Learning Through Openspokes


As part of a continual learning journey post ETMOOC, I am begiinning the process of vlogging.

This weeks topic is how do I learn best and as I refelct on what the other vloggers in the fellowship of the openspokes have said as well as reflecting on my own video, I realize at different points in my life my answer would have been different. For now the vlog below expresses a few thoughts on some of the ways i learn best today. However, I recognize that this may change for me depending on what , why and how I need to learn.

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the best ways to learn is to continue to be a learner. My brain seems like it is on overload these days as I continue to learn in a variety of ways.

I certainly hope I continue to  model life long learning and that it is OK to make mistakes. It took me several mistakes in attempting to upload my video to youtube, but now that it is there I have learned and written down what to do next time, so that I learn from this frustrating experience.

I am sure next time will be easier and I will be happy with myself that I persisted so that I could figure it all out!


Click on the link below to view my Haiku Deck that summarizes many of the ways my fellowship of the Openspokes learns.

Click here: http://www.haikudeck.com/p/4xavgfDse3/learning

Go to the fellowship of Open Spokes on YOUTUBE

Do We Really Need School Counsellors? You May Be The First One …

The First One…


As a school counsellor you may be the first one

  • To listen to the story of a young man who does not believe he is good enough because his step dad who is alcoholic repeats that he is not good enough everyday in a number of ways
  • To be there when a young person comes out for the very first time
  • To listen to the dying words of a student who has cancer, but still wants to come to school
  • To listen to students who are having suicidal thoughts and don’t know how to cope or to students who need to be hospitalized and you are the first to assess the risk
  • To recognize that a student has psychosis and send them to the hospital where they get diagnosed and the family starts the process of treatment
  • To understand that a students cutting is way of coping with pain for them
  • To sit with a student as she tells her mom that she is pregnant at 15
  • To hear of a students years of repeated sexual abuse that they are now disclosing at 17 years old
  • To refer young people to a group for dealing with clinical depression
  • To work with a student who has been bullied since grade two and wants it to stop
  • To help students who feel caught in the middle because of a parents divorce
  • To recognize that a student needs treatment for their mental health
  • To get help for a young woman or young man who has an eating disorder, but doesn’t want anyone to know
  • To listen to the buried fears of a young man coping with an anxiety disorder
  • To recognize a learning disability in a young person and have them get help
  • To be present to the impalpable grief of a brother who lost his sister in a tragic accident
  • To help students face the unbearable
  • To reach out to a student with a drug and alcohol problem who feels nobody understands and encourage them to seek treatment
  • To show compassion and assist students who are suspended from school
  • To work with students who are in an unhealthy relationship and help them understand how to get help
  • To assist students with their confusion about which post secondary school to go to
  • To get students help for their academic challenges and start to achieve what they are capable of
  • To let students know that whatever they are going through they will get through it. You will be with them along the way and assist them with resources to help them when they have finished school
  • To listen to the unspoken dreams of a young person
  • To let students know they can start over
  • To reach out to the student who no one knows how to
  • To be present and teach mindfulness to the student
  • To encourage students to engage and include all students with special needs
  • To trust the student
  • To listen to their stories and share stories that can help them
  • To believe in students
  • To help students find courage
  • To not give up on the student
  • To be their champion
  • To lift them up
  • To celebrate and make them aware of their strengths
  • To help, to really help students not just survive , but thrive
  • To recognize the gifts that a student has and encourage them to utilize them
  • To give HOPE to a student who has felt hopeless
  • To be the one person that matters for that one student

The School Counsellor may just be the first one students decide to share their stories with. The student might feel safe enough in their school to trust an adult with their most precious and often their painful secrets and that person could be you. Students want help and School Counsellors are trained and want to help students. There are so many stories out there everyday and in every school all across the world that need and are being shared.

I believe School Counsellors can and are saving the lives of students.

Do we need School Counsellors? What do you think?

For any of you who are considering School Counselling, I want you to know it is the best career in the world. I also want to thank all the School Counsellors from across the world that saved a student’s life TODAY or yesterday or a year or maybe even several years ago and remind you that you do make a difference.

Always remember you may be the first one


Staying the Course: Connections, Reciprocity, and the Web

A caring educator shares the value of a connected Mooc.

The Online Teacher

Trying to sum up my experience in #ETMOOC is an impossible task. Impossible, because how does one begin to put into words that which is felt by the heart? Furthermore, how can a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) bring about such a feeling? As Alec Couros (course visionary and facilitator, professor of educational technology and media, researcher and keynote speaker) stated, “We all decided to walk through the same door on the internet so we could think together.” Catherine Cronin echoed this and reflected on the power of open and connected learning in her blog, MOOCs: Community as Curriculum. Yes, #ETMOOC was definitely more than a course; it was also, and I hope will continue to be, a community.

From Education to Advocacy: Thank you #ETMOOC! 

(Credit goes to Jeff Merrill for the Haiku Deck title remix.)

Photo credit: CC BY 2.0 Thomas Leuthard via CC BY NC SA 3.0 Catherine Cronin

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School Counsellor Talk on Grief

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.

– Leo Tolstoy 

School Counsellors often have to assist students with the grief process. Over the years I have seen students who have lost parents, siblings, friends, classmates and family members.

When a school experiences the loss of a student everyone feels the loss as expressed  here by a note left to a student who died.


Even though we haven’t formally met, I look at your spot in English class and I am deeply saddened that you are not here with us…

It is never easy seeing a student in deep pain especially if the loss was tragic or sudden. Often times school counsellors need to ensure that they have dealt with their own issues surrounding grief so that they can best help others. School Counsellors need to be aware of vicarious trauma or counsellor burnout when assisting students who have experienced traumatic events.

Wendy Kurchak who is a retired school counsellor and now certified thantologist defines trauma loss as “a type of loss resulting from a sudden unexpected loss which is perceived as traumatic by the griever. It involves grief response + trauma response = complicated grief.” The suicide of a student is one of the most tragic a school counsellor will ever have to deal with and can most certainly bring about this kind of a response.

The school counsellor will often be dealing with the grief of several students and possibly the adults around them in any situation where a loss has affected the school community.

It is extremely important that a school counsellor takes care of their own selves as well as being present to the grief of others. To learn more about your own level of compassion fatigue go to: http://www.proqol.org/

Grief is a process and not an event. Every person’s grief is as unique as the individual or situation of loss. School counsellors may need several resources to assist students in their school community with a loss.

Students need to be reminded:

  • To grieve in their own time and way
  • That it is OK to cry and grieving comes in waves (sometimes unexpectedly through a song, a smell, or a picture. Anything can trigger moments of grief)
  • Writing in a journal, creating songs, painting, creating a space and a place to grieve may help
  • Dr. Allan Wolfelt is a leading expert in this field and offers great information
  • It is ok to talk to someone like your school counsellor, a teacher, friend, parent or your local hospice

The school counsellor can use the following sentence completions with students:

  1. Grief is …
  2. You can help me by…
  3. Something I can do to help myself is…
  4. Others should realize that I…
  5. When I am sad I …
  6. My loss feels…
  7. I don’t know what to do when I am feeling…
  8. The hardest part of my grief for me is…
  9. If I could teach someone something about grief it would be…
  10. I can turn to _________ to help me.

School Counsellors can also find resources in my live binder:

Click here:

Livebinder on Grief

If you have any grief resources you want to share , please feel free to tweet me @SSpellmanCann.

Canadian School Counsellors Connecting…School Counselling Today Touches Tomorrow


photo by CRobi-Blog cc

To Touch The Soul of One Human Being Is To Walk On Holy Ground

Stephen Covey

One of our tasks as school counsellors is to help students separate themselves from outside evaluations and erroneous self- concepts, so that they may discover their own being. We need them to remember, regain, renew and strengthen what they once had as a baby, but now seems lost! By focusing on a student’s strengths we are better able to assist them.

Developing a positive relationship with students is essential and a key into their world; if we accept all students with respect and regard we will be effective in helping them.

Paraphrased from Windows to Our Children by Violet Oaklander


School Counsellors have an extremely important job to do. No matter what the situation is they are helping students and relationship is extremely important. It is the cornerstone of what school counsellors do. School counsellors are often privileged to have the time to sit down with a student to really understand their world and what it is they need.  Part of the school counsellor’s role is to enhance the students development both personally and academically.

School counsellors across the country have a variety of skills. In my district we have to have a teaching degree as well as a Master’s degree in counselling.

When students come to the school counsellor they know they can get assistance in a number of areas with a variety of issues.

Coordinating Comprehensive School Counselling Programs which recognize the developmental needs of students is vital to the work that a school counsellor does. They provide responsive services in minor and major crisis while also coordinating wraparound services for school/community agencies as well as service providers for education, mental health, justice, newcomers and health care.

The Guidance Council of Alberta has some great resources to provide school counsellors in Canada with a background and framework for what we do.

 Click here: http://www.guidancecouncil.ca/?page_id=29

The role of the school counsellor has changed and is evolving. Ask a school counsellor what they do and you may be surprised. Helping students is what school counsellors do. They want to make a difference in students lives so that they can better navigate the world around them.

Wanting more information about School Counsellors in Canada? The following websites are helpful:

  • Newfoundland: No website available at the present time
  • Northwest Territories: No website available at the present time
  • Nunavut:  No website available at the present time
  • Ontario School Counsellors Association: http://www.osca.ca/
  • Prince Edward Island Counselling Association:  http://www.peica.org/
  • Quebec: No website available at the present time
  • Saskatchewan School Counsellor Association: http://ssc.stf.sk.ca/ssca/ssca.html
  • Yukon Territory: No website available at the present time

The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association School Counselling Chapter keeps up on school counselling programs across Canada and promotes and supports the role of school counsellors.


School Counsellors love what they do and more are beginning to connect on twitter for professional development. We also love connecting with school counsellors from all over the world. So please join us follow the hash tags:

Canadian School Counsellor Chat:  #cscchat

American School Counselors:  #scchat

You can follow me @SSpellmanCann

Note to all school counsellors everywhere. If you have a HAIKU DECK that you have created please share with me @SSpellmanCann and I will share with EVERONE as well as putting in a place for all school counsellors to use.

Here is one example:                                                

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 11.22.47 AM

Click here:


  • Hope you join in on creating haiku decks that students and you can use.
  • Looking forward to connecting and working together to create FREE school counselling resources that students and school counsellors across the WORLD can use  to make a difference in the lives of our students.