My digital story-telling!

This is me now, and this is me four months ago. I may look the same but I definitely do not feel the same. My brain has many new perspectives while my heart has many new feelings.


First off, my brain in the me of four months ago viewed teaching as teacher centered. And when I say teacher centered I picture me standing at the front of the class, deciding what my students will be learning, how they will learn and why they are learning what they are. However, my old brain believed that the most important aspect linked to teaching is relationships, and by relationships I mean student-teacher, student- student relationships.  The brain in me now still believes in this philosophy, however, the relationship with the environment as individuals and as a whole class has appeared. Thanks to David Orr’s bold claim, “All education is environmental education,” I gained new perspective through this bold claim. I really didn’t understand what EE was, until I stepped into Morgan’s classroom. Her room wasn’t full of flashy colours or disorganized walls, but filled with stations involving seeds, rocks, flowers, dirt as well as a plant growing station. I was surrounded by a room filled with the philosophy that all education is environmental. Something that really helped me connect my philosophy to an EE philosophy is ‘learning should be natural’. Morgan used the term natural to describe her way of teaching. That word really made sparks fly for me because every time I think of an activity or a lesson plan I will always have the thought of is this a natural way to learn or how is this activity student led in a natural way?

Viewing education as EE has been challenging to wrap my head around. Education used to be to me just a way of understanding the world. A method to learn about stories we already know. But the heart in me now, feels more connected to learning because I have a more natural perspective.


Now, lets talk about themes because in my opinion themes develop and influence my teaching philosophy. Throughout this course, my biggest theme has been change. Change in everything I thought I knew about education and teaching. Change in my brain. Change in my heart. Change in my identity (use the picture of me) as an environmental educator.


I have trouble pin pointing specific unlearning moments for me because there has been so many. Throughout this course I had a major unlearning moment, where I thought the statement ‘we are all treaty people’ was easy to say and was just a saying teachers said. However, when we had to identify ourselves, writing I am a treaty person, made me extremely uncomfortable.  I reflected on what this claim meant to me, and what I came up with is this, We ALL have stories, we ALL have different perspective but if we can combine our similarities and braid our differences together, we ALL would be living in a better world.


I want to end on a quote that directed me as an EE learner and educator throughout this semester “they said that nature was the place where they experienced the greatest sense of belonging and well-being (Kimmerer, 2013).” As a future environmental educator, I want my students to feel connected to themselves, each other and myself with the environment and their natural place by their side.


CB6: Learning and Unlearning

I’m sitting in my hotel room, trying to think about my progressive learning experiences and unlearning experiences. And its tough. Hands down, one of the hardest processes of becoming a future educator is changing your ways of thinking. When I first graduated high school and pictured myself as a teacher, in my own class, I imagined myself at the front of the class teaching my students in a teacher led way just as I remembered I was taught in grade one. My grade one teacher has been my inspiration through my journey as a future educator, however her teaching style is presented in such a euro western way. My ability to recognize this way of teaching was non existent before my participation in this class. I guess I can say that is a major learning moment for me. Yi Chien Jade Ho wrote, “this is a crisis in the way people have learned to think and behave in relation to larger life system and toward each other.” This statement really struck me in her article because I have never thought about ecological issues or EE from that perspective before. In my opinion, this can be a type of philosophy in the way I interact and ‘teach’ with my future students. Instead of drilling children’s brains with negative human interaction with the environment, I’ve decided to have a perspective similar to Morgan. Enabling the environment with everything we do, reading, writing, drawing, etc. Having the environment alongside us, equal to us and with us to learn individually and collectively. I’ve used this representation of my glasses because everything that I thought I knew, how I viewed things has been changed completely. I can’t help but further analyze and think about how something someone has said does/could possibly relate to EE and if it doesn’t how can I change it in a way that is does. The clear lens represents what I thought I knew, before EE everything was crystal clear. Now, I am represented by the foggy lens because I don’t see things as clearly. There is so much I don’t understand, but I am completely fine with that. Because I chose this career to teach and as I grow through my process of becoming an educator I feel I have chosen this path for myself to learn. To keep learning.


CB#5: Disrupting Discourse

The dreadful interview question, ‘so tell me who you are?’ always makes me sweat and feel uncomfortable. There is just something with talking about my identity out loud with a complete stranger. I can feel the tension and the uncomfortableness within myself boiling up inside me. But why? This seems like such a simple question to ask; nobody knows me as good as I know myself. However, putting a label on myself is discomforting to me. I feel when I ‘label’ my identity that means it is set in stone and cannot be changed. Although I have complete control on how I identify myself, I’ve noticed that the outside world also has put a label on myself and for some reason I feel like those two conclusions have to match, which makes me way to uncomfortable. I am a strong, independent, athletic, confident, opinionated woman. While others may perceive me as a woman with other female duties such as staying home to raise children and look after the home. There is tension between these notions because how I self identify as, others may not agree.

My entire life I have been raised to love who I am and feel confident in my own skin, even though it may not be the same as others. Throughout school, I’ve had the odd racist comments but they were very subtle and did not effect how I viewed myself or my family. However, a couple months ago I was eating dinner with one of my friends from work and his friend whom I had never met before. So of course we were making small talk, asking each other what we are taking in school, where we are from etc. So when I had answered his question of where I am from, I said I was from Weyburn only about an hour south from here. His response was ‘oh really? You don’t look like you’re from Weyburn.’ His response didn’t really process until somebody had called him out on it and then I asked myself, what does that even mean? I don’t look like I am from Weyburn. The first time in my life I literally felt like my identity was not what I thought it was.  I had so many thoughts going through my mind. At first glance, do I not look like I am from here. The first time in my life I felt different. M.J Bennet wrote, “Post structural analysis reveals ways in which dominant discourses can trap us in “conventional meanings and modes of being.”” As I reflect back on this dinner event, the discourses I have been raised to know are significantly different then the discourses the guy with the rude remark made. My friends friend had made the comment because of his own conventional meanings and modes of being. Apparently if you are not Caucasian, then you aren’t from ‘here’. Which is a discourse that he knows, yet hasn’t disrupted to change.

Although I do not fully understand the meaning of discourse, what I do perceive of it is that it is not a specific idea/place/identity but instead a different way in thinking about the ‘normal’. I grew up in such a euro-western way of living and because of this I feel like I am really struggling to view things differently, and not just through my own eyes. In my blog post #3, I wrote, “my eco-identity is everything I have experienced and experiences that are yet to come.” I believe this is one of the biggest discourses in my life I could interrupt and challenge. As the months are passing on, I am continuing to question my identity as an environmental educator. I need to continue this journey of questioning and disrupting my ideas of my identity as an EE learner as well as an EE educator.

I was eating this pomegranate as I was reflecting on discourse, and I realized this is kind of (in a fun way) representation of me and everything that makes me, me. On the outside of this fruit, it looks original. But when I cut into it, it is made up of so many different seeds. Just like me, made up of so many different discourses. I wrote ‘be different’, because within all the stories and discourses that I know, I want to be different and think in a vulnerable way.


Where am I at?

Over the past two years at university I have taken a lot of classes where the profs are bias towards their opinions and beliefs. And more often then not, do they try to exploit those opinions and beliefs onto their students. However, throughout this class I have been challenged to stray away from conclusions and answers and try and think of learning and knowing as ongoing learning.

So the question I should be asking myself is, ‘where am I now’? Which is a great question because I really have to itch my head and think of what I have learned and more importantly what haven’t I learned. When I think back to the first day of this class I remember telling myself that I won’t learn anything and that this class is probably just a waste of my time. (HA HA, little did I know.) Anyways, I have a hard time putting words together to describe my experience in ESCI 302 because I haven’t truly learned specific content or one way of doing things. I am not sitting in class like I would in a math class taking notes and learning how to solve equations. Instead, I am challenged not only in class but on a day to day basis to explore myself with others in our environment. I seem to be questioning my identity, intuitions and life goals. I want to tell my close friends and my family how I am growing and changing with the help of the environment. But I also want them to learn in the same perspective I have been. The day after the class embodied the story Coyote and Raven talk about Landscapes by O’Riley & Cole, I had called my mom telling her how school was going and I brought up this story. I told her the line that made me have a light bulb moment. The line is this, “garbage is us.” These words had put my mind into a whole new perspective that I’ve never experienced before. However, I find myself getting frustrated because they don’t understand or feel the same way I do. I also find myself irritated when I talk about my ALG topic with others. I am still learning and sometimes feel confused with what I am trying to say, but I like to question other people of what I have been questioned and it often isn’t the answer I want to here. For example, when we went to Body Fuel Organics, Lana had told us that she doesn’t vaccinate her children because they aren’t science experiences. I then asked a couple of my close teammates what they thought of vaccinations and their reactions were the complete opposite. I had challenged them with this question and I have to admit it was hard to hear an answer that I did not expect to. A tension I struggle with is when my perspectives are not understood by the audience I am talking to. However, can I blame them? Absolutely not, because even my fellow classmates who hear the same things I do, and see everything that goes on in class do not have the same perspectives as me.

I know this reflection is suppose to be about where my mind, body and soul are right now but I can’t stop the urge from thinking about myself before this class. In my opinion it is important to know how I felt before and how I am feeling in the moment in order to reflect in meaningful and vulnerable ways. Which is something I have learned throughout this class, that it is okay to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there. As a future educator, I believe it is important to create an open and accepting environment. In my last common blogpost, I said “In my opinion that is the most important aspect in teaching, making relationships and creating a positive and safe environment.” I have always truly believed this way of teaching and when I was exposed to Morgan’s classroom, I became excited and almost relieved to witness how effective this way of teaching is.

Right now I am sitting with a bit of tension with what I still don’t know and haven’t learned yet. In my second paragraph I had wondered into the direction of things I haven’t learned. So what do I mean by that? I wouldn’t go as far to say that I have learned mass amounts of information. I would however agree that I have been exposed to a number of different perspectives. I believe that because I can view bold claims, philosophies, beliefs, views and values in different perspectives that my knowledge about EE has grown. However, as I have been learning and growing in this class I have also developed questions and concerns. My biggest concern right now is how do I teach Treaty Ed in relation to EE. Following this question, do I teach Treaty Ed and EE or do I incorporate it all into different subjects. As frustrating as it is to not know and not be given the answer, I am aware and eager to learn throughout my career. One other thing that I am stuck between right now is how do I recognize what is a Euro-Western way of viewing things and what isn’t. Again, with this issue I am motivated to keep listening and scratching my brain to understand this topic better. Coincidentally, a common theme throughout my blog post is my continuation for learning and growing. Being able to say ‘I don’t know’ and be okay with it is something I have definitely learned throughout this class. I have also learned however that not knowing or understanding and refusing to continue to question yourself is not okay. Lastly, the only answer I can reply honestly with is having the capacity to CHANGE. Change perspectives, change attitudes, change influences, change lifestyles, change philosophies. I will forever be changing and that is where I stand with EE.

David Orr explains, “…all education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded, students are taught that they are part of or apart from the natural world.” What this meant to 3 months ago had very little impact on me. However, the more times I read it over and over again, I understand what he means. And not just understand the words that he has stuck together but the true meaning behind them. The more I reflect on my past education and recent education the more I am drawn to the conclusion of how do we do anything without the environment? We simply cannot. I want to end on this quote because for me it was this quote that frustrated me, intrigued me and challenged me to learn more and to willfully grow in EE.

CB4: Environment = Kindness

From day one, we have been asked as a class to become vulnerable and put ourselves out there. Expand out of our comfort zones and stand out from one another. Now this action is way easier said than done IF the environment is not accepting or doesn’t care about what somebody is actually saying. As a future educator I have learned that if I want my students to be open and willing to share their feelings I need to 1. ensure the environment is welcoming and 2. I need to be vulnerable myself. Now, I didn’t fully understand this process until I was exposed into Morgan’s classroom and her students.  We were sitting in the circle outside in the park and the students in Morgan’s class informed us what mandalas are and why they are important. I noticed a pattern in the students, they all talked about the good that comes from creating mandala’s. Not only did this show at the beginning in the initial circle talk but as we went around looking at all the amazing mandala’s created the majority of the grade one students and the ESCI class talked about positive life events happening to them. We were all encouraged to think about positive thoughts during the process of creating the mandala’s and Morgan did an amazing job of ensuring everyone had the chance to speak and appreciated what they said. This outing as a group made me realize that being connected to the environment has such a positive impact on people. In Orr’s article The Problem of Disciplines, he wrote “the great ecological issues of our time have to do in one way or another with our failure to see things in their entirety. That failure occurs when minds are taught to think in boxes and not taught to transcend those boxes or to question overly much how they fit with other boxes.” Not only is Morgan’s class challenged to think in abstract ways, but they are also exposed to the power of the environment and encouraged to bond and explore the environment on a personal level. As a future environmental educator, I believe it is important for myself to be able to recognize the environment on a personal level as well as the power and how influential the outdoors can be. Also, I was blown away when Morgan’s class said thank you to the park. I thought that was incredible because it demonstrates that we as people are on the same level as the earth. Which is something many people may not understand or believe to be true. Personally I have never been exposed to an environmental educator’s classroom in an elementary setting before and I was blown away. Even through math, the environment was incorporated. Never had I heard of an indoor garden or Little Green Thumbs before. Everything was very new and interesting, but it definitely opened my eyes to feeling more comfortable to teach using the environment. I think it is amazing how Morgan creates such a vulnerable and open atmosphere. In my opinion that is the most important aspect in teaching, making relationships and creating a positive and safe environment. I am very inspired to become closer to my environment and to become a positive and energized individual through the environment. I decided to do something for myself that was calming and relaxing, yet still connected to the environment. I have a nature colouring book where I took a couple hours colouring in and thinking nothing but happy thoughts. img_9733

CB3: Where I came from…my eco-identity!


As I sit and think about my eco-identify I am trying to pursue my writing through my experiences, similar to what Curthoy states in her article article. “Heritage interpretation is defined as a specialized communication process and educational activity designed to facilitate intellectual and emotional connections with places, communities of life, people and events through firsthand experiences.”

“I am surrounded by the biggest and tallest trees I have ever seen. I look across the lake I see trees, I look beside me, I see cabins surrounded by big, green bushy pine trees. As we are driving down the road, swaying and leaning in the car because the roads are forever curvy, thats when I know we’ve arrived.”

I know that this picture looks like a cliche picture of the environment and nature but to me this clay representation is an illustration of my cabin. I chose to model my cabin because it is a huge part of me, my family and where I come from. Ever since I can remember I have been going to my cabin. Sadly, I think this is the first year I was unable to make it and I hated it. Without really knowing it, this cabin is sacred to myself and my family. Growing up, going to the cabin was our big holiday. And even though it was the same holiday getaway, the memories, the lessons we learned were different, every year was different. As I got older I couldn’t wait to bring friends out and show them my other home, a place where I unwillingly learned so much. My eco-identity is everything I have experienced and experiences that are yet to come. And this cabin has taught me many lessons such as how to cook, how to hemp, how to make and mend relationships and how to love the earth. I am incredibly lucky and thankful the earth has given me the opportunity to grow on it and love it like I do.

CB2: My Realization

The painting above has two meanings:

  1. the before
  2. the after


Unfortunately I was unable to attend treaty ed camp because of prior commitments so instead I was asked to come up with an answer to the following question: How can you incorporate treaty education into environmental education? So when I say before, I’m referring to before I had to think long and hard about the above question.

So, the bottom half of this photo represents my thought process about treaty education and EE. I used dark colours because how I imagine teaching treaty ed and EE is well, dark and confusing. I know that it is required to incorporate these learnings into everyday teaching but honestly, I don’t really know how. The only thing that runs through my brain are the remarks, “Just tell me and Just show me.” All I want is for someone to tell me what they do or show me some type of game they incorporate into their own classrooms. Instead of picking my brain for answers, I might as well pick someone else’s. And because of this struggle and frustration of not knowing, I came to MY REALIZATION.



Hi Audrey, 
Never mind on the question, I decided to go a different route. Ever Since you told me to think about how I can incorporate treaty ed and environmental education together, my mind has been going around in circles. I have scratched my head multiple times of what I can do. You could probably tell in class when you gave me the question that my head was spinning a million times a second, but I am glad you gave me this one and I am glad I have really struggled at coming up with an answer. Honestly, I haven’t gotten very far, I’ve searched for TED talks about treaty education and incorporating it with environmental education into the classroom, I’ve looked up articles but none really clicked for me. I was going to ask Joseph his thoughts on the environment and then ask one of my roommates (white settler) what they thought about the environment and was going to compare their answers and why they might’ve thought what they did. But that didn’t really work either. While contemplating what I need to do something just clicked. After searching and searching of things I could do, I’ve realized how uncomfortable I have felt. I can’t answer this at the moment because I don’t want to because it makes me uncomfortable. However, I’ve decided that because I feel very uncomfortable with this topic that that is what my creative journal will represent and reflect, my journey of what I don’t know but want to know. I believe the process of learning is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 
So I don’t believe that I can fully answer this question because it takes a lot of time, a lot more than just a week. I want to keep informing myself throughout this semester, next year and into my teaching career. As for right now, I will continue to remind myself how important treaty education is and reflect on how I can make sure future students are educated on the correct things about treaty education and environmental education in the right way.  
I hope it was okay to reflect on how I felt towards the question you have asked me. It has been very frustrating for me to answer this because honestly I am not really sure how I can. But because of this struggle I feel I need to over come it, and learn from it. I will continue throughout this semester and really concentrate my time on the question of how I can incorporate treaty and environmental education together. 
Let me know what you think of this,
Ashlee Sandiford
Ps. You’ve been telling us constantly to let ourselves be vulnerable, and now I understand what you mean. This reflection has made me be vulnerable in multiple ways, but that’s good. Thank you.
The above email is my realization. I can’t answer it right away but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever be able to. I am only more motivated and eager to learn in ways that will help me feel comfortable with incorporating treaty ed and EE together. As for my other side of the canvas, it also represents my realization. Again, I used colours that represent my feelings. I feel bright and relieved that I have recognized this processes, this being comfortable with being uncomfortable process is OK. The stick figure on the left (cause I am a terrible painter and need to just stick with the basics) represents myself. The painting shows myself thinking and not knowing the answers. But I decided to put this person on the bright and shining side instead of the before, black side because it isn’t a bad thing to not know. Because of this struggle I have learned that it takes belief and heart. I need to believe that I am a treaty person living in a treaty world and I also need to love that I am a treaty person and living in a treaty world. I have always said and confirmed that I am Canadian, while that is still true instead of defining myself as a Canadian, I can now believe and love that I am a treaty Canadian. Which in turn represents the sign in the middle of my painting. Along with the words Change and treaty. (I was painting this very late and meant to put Choose on the side but accidentally wrote Change again) So I also meant Choose to change. Finally, I can wrap up with what I have learned and how I have changed from trying to answer what I thought was a simple question in terms of Newbery’s article. She states, “creating opportunities for students to learn from and about Aboriginal cultures, while being mindful of idealizing and historicizing them, is an important way of combating the Euro-centrism that pervades educational practice”. Through this quote I have realized two things:
  1. Its ok not to know, but in order to grow I must change my mindset, my attitude and my thought process towards treaty education and environmental education
  2. What have I changed? My identification. It is so important to believe that what I identify myself as is what I actually love and believe in. Anyone can say “I am a treaty person” but just by saying it doesn’t mean they actually believe it. From now on, I am a treaty Canadian because I want to be. And I believe I am.

I braid, You braid, We all braid

As people read aloud their letter’s or poem’s, a common theme I had recognized was that people who are ecoliterate are inspiring to others. A vast majority of the poems and letters I listened to included similar phrases such as ‘thank you for caring for the environment’ and ‘you’re an inspiration to many.’ An example of this is when Jacquie Walbaum writes, “I want to thank you for changing my outlook on the world that we live in.” Jacquie demonstrated in her letter how thankful she is to have such an inspirational friend, which is also similar to the poem I wrote. I explain in my poem how inspirational and lovely my neighbour is because of how caring and respectful she is towards the environment. It is easy to point out and connect the similarities because they are right there in front of us. Jacquie and I both wrote to a person that we know and cherish and thanked them for showing us how to care for the environment. I believe when Jacquie and myself were thinking of who we were going to write we unconsciously wrote about people that fit the description written in David Orr’s What is Education For article.  He wrote, “the plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places.” I noticed the people we wrote to, demonstrate one or more of these characteristics Orr suggests. Jacquie and myself did not directly write to our loved one that they are a peacemaker or healer but we both mention how influential of a person they are to others and their impact on others and the environment does not go unnoticed.

While I was critically analyzing my classmate’s literature trying to find differences, I came across the line in Joel Wrights poem, “they say she’s mean to us, because we’re mean to her. If we stop giving her heat, she might chill out.” As humans, we find it easy to simply explain what we can fix, but fixing the broken needs to be more of just talk. We need action. The line in Joel’s poem “if we stop giving her heat” made me realize I don’t really know what that means. What is the heat we are giving to mother nature? How do we stop hurting our environment? These questions made me uncomfortable. I felt tension rising inside of me, and I just wanted to stop thinking.  Until I dug a little deeper, thought outside the box and realized the answer is right in front of me; Jacquie’s letter. She talks about her friend Rowan who exemplifies how to live a healthy life for the environment. She says he composts, doesn’t buy bottled water, and instead of using plastic bags he uses canvas. If we could all be a little more like Rowan, maybe Mother Nature wouldn’t be so angry and would stop flooding our lands and damaging our cars with vigorous hail storms.

We braid within each other, and although our literature sounds and looks different from one another, I believe our message remains the same: we get what we give and when we give garbage, that is what we get. I want to bring up O’Riley and Cole because in their article, Coyote & Raven talk about Landscapes they believe that people are the garbage in the environment. I can’t say I don’t disagree, and I feel Joel’s, Jacquie’s and mine’s love letters intertwine this concept. We all do not specifically mention that people are garbage, but instead we view our loved ones as influential and change makers. More so in Joel’s poem does he mention that humans are garbage for the environment. I want to end this braid on a quote from the slides,

“ecological literacy involves much more than just the ability to read about the environment: it also involves the ability to interpret the stories about the landscape.”

Cuthroys & Cuthburtson, 2002, p. 226

Although the 3 poems can be interpreted in multiple different ways, I believe that this one quote explains the meaning behind all of our love letters.

CB1: The Mountains Did It


Are we almost to the top? I’m tired and my legs hurt. The only thing I could think of was the top, being at the top of the mountain, and feeling on top of the world.

The traitorous climbing over pointing rocks, sliding around in the scree, and the forever ache in my quads did not matter anymore. I was at the top. Looking beside me I saw more mountains and beside that were more mountains. I was looking at a neighbourhood filled with massive, rocky and beautiful mountains. The mountain behind me was filled with heavy sheets of snow. My mind wondered, thinking how dangerous and scary climbing in the snow on the mountain would be. I sat in the middle of the top of the mountain, petrified of getting to close to the steep, rocky edge. I peeked my head just far enough over to see Lake Louise glistening clear blue, similar to the colour of pencil crayon I use to colour in streams and lakes on paper (peacock blue I believe is the colour).

Now, I have been on many adventures, camping, going to my cabin, traveling but it was the mountains that did it. The way my ears popped at the top, the fearfulness of spotting wildlife, the beaming sun radiating my clothes and skin, the scrapes on my shins and knees from rocks and bushes. I wanted to hike back down and give up but the mountains did it. They scared me but comforted me, they hurt me but made me happy. I was fearful, but they pushed me. The mountains did it.

I bonded with the mountains and with my environment around me that day. I had to trust nature, so I could trust myself. My environment is much more than the cliche buildings, people, mountains, stars, rivers and oceans, wildlife and trees. My experience in the mountains was very similar to Robin Kimmerer’s experience with her garden (2013). “They said that nature was the place where they experienced the greatest sense of belonging and well-being (Kimmerer, 2013).” And I felt the same way, up on that mountain.

The environment connects everyone to everything. Although everybody’s environment is different, it connects communities and people together. I created a pop-up drawing of the environment. When I was asked what is the environment, the drawing below was my first image. Buildings, people, wildlife, the weather, and rivers were the first things I thought of, so I drew them. However, as I reflect on what an environment is, its completely different from my initial drawing. My environment is different then my neighbours environment. The environment is a place where people live, a place where people walk the roads and admire the nature we are surrounded in.


NOTE: I could not hyperlink this reference because it was from the handout we got in class.