2016… we’re almost there!

24 02 2018


For Chinese New Year, I flew to the USA to see Casey and see his family and friends. I met his brother and sister in law for the first time, they were really cool and even though I was very nervous about meeting them I had a great time. Due to our complicated past, I was really stressed about meeting and getting to know Casey’s family. I got to know his mom better and meet his grandma, who is real treat by the way. Casey and I got engaged and traveled around for a few weeks between Minneapolis, Iowa, and Milwaukee.

I was given and signed a new contract for the next year at my school, and a month later was again offered a job at the other school. I feel bad always saying no, but I’ve already signed and made a commitment plus… it feels pretty nice to be wanted. If things don’t work at the private school then I have something great to fall back on.

Casey had a manic episode and ended up in the hospital, that was really challenging and stressful. Especially while working fulltime and doing my masters. I had a class at that time and almost dropped out of school to go to the states. In the end, it was ok, but it was a really tough time.

Another summer of travel, back to work in August. There was some unfortunate and uncomfortable work drama but I tried to stay out of it.  Casey moved to Taiwan, but was still working for Mary which meant she kept pulling him back to the US, he went back for Christmas which I was surprisingly disappointed by it. I moped about and told him he’s not to abandon me again :P.

… to be continued.


The years keep Marching on 2015

22 02 2018


This was a big year of changes. Regis and I spent a few weeks ignoring each other, avoiding the inevitable but finally in January decided to officially break up. We decided to not announce it but tell people as we talked to or ran into them. This was easier I think but lead to some funny conversations next year.  I decided to bring mom to Taiwan to help kick her depression and to enroll in the master’s degree at Framingham that held classes in Taipei. While I was still thinking about leaving teaching, the thing is a masters degree just looks good, you know?

Mom came out, I started my first class during Chinese New Year, I was super nervous because it had been out of school for more than a minute and I hadn’t done that well the first time around. School was great, I realized I do know a thing or two about education and teaching. TESOL was really a great class for me to start with, I mean come on, what have I been doing for the last 14 years???

Casey got back in touch, and went to great lengths to try to get me back. A lot of talking, and he wrote me a handwritten letter every day for several months. The general tone was, I love you, I want you to be happy, I think I can make you happy, let me try. There was a lot more to it, but ultimately how do you keep saying no to that?  I finally agreed to him coming out to see what might be there, and we got back together… Jesus here I am in another damn long-distance relationship.

I have to say he was smart about it though, we made sure someone went somewhere every 3 months or so, and that we just combined and split all the travel costs regardless of who traveled where. Which really addressed the frustration that comes from one person doing more of the traveling or shouldering the lion’s share of the expenses because that breeds resentment.

I completed the first three of my classes and made a good impression on my classmates, so much so that they recommended me to their employers. I had an amazing interview at a school and thought that was going to be my new job but it fell through at the last minute. The same day I got “the strange” you maybe aren’t getting a job here email, I also got an email offering me an interview at a fancy private school that I didn’t really think I would get an interview at. I rocked my interview and they offered me the job, Hizzah I started in August.

Went home that summer to see family and Casey, then to work in August. Before my job had even really started, the school who I’d not been able to take the job because of flight timing the previous year emailed to offer me a job, but my master’s classes interfered plus I was excited about teaching science to lower elementary school, really fun. University trucked along, work was challenging but good. The year carried on like this.

…. to be continued

Some updates:AKA Magda has been garbage at blogging.

19 02 2018

I was looking at my blog and it’s been legit years… since I’ve properly used this thing. I have lots to say, so why am I not saying it? Well, I’m busy, I work far more than I used to, plus I was doing my masters, and I have a cornucopia of excuses :P.

Anyway, I thought a good way to try to get back into it was to try to update Y’all on the past few years … I tend to be cagey on facebook bc it’s bum. So here is the first installment.


I quit my job at Chingshin, actually I wanted to transfer to a different department but that didn’t work out and then my boss used that as a way to squeeze me out. Which annoyed me because I actually wanted to leave but my co-teacher had convinced me to stay for her and the kids. They dragged the whole thing out for a long time, I tried to get a different job but my tickets were already purchased based on my start date at the end of August.  I had a lot of trouble finding something I wanted. I was offered something at this school I’ve been dying to work with, but they needed me a week earlier and I couldn’t make it work.

I ended up taking a job at a kindi that had tried to hire/poach me from Chingshin before, the devil you know. In some ways it was great, my boss was lovely and really appreciated me, which was lovely. But it had a really strict curriculum and there was no room for variation based on one’s own experience and knowledge. There was a supervisor who was a huge pain in the butt, no experience, no teaching knowledge.. guh. And the guys there, my god talk about white male egos… they were shocking in their horribleness to work with. They felt they were the best thing to hit teaching, and I’m not saying they are bad at what they do.. but they were such raging assholes they created the most hostile work environment I could imagine.

My mom had been laid off from her job the previous year and she was struggling with what to do, her words “No one wants to hire a 60+ year old with no education to speak of”. Really got me thinking, you know I don’t have that much going for me education-wise, basically, everyone has a bachelor’s these days… and all my resume really talks about is teaching, mostly in these after school joints.  Jesus, what if I go home? At the kindi I was getting really depressed and tired of the job’s I’ve had. Maybe I was burned out and done with teaching.

I had known about this master’s degree for a year or more, but I’d never really looked into it much. I always think of it, no matter how bad Chingshin was, it was still a decent job so I wasn’t looking for improvement. But as a friend told me, nothing with push you to improve yourself like a terrible job. And how true it was, I was really unhappy where I was and needed to make changes. Things weren’t going well with Regis, he had broken his neck in an epically stupid stunt with his drunk friends, he ended up healing and being ok… but it was a strain on us.

Rolling up on the end of the year, I was depressed, my mom was super depressed, My relationship was clearly ending, I was burned out and was weighing my options. I was seriously considering moving back to Canada.. but when, how, do what?

…. to be continued


Testing Testing Zaption

20 05 2016

Here is the YouTube video

And here is the Zaption (hopefully)  if not click {here}.


(apparently it can be embedded but it would take me too long to fiddle with it now as I need to finish my project perhaps later when I have more time, though honestly I don’t think I’d bother.)





Critique Paper 1

12 11 2015

Magda Vince

November 11th, 2015

My article: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1058486.pdf
Principals’ Perceived Supervisory Behaviors Regarding Marginal Teachers in Two States

This article describes a study in which they looked at how male and female principals identified and managed marginal teachers.  A marginal teacher, as defined by this article, is:

a teacher who is not quite good enough, of middling quality or second rate, or one who manages to perform just well enough to keep their jobs, to the detriment of student learning.

Marginal teachers may have a reasonable handle on the material, but have poor classroom management skills. They are characterized by their negative attitudes about teaching, and also have difficulty or an inability to relate with others, including colleagues, parents, and students.

The main line of defense against marginal, or inadequate, teachers is the principal of the school.  It is known and accepted that that students with ineffective teachers are harmed. Students will likely recover from a single year of having a lower quality instructor, but multiple years under a marginal teacher will lead to lasting problems.  Unfortunately, principals have a lot of responsibilities, leaving little time to properly identify and address the needs of the marginal teachers.

The purpose of conducting this study was to fill the gap there is in the literature on the subject.  They wanted to determine whether male or female principals differ in their views in supervising and evaluating marginal teachers.  They also wished to “expand the understanding of how male and female supervisors view the challenge of identifying and working with marginal teachers, this study examined the perceptions of male and female principals about the identification of marginal teachers and the strategies they use to supervise and evaluate them”.

This study followed a descriptive format, they used an online survey, and used these three questions to guide their study:

  1. What data sources do principals use to identify marginal teachers, and how their views differ by gender?
  2. What supervisory methods do principals use when attempting to improve marginal teachers, and how do their views on the methods differ by gender?
  3. How do principals working with marginal teachers describe their supervisory styles, and do they differ by gender?

They concluded that both male and female principals felt their evaluations of the teachers to be the main source of information when making decisions about marginal teachers.  Classroom walkthroughs and informal observations are their primary diagnostic tool.  Female principals leaned toward a procedural supervisory style, while male principals had a more situational style. Female principals were more inclined to consider outside opinions, such as other supervisors, parents, students and even teacher self-evaluation than their male counterparts.  This study also corroborated other studies that indicated that there was a pattern of female support concerning data sources. That female principals value instruction and perceive their supervisory role as important, they have strong instructional leadership and are more involved with the teacher on a personal level.


I found it interesting that this study seems to indicate female principals are more likely to manage using a style with procedures, documents and data while their male counterparts may be more inclined to just go with their ‘gut’.  I agree that many female leaders can be more, at least seemingly, interested in the lives of their staff, but on the other hand I find many female supervisors feel they have something to prove.  They can be as tough as the next guy and make it their mission to prove it, while male supervisors may either be strict and firm or friendly and jovial.  I, personally, feel this more often comes down to an individual’s personality and circumstance far more than anything related to their sex.

In this study they only surveyed two states, one in the Midwest and another in the Rocky Mountains.  I would be interested to see how the data varied with a larger pool of principals and in different areas.  For example: the southern, northern, eastern and western states or non-continental USA, how about Europe, Asia, Canada or South Africa?  I have a feeling the results would vary strongly in these different regions and would likely reflect the sexual equality and attitudes toward female and male roles in those societies.

I found the article to be well written and put together. Data charts helped demonstrate the relevant numbers and how they related to one another.  When I finished reading, the first thing I thought was that it was leaning rather heavily on the side of female principals being more effective, involved and possibly better managers of the teachers and therefore the school.  I immediately wondered if the authors were female, if they had been all female or even more than half, I would have been inclined to think that this article was biased toward women.  But given only one of the cited authors of the study was a female researcher it seems less likely to be women touting the glory of women.

If there were more information about the relationship in areas with less gender equality, I would try to use this information to tailor how I would interact with my principals in Taiwan.  But as is the cultural differences are significant, I do not believe that the data provided in this study is particularly relevant to my current situation.  If I ever transfer to a North American location, it would be interesting to see how my personal experiences and behaviour would be affected by the differences between male and female supervisors.


EDUC 921 Pre Course Paper

8 11 2015

EDUC 921    Pre Course Paper

Magda Vince

November 5th, 2015

At first I had no idea what to write, it should have been easy, I should have known my personal philosophy in education.  My personal philosophy in education is not really something that I have given a ton of thought.  I balked at it because I found the task to be a daunting one, but ultimately this is good for me because I need to clearly think and write about my philosophy for my full application to the program at Framingham.  I was not sure how to proceed, as we have not been given examples or guidance on what is expected.  I looked online, read some examples and realized, hopefully correctly, that I should be writing about what I personally consider to be important in education and teaching.  If I have incorrectly identified the objective, I apologize.

There are many things that I consider to be very important to keep in mind in regards to what I am teaching and trying to achieve in the classroom.  As teachers, we have a responsibility to not only educate the children academically but to help shape them into responsible, ethical and good people.  It is not just about imparting information and knowledge, it is about making sure that they understand the importance of honesty, integrity and a job well done.

It is very important to make learning engaging and exciting.  I find ways to hit on students’ personal interests. If I can get them involved and excited about a topic it will have a greater impact on them.  It is of the utmost importance to try to make personal connections with my students to help them feel more comfortable talking to me in and out of class.  If they like me they will be more inclined to listen and learn, and if I take the time to get to know and like them I will be more invested in their future and comprehension.  This is especially true in Taiwan where a lot of the kids spend the vast majority of their time at school with their teachers. It is important to make the kids feel cared about and safe in the class room.  There is a culture of perfection here, it is not acceptable to not know or to be wrong.

An amusing example of this that happened often in the past was to ask for directions and have someone confidently explain how to get to a destination, only to discover that the person had no idea. Rather than admit it, they gave random directions hoping someone else help upon becoming lost.   In the classroom this translates to quiet, shy kids that are extremely hesitant to speak up in class.  They do not like to ask questions because that is an admission of ignorance.  I make a point with every new class to emphasis the importance of asking questions, encouraging their natural curiosity and helping them shed their cultural inhibitions.  I want them to feel safe to admit when they do not know something, and to realize that we all have questions and things we do not know.  For this reason I always admit when I do not know something. If I make a mistake I own it, I correct it, and we move on.  I lead by example and show that it is ok to not know or make mistakes if an effort is made to learn from it in the future.

Something I always strive for as a teacher is to ultimately make myself obsolete.  I teach my students to be independent, giving them the tools to succeed on their own.  I give them independent study skills, test taking skills, and the confidence to dissect an assignment on their own.  I am always available to help, but I expect them to try to complete tasks on their own.  They, eventually, are able to complete the majority of assignments with little to no intervention on my part.  I also make my classroom student centered as often as I can, because it is important that they are invested in what they are learning.  In my experience I have observed that students are more engaged and invested when we incorporate student centered learning into the classroom.

Communication is key to the success of any relationship.  That is why I always have an open communication policy with students, parents, colleagues and even administration.  With the students I am open and honest with them, as much as appropriate.  If I feel sick or if a particular class or assignment is important, I simply take time to discuss it with them.  They know what it is like to be sick or sad and are very understanding when time is taken to explain my mindset to them.  If a class or assignment is important, and it is explained why, they will have far more respect for it and me for discussing it with them.

I have an open classroom, anyone is welcome to come observe at any time.  In addition I often share plans, ideas, activities and classes that I plan to do or that have gone particularly well with my colleagues and administrators.  This is an important attitude to have as an educator; I get a lot from sharing with others as they share with me as well.  Sharing my accomplishments keeps me excited about what I am doing.

As for parents, I find that most problems often come down to misunderstandings or a lack of trust.  I speak with parents often and am sure that they know they are welcome to ask me anything about the class or their kids.  In addition, I started a class blog to share what we have been doing with pictures, worksheets, videos and even communications with the parents.  So far this has been very well received, the kids love it and the parents are delighted to be able to see pictures of activities and watch videos that we have watched in our class.  It encourages parental involvement and also helps the parents feel more confident in myself as their children’s educator.

Good instruction is made up of clear, understandable directions and material.  It’s important to consider the audience, and make the lessons level appropriate.  There is nothing worse than going to a class to have the book or teacher aimed a mile above students’ head.  It is frustrating and discouraging to the students, and shows a lack of connection and possibly disinterest or even worse apathy on the part of the instructor.

Instruction should be succinct and meaningful.  Assignments, lectures, readings and activities need to be useful, not just busy work.  It is also important to keep things as interesting as possible, depending on the subject matter. If a class or lesson is fun, or personalized to the students, it will have a far greater impact.  Student centered activities are a great way to get students involved and keep them interested in the subject matter.  It can also help when trying to make potentially unexciting material more personal and interesting.

Good supervision is something that is easy to speculate about but to be frank, in my experience, a little harder to find.  I would ideally like my supervisors to be fair but firm.  Again, communication is extremely important, I expect my supervisors to communicate clearly and honestly with me.  It is important to be able to talk to administration and that they are approachable, not kings on the mountain.  It is also important to know that they will listen, trust, and be supportive in a conflict or dispute.

One school, that I ultimately did not work at but was really looking forward to the positive environment, the director of the English department was personable, open and easy to talk to.  All the teachers that worked under her confirmed that she listened to the staff and took their feelings and perspectives into consideration.  When it came to reports from parents or complaints she always supported the teacher, regardless of what was said. Her first take was that of support of the teaching staff, and she reserved judgment of the situation until after discussing with the teachers in question.  I, personally, have not experienced that kind of support in schools in Taiwan.  The usual maneuver here is to assume the teachers are in the wrong without even discussing it with them, and then trying to do damage control to clean up the mess afterwards.  The party line for a lot of teachers is to constantly do everything you can to ‘cover your ass’ in case anything goes wrong.  I have yet to run into problems of this kind at my current job, but I have heard that our administrator is quite busy but tends to try to trust the staff, which I hope is the case.

What helped me the most to become a successful teacher?  Well, in part I would say that my own personality is the main driving force behind my success.  I really enjoy teaching, I get excited when I reach the kids and get them involved in a lesson.  I like to learn new things, but I have a short attention span and am easily bored.  As a result, I am constantly driven to try harder to make my lessons interesting, to spice things up, which keeps me and the kids interested and excited.

Also, this program has been a large positive influence for me as a teacher.  Not so much the courses themselves, they have been useful and informative, the most important thing that I have gotten from the program is a reigniting of my passion for teaching.  I had lost the spark, and was seriously considering leaving education and pursuing a different career.  I was extremely unhappy, especially after a very negative experience with unprofessional and shockingly poor management at my previous school.  When I left, we had nine foreign homeroom teachers, and that year six of the nine left the school permanently, and one transferred to a different department.  I attempted to transfer as well, but it did not work out.  The coordinator left mid-year, and her replacement left in June, three of the teachers were so ‘scarred’ by the experience that they left the country, two more left the city.  In the aftermath, I felt so disillusioned that while I changed schools, I was honestly considering leaving not only teaching but leaving Taiwan which has been my home for the past 14 years.

I decided to join the Framingham Master’s in International Education, to improve my resume and in the hopes to improve my situation if not now, at least in the future.  I knew that I would learn new things, meet new, people and have new experiences.  What I did not anticipate was the affirmation that I am actually good at my job, that I am a good teacher, and the realization that I still have a lot to offer.  The interactions, shared experiences, and lively discussions that I have engaged in with my classmates have made a world of difference to me personally and professionally.  I have learned about education and teaching, but most importantly I have learned about myself.  I have also made valuable connections and hopefully have improved my prospects for the future.



6 11 2015

I didn’t vote for him.

I couldn’t even if I wanted to because my right to vote was taken away.

I have recently and rapidly become ashamed of my country and what it has become.  Especially approaching the election.  I was disheartened, enraged, embarrassed, and even ashamed of my country.  I have been an expat for 14 years, I have often joked and jested about my homeland, but it has always been just that.  I refused to even consider giving up my citizenship, not because the Canadian passport is ‘better’, which is of course a factor.  But because deep down, Canada will always be a part of me and my home, no matter where I go, where I live, where my new home may be.  Canada is part of me, part of who I am, shaped me, and ultimately a huge part of my identity.

In the short time since the election, I have been nervously watching to see what our new Prime Minister would do.  He’s a politician, and … well they can be a shady bunch.  He’s done a number of things that may well, come lets be honest they are, publicity stunts.  But at the same time, he’s doing them.  And let’s consider, all people in the lime light do things to get your attention but what are they doing?  Regardless of why, what are they doing?

He ran a clean and positive campaign.

Meeting people in the morning after the election in the metro to shake hands and say thank you.

He used google hangouts, to reach out and chat with school children across the country about issues and their concerns.

Continually talking about, and making real moves toward, transparency in the government.

He promised a cabinet that was gender equal… and then he actually did it. 0.0

Speaking of the cabinet… I’ve heard some grumbling about how, it should be based on qualifications not getting the job for being a woman.  <- ok holy fuck off.. because all the men in the previous cabinets were the best candidate?  Like there aren’t any freaking qualified women in government?  Really.?  HUFF

When he was asked why he made a gender equal cabinet, his answers was simple “because it’s 2015”.

But seriously look at this..


In case you haven’t seen this floating around


These are some of the cabinet members…

We have a Minister of Environment and CLIMATE CHANGE.
We have a Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and REFUGEES.

Our Prime Minister is a sci-fi geek.
Our Minister of Health is an actual Doctor.
Our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is a poverty economist.
Our Minister of Science is an actual Scientist (oh, and she has a Nobel Prize).
Our Minister of Status of Women is an actual woman!
Our Minister of Veterans Affairs is a quadriplegic because he was shot in a drive-by shooting.
Our Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is a Professional Geologist.
Our Minister of Democratic Institutions is a Muslim refugee.
Our Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a Paralympian Athlete.
Our Minister of Defence is a badass war hero, Afghanistan combat vet, and police officer.

Half of our Ministers are women.
Half of our Ministers are men!
Two of our Ministers are people of First Nations (Kwakwaka’wakw, Inuit)
Three of our Ministers were born outside of Canada (India, Afghanistan)
Two of our Ministers are Sikh.
At least one of our Ministers is Muslim.
At least two of our Ministers are Atheist.
One of our Ministers is battling breast cancer. frown emoticon
One of our Ministers is in a wheelchair.
One of our Ministers is blind.
One of our Ministers is openly gay.
One of our Ministers is openly ginger.
Also, Hon. Navdeep Bains has a perfect twirly moustache.

Justin, if these are signs of what is to come, how you plan to run our country.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  I didn’t vote for you, but you’ve given me my Canada back, or at least have started to.  I am proud of my country again.  And I had a little hitch in my breath, my heart skipped a beat when I read his open letter to the country.  If nothing else, thank you for giving me hope.