If you haven’t heard, Victoria BC (on Vancouver Island) has been hit with winter weather. While it looks like nothing compared to most parts of Canada, it has caused closures across the city including schools, university campuses, restaurants, and so forth. It started on Friday with what some would call a passing snow fall and has continued on and off since; today (Monday February 11, 2019) being the worst thus far.
A wintery walk through Beacon Hill Park
I have yet to venture outside today; the fact that my apartment balcony is covered in snow has been enough to convince me to stay curled up in my desk chair with a cup of tea and do everything but mark the papers my students have submitted. But, I have been thinking about my students, wondering about how as higher level educators we can keep class exciting, professional, fun, and informative. The shift between secondary education (high-school) and university education is one that can be trying in so many ways, class should not be the same.
So, in the midst of the snowstorm, I sit inside blogging and thinking about ways to better support the many students I get to learn with. I wonder, what allows people to learn to the best of their abilities? Does it help students learning when I try to incorporate small group discussions in class that relies on students having completed the readings prior to class? Is it interesting to use current events and relate it to course material? How would I incorporate social media into my classes, something I know students are regularly connected to? How much self-reflection is beneficial and how do I know when it has lost its value? What if I do not fully agree with a theory or concept I am expected to teach?
As the questions continue to fill my thoughts, I wonder about the expectations placed on educators to come up with engaging and enriching lessons. I think about my brother and his colleagues who teach in the primary school system and how challenging it must be to entertain multiple young people while simultaneously supporting their development. Add an extra layer of parental influence, expectation, and sometimes unrealistic desires, and well, let me just stop typing because I have no words for the dedication we witness in our educators.
But then, as I forge forward with my career, I think about how I present myself to others. Is there an expected way to dress as a young, female, person of colour, in academia? Do I need an online presence to add to my dossier? How much do I share with colleagues and potential employers? What if I prefer to use a handwritten agenda versus an online calendar? Is it okay for my colleagues, students, and others to know that I took a day here or there to do something I love like going for a hike, spending an evening playing board games with my friends, or simply that I prefer to wake up, journal and then respond to emails versus immediately being work ready?
I suppose a lot of these questions are rooted in the fact that I am in transition and still seeking a steady work opportunity. I have the freedom to take a Wednesday off and do something I love but then work on a Sunday to catch up. And, I am not expected to sit in my office for hours at a time nor venture to my place of employment five days a week. When this changes, will I be ready? How do I ready myself? What does this mean for my wardrobe?
Clearly, with the snow falling, the uncertainty of the safety of the roads limiting my movement today, and the clarity that comes from the lack of visibility, my brain wanders. I ponder with few answers but lots of curiosity, and I hope that each day brings with it a little lesson that speaks to my many questions. Wait, is this the job of an educator? To answer a tiny part of a larger question each day eventually allowing students to turn their queries into understandings and understandings into actions?