Six of Six: Transformative

The day after… Six of Six is REVISED. I was motivated by the wrong reasons of “getting it done.” This is not to say that completion of tasks is a bad thing, but I normally like to write when I take the time to reflect and get inspired to write. I woke up this morning feeling like I was not my authentic self to really depict the TRANSFORMATIVE nature of my professional learning this year. Yes, I scraped the surface with some thinking and topics in the first iteration of this blog entry, but I want to take the moment to delve into what I mean by “transformative” in my professional learning (and self), so this blog may require some to take a second read.

This is my last blog entry for this #miniblogchallenge. As much as I love reflecting on my year of professional learning via 6 words, as asked by @JanetChowMSc on #bcedchat in June (celebrating our 6th anniversary), and challenged by @RosePillay1 to write more about each word… I have other writing to do (my #OneWord for 2019: Write). It’s taken a full year to get to this point of understanding. Let’s do this!!!

In this mini-blog challenge series, there are 5 blog entries that precede this one…

One of Six: Collaborative
Two of Six: Dialogical
Three of Six: Networks
Four of Six: Exploratory
Five of Six: Exciting

Without further anticipation… here is blog Six of Six: Transformative. THIS is the word that Rose was waiting for… TRANSFORMATIVE. How was my professional learning experience transformative in 2018/19? A great question… and it’s time to address this question TODAY. It’s a back-to-back blog day as I just wrote “Five of Six: Exciting.”

I’ve just posted a few of these pictures on Facebook and Instagram. My little family and I ventured to Gibsons to go to the GARLIC FESTIVAL at the Persephone Brewing Company. What an amazing community event… and it was busy. I was so happy to find a parking spot. There were a half a dozen stands selling garlic (of course) and other locally grown or made foods. There was honey, vegetables, and vegan chocolate. What more can you ask for? Oh wait, there was locally brewed beer and cider as well as a food truck on the side. It was the place to be on BC Day. We bought some tomatoes and garlic (see above).

I got inspired to make a tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil salad for dinner with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing… served with BBQ spareribs and garlic bread. We bought cheese and basil from SuperValu and VOILA… salad. Slice the tomato, slice the cheese, and tear off basil leaves. It got a little messy but together (see photo below) it made a beautiful and tasty dish. It was AMAZING. I was so happy. What a beautiful metaphor to my TRANSFORMATIVE mini-blog on my year of professional learning. Each ingredient equates to a part or element of my professional expertise. Each ingredient needed time to grow. Each ingredient possesses different qualities and characteristics that is unique to itself. But when the ingredients are put together to make something else, this is where the magic begins and there is something new to discover. The process of transformation is messy and unpredictable, but once assembled, it was really delicious.

Transformation is not a linear process. You have to let go of some core beliefs and develop a deep understanding of who you are. Currently I am working with a group of educators talking about making changes to one of the MEd programs at UNBC. What I love about this group is that they are willing to CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO. They are thinking about things that excite me and makes me think. But also, they are talking about “transformative leadership” and “transformative learning.” What is this, what does it look like, and how are we going to get there? I love the concept and even though we are still in the talking-phase of our work. I am very interested to see how these ideas will manifest over time and if/when it will be implemented. On the other hand, working with FNESC (First Nations Steering Committee) on the Math and Secondary Science Teachers Resource Guide, I had many moments that felt like “a punch in the head.” I don’t mean that the experience awful or frightening. Quite the contrary. What I was learning kept on challenging my thinking and beliefs. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I’m still learning. My job is to listen, understand, and get back up to be punched in the head again. It’s not an easy process to hear the truth to get to a place of reconciliation but it’s the work that has to be done and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do so. I have many plans for the new year.

When I think about previous blogs that I have written about the things I’ve done professionally, I spoke of different positions I’ve held in education. I was a secondary mathematics teacher (16 years), school trustee (7 years), doctoral student/research assistant (?? years), curriculum developer (3 years), sessional instructor (3 years), math tutor (8 years), educational consultant (9 years), and Assistant Professor (one year). How are these positions interconnected? Why did I take this path? I wonder about that often.

Although I’ve accomplished some pretty incredible things this year at UNBC, I have not fully embraced the idea (yet) that I am an assistant professor and educational researcher. This year, I got to teach full-time in the teacher education program with a couple graduate level courses; I participated in two committees looking at educational reform in the teacher education and MEd programs. And, I am a UNBC senator. This is not to mention my first publication with Dr. Daniel Laitsch from SFU (my EdD supervisor) and worked with FNESC and OSBC (Open Schools BC). I continued my work with #bcedchat and BCAMT, but for doors to open, I have to close some doors. This is the challenging part. In the end, I could not let go of my teaching roots of teaching secondary math.

For the past school year, I felt lost or disconnected along with my unwillingness to let go. I could not believe that I was living in Prince George and living the life of an academic. How does reading, writing, and research have a thing to do with teaching mathematics? Nothing and everything. Talk about the IMPOSTER SYNDROME. Yet, I would not be the person I am today without the experiences of being a math teacher, school trustee, and early researcher during my doctorate. All of these INGREDIENTS (and more) are coming together very nicely in my professorship at UNBC. The process has been messy and uncertain, but also “collaborative, dialogical, networked, exploratory, and exciting.” I found myself second guessing while transforming, but I am so content with where I am TODAY. It’s taken the whole year to realize this. The barrier in my professional learning and growth is MYSELF and the belief in myself that I can do it and that I am doing it. THIS IS WHERE I AM MEANT TO BE.

When I took the picture below with Rose and April McKnight (@rilmcknight) at CAfLN in May I was beside myself and feeling uncertain. Transformation is not fun, challenging, and extremely disruptive. You have to subject yourself to EXTREME VULNERABILITY to challenge your core beliefs… and change. Get out of the comfort zone and put yourself out there. This process of transformation is very reminiscent of the change I witness our teacher candidates experiencing in our teacher education program. As my EdD supervisor Dan Laitsch said to me during my doctoral work, “why would you enrol in this program if you didn’t expect to change?” I am returning back to this learning all over again.

There is no question that after this past year working at UNBC, engaging in various professional learning activities that are new to me, and challenging myself to extend beyond my perceived capabilities have been incredibly transformative. This is not to hide the internal struggle of disrupting who I think I am and what I am able to do. My job is to get up and always try again. This is the journey I have chosen and now I think the pieces are all fitting together. Thank you to my friends, colleagues, and PLN for having my back and believing in me. And, I am very grateful to all of those who I have met and reconnected with in Prince George. I do feel at home here. It’s been a challenging year of professional learning at the university for many reasons, but also a rewarding year. I never thought THIS was possible, but all the pieces have come together, I am learning, and this is what I am meant to do. I have transformed and will continue to change.

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