another small university to learn more about place-based learning “outside” of the classroom.

One theme that resonated for me throughout this week was MENTORSHIP. I don’t think that I could have managed and operated throughout my first term at the university without the support, collegiality, and expertise from my colleagues and co-workers. The learning curve was HUGE to say the least. Not only am I learning about and creating the syllabi of my courses, I am also learning about the culture of the department and university, learning about the program and policies that guide decision-making, and learning about my place at the university and what role play in enhancing the learning experiences of students at the university in addition to my learning and contribution.

It’s ironic that I’m writing about MENTORING now when WordPress has just changed or updated their platform and I’m trying to figure out to upload, rotate, and position photos into this weekly blog of learning. Truth… I have not figured it out yet. A little mentorship or guidance would be greatly appreciated right now but I’m letting that go. So, deepest apologies for the oddly positioned, unrotated photos in this blog. THANK GOODNESS FOR MENTORS. I am reminded of my dissertation. MENTORING was one of the “professional learning activities” that helped Non-Mathematics Subject Specialist Teachers (NMSST) gain subject matter content knowledge in mathematics to teach secondary mathematics. However, my study did not investigate to what extent mentorship helped these teachers, which lends itself to future research. In my dissertation, very few teachers participated in “formal mentoring” but were supported by mentors informally. I can understand this.

The strength of “the floor” at the university is MENTORSHIP. As I had the pleasure, time, and opportunity to reflect on my teaching and learning experience this term this week, I feel so grateful for the people who are my mentors. Not one relationship is a “formal mentorship” such that one person was assigned to me to help me immerse into the university and my position (like the mentor I had in my first year of teaching in K-12 schools). I have many informal mentors. I am mentored by those who have expertise and experience in the teacher education program, the school district, and graduate studies. I have many mentors on “the floor” and off the floor. I am also connected to those who work in other universities, K-12 schools, and other edu-organizations. It’s been amazing. 

My mentors either help me with the day-to-day activity of “the floor,” provide information that I need, stoke my cognitive fire, say hello, or provide encouraging words. From a slow start to the term to a huge learning curve, it is now approaching a pleasant equilibrium. This week ended with a quick trip to Vancouver with a colleague (who invited me) and a half dozen of our Elementary Year 1 Teacher Candidates. We met up with other education faculty and teacher candidates from another university at the Vancouver Library to learn about PLACE BASED LEARNING and how this would fit into teacher education programs. In collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education, Deb Kohen and Paige Fisher orchestrated this learning opportunity on the 8th floor to consider SELF, COMMUNITY, and PLACE. Our learning was recorded on a “learning stick” (see below) but also on camera to compose a 3 minute video for the Ministry. I was asked to be recorded, but declined.

We live between before and after… by revisiting our memories and revising our stories, we rewrite the past and future.

Ending my week with in Vancouver at the Vancouver Public Library with university faculty and elementary teacher candidates, I learned more about mySELF, my COMMUNITY, and my sense of PLACE. At one moment during the learning activity, I felt like I was meant to be here. Serendipity strikes again. The teacher candidates who attended this event were outstanding and shared their learning experiences with the group and provided insight to faculty on how to embed place-based learning into education. I met education faculty from the other university who are IN MY TRIBE. It was mind-blowing. From being a complete stranger to being a kindred spirit, I realized that we shared similar interests, experiences, and membership to organizations. This learning experience with teacher candidate and education faculty changed my sense of self, community, and place. 

Thank you to all those who serve as a mentor to me. I has helped me and continues to help me to transform from a school trustee, graduate student, and mathematics tutor to an assistant professor, teacher educator, and educational researcher. I have met some incredible people and every experience and conversation are shaping who I am.

End of the Term

Week 13 (of 38) – November 26-30, 2018

I cannot believe that the fall term has ended. Last classes at UNBC were on Friday, November 30th and we celebrated student learning at the UNBC School of Education with EDU FAIR 2018. This is a new event and hopefully a new tradition at the UNBC School of Education. It’s an opportunity for students to demonstrate and share their learning to the public and peer, but also celebrate what they have accomplished. Best of all, it coincided with SD57’s (Prince George) Professional Development Day. So teachers, school principals, and senior administration were also welcome to attend… and they did. EVERYONE WAS WELCOME. Student participation and contribution were voluntary. For our first EDU FAIR at UNBC’s School of Education history (as far as I know), the end of term event was successful. I was proud of my EDUC 360 who volunteered to present their IGNITE presentations for EDU FAIR 2018 to represent the Secondary Year 1 Cohort.

Here’s a collage of my EDUC 360 students sharing and demonstrating their learning to their classmates in our class this week to conclude our course this term. I was so amazed by the quality of their presentations and the effort they took to make a comprehensive 5-minute presentation. They were able to connect “who they are” to “who they want to be” as educators. Many had highlighted place-based learning, formative assessment, personalized learning, growth mindset, competency-based learning, problem based learning, case against grades, 21st Century Learning, the power of geek, the heart of a teacher, and yes… BC’s New Curriculum. We landed on two-feet. A great first term with this cohort. Transformation was visible and I look forward to teaching them next term.

I did end up doing an IGNITE presentation for EDU FAIR. I had a moment where I didn’t have to do an IGNITE, but it was also an opportunity to share my transformation as an educator working with this cohort, which is connect to who I am and who I want to be. I have spared the blog reader from posting my IGNITE presentation, but I am super pleased with how this cohort is moving forward and I have the pleasure of teaching all 4 cohorts next term with course work and practicum. This will be a new experience for me… to continue teaching and learning with teacher candidates beyond one term. It’s a gift and I’m looking forward to it. Thank you UNBC School of Education faculty, teacher candidates, coaching teachers, practicum mentors, school district staff, UNBC support staff, and the community for supporting our amazing teacher candidates at UNBC.

The Grass Is Green

Week 12 (of 38) – Nov. 19 to 23, 2018

In this new chapter of my pedagogical journey, I am realizing that THE GRASS IS GREEN. What do I mean by that? As crazy as things may seem OR as stressful as people may feel… THINGS ARE GOOD. I am very happy how my classes are ending this term. We had some rough moments, but I am content with our progress. I am collaborating with my colleagues and enjoying every minute of it. The conversations are exceptional and I love our resilience and determination to move forward. Finally, I can be myself in my workplace. There’s no to pretend. I feel authentic. I am making connections with those at the university, in school districts, on Twitter/Google Hangout, and other edu-communities. I love what I am learning, who I am working, and the direction we are heading in. THERE IS NO PERFECT and in fact, that’s not what I’m aiming for. I am aiming for excellence and the goods internal to the practice. I have solace knowing that my edu-experience is not unique, but a shared experience. We have good people wanting to do good things… and that’s all I can ask for.

Lemons Lemonade

Week 11 (of Week 38) – November 12-16, 2018

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

This common saying inspired the title of my blog today. I’m putting a SPIN on what is and what things could be. You have to. I could dwell on the “bad” bur really… it’s all good. So here’s my confession… I WILL NOT BE DAILY BLOGGING ANYMORE. Sorry Ian (@technolandy). I just can’t do it. This is my learning. I’ve spent many weeks just trying to catch up to my “daily blogging” but the reality is, I need time to think and reflect. This is what I’ve learned about myself. I’m pretty content knowing and understanding this about myself. I like blogging. I like reflecting. I love learning. I am RE-COMMITTED to a weekly blog of learning. Hence, this blog is “Week 11 of 38.” It’s a NEW Friday ritual.

I teach in Prince George, BC and my little family lives on the Sunshine Coast, BC. As you can see from the photo above, it snowed in Prince George yesterday. My husband kindly sends me a photo of the Sunshine Coast tonight as seen in the photo below. I’m a COASTAL GIRL living in the central interior. It’s going to snow. I’ve been anticipating snow for months and we have not seen the best of it yet. I believe that I will financially break even this school year in preparation for snow. I bought things that I have never owned before like a block heater, winter tires, and an electric blanket. I love my electric blanket. That said, I am so happy that I can visit my little family at least once a month and I get to teach at a university whose values are ALIGNED to mine. I feel very lucky. Not only to have a NEW home in Prince George (aka. apartment) where I can continue learning and pursuing my career in education, but I also own my home on the beautiful Sunshine Coast where my little family resides. I love living in both places.

Of course, good things come in THREE. As mentioned, I get to work at an institution that is undergoing change. I JUST LOVE THAT. I can see how people feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and visible change (me included, at times), but I love how I can be a part of an incredible opportunity to REDESIGN our programming but also be part of the university’s redesign to create a STRUCTURE that will enable students and faculty to THRIVE… and create the best learning environment that adheres to the values of the institution. Admittedly, it gets a little cray, cray at times at work… well, most times. But I like the provost’s description of the Academic Restructuring process… DESIGN BUILDING. I love that thinking. I would much rather build as we are doing and being nimble to ongoing input and feedback versus having “pre-packaged CHANGE.” This is right up my alley and today was a day a celebration.. for me. I felt that with a lot of hard work and collaboration, we accomplished something today. Today reminded me that EVERY STEP COUNTS. Leadership matters. Trying and putting yourself out there are necessary goods.

What’s Important

Day 48 (of 187) – November 9, 2018

Here I am, back on the Sunshine Coast from Prince George. I was suppose to be at the JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE concert with my sister tonight, but the concert was cancelled a couple of days ago. Unfortunately or fortunately, I could not cancel my plane tickets. It just meant more time with my little family in Sechelt. My husband picked me up yesterday from the airport and handed off his vehicle to me so that I could take the ferry and drive to Sechelt. That was super nice. He even took me out for dinner before I headed for the 750pm ferry. I got to reunite with my kid and dog at home. We went out for a late night walk. We chatted and went to bed. Strangely, it was like I never left… like I was away on a 3-week conference and now I’m back. I like how we are finding a new norm. My kid is more independent. My man and kid are building a new relationship. I’m working on my new career and parenting by text. My dog barely notices. “Hi. Welcome back. Where’s dad?” Thank you dog. After all that is said and done, I am reminded of WHAT’S IMPORTANT. How does the saying go… Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I love my little family (and friends) and glad to be back home… at least for a few days.

Less Is More

Day 47 (of 187) – November 8, 2018

Look at this beautiful food pic… If you don’t know me already, I’m a HUGE food pic fan. I like taking food pics and I’m pretty happy that this food pic has made my daily blog of learning. Why post a pic of food? It’s a metaphor. LESS IS MORE. Look at how simple this meal looks. My husband ordered this from the Sheraton hotel in Richmond. The appetizers and this dinner were absolutely delicious. As you can see, there is nothing to it. Cod, carrots, beans, peppers, and mashed potatoes. This meal even cost $10 more than my meal that night. It reminds me of what I am trying to convey to my students about learning activities and learning intentions. Sometimes, less is more. The choice is either depth or breath under the constraint of time. I am learning this lesson as well. I would love to go deeper on some of the student led learning activities and class discussions, but we have a time limit per class in this term. As much as I have designed this course, as my students have with their learning activities and presentations, to have an overview of some concepts regarding Curriculum and Instruction… LESS IS MORE. This is a good lesson for me and my students. This meta-experience is an exemplar that teachers are learners. They have to be… to be responsive, reflective, and reflexive. Right now, I’m feeling like I’m none of the above as I am moderating each of us with time to ensure that we can conclude this class with most of our learning intentions in tact. I am learning.

Vulnerability in Education

Day 46 (of 187) – November 7, 2018

I’m not going to lie… but I stalled on this daily blog of learning. I was doing a pretty good job on keeping up to my daily blogs until today. I shouldn’t be surprised. I definitely have up days and down days. I had a full day yesterday. I was on campus for more than 12-hours. I thought I could take this day to start with intention. Plan. Respond to emails. I just wanted a moment in time to have two-feet on the ground so that I could move forward with confidence and competence. Most times I feel like I’m running around. Reacting. Trying to do my best knowing that my “things to do” list was getting longer and longer. I needed to take a moment for me before I could go back and give to others.

I wonder about VULNERABILITY IN EDUCATION. I find myself in a constant state of trauma. I still think about my course reviews from last term. I really made myself vulnerable to my class. I tried new things with them and structured my class that was student led and student focused. From my point of view, the course was exceeding my expectations. From my students point of view, I was underperforming… in fact, incompetent. Truth. I was spooked and continue to be. I wonder about making changes to my pedagogy in education, whether it would be in K-12 or teacher education. I took great risks and wore the negative perceptions of these attempts. We’ve been groomed for 20th century rigour and routines. How can we UNLEARN these habituations?

Now, I feel like I’m here again and I’m spooked. Deja vu. Is this some kind of trick? Should I be learning from my mistakes? Or should I persevere? It’s like that summative feedback instilled a deep level of trauma in me that I am fearful to persevere even though I know it’s the right thing to do. I wonder about this in education. We ask students to take risks… to believe… to wonder and embrace the uncertainty. In the end, the students wanted structure, predicability, and certainty. Their summative feedback was hurtful and I’m having difficulties recovering. Was this the opportunity to put me into my place? Should I go back to my pedagogy from 1994? Is this what they were asking for in light of BC’s New Curriculum? There are no questions, I have doubt. With so many mixed signals, how can we move forward and feel “safe” doing so? I cannot be the teacher or learner I want to be if I’m operating in a state of fear… worried if “I’m doing something wrong.”

I can only imagine how student teachers feel… how our students feel (if they don’t fit into the box we call learning)… or our leaders feel who have to create the culture of learning and have to step out of the box so that learning by doing, experimenting, and exploring are the new norms. I hope to recover one day so that I can be the teacher I hope to be.

Not a Trustee

Day 45 (of 187) – November 6, 2018

Well… it’s official. I’m no longer a school trustee of School District No. 46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education. I served 2-terms as school trustee… 7-years of service. I was focused on enhancing the learning experiences of students. I was also focused on good governance, leadership, and educational change in light of BC’s New Curriculum. I was passionate about student voice and I appreciated being a part of the public school system while completing my doctorate degree in educational leadership. I never held a chair position, except on committees, but I didn’t need to. I was always leading from the roles I held and contributed my voice and expertise when needed. In terms of my expertise, I was in the minority of trustees on the Boards and committees I sat on. I am an educator… a practicing educator via consulting, tutoring, and higher education. My background is in K-12 education with a Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate degrees in education. Being a school trustee with this formal background in addition to my experience in BC education… I had much to say. However, in the role of school trustee… I am in governance, not the operations. Some things that I knew or believed in had no place at the board table because it was perceived as operational. I’m not the math teacher. I’m not the school principal. I was the school trustee. This is why it’s so important for boards of education to understand their role and their importance in the public education system. What I realized is, school boards and trustees do not understand (in a deep way) their potential to create change and enhance the learning experiences of students. I hope one day, they will. This ends my chapter in SD46. It’s been 16 years as a math educator and 7 years as a school trustee. I would not be the person I am today without you, the people, and experiences in this school district. I continue moving forward to find ways to enhance the learning experiences of students. Right now, I am focused on teacher education in the north. Here I am in the photo visiting student teachers at schools during their short practicum. My interests continue to be math education, professional learning, assessment practices, policy, and leadership. I look forward to the next chapters in my PEDAGOGICAL JOURNEY. Each step is never easy and it’s not meant to be. I am grateful for the teaching, learning, and leading. These variables give meaning to my purpose. Thank you SD46 for being part of my journey.