Hope in My Ideal School … What Does Your Ideal School Look Like?


After listening to Will Richardson’s blackboard collaborate talk I had to reflect on what it is that I would really want my ideal school to look like. I believe this will be an ongoing reflection as I continue to engage in my own process of learning in this digital age.

I believe I am very fortunate to be working in a self- directed learning model. I love the way students learn at Bishop Carroll High School. This model has been in action for over forty–years and is fantastic, but still evolving.

As I really reflect on what it is I would like to see in a school, the school counsellor comes out in me as my first thought is a school filled with HOPE.

Do hope and technology go hand in hand? I believe they most certainly can.  This video I discovered after receiving a tweet demonstrates the importance of HOPE. Shane Lopez’s interview expresses why I want my ideal school to be full of HOPE.


The next video called, “If students designed their own schools” made me want what these students have done in their school to be a part of what I would want in my ideal school.

What might my ideal school look like? :

  • Hope filled
  • Engaged students and staff
  • Mutual Respect
  • Low student teacher ratio where all students can be heard and helped
  • Creativity is encouraged and abounds
  • Grades would not matter
  • Teachers would not ever feel they had to teach to tests
  • Counsellors would be essential in every school starting in elementary to high school
  • Counsellor to student ratio would be low and every school counsellor would not have to teach a class, but would engage students through workshops or through resources online or groups or whatever the schools and most importantly the students needs were
  • Exercise would be a part of every students and teachers day
  • Positive Connections would be evident
  • Capable, confident students would emerge and have opportunities to move in the direction of their dreams
  • Students would have available to them a variety of resources and opportunities
  • A students needs and personality would be highly considered
  • Safe Learning Spaces
  • The building would feel more like a comfy home than an institution
  • Students and staff are in a constant process of being technology savvy and literate
  • Professional development is ongoing and supported. Funding is readily available
  • Breaks where students and staff were nourished and had time to connect happen on a daily basis
  • Celebrations of staff and students occur on a regular basis
  • Passion is evident

I think I could go on and on, but for today I will stop here.

HOPE abounds in my ideal school, but what will schools look like in the future? I really am not sure.

After watching the video The Future of Education: Epic 2O20.  I have to really wonder are schools really prepared for what education might look like in 2020.

What do you think?

For today, my ideal school is right where I am.  I love working and counselling in a Self- Directed High School.  It makes me very happy and it is a very hopeful place where  I belong.

Mindfulness Matters Especially in a MOOC


  photo by johnwilliamsphd cc

Listening to Howard Rheingold on Blackboard Collaborate in ETMOOC last night shifted my attention to mindfulness. Mindfulness is a tool we can all use in this busy, often stressful world of ours. It is certainly a tool  that as a school counsellor that I  can teach students to use. Especially those students who are plugged in to all kinds of devices .It is a skill I need to remind myself to use while taking this ETMOOC course. Sometimes I have my laptop, my phone, my iPad all going at the same time, especially if I want to keep up in a chat.

It is a misnomer that mindfulness is about focusing. It isn’t. Jon Kabat Zinn describes mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”

In order to be mindful we need to carefully listen to ourselves. We need to shift our attention, not pay attention to where we want or need to be.

For educators here are some great resources to understand mindfulness better:

Open my livebinder: Click on this link:


Dr. Allan Donsky MD from the Department of Psychiatry of Calgary ,is a skilled practitioner in this area. He believes one of the doorways to being fully human is:  “AWARENESS >>>> CHOICE >>> ATTENTION >>> ACTION”

I liken this to what I am doing in ETMOOC

  • I am AWARE that I am attempting to follow many things. I can go off in many directions easily if I allow myself to do that
  • I make a CHOICE to focus on anything that is related to school counselling
  • I bring my ATTENTION to those skills, ideas, tweets, chats…
  • The ACTION part is that by staying in the moment I can get what I need from the experience that will be helpful for me in what I do

To be honest this is a very different learning experience for me and being mindful while having so much data and options laid out in front of me is not easy. I need to practice mindfulness in order for my students to understand it and to be able to use it myself. I need to be mindful of who is in my Personal Learning Network. I also need to model being able to shift my attention to my family, so that my children will be able to do the exact same thing. It is certainly a challenge to be able to put this into practice when I am so engaged in my ETMOOC.

Got to go … shifting my attention

Digital Literacies … My Passion Motivates Me


Being in ETMOOC is like being at a fabulous movie at home snuggled in my basement watching a movie of my choice on the big screen. Those of you in ETMOOC will understand what I am saying.

  • I can learn in a comfortable place
  • I can choose what and how I want to learn
  • There are so many things I can choose from
  • I can even get up move around, put things on pause and come back to enjoy what I am doing
  • I decide if what I am doing is useful to me. I get to take what I like and leave the rest
  • I am constantly learning even if I am not fully aware of the learning at the time
  • I can sit back , relax , and absolutely enjoy the anticipation and the experience
  • It is so enjoyable I do not look forward to it ending

The reason I am even getting better at technology is that I wanted to learn how technology could help me with my Comprehensive School Counselling Program.

I love what I do and technology is able to move me to what Doug Belshaw calls moving from digital elegance to remix.

T3S1: Digital Literacies with Dr. Doug Belshaw (#etmooc)

Certainly a few years ago I would not have believed that possible. I dabbled with technology the same way a small child would and because the tools are easier and easier I grew with the changes.

As Doug Belshaw says, “I think Mozilla understands that digital literacy is a condition, but not a threshold. It affects your identity because every time you are given a new tool, it gives you a different way of impacting upon the world.” I have found this to be more accurate as I move through this ETMOOC and try more and more ways of communicating. Being able to utilize a variety of tools has allowed me to assist students and school counsellors in a way I did not realize was possible.

I look forward in the next few weeks to be able to understand the essential elements of digital literacies in an even deeper way. Thanks to the School Counselling and ETMOOC communities, I will develop literacies and grow and change as a school counsellor which can only affect the students I serve in a positive way.

I look forward to learning more about digital literacies in blackboard collaborate tonight with Doug. Check out his TED video:

A Story of Celebration … Connecting and Everlasting Friendships


                                   photo used by permission by Aaron (Bishop Carroll student)

I moved to Calgary via Nova Scotia and Atikameg in 1981. It was a move that would change the course of my life and so began my story of lifelong adult relationships.

Fortunately for me I have had wonderful friendships in my life, so I knew how they could make a difference and sustain me.  I have lifelong childhood friends from Nova Scotia who remain my dear friends today, even though I have been away for thirty-three years. We still make a point of seeing each other and celebrating our friendships every summer. 

Little did I know when I moved to Calgary, it would become my home or that I would discover extraordinary life giving friendships that would sustain me for life,”the gang” as we would so affectionately call ourselves. My friends are wonderful, kind, intelligent, considerate, amazing, loving and caring people. Our connections remain unbreakable.

The thing that I think is so amazing about these people is that we have been friends for over twenty-five years and never ever had a fight or major disagreement with one another.

According to Robin Yapp,” it was found that both men and women meet up with their closest friends just six times a year on average.” Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-202987/Friends-lifetime.html#ixzz2KzYXk22F

In over twenty-five years we have missed very little time where we go not seeing each other on a regular basis or celebrate a meal together. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, New Years, birthdays, births, deaths, and we often get together for absolutely no reason at all. There rarely goes by a month where we don’t sit down once , twice or even more times together to enjoy a feast. 

Every celebration creates fabulous memories. We laugh, sing, play games, tell stories and just plain enjoy each other’s company. Our children have been blessed with such great role models of positive, lasting friendships.

We are there for each other whenever anyone needs something no matter what. I can count on these people for whatever I need. They are my family. No, we are not related, but we are closer than some families. We have made a connection that will last a lifetime.

What do we all have in common? We moved to Calgary to work. We needed to be able to use the skills from our education. It was a place to create a life for ourselves. There are other commonalities, but this and the fact that we all had no family in Calgary has brought us together.

We all happen to be from a place near the water.  Prince Edward Island, Vancouver and Nova Scotia.   Others come to some of our celebrations, but not all of them because they have family here in Calgary. The rest of us don’t.

I absolutely love these people, and so do our children. We have been blessed with laughter in abundance over the years, positive memories that are etched vividly in my mind and will be passed on down to our children. There are stories upon stories that have been shared over the years. We never get tired of telling each other stories.

As I get ready to celebrate another fantastic seafood dinner with my buddies tomorrow, I know that we will have a glorious time. I look forward to each and every time we spend together.  I wish you could sit around the table with us and hear the joy and laughter that abounds. If you listen close enough maybe you will.

When I tell people about how much we really care about each other after all these years, they are often amazed. Really, we have never fought with each other about anything throughout the years.

What a gift I have been given. If I could I’d jump over mountains for these people I most definately would. They make such a difference in my life.

I have been so blessed with all the friends that surround me. I can’t even put into words what they have meant to me.

If I pass anything onto my children it will be this. 

Find great friends, not friends you necessarily always agree with all the time, but friends who you love being around and they love being around you.

Friends who :

  • accept you just the way you are
  • you can laugh and cry with
  • would be there in a minute no matter what you needed
  • the spouses like and respect each other
  • don’t mind being silly with you no matter how old you are
  • share the good times and the bad with you
  • you always know will be there no matter what the circumstances
  • share your hopes, dreams, successes and losses

Friends who always seem to know the right thing to say or do. 

I am so happy to celebrate my friends. I want to shout from the mountaintops that YOU have provided me with some of the happiest memories of my life. I LOVE YOU so much!

Click on the link for a digital tribute to my friends…

 Click here: Celebration of Everlasting Friendship.

Life Vest Inside: Our Etmooc Community is like this GIVING GIVING GIVING.

I love this video. It is a great video. The message in this video is so true. What you give out comes back ten fold. This is a wonderful video for school counsellors and teachers the world over to share and i hope you do.

There are so many points for discussion. I think we could make a similar ETMOOC video for sure.

Acts of kindness make the world a better place…so keep doing them!

Narrable: A Digital Storytelling Tool … Transformation… A Continual Journey in Etmooc

ImageNarrable : https://narrable.com/

Is another great digital storytelling tool. It is easy to learn and easy to use.

Students would find this a great tool to use for presentations. I can easily use this as a tool for sharing information about school counselling.

You can:

  • pick your best pictures
  • upload them
  • record your voice
  • share

When you share to facebook etc. You get another narrable to use for free.

Check out my first narrable… Do you think you could use this to tell your story?

A work in progress still figuring out how to embed or share on wordpress.

Thanks to Erin Luong who suggested I tweet the code first, then copy and paste the tweet from twitter to wordpress and I probably would get the link which I did. It saved me a lot of frustration being able to do it this way. So here it is:

Click on the link:


Using Voicethread. A Digital Storytelling Tool.

As part of etmooc we are encouraged to use a variety of Storytelling tools. I had known about voicethread  http://voicethread.com/  for awhile now, but this is the first time I actually used it to tell a story. I believe it will be a fantastic way to share what I want to in school counselling. It wil be a great tool to embed in our learning guides in a self- directed high school.

I bought SNOWBALL (the white mic in the picture) which is a great tool if you are doing any voice productions. I like how clear my voice turned out.


A work in progress . My voicethread …

never give up snip it

Go to : Never Give Up to see my voicethread. I am working on making it better . I definitely need to work on the timing of my voice.

I love how you can add links to the thread , so I added one of my livebinders on depression in the first thread. I can also see how I could add this link to one of our learning guides so that students could have access to the information. Beacause you can integrate with (D2L) Desire to Learn, this will make it easy for us to use in our school.

School Counsellors in the US have been using this resource and I can see why.  See the SCOPE article http://sconlineprofessionalexchange.blogspot.ca/2012/06/using-voicethread.html It will definately work as a psychoeducational tool that we can use in Student Services  for various topics that relate to school counselling. I look forward to utilizing this tool more often.

My Story of Art and Flow … Visible Learning , Digital Story Telling

Why do I love painting., because I think I might make money at it someday? No absolutely NOT.

It is because it is the ONLY thing in my life that brings me such wonderful flow. True flow in the psychological sense as described by the positive psychologist Michaly Csikszentmihaly.   http://psychology.about.com/od/PositivePsychology/a/flow.htm

It brings me to a place where I am living in the moment. It is a place for me where eight hours feels like five minutes. I have never experienced this feeling in anything I do. Lacrosse brings me to that place for a very short period of time, but nothing else I have done in life has been able to bring me to this mental state.

I can only draw stick men of sorts, so I never gave painting or any Art a real try until two years ago when my neighbour and friend Cristine invited me to her place for an Art lesson.


Since then I have been hooked, moving away from my fears of feeling I can’t … to I can. It is about the process for me, the freedom to just let go. I have taken four one day lessons with four different Artists (each having their own unique style) and that is what is so freeing.

There is no one right way to do Art. Painting is so liberating for me. I look forward to it as an escape, a relaxing activity that just brings me joy and most importantly flow.

We all need a little flow in our lives especially those of us who are in the helping professions. Flow brings us to the place where we can go to recharge.


I am not going to go to that place with my Art that can be the perfectionist in me. I am just going to let go and be me with the Art.  I am doing this for me and if my kids happen to like a piece of art I do, I hope someday they will keep it with them as a memory of me. The fun, who cares piece of me that just allows it to be.


Maybe  they will keep  the piece that they had input into, the one where they inspired me to do something different than I originally planned.  It is now  the piece I call “ Celebrating Family”.


or maybe the piece I call Dancing in the Rain, which I loved to do as a child.


or maybe they won’t want any, but will have great memories of their mom having fun.


For me these Art days are about having fun, learning from others , celebrating and connecting. Not unlike ETMOOC.


For a little video of our last Art Day go to :



Art has brought great joy to my life. It is a gift that I am very grateful for.

These digital stories allow me to create memories and that really is what it is all about for me. Thanks again ETMOOC.

Search Cube … Coolest Tool … Etmooc users will love


Go to : http://searchcu.be/#/c/5F301EE6

I love this tool. It will make my searches fun and easy. Students will love this too! So happy I discovered it on twitter.


Go to: http://www.searchcube.com


This tool is more fun on an Ipad! You can search and find websites and images easily. You can make your own cube with your favorites. Have fun!