“I made it to Christmas”

” I made it to Christmas” !!

This is a phrase that I have stated numerous times over the last week as a first year teacher in the UK. I have been teaching in a school in with very challenging students, and a tough curriculum to learn. I have been an active member on the “struggle bus”, most times driving it, or being dragged by it. I have been pushed both mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. That is, throughout my constant struggles and tribulations, I have learned a thing or two, and I would like to use this space to share them. So without further adieu, here are the top 5 things that I have learned while moving over to the UK to teach.


1.) No matter how tough the kids are on you, you cannot let them ruin your day.


This was very tough for me at the beginning, because I would always go home after a long day and feel like absolute rubbish. I felt defeated, and as soon as I arrived home, my housemates knew it too. So I try my best to check my attitude  and spirit before I go home, because every day is a new day, and I am privileged to try again tomorrow.


2.) Curriculum’s will always change, policies will emerge, and structure will confine you as a teacher, but that does not mean you cannot add the human connection to teaching.


I found that I felt very confined in my teaching when I first arrived and that I had to follow a very structured way of instructing because the students responded well to it. I have found now that I can always add more creativity to my lessons, and more time for to interact with the pupils. At the end of the day, the students want to talk to each other, and they want to chat with me, and I should always have the time for that.


3.) If you have challenging students, it is imperative you connect with them.


This has been a very difficult concept for me, because even though I like to think I am great at connecting with my pupils, there are always some that I find it tough to. In many cases, these are the students who have behavior issues in class and disrupt the learning. I have learned that even though  you ask questions and chat with these students, it is important to listen to them chat with their peers and find out more about them. These little things go such a long way especially when you need their focus and respect.



4.) Take care of yourself.

I have had many tough and grueling days, aind I find that I come home, grumble about it and go to bed. Yet, waking up and feeling the same way. I learned that I need to take time to do fun hings that I like, and to talk to people. A big one that I found is finding time to go outside, or to exercise. It always helps to clear my mind and keeps me going.


5.) You can always plan more, but it does not need to be all the time.

Do not get me wrong, planning is great and every first year teacher needs it, but you can always work on a perfect lesson, and there will always be something that goes wrong. It helped me to have a general idea of what I was doing, but learning to flow with the lesson and where the students were heading helped me significantly. I have spent way too many late nights planning, only to have my lessons be a disaster, and my energy levels very low. It’s so important to bring your spirit and energy to the classroom as teacher, and sometimes planning can take that away from you, so do not let it.


To conclude, I am still learning a lot about myself, my teaching, and the teacher I want to be, but I thought I would take the time to reflect back on the experiences I have had. If you have anything you want to add feel free, or let me know what you found important to you when you first started your job.


Thanks for reading!


Digital Reflection of ESCI 302




Hello everyone, my name is Chris Brennan and this is my digital reflection for esci 302. Beginning this class I had an idea of what the environment and my eco identity was deepened through a road trip that I took with my friends last year. We camped and experienced many National Parks in the States. I learned a ton about landscapes, rivers, and lakes through this trip, but I have learned so much more about environmental and its connection education and building my eco-literacy in my life and classroom. Furthermore, I will begin look at my blog growth using a screen cast in the next clip.



So to begin my first blog post was about what I thought environmental education is, connecting it to my own experiences. Which we later found out that was related to our eco-identity. Further we learned from David Orr that All education is environmental education, and somewhat perplexed me at the time to think more deeply about environmental ed.


In the middle of things blog post, I reflected on the process of some of my own small paradigm shifts and how to related to donella meadows and the idea of leverage points. I started to see how people could be so ignorant about recycling in particular, and through my action learning I saw the benefits of recycling and its effects in our community, yet when people’s paradigms are not the same, we can never expect change because it is the hardest one to change as Meadows states.


Lastly, I worked on creating an interdisciplinary unit about environmental education, and treaty education in particular. I really connected this unit to the coyote and raven story because even though it was unorthodox, and could be a little awkward at times, there was storing connections to course outcomes even though it presented the learning in a different perspective or angle. I liked this because in our euro-western paradigm we want everything to come easy and there not to be any hardships/challenges along the way, but I wanted my students to think differently about the environment and their own identity through this unit. I want my students to see more than course outcome and tests, but more ecophilia as a way of learning about the environment… To go and experience it and learn from its richness.


So even thoughthere is still plenty for me to learn about EE, I feel that my own eco-identity is developing and I am finding ways to connect, and re-think my ways of interacting and experiencing the environment. My experiences on my road trip have definitely impacted my eco-identity and I how interpret environmental educational, but there is still more to learn and developing my eco-literacy. Although, practicing “stillness” has given me a new perspective and appreciation for the moving parts of the environment and finding ways to slow down. To focus of certain things while showing my admiration and appreciation for them.  So it is just  start, a new paradigm shift, but a step in the right direction.



Work Cited:

David W. Orr. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994. 224 pp. (1996). Organization & Environment,9(4), 577-577.

Margolese, W. (2016). Silence – inward stillness, outward healing. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.northernreflectionsonhealth.ca/3196/silence-inward-stillness-outward-healing/

Meadows, D. (n.d.). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Retrieved  http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/

Nye, B. (2016, January 25). If NASCAR embraced electric cars it could change the world – Bill Nye | Aeon Opinions. Retrieved from https://aeon.co/opinions/if-nascar-embraced-electric-cars-it-could-change-the-world

O’Riley, P. & Cole, P. (2009). Coyote & Raven talk about the Land/scapes. In M. McKenzie, P. Hart, H. Bai & B. Jickling (Eds.),

Connecting… Confusion… and Inquiry Based Units

Connecting..confusion.. and lesson planning is a good way to describe how I feel about my micro unit and my weekly goals. It has been somewhat a struggle to find an interdisciplinary lesson that meets the needs of my Explore topic, connects to another subject, and follows a treaty outcome. The process itself is not always the hard part, but finding a meaningful way to construct this lesson that will deepen my student’s learning about the topic, and not just overwhelm them with the abundance of information. But as I started to do more digging, I found some ways to make this process easier. Do not get me wrong, this is still a difficult process, and should never be taken lightly, because it is easy to throw different outcomes together and hope they work out, but planning a meaningful interdisciplinary lesson should take preparation, anticipation, planning, and reflection. Here are some of my key tips moving forward from this inquiry based unit that I might look back on, or could even help others in the class, so here are 3 little tidbits that I have learned:

1.) Do your research about each individual outcome before you begin to try and weave them.

It is important to the outcomes each individually before you begin to try and connect them to each other. It imperative to know what the outcome is asking you to do, so can then find ways to connect them.

2.) Think about the way you would teach the outcome, then think about a way to teach without you there.. that’s a good way to start thinking about inquiry.

It has been hard for me to try and do inquiry tasks because I am just starting my teaching journey, but the inquiry process means you are a guide on the side, and not the sage on the stage. Help students to ask the questions, and show them where to look, but not what to seek.

3.) Ask your teammates for their opinion and ways to help connect the lessons together smoothly.

Professional collaboration is a rich way to learn and share your work with others. Use this time with your colleagues to build better communication, and try new things. It is your peers who can/will build you up and help you along the way. Working as team with your group is a stepping stone to a valuable and rewarding habit to get into as a teacher.


In closing, these 3 keys have helped me along the way, but it still have been challenging at times, but it is always nice to have your group to work through the struggles with. There are a lot of things that are new to me in this unit, but it is a journey that is supposed to be shared, so I will use this time to reflect, grow, and learn more about this topic, even though it challenges me, upsets me, and sometimes just makes me frustrated.


Here is my creative journal to depict my thoughts this week for inquiry based project so far..

I connected this creative journal with my learning this week because when planning an interdisciplinary unit, one must first find the connections. I illustrated my learning by a tree with different branches, and somewhat fruit attached. Each fruit (circular/elliptical shape) represents different subjects, concepts, and topics covered/experienced in student’s grade year. Thus, the picture portrays the connectedness of learning and how one can find the similarities between units, classes, and extracurricular by look at the stem of the tree and find where items overlap. Some branches are bigger, fruit smaller, but there are connected to the roots of the tree. Thus the same is true for our learning and it’s inter disciplines in the education student. tree pic

Action Learning

To be honest, it was such a relief to be finished with our action learning project. That is, the process in which the action developed and the development of our team was exhausting. I had a great group and we worked well together, and action learning really stretches you to your limits, challenges you to think deeper, and to question your own procedures, attitudes, and routines. In my last semester of my undergraduate degree, my effort levels have been low, but through action learning my learning capacity and output have been pushed and put to the limit, just as the website states, “The focus is to increase employees learning capacity within an organization while responding to a real world challenge in a cross-departmental team.” (Study Guides and Strategies website, Action Learning). Reflecting about the process has been beneficial to see what a journey and adventure that we experienced.

It was tough at times to know if we were lining up to the guidelines of the assignment, and reporting by to the original document of action learning was essential to determining our scope of the project. My creative journal is an illustration of the map that our team embarked on. The funny about this that our group had no idea where the project would take us, assuming that there is an end goal… Which I do not really think that there is, but closer to receiving a key to a vehicle (eco-friendly hybrid of course) with unlimited energy, and it is your job to drive it towards development. A little bit of a stretch there, but I feel that it connects with David Sobel article,  in a sense that we are “empowered” by this form of nature/learning. The project created that sense of need and care in our lives for recycling, and that is exactly what Sobel wants us to allow our children to do with the environment when he states, “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us to love the Earth before we ask them to save it” (Sobel, 1998).
Sobel, D. (1998, November 02). Beyond Ecophobia. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-for-life/803


Furthermore, I have learned a plethora of new information on sarcan, recycling, and rethinking my habits and routines surrounding my waste. But most importantly, through my process of action learning, I have learned to work better in a group setting and find ways, to connect, collaborate, and achieve goals. To say that this project was a “process” would not begin to define action learning, but I think that my creative journal will better illustrate the expedition that our grouped experience, and will continue to experience.


Thanks for reading!!



My Eco-Identity

When preparing my creative journal for this week, I began to reflect on this theme that all of my creative journals look very similar. That is, my marker selection is very similar, my shapes, and my objects are quite connected. Thus, I began to recognize through my creative journals the different themes that are intrinsically connected to my eco-identity. This week my picture represents the breath of life, and how eco-literacy is that our the oxygen we breath, and inhale in this case. My eco-identity is shaped from the natural environment that I seek to “inhale” each day. Not only in the presence, but the actual intake of natural oxygen when I am outside. Therefore, my eco-identity has in large part to do with being outside and “wrapped” in the environment. The outdoors and the air that I breathed in large in part contributed to how I see my eco-identity. Growing up, going outside and basking in the sun, and inhaling the sweet air was the best education that I needed growing up.

Another theme from my creative journal is this picture of a flowing river. This is connected to the paradigm of how environmental education is like a river that flows into a body of water. There are constant rivers that flow into your learning that affect your values, beliefs, and philosophies. But the worst thing you can do to a river is shut it down. That is, environmental education in my eco-identity is a river that needs to flow through in my teaching and learning that affects my values and beliefs in the classroom. Environmental education is symbolic as a river in my identity because it is always changing and moving forward, and the best way to stay connected is to dive right into the water and soak in the knowledge.

In conclusion, many of my journals have some re-occurring themes, but it is evident that these symbols are linked to my eco-identity and the connectedness of environmental education. As I have listed above, EE symbolizes the air that we breath, the air that sustains us, and the air that connects us all. Therefore, as I recognize the air around me, I will not try not to see the “disciplines” as David Orr states. When thinking about air, there is no division of air, or subjects of air, but it is every where and nowhere at once. The same is true with Eco-literacy and the nature and fluidity if its content. Well, that’s all I have for you today, keep the environmental education “flowing”.


Thanks for reading!



“in the middle of things”

“In the middle of things”, where to begin this reflection but to start at the middle. ESCI 302 has been a challenging course for me. I am in my last semester of my undergrad degree,  but ESCI 302 keeps me diligent in my studies, my beliefs, and the values that I attach to the environment. I came into this class thinking that environmental education would be similar to biology 20 in high school, but I was slightly wrong. Not that we do not learn about those great things, but environmental education goes way deeper than just the environment. The whole idea of philosophies, ideologies, paradigms, and colonization are as much a part of the environment as organisms and ecosystems. I brought my own values and beliefs about the environment when I walked into this class, but these things soon began to change as I became more aware, educated myself, and witnessed how society’s perspectives distorts my own view on our biosphere. So, I will begin to unpack how how some of these things are changing, and I will examine and reflect on my common place blog space, and how that is connected to course readings. I will analyze my own struggles, and challenges in this course, and my values and ideologies that are now being developed in my own story of being an environmental educator.

But before I begin, lets pause and reflect on the beauty of the Grand Canyon. I went there last year in April and it was an breath-taking experience.


As a slight introduction, I knew that I always had a passion and love for the environment, but it was more of an awe of shear beauty. Through my brief time in ESCI302, I have began to recognize my own development and thinking about the environment and its connectedness. When we first when to the Grand Canyon, we took picture, watched the sunrise, and explored a bit. If I were to go again, I would ask questions about the ecosystem and plant cycles combined with canyon life, and water flow. I would begin to “dive in” to the environmental aspects and the possible educational learning rather than just looking at the raw beauty of it. So even though I am in the middle of things, I am becoming more reflective of my experiences with environmental education, and how I can learn, and un-learn more. It is a beginning, a journey that never truly ends, but something that will continually strive to further my growth, and encourage others to join the adventure.


Thus, let me begin on my journey in ESCI 302 through my blog space. It has been an interesting experience blogging about my eco-literacy and what that means to me. I was really inspired in my first couple of blog posts when I read the article by David Orr(1996) that states “First, all education is environment education” (Orr, 1996, pg. 12). I was not really sure what this whole idea of being ecoliterate meant, but when I read that passage that all education is environmental education, the wheels began to turn in my brain. I still have a narrow view on eco-literacy, but Orr expanded and emphasized the importance of what environmental education should be for everyone. So when I began to wrote my next blog post, I began to stop and reflect and find the connections between my classes, my learning, and my background, and find the interconnection between all these different mediums of learning. So in this sense, Orr began to change my perspective on eco-literacy and thus began my own paradigm shift about environmental Ed. I began to practice “stillness” in a sense and find a deeper meaning and connection to EE and how I can related in my Settler Invader state. “Stillness” was a result of this deeper reflection, but also transferred to calmness that lead to clarity in my studies, direction, and vision for my goals as person, educator, brother, son, etc.

I also really developed in this class when we created a poem braid. This was a deeper level of learning because I really had the opportunity to share my poem about eco-literacy with others. The best part was to see the connections and the differences and the beauty that is revealed through this process. The idea is not to compare your stories, but to find strength and power through your stories together, which I really enjoyed (If you want check out my poem braid, click here). This activity also blended very nicely with the Coyote and Raven story (2009), where even though I felt lost reading the story, I found ways to connect the similarities, and I can “salt” the stories, yet in the differences of the story I could find mosaic that exemplified unique parts acting as a whole (O’Riley, P. & Cole).

This is the last semester of my degree, and the last thing I wanted to do was work..  And that’s what I felt this course was making me at the start. There were so many readings, journals, and blog post assignments to do. I was a little overwhelmed, but mostly I had a bad attitude. When I began to connect with the articles, and realized the implications they carried in my life, then I  saw the authenticity of the tasks at hand. It was not until I saw this post by Bill Nye that examines the possibility of electric cars for NASCAR. And it was through this post that sparked the intuitive connection I now have with eco-literacy, and how it has changed my mindset and some of my perspectives, but also the paradigm shift that society is still stuck in. That is, Bill Nye’s article was in a sense a “leverage point” as Donella Meadows states, “…where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything” (Meadows, 1996, ¶ 1).

Ergo, I have worked quite a bit in this course, reflected, read, blogged, and even pondered, bu through it all, I have found a deeper appreciation for the environment, but also recognized the importance of eco-literacy in our education. Not only is it vital for a teacher to model the process of eco-literacy, but also to inspire the next generation to be literate in the ways of the environment, and ecology. As a teacher, you must firs be competent and knowledgeable about the subject of environmental education if you ever want your students to “buy in” on the theories and philosophies, and this is what this course has begun to do for me. Eco-literacy is not just a course that you take and receive a grade,but a life-long commitment and challenge to yourself, and to others to care for our environment, and ideologies of eco-literacy.







Work Cited:

David W. Orr. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1994. 224 pp. (1996). Organization & Environment,9(4), 577-577.

Meadows, D. (n.d.). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/
O’Riley, P. & Cole, P. (2009). Coyote & Raven talk about the Land/scapes. In M. McKenzie, P. Hart, H. Bai & B. Jickling (Eds.),

Giving Thanks

In this week’s reflection, the idea and concept of how can one give thanks to the environment? This is a very interesting topic, and if often overlooked in society because of the paradigms that we are currently share. We lived in such a rushed, stressed, and anxious society that we often forget to stop, and to say thanks. Often times we will only really slow down to say thanks during the holidays especially one that involves a ton of eating, Thanks Giving. Here is a post that examines why we do, and do not give thanks for the things that we have.

Last week, in one of our Emth classes, we had the privilege of experiencing a round dance, and a talking circle. Our conversation was very rich in content, but did not a have a huge connection to teaching and learning mathematics, but it was still an awesome experience. At the end of the session, we all sang a song together and held hands and give thanks for allowing the speaker to share his knowledge. I thought this was a very cool idea that we often do not acknowledge in our culture. We do not emphasize the knowledge and power that someone has in their words, and how often we do not thank a person for sharing their knowledge. Furthermore, when Newberry states in her article that we are “settler-invaders” those words became explicit to me through the round dance. I witnessed the deep rooted culture in this dance, and yet I still felt awkward and somewhat  out of place at times. Which really brings me back to this idea of invading somebodies space, and settling in on their territory/culture/beliefs. It was a challenge for me to “let go” and bask in the cultural dance because of my Euro-Western paradigm that tells me if something feels awkward, or uncomfortable , then it’s probably best to stop doing it. So there was such a battle within my own philosophies and beliefs when I participated in this cultural tradition, and I could see it on many of my other colleagues faces. This is something that was so different from us, but yet so simple when thinking about “giving thanks”, but so many of us struggled with it. Moving forward, I had such a deep learning and connection from this experience, and even it made me feel uncomfortable, I feel that it caused me to grow.  Giving thanks has a whole new understanding to me through this experience, and as  much as it is connected to the environment, it also connects to any actions in life, and the need to say thanks to others around, directly or indirectly, and the spirituality that brings us all together.

Therefore, when we began to talk about giving thanks, and how we can do that. In this simple way of singing a song, and holding hands and dancing in a circle, we show our appreciation, and give thanks. I want to emphasize in my own life to give thanks more often, and then can be portrayed in so many different ways. It would be challenging, but interesting to find other ways to show appreciation rather than our Western ways of thinking. I drew a quick sketch of the what the round dance meant to me and how it connected to giving thanks.


round dance


Here is an interesting TED talk on “The Power of Saying Thank You”



Thanks for taking the time to read!