Posts Tagged: leadership

Don’t Look at the Prize Table

End of Week 21 and 22 – August 15, 2020

Wow. You know when you are in the “new normal” when time is just flying by. I cannot believe that I missed my weekly blog entry last week and I cannot believe that it’s mid-August. Here is a photo from the archives. Seriously. This snapshot was taken from when I played competitive curling in high school. The title reads “Knocks Fryer Out.” Brilliant. I skipped this high school team from Prince Rupert and we won this provincial playdown and came runner up in another tournament. It was a great season to end my high school experience, but what I did not realize was how much I would learn from this sport that would extend beyond the sport itself.

“Learning takes patience and time.”

I love this First Peoples Principles of Learning, “Learning takes patience and time.” You are always learning and you don’t know when you are going to use that information and why. My attention in recent weeks brought me back to what I know and understand from curling. I need to imagine that I am skipping a team in a bonspiel with huge hopes of winning. I am reminded of the big idea of “Don’t look at the prize table.” What am I focused on? ” I’m led back to Alasdair McIntyre’s “goods internal to the practice” and Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset.” We can do this and I need to stay focused on the game. Shake off the missed shots. Utilize people’s strengths.

Don’t focus too much on the prize. That is the goods external. It’s a balance between the details and the big picture. Ultimately, we want to place well, learn from our mistakes, and work together as a team. We each have a role and we each have strengths to bring to the table. In this case, I have to take the lead even though I do not have a formal leadership role. This is my strength: leading. There are some pretty incredible projects we are working on and my team is making it happen. When I can look at my work like a curling game, I have faith that we will be at the prize table.

#pandemicreflection #leadership #teamwork

No Regrets

The day after… the BCSTA AGM… and I am feeling great. I have no regrets running for president and I am so proud of SD46 for passing 3 motions on student voice. What should I be disappointed about? Nothing.

Putting my name forward as BCSTA president was one of the best things I have done for myself. First, it was unfinished work from last year. Second, I wanted to be what I wanted to see. Third, I had something to learn.

The assembly had spoken. A clear majority voted for the incumbent and I can understand that. It keeps continuity, he’s done the job as expected, and the directors to be elected were subject to change. I am led by the assembly. That said, I was not willing to put my name forward for VP or director as part of a strategy. The assembly made a decision about leadership and I wanted them to make a decision. I knew the outcome of the election well before the vote when trustees asked me to put my name forward as VP throughout the AGM. Thank you for your confidence of having my voice on the board.

To follow through with my campaign was a test of my character but also a test for others. I appreciated the authentic connections I had with trustees throughout the weekend who supported my campaign, gave me tips and suggestions for my campaign, and connected with me as a person. I loved that. Running for election is not personal. It was interesting to observe others who were not willing to chat with me or give eye contact. I got plenty of courtesy hello’s or smiles. I was awakened. But, I did appreciate the post-election compliments for my campaign and speech. This is politics. The best part of the campaign experience was the unconditional respect and support I got from others. It was the best I could do and I could not have performed as well without their formative feedback.

I don’t feel that I have failed. I feel like I have won. I am satisfied. I am confident that this board of directors will lead the BCSTA as best as they can, that is guided by the membership. The leadership team of the P/VP remained the same and 3 new directors joined the board. This will be the fresh voice the board of directors need and will benefit from. For me, running for president was about modelling what I want to see for BCSTA. Put your name forward, have your voice, and let the assembly choose. I wanted to offer choice for leadership, but also challenge the assembly to make a decision and feel good about it. My work is done and I am filled with gratitude. Now, I am set onto a different direction. I am finding my place and the outcome of the BCSTA election was a gift.

I am driven by three principles:

  1. You never know unless you try. (take a risk, don’t assume)
  2. You can’t tell a drunk they are a drunk. (self-actualization)
  3. You don’t know what you don’t know. (be open to learning)

I know that Principle 2 needs revision. It’s not the best saying, but it’s meaning resonates with me. I have satisfied all three principles, hence my satisfaction. Thank you members of the BCSTA. Continue to do the great work that you do. An extra special thank you to those who are choosing to not to run in the upcoming municipal election as school trustee. And best of luck to those who are planning to run. Make this role attractive to others. Boards of Education do make a difference to BC public education and student learning. Don’t forget that. You are change agents. You are Educational Leaders!!!

Younghusband for BCSTA President

Christine Younghusband
School District No.46 (Sunshine Coast)

I am proud to be running for the position of President of the BCSTA Board of Directors. I have 24 years of experience in BC education as an educator, researcher, curriculum developer, sessional instructor, and school trustee. I am deeply invested in BC public education and passionate about teaching and learning. I believe that boards of education are integral to the success of students in BC. We can influence the learning experiences of students while we advocate for quality public education in our communities and province. We are, collectively, educational leaders. Our role as boards of education is to effectively connect community values and identity to the operations of our schools to help students learn and thrive.

“Our task is to educate their (our students) whole being so they can face the future. We may not see the future, but they will and our job is to help them make something of it.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Returning back to the BCSTA Board of Directors as President would be an honour and privilege. I am able to effectively connect with others, listen to the concerns of others, and critically look at and question BC public education through multiple lenses. These are essential competencies as we move forward together as a provincial organization in terms of decision-making, policy-making, and building our collective efficacy. Although I took last year off from the Board of Directors to complete my dissertation and doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, upon completion I took the time to reflect and consider what was important to me. Boards of education make a difference in the lives of students and student learning. Being a school trustee is a leadership role I value in education. Boards of education have voice, choice, and agency. What we want for our students should be what we want for ourselves. My desire is to lead BCSTA with a common purpose focused on student learning. Thank you for considering my candidacy as president.

BCSTA Board of Directors, 3-years (2014-2017)

  • Liaison with the BCSTA Legislative Committee
  • Liaison with the (former) BCSTA Education Committee
  • Liaison with the Metro Branch, Northwest Branch, and VISTA Branch
  • Member of the BCSTA Trustee Learning Guide Ad Hoc Committee
  • Metro Branch New Trustee Mentor

School Trustee with the SD46 (Sunshine Coast) Board of Education (2011-present)

  • Chair of the SD46 Policy Committee
  • Chair of the SD46 Education Committee
  • Represented BCSTA on the Standing Committee on Provincial Curriculum
  • South Coast Branch Representative on the BCSTA Education Committee
  • South Coast Branch Secretary


Gaining Perspective

Love what you do.

This may sound cliche but when you realize that your time on earth is limited, it would be in your best interest to do what you love. I had the gift of being away from my life for 20-days and experienced the JOY OF TRANSFORMATION. Admittedly, I’ve changed too. I witnessed people change before my eyes, recalibrating what was important to them and intuitively knowing why. I experienced a type of advocacy and agency that I have never seen before. Clear conviction. I feel lucky to have this opportunity and now I am taking a moment to reflect on what happened and think about what’s important to me.

Before the 20-days, I was participating in a couple of career education workshops at SFU to figure out my next trajectory in life. It’s too easy to look back and consider what I have done before. As much as I have fond memories of teaching secondary mathematics and continue to teach secondary mathematics one-on-one as part of my educational consulting business, I know that I am meant to do something else and my experiences as a math educator will inform and influence me on what I need to do next. I know that my love is in education, even though several times during the 20-days I’ve been asked if I’m in health care or in the medical field. As mentioned, I’m not that kind of doctor.

What I do know for sure is, I love teaching… I love learning… and I love leading. Hence, this is the underpinning of my business. But so what? Most people in education feel the same way. What separates me from other educators and what am I meant to do next? I do know that whatever I choose to do next, I need to be teaching, learning, and leading. I will make no compromise to that. What I also know for sure is, I love data analysis. I love making sense from numbers, I love creating a narrative. That is soooooo fun for me. I just completed the “School Trustee Study” with my research partner (and former senior supervisor) Dr. Dan Laitsch. I just loved playing around with the numbers and making meaning from what we found from the data. I loved the collaboration, critical thinking, and shared expertise. I felt like we accomplished something that is worthwhile.

At the last SFU workshop, I identified 5 core values: (1) integrity and truth; (2) self-respect and pride in my work; (3) having a positive impact on society and others; (4) using creativity, imagination, and being innovative; and (5) autonomy, independence, and freedom. There were many other items to choose from and rank, but this turned out to be my top 5. What amazes me from this list is… I AM COMPLETELY ALIGNED. These 5 core values resonate with me and aligns to what I am doing now… with my business, research, and school trusteeship. This realization is invigorating… knowing that I am doing what I want to be doing. I am on the right trajectory. So, how can I go further?

I am so stoked that I am teaching EDUC454 for a second time this summer. I love that I can take what I have learned from last summer to make this course even better. It’s a time for me to return to my love of teaching and learning, but also find innovative and creative ways to engage and empower adult learners / pre-service teachers. I am driven by my research and the power of experiential learning and reflective practice. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to work with pre-service teachers to influence and encourage them to do what’s right in the K-12 classroom and develop their pedagogy.

I am also thinking about how to expand my business. I am getting new tutoring clientele, I am engaged in research as an affiliate scholar with the Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy at SFU, and it looks like I will write a book or two as promised in my TEDxWestVancouverED talk. I definitely have one in mind… and another one… and another one. It’s a matter of getting started. I need new material to glean from. I recently guest blogged for McGraw-Hill Education on the “Art of Teaching,” to be published in April. I continue to write about my practice as a secondary mathematics teacher, just like I did for Gillian Judson’s blog ImaginED. It’s been almost 8 years since I left the K-12 classroom and it’s time to write and talk about something else.

Finally, school trusteeship is something to consider. If you look back at previous blog entries, I learned so much from my trusteeship as an educator, parent, and educational leader. Governance plays a huge role in public education and it’s the responsibility of school trustees and boards of education to understand their role, work together with senior management teams, and do what’s best for student learning. I am passionate about this role in education. What we do matters… at all levels in education. Trustees have the responsibility of representing community values, bringing expertise to the table as oversight, and politicizing in a way that leverages learning FOR ALL. This term ends October 2018 and many are deciding whether if they will run or not in the next municipal election. That decision, for me, might come up in my next blog entry. TBA.

Although the “endpoint” is not clear or precise, I am on the right path. It’s reassuring that I am heading towards a vision. I am passionate about education and “finding my place” is important to me… as it should be for all those who are involved in education. Your role matters. Your expertise matters. You competencies matter. And, the right fit matters. We are always changing, so “fit” will also change over time. Be true to yourself and do what’s best for you and the people you serve. There are many opportunities in education where you can make a difference in student learning. You have to find it, then do it well.

Curling as an Exemplar

I’ve returned back to curling after YEARS of not doing it… and I returned part-time. What I love about curling is, you can do this sport at any age and anytime. I learned how to curl when I was 13-years old at the Prince Rupert Curling Club, I had an 8-ender scored against me in my first bonspiel, and I was a high school provincial champion… in the 80’s!!! Yes. Good times. I curled during my days at university, curled at the Gibsons Curling Club when I started teaching, and left the sport when I had my kid. So why did I return back to curling? It’s been an on-and-off love affair with the sport. I love to curl and being in my post-doctoral self, curling does “feel a bit different.” But, that’s ok. I still have fun on the ice, I am driven to make the kick-ass shot, and I love looking at the big picture of the game to strategize “a win” with my team. It’s an exemplar of what I like to do.

The more I begin to understand myself, my strengths, and my purpose… what I know for sure is, I am interested in systems, leadership, and alignment. Systems are complicated because it’s created by people for people. You should share the same objectives, but you don’t share the same role. You can’t. Much like a curling team, the Lead, Second, Third, and Skip all play different roles and each player has their strengths. It’s important for each member of the team to understand their roles, what strengths they possess to contribute to the team, and what role each team member plays and what strengths they possess to contribute to the team. This is KEY for teamwork, communication, and flow.

When one misunderstands their role or another players role… or if one believes that they are in the wrong position or is unaware of their strengths or others… or if one player thinks that they are responsible for doing all of the roles, the system is disrupted. As a result, the team becomes disfunctional and it is highly unlikely for the team to be successful when there is a misalignment in roles and misunderstanding of how all the roles must work in tandem to make the shot and win the game. The struggle becomes internal, not with the opponent of the game. Focus is distracted by the “little things.” In the end, the game is not fun to play. It becomes too serious and nobody is winning.

A shared understanding, trust, and respect are key elements to a good curling team. What helps establish these key elements and thus maintains and nourishes these key elements is communication. Do we feel safe to question the skip? Does the skip have a clear vision? Is the team working together to make the best outcome of every shot (because every execution is rarely perfect 100% of the time)? Are we clear about our WHY for each shot, the role we play, and how it plays in the big picture? This cohesion is only established with clear and concise communication. Furthermore, it takes LEADERSHIP… from all players. The skip is the leader of the team but each player is a leader based on their strengths, knowledge, and expertise. Everyone is a contributor. Collectively, the team makes the shot and wins the game. No one player is better or more important than the other. We each have a role to play… so know it and play it well.

Any second guessing, ego bruising, or parking lot conversations will automatically disrupt the flow of the team and the harmony that’s needed amongst all players to achieve a common goal. Ideally, you want other teams and team members looking at your team and have them ask questions about your team and how they can be just like you. You can’t control others but you can certainly influence them through your actions that this is what we are all about, we are a team, and we are open to any inquiries to help your team or team members be a better team or player. Being a cohesive and collaborative team builds on our collective efficacy but also our own individual confidence and competence.

I loved it when players from the other team asked me last night what I would do in their situation. It was the end of the game. My team had a rock over the pin and nestled in front of our opponent’s rock. There were two rocks covering our shot rock and many other rocks surrounded the house. It was pretty clear to me that my team would steal the point, but we would still lose the game. Nonetheless, the opponent wanted to throw their last rock. I told them that I would throw the rock through. They said, what if it wasn’t the last end? I said, I would still throw the rock through if we had 2 more ends to play. They did not understand my rationale and proceeded with the call of drawing to the button. My advice was not taken. Truth… they didn’t have to throw their last rock to win the game.

As anticipated, we got the point and lost the game… but the opposing team members asked me a follow up question: Why would you want to throw the rock through? I explained my WHY and how it played in the bigger strategy of the game and demonstrated to them by moving the rocks how it was impossible for them to get one point. Get two points with the hammer next end and you’re up by 3 coming home. You got the game. They watched me kick the rocks as if it was a take-out and we looked at the rocks. The yellow rock was still closer to the pin by half a centimetre. My team would have still stolen a point if they had thrown hail-mary shot with hopes of getting one.

A BIG AHA from my opponents and I love how they had questions about the game. Solace. This is what I love that about teaching and learning… and how leadership, teamwork, and influence play a huge role in the success of my team, the teams we play against, and for the sport as a whole. I love that I have returned back to curling to be reminded of these lessons and metaphors of what I like to do and why I love the sport. What’s the big picture, who are the players, and how are we going to get there?

New Goals

I took this picture on Waikiki beach in Honolulu on the last day of our trip. I saw the tree the night before and was mesmerized by the complexity of its branches. We returned back the next day and I had to take a picture. I never seen a tree like this before. Moreover, it’s one of my favourite images… Light coming through trees. I just love it.

This is a nice image to start 2018. What’s next? We’re in the new year and it’s time to take the next step. My 2018 One-Word is CREATE and I am faced with the challenge of MAKING NEW GOALS. It’s hard to believe that I met my lifelong goals and now I understand that making goals is about achieving them, adapting them, and yes… making new ones. When I was teaching secondary mathematics, I dreamt about speaking in front of a large audience about education and getting my doctorate. I never imagined it would happen. I left teaching in public schools and spoke in front of a large audience about education and became a doctor. Truth… for years, I thought it was only a dream.

I guess this is a great place to be. I’ve met my lifelong goals. It’s absolutely amazing!!! What I have learned is, you take big risks to achieve your goals. You may not realize it at the time. Leaving the classroom was not easy for me, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do. That was 7-years ago. It’s pretty clear that my love for education, teaching, and learning has not stopped. I love the opportunity to teach at the university as a sessional instructor and being a school trustee has helped me to keep in touch with the K-12 system. What’s next? For the last week, I have been chatting with others face-to-face and online about what I will do next. It’s been a question mark and the advice I get in return is to take a break and what you are meant to do next will present itself.

Ahhh yes… back to TRUST. Today I woke with the notion of being open to anything. What I’ve learned about achieving my lifelong dreams mid-career is that anything is possible, if you want it to be and you believe it’s possible. Believe it or not, I got my BIG AHA on what’s next? from the #bcedchat I co-moderated with @DAliceMarsh on TIME SHIFTING. The topic was about big life changes that influenced our careers in education. For me, I named leaving K-12 and my dissertation. As the edu-chat continued, I ended the chat with “A8. I don’t know exactly, but it’s going to be fun, engaging, and transformational. Likely education related and I am deep into my purpose and passion” to answer what I am expecting or hoping for next. The crazy part is, I wrote the #bcedchat questions.

For those who follow my Twitter feed, I also appreciated the learning from BIG LIFE EVENTS and I have much gratitude because I would not know what I know today and have met the people whom I met since leaving the K-12 classroom. Yes, “a plan” would have been ideal but in hindsight, I had a plan: talk to a large audience about education and get my doctorate. DONE. Now it’s time for a NEW PLAN. I am the creator of what’s next and I never perceive “rejection” or “no” as failure or not being worthy. I look at it as a sign that this is not the way to go, it’s not the right time, or my alignment is elsewhere. What I realize is, I cannot have a narrow focus on what’s next and I am able and willing to do more or something different. I met my lifelong goals. It’s time for NEW GOALS and I am open to anything who would benefit from my expertise, mindset, and experience.

Of course, I am not going to stand still. I will be sending out my CV to opportunities that I could contribute to but also learn from. I want to be learning and build on my expertise. In the meantime, I will embark on more research as a post-doctoral experience and hope to publish a few articles. I have more to learn about research as it relates to practice, leadership, and the K-12 system in addition to what it takes to publish research. This is my learning. I would also like to publish a book and what it takes to do that. That said, I am also interested in opportunities where I am teaching and learning, or helping others to engage in teaching and learning. This is the extension. I look forward to what’s next.

It Doesn’t Matter

I meant to write the blog entry a few years ago when I worked on the Math K-9 Curriculum Development Team. We worked in small groups discussing curriculum and what students “should” or “should not” learn. Of course the conversation always veered into practice and what happens in the workplace with respect to math education. My big aha THEN was, regardless of where we come from, the problems that we perceived were the same. I was coming from a private practice, another person was from a rural public school, and the other person was from an urban independent school. I was so fascinated by this phenomena. Our perceived problems in math education were not unique.

Here I am again, reminded of this phenomena… but in a different context. Again, I am wowed. My friend/colleague and I both started in education basically doing the same thing.. teaching secondary math. We were kindred spirits THEN and I loved working across the hall from this person. As time passed on, we proceeded with our careers in different directions. My friend went into administration and I opted to quit teaching in public schools to pursue doctoral studies and I became a school trustee. To make a super long story short… we ended up in the same place of being NOW. How can this be?

We took different paths and assumed different roles in education but reunited we realized that we have the same concerns about education but also the same vision for education. I love this metaphor: grass-fed butter versus margarine. My friend is like grass-fed butter valued at $11 for 250g and I am like a tub of margarine valued at $5.50 for 907g. One may have earned more than the other and took a greater responsibility in education, but in the end, you find us on on the same piece of toast. I find this fascinating… again.

I look at research and my own teaching practice to find and experiment with viable solutions. My friend reads a tonne of books and implements what was learned into the workplace. I continue to feel concerned about some aspects of education, yet feel hopeful about other aspects. I am aware of the potential of the education system and how it would benefit student learning but the machine does not move easily. One person cannot move the machine into a particular direction; it’s the collective. How does the saying go? CULTURE EATS POLICY FOR BREAKFAST. It also eats mindsets, dreams, and possibilities.

How do you create a SOCIAL CONTAGION, something that the keynote speaker from the BCPSEA Symposium spoke of? Although her keynote was referring to HAPPINESS IN THE WORKPLACE, I am wondering about how “we” could change culture that would nourish student learning for all. Happiness is a huge part of it. BC’s New Curriculum is one avenue. It’s a policy document that creates space for those in the field to implement 21st Century Learning opportunities for students. It will take time to successfully implement this curriculum. LEADERSHIP is another key to shifting culture in schools.

The leader has influence on those whom he or she leads. The leader has a vision and clear purpose. The leader must also be resilient, passionate, and persistent. The leader is courageous and models what he or she wants to see. The leader is kind, caring, and empathetic to those around him or her. The leader is selfless and not driven by his or her ego. The leader builds people up, not break them down. The leader is transparent, has good relationships with others, and listens. The leader is also willing to the break the rules (i.e. find new ground) because it’s best for all students and student learning.

I always thought my love for education was math education… but I realize that I am more consumed by leadership and systems. Math education brings light to my passion and purpose. Teaching secondary mathematics brought me to where I am today… as an educator, educational leader, and researcher. I am looking for system change. How can we leverage change together? And, do we want it? I wonder about that. I am about to write a brief blurb on the SIGNALS OF CHANGE. I see one signal and I am curious if it will embark on a social contagion or go underground, which will sustain the status quo.

Acknowledging the grass-fed butter / margarine phenomena brings some solace to my pedagogical journey. To understand what I understand today, I did not have to go through the system and climb the rungs of the public education hierarchy to realize that there is work to be done, I am looking for system change, and shifting culture as a collective is at the heart of it. Leadership is key. Breaking down barriers are as well. But also having the courage to speak up, having your voice heard, and doing something about it. I have great admiration for all those who want to “make a difference” in education and are doing something about it. We need more of us. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter where we come from or what role we possess. What matters is our common purpose.