Connection and Reconnection

Week 64 – June 6, 2021 – Visit to Prince George

What a whirlwind. On May 30th, I drove up to Prince George to start the moving process and to visit teacher candidates on Week 3 (of 4) of EDUC 490 practicum. Due to the pandemic, I have not met the teacher candidates face to face this school year because universities continued with remote learning and the housing market boomed everywhere in BC, I needed to assess my apartment to see how viable it would be to have my daughter live with me. I had boxes in my car (some of which returned back to Sechelt with me because I could not get to them). It was a full week in Prince George CONNECTING AND RECONNECTING with teacher candidates, colleagues, and friends. For an extrovert in COVID-19, I filled my cup in many ways.

The crazy part was, I started my week presenting at CSSE 2021 with OTESSA 2021. When I arrived in my apartment, my first course of action, aside from making dinner with food that I hoarded at the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago (i.e. pasta and sauce) and throwing away every item in my freezer because everything was freezer burned, I prepared for my presentation on e-portfolios, identity, and teacher education. I was added to the program on short notice and I was able to stay up late to create my presentation. My presentation was scheduled for Monday morning and it went really well. It was a wonderful boost to my sense of efficacy to be an academic and that I have something worth sharing. Presenting to others is great feedback.

Moving boxes in between and removing 2-years of recycling from apartment, I connected with school principals via email to let them know I would be visiting schools to meet teacher candidates. Week 3 is a great time to visit because they are just getting their groove as teachers in the classroom. I started my visits with those placed at an independent school. I got to say a quick hello to one candidate and briefly observed another. It was a good start to my journey. The next day, I toured a couple of schools with a district staff member. It was good to connect and build our relationship between the university and school district. The first school we visited was Nusdeh Yoh. The day started with drumming and singing with students about the salmon and we ended circle being smudged to start the day in a good way.

We toured Nusdeh Yoh with the school principal to learn more about the school and how Indigenous culture is embedded in the school, curriculum, and way of being. I was inspired by what I saw and the experience was reminiscent of being a school trustee. We looked at art, met teachers and students, and I was so pleased to meet and briefly observe the teacher candidate placed in this school. We then headed to the largest high school in Prince George. Five teacher candidates are placed there and I had to chance to speak to all of them to see how things were going. We stopped for lunch, then I visited two elementary schools independently. I had the chance to speak to teacher candidates and coaching teachers to assess how things are going.

The following day, I visited the remaining schools in Prince George where teacher candidates were placed. I started in Beaverly at an elementary school and ended in the Hart at a secondary school. The visits varied from hellos, brief conversations, to edu-stalking moments (because they were being formally observed and teaching). I had a good sense of how things were going in practicum from the perspective of the teacher candidate, coaching teacher, and school principal. I got a healthy dose of feedback, of which I will bring back to the university, and I finally had a chance to meet most of my teacher candidates face to face (two of which I met at Starbucks on my way out of Prince George in Quesnel). The remaining few, I connected with email.

It felt so good to meet the teacher candidates. In other times during my visit, I reconnected with friends and colleagues in Prince George. It’s a good problem to have when you did not have enough time to see everyone you wanted to see within the week. I think I may have over done it at times with wine and possibly overstaying my welcome. LOL. The strength of Prince George are the people. There were no down times and even one student from my math teaching days reached out to me to say hello because they saw my name and number at the school check in. This person was Grad 2000. When you think about it, that was 21 years ago… makes you think about the importance of connection, relationships, and making an impact on learners and student learning. A powerful way to end my visit to Prince George. Thank you.