Reflecting on 2017

Can this photo get any more accurate? Me… at convocation… taking a selfie. What a great way to depict my YEAR IN REVIEW for 2017. The underlying theme for 2017 was DISSERTATION… and my One Word for 2017 was JOY. Seems serendipitous. I realize that my doctoral studies was integral to my state of being for many years. It was 2017 when I completed my dissertation (the many versions of it), I excelled in my oral examination, and I submitted my FINAL draft to my supervisor within a day of my oral defence. I only had a few minor changes to complete for my final FINAL draft to the SFU Library. August 17, 2017… my defence date… and convocation in October… were HIGHLIGHTS of 2017. Thank you Dr. Dan Laitsch and my examination committee. Dissertation is done!!! #yayme

Looking back at previous blogs to review the year, I can see that I have been turning the page onto the next chapter of my pedagogical journey. I started my year off with guest blogging on Gillian Judson‘s blog, Education That Inspires, about my Math 8 project, “Math Embedded: A Tribute to Susan Point.” The blog entry was shared many times on Twitter and I am so proud to have created and collaborated on this math project with my friend and colleague, Kerry Mahlman, while I was teaching at Chatelech Secondary School almost 10 years ago. I also started off 2017 going to the Abbotsford Christian Academy to see Sir Ken Robinson LIVE and then to TEDxLangleyED. It was a strong start to 2017.

I also had the pleasure of teaching two courses at Simon Fraser University. The first was EDUC454 (Quantitative Approaches to Environmental Education) in the summer and EDUC471 (Curriculum Development: Theory and Practice) in the fall. I am also supervising a masters student at St.Mark’s College and the completion of her capstone project/paper on inquiry based learning. I wrote blog entries for both EDUC454 and EDUC471. You can find them by searching “EDUC454D100” and “EDUC471D100” on my blog page. I was committed to reflecting at the same time as my students were. I wanted to model the REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER but also document my teaching/learning in both of these courses. I love looking back at these blog entries and pictures. Both courses modelled the principles of BC’s New Curriculum and students learned from experience. Both courses were student-led and teacher-facilitated. Teaching at SFU helped me to learn and understand the potential of BC’s New Curriculum. BTW: IT’S INCREDIBLE!!!

I had 3 outstanding opportunities to present… at (1) EDVENT 2017; (2) IGNITE 35; and (3) TEDxWestVancouverED. I was super excited to present at EDvent… “Better Than Pho” gave me an opportunity to put some of my food pics into a presentation and make connections between my favourite foods and professional learning. I loved presenting at IGNITE 35 (Mixed Tape) with my friend/colleague, to re-declare my love for professional learning with “SING.” Finally, I was able to speak at TEDxWestVancouverED to use the Russian Nesting Doll as a metaphor for the education system and find your place (aka. ALIGNMENT). What I have learned is, I love to public speak but I am not the best at MEMORIZING a script, rehearsing it, and then reiterating it within a time constraint. It’s not natural for me… thus, I spoke REALLY really fast. That said, I would like to thank Gabriel Pillay, Nick Ubels, and Craig Cantile for giving me the opportunity to speak.

This year, I also took the time to participate in TWO MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course)… The first was #IMMOOC Season 3. This was an online learning experience based on George Couros‘s Innovator’s Mindset book. It involved blogging, Twitter Chats, and interviews with educators via YouTube. It was an amazing professional learning experience. You can also find my blog reflections by searching #IMMOOC on my blog page as well. Furthermore, I had the most awesomest experience meeting George Couros in-person at the 2017 BCSSA Fall Conference. He even mentioned me (and pointed me out) during his keynote presentation. We communicated on Twitter DM and we took a selfie. The other MOOC I participated in was offered at UBC titled “Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education.” Again, another AMAZING professional learning experience. There was a tonne of information and insight offered. I was so inspired and understand the importance of land to one’s identity. I recommend this MOOC to all those in education.

It’s always a pleasure being a part of the #BCEdChat co-moderator team and serving on the SD46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education. I have recently rejoined the BC Association of Mathematics Teachers (BCAMT) Executive Committee and curling at the Gibsons Curling Club. Curling aside, I am grateful and proud of the opportunities I am involved with to serve and contribute to BC Education that is different from teaching secondary mathematics. I love my #bcedchat co-mod team and PLN, and I am satisfied with the work accomplished by the SD46 Board of Education. Curling is a sport I’ve played since high school but it reminds me of what I like about education and the roles I play. I love the BIG PICTURE. I am interested in systems, policy, and leadership. And, I am driven to find ways to improve the learning experiences of others in the system.

With that clarity… 2017 seemed muddled with UNCERTAINTY. I was uncertain if/when I would finish my dissertation as seen in “data denial.” I struggled with “my story” and perplexed by the “next step” and “now what” to get to “the other side.” There were several blog entries about clarifying and reconnecting to my purpose… ranging from “deep sadness” to “apply and publish” to “it doesn’t matter” to “put in my place.” I deliberately stepped away from leadership opportunities to make time (and space) to complete my dissertation. I needed to stop “living in the wake” to realize life “beyond the wake.” Here’s serendipity… during my vacation, my friend and colleague Karl Lindgren-Streicher tweeted an image of what he was reading on his vacation: PURPOSE TRUMPS PASSION. I could not agree more. A defining moment… I am passionate about teaching & learning, but my purpose is to find ways to enhance the student learning experience.

This holiday AHA was verified with my vacay reading, DRIVE, written by Daniel Pink. BTW: I also met Daniel Pink in-person at the FISA 2016 Conference in Vancouver and used his TED Talk on “The Puzzle of Motivation” several times in my SFU classes to discuss assessment and evaluation. I found his book DRIVE inspiring and validating. AUTONOMY, MASTERY, and PURPOSE… Three variables that TYPE I folks need to thrive in the 21st Century. I love autonomy (aka. freedom), “mastery is a mindset,” and our motivation is driven by a purpose that is greater than ourselves. The idea of FLOW and use of research to define/describe INTRINSIC MOTIVATION resonated with me because it reminded me of Alasdair MacIntyre’s work on excellence and achieving “goods internal to the practice.”

I have come full circle. As uncertain 2017 was, I have accomplished so much and took the time to heal from my story such that I feel that 2018 will be an awesome year. My 2018 One Word is CREATE. Right now I am revising my CV to apply for sessional, tenure, and research positions. I am preparing to present (three times) at the Hawaii International Conference on Education that’s happening on January 4-7. I found an opportunity to facilitate a research study with a school district on communicating student learning. Finally, I hope to do academic writing and publishing, in addition to moving forward with applications to acquire a post-doctoral position and/or funding to pursue further research on mathematics education, teaching & learning, and mentorship. This year has been about LETTING GO, completion, and JOY… but also realizing what’s possible. If I want to help others to realize what’s possible in teaching & learning, I have to do the same.

Thank you 2017. Many lessons learned. Much gratitude.

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