I have never been a creature of habit. When things get to be too predictable, I get an anxious feeling that life is passing me by. Perhaps this is the reason that eduction has been such a good fit for me. Change and new learning are always afoot! Meeting new people, changing grade levels, attending professional development and navigating through the politics of the time provide food for thought and a landscape to navigate that takes all of my personal and professional resources. The quest for me is to maintain a larger perspective of what really matters and not get sucked into the vortex of ever increasing demands.
I work hard and play hard. A good friend of mine use to marvel that one hot tub after I arrived at “The Secret Garden”, her B&B on Bowen Island, and I had geared down from “10” to a happy “2”. This Spring Break, my play opportunity, aka Spring Break, has taken me to Vietnam for a much anticipated visit with my darling daughter. We have escaped the humidity of Hanoi and are now settled in a little piece of tropical paradise in Phu Quoc. One day on our secluded little beach with hammocks, a few kayaks for our use and a good book and I have officially geared down to a “2”. I suspect the relaxation speed corresponds directly with the lush greenery surrounding us. All that O2! Although I must confess I pulled my hammock away from those green coconuts overhead on the beach with a remaining vestige of control.
My daughter, Larkyn, and her boyfriend, Justin, are both teaching in Vietnam at ILA, International Language Academy. It has a carefully delineated program to ensure standardization in English language instruction in institutions around the world. Yesterday Justin started to tell me about this new thing, PBL, that was being introduced into the courses with the higher level students. The Project Based Learning is technology based and facilitates collaboration, communication and problem solving between students. Students for the first time have the power to choose interest areas to pursue and develop vocabulary around those interests.
I taught practicing teachers at the Bureau of Education in Fuyang for two summer sessions in 2008 and 2009. I worked with four other educators from Coquitlam, British Columbia, teaching educators English and ways to engage students in learning. It was an amazing opportunity for personal learning. I gained a much better understanding of my students from China and the challenges facing the educators in China trying to implement practices that were bringing such strong results in the Western World. Rote learning was not just a philosophical position but a way to manage behaviour and safety in classes of 50 or more students. Teaching students how to write tests determined their ability to further their education, access opportunities and care for family.
Project based learning is an exciting possibility for implementing change in school systems. My principal, Rosa Fazio, is off to China this Spring Break, to inspire educators with the ways teachers are using technology and student interest to inspire profound learning at the Kindergarten to Grade 8 level at Norma Rose Point. There is part of me that is excited to go back to school after break to discuss what we have learned over the holidays. Yes, I’m sitting with my coffee in a little piece of paradise feeling very grateful to be an educator.