Kelly Hanson


Kelly Hanson

PhD student, and Faculty Advisor



Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)

PhD (in progress)

Master of Arts (UBC Okanagan, 2014)

Toronto, Ont.

“Self-reflection is a practice to be shared with colleagues and friends—that is how we learn and grow.”

Kelly’s Story

Faculty of Education PhD student Kelly Hanson talks mindfulness, taking risks and practicing what you preach

THE KIDS IN KELLY HANSON’S RUTLAND MIDDLE SCHOOL class have noticed a change in their teacher.

“I love what I do and joy is contagious,” she says. “It has a huge impact on the students.” Why Education?

Kelly Hanson’s master’s studies at UBC Okanagan revolve around professional learning, curriculum development and mindfulness practices. Her research explores innovative ways that educators can support each other to develop their teaching practices.

As part of her research into teaching and mindfulness, Hanson co-initiated a professional teachers’ group two years ago with colleagues at Rutland Middle School. They have since expanded to include educators across School District 23.

“Self-reflection requires trust and vulnerability,” she says. “It isn’t just something done alone. It’s a practice to be shared with colleagues and friends—that is how we learn and grow.”

Hanson is inspired to continue her research about teaching practices due to the positive effect that the teacher group has had on both her and her students.

“The students see the positive relationships between the teachers,” she says, “and they see that their teachers play and inquire; our love of learning inspires them. That is my motivation to continue my research—the impact I see on the classroom and the community that supports the classroom.”

Professional teacher groups are a growing trend in Canadian education, a trend that the Faculty of Education supports at the annual Scholar-Practitioner Conference. The event is an opportunity for educators across the province to come together to share research and gather insights.

“Schools and universities should continue to collaborate,” Hanson says. “Teachers have a lot of knowledge, and so do teacher researchers, it is a very important and meaningful partnership.”


While studying education theory at UBC Okanagan, Hanson’s own teaching style transformed.

“The research I’ve completed has required me to explore my own journey into education, my relationships, and the way I see the world.”

She has been encouraged by the mentorship she’s seen between UBC Okanagan and teachers in the community.

“Schools are places to grow possibilities and challenge structures that do not serve the well-being and well-becoming of society,” she says.

“The critical reflection involved in change can be supported by intentional practices. Infusing mindful practices into teacher professional learning supports this complex, necessary work.”


Hanson’s philosophy is simple. While doing anything in life, whether it’s teaching, yoga, or trail running with your husband and golden retrievers: Open your mind, your heart and your will.

The practice also applies to studying at UBC Okanagan.

“The graduate studies program has been a supportive place to be reflective, to notice and to weave new connections,” she says.

As Hanson prepares to write comprehensive exams for her PhD studies, she’ll continue to reflect on her practice and take time for herself and her studies.

“Since beginning this research, I grow more and more willing to take risks, to share, with integrity, what is working well and where I struggle” she says.

“We all have the opportunity to prioritize and grow communities that value well-being, that are inclusive, and democratic. I want to do my part.”

—by Jill Dickau