2014 A Year To Remember

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There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.

– Mark Twain

Thanks to a post by my fellow #etmooc ‘er Helen Blunden @activatelearn. I was inspired to write this post.

My most viewed posts of 2014

1. Career Speed Dating

2. Ten Reasons to Live

3. Hope In My Idea School

4. Putting Passion Into Practice

5. School Counsellors Connecting

6. Children of Alcoholics School Counsellors Can Help

7. OCLMOOC: SChool Counsellors Joining In And You Can Too

8. Connections Have Transformed Me

9. Conference With A Difference

10. Lessons For A New School Counsellor

Wishing my PLN a fantastic 2015 and hoping you and your families enjoy all the blessings of life.

          LOVE THIS TWEET : Something we all should practice in 2015

I am so fortunate to work with @NeilOF12 a great leader, and @ehordyskiluong ( my co-inspirer) I know that’s not a word, but she always works with me to inspire students and helps me with so many other projects and ideas. To Peter Damen who always has great ideas  and is a fabulous School Counsellor ( who I am grateful is on our team ) thank you for who you are and all you do. To my fabulous colleagues who continue to inspire me by what they do and their comittment to education . I am grateful to work alongside you.

In 2015, I hope to see more Canadian School Counsellors on twitter. I look forward to celebrating and connecting with you. Thanks to those who have already taken a leadership role. See you in #SCCrowd #scchat and #cscchat.                                        


Coping Skills

When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: Check out my haiku deck on coping skills here: How You Cope Depends On What You Have to Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you can help you cope. Below you will find some strategies that may help you cope . Use the strategies that work best for you.

ABC’s  Coping Skills:

A: Attitude: Your attitude matters.

Allow yourself extra time to get up in the morning andget to places. Being 15 to 20 minutes early can reduce your strss level.

Allow 10-15 minutes a day for YOU time. Time to wind down, time to reflect, time to let go of your worries,

B: Books : A book on the topic you are trying to cope with can help. Beliefs Challenge your thoughts about the topic: Be positive! Books can be healing!

Be a person who can say NO and not feel guilty. It is OK to say no to things that are not healthy and things you really don’t want to do. It’s also ok to give yourself a break and say no to something.

Be a person who knows how to wait, read a book online or have a book with you that you can devour while you have to wait somewhere. It not only makes the time go faster but it is a wonderful way to pass the time.

C: Caring and compassion make a difference:  helping others helps you to focus on others not on your problems. Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself on a mirror with an erasable marker. Write a positive note to yourself on a card and carry it around in your wallet.

D: Decide if you are a School Counsellor that you need to take care of yourself. Watch out for compassion fatigue:

D: Decide if you are a student to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Reaching out is a strength not a weekness.

E: Express your feelings . Feelings are neither write or wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else then that needs to be changed. So write down your feelings.Tell someone how you feel. Draw your feelings in an art journal. Find some great ideas for art Journalling on pinterest.

Exercise is always helpful. You might only need to exercise 7 mins. each day. You can do it!

F: Find great strategies.

G: Give yourself a break . Try these brain breaks:

H: Hope . It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective.

I : Invite others to help you : Kids Help Phone.

J: Just be yourself.

K: Kindness is always a good thing . Do a Random Acts of Kindness for someone else today.

L: Listen to music . It soothes the soul.

M: Mindfulness matters. Focus on your breath.  Here are some tips for teens.

N: Naming game : 54321 Exercise.

O: Open your mind to new strategies.

P: Positive self talk matters.

Q: Quite your mind. Be still!

R: Relax:

S: Strategies : the more you have the better.  Here are 99.

T: Trust: that your feelings will not last forever. Feelings are neither right nor wrong they are just feelings. It is what you do with them that matters.

U: Understanding your coping skills matters.

V: Visualize what you want.

W: Watch a funny show to get your mind off all the serious stuff.

X:  A to Z  list.

Y: YOU MATTER . Remember who matters.

Z: A-Z another list. Thanks to Jordan Andrews @jta102 for making me think about this post today.  

Please share your coping skills and strategies Thanks for adding your links below. Remember:

The Smallest Good Deed is Better Than The Grandest Good Intention

Words Can Change The Way We Perceive Others and Ourselves

Words really do matter. I am in the process of developing an online presentation for adults on mental health and wellness so that they may assist students in their post – secondary programs. As I think about what I will say I recognize that my words matter. What I say could potentially influence educators. What they say to their students could potentially transform what happens for the students and their families. Mental health literacy matters,  stigma matters , words matter.

Sometimes I hear people use words way too loosely when describing someone with a mental illness or someone who has special needs or challenges. They may say so and so is an ADHD kid or so and so is bipolar, an alcoholic etc.  It matters to me when I hear words used inappropriately as I believe strongly that we are people first ( the labels used like ADHD are only a very small way of telling us something about someone). We are so much more. Who we truly are cannot or should not be described in a few words.

So the next time you find yourself using the label first STOP and THINK about the power of your words. Jack or Jill may have a million attributes that are positive and when you use one word to define them you are missing such huge pieces of who they truly are. So eliminate so and so is a developmentally delayed child etc. and say their name and the many wonderful things about them. When you do this you start to perceive them differently. You also begin to treat each human being , each child in your care with so much more dignity and respect.

Words really do matter

Words can bring about acceptance

Words can change our brains

Words can hurt or heal

Words can hold back or help

Words can break hearts or touch hearts

Words can build others up or tear them down

Words allow people to tell their stories

Words give people their voices

Words can challenge us to be resilient

Words can give us the strength to carry on … to give us HOPE

Words can ruin someone’s day or make someone’s day

Words have the power to change others and change ourselves

What words will you use when speaking about and to your students today?

There Are So Many Ways To Contribute


It is more than a week ago that schools were cancelled because of flooding in Calgary. Calgary would be in a state of emergency  for many more days to come.

It is one of those days when you will never forget where you were and what you were doing. I was staying at my friend’s house and then off to our Bishop Carroll graduation ceremonies with my grade 12 students .We were celebrating their accomplishments and yet mindful of the devastation all around us, but not completely aware of  just how Albertans would be impacted.

I knew that Calgarians would make a difference, but little did I know how amazing the role modelling would be for our students. Our students would have definitely risen to the challenge fundraising amongst other things, but it was the end of the school year. That will come in September, as I know our city will still need help then. Within the first day I received a tweet from the YMCA that one of our students was already helping … no surprise.

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During the next week I would begin to see how much the city was impacted. I felt powerless in the beginning not knowing how I could help.

I recognized that I could give money to the Red Cross , that was easy. I could register with #yychelps, but not sure if I could do the heavy work.

Then came an email from our chief superintendant, Gary Strother, asking for volunteers to help with the cleanup efforts. I don’t usually look at my e-mail after school year ends, but this year I am more connected to my computer than ever before ,so I took it as a sign that I needed to act.

For two days I was up at 4 a.m. and to work by 5:15 because of the coordinating efforts of one of the organizers Ralph Strother along with some amazing people from  Whissell Construction .

Being in the middle of a neighbourhood at East Elbow Park made everything real. I just kept imagining if this was my home and my family, how I would feel and how appreciative of the help I would be.  I know the homeowners did, by the signs and the overwhelming thank you’s and gratitude that was displayed.

As Ralph Strother says, ”it was a huge step forward from unfathomable loss to rebuilding towards recovery… everyone worked shoulder to shoulder responding with no request too small and or seemingly too big dismantling garages, structures and even roofs, carefully, skillfully and even moving all the debris.”

Whissell construction donated dump trucks, front-end loaders, skidsters, trucks, barricades tools and amazing people who worked tirelessly to coordinate our efforts. It was amazing to see all the work being done around me. I am grateful for the small part that I would play to help out.

I have to admit it was hard work. It was back breaking work that some people do everyday (obviously something I am not cut out for on a daily basis) kudos to them, but for now they were adding to their week by volunteering. It made me very happy to be a part of it.

Ways I watched people help:

  • Driving the bus to get volunteers in and out of communities
  • Baking food for families and volunteers
  • First Aid responders
  • Organizing small clean up jobs for younger people
  • Lemonade stands
  • Raking, shoveling, hauling, demolishing, lifting, cleaning


The list goes on…

There are so many ways people can contribute . Many people cannot contribute physically, but it is just as valuable to contribute in any way you can … JUST CONTRIBUTE.  We need to be grateful for what we have and what we can do, not to feel guilty for what we can’t do. All that we do matters and for today I am so grateful to live in a city of helpers. I do not have to look for them. They are everywhere.


Click here :


and then click on the pictures to move to the next picture in the haiku deck:

Thanks to all my fellow @CCSD_edu  colleagues especially Andrew who helped out and a special thanks to Gary and Ralph for making this happen.

Here are some resources from Alberta Health Services that you may wish to check out: Flood updates and resources…

Alberta Government’s pamphlet Support for Albertan’s Affected by Flood:   http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-ahs-support.pdf

Dr. Michael Trew’s Blog (Alberta’s Chief Mental Health Officer):  http://blogs.albertahealthservices.ca/floodcope/

 Mental Health


Calgary Floods June 24th 2013 YES …Calgarians Care

Calgarians Care

Calgarians are great helpers as can be seen all over the city. I am grateful to live in a city with so many people who care so much.

  1. We will rebuild. CalgaryStrong! pic.twitter.com/17h9AOlCRC
  2. I created “Calgary Floods 2013” with @HaikuDeck: haikudeck.com/p/U1DekWUNVC #etmooc #openspokes #cdnedchat thx to all who r helping
  3. Macleod Trail underpass is no longer filled with water. Here’s a look at changes in water level there. #yyc pic.twitter.com/kHINADNNdw
  4. Calgary … Coping with A Crisis: youtu.be/Mo4MSomTNBI via @youtube #scchat
  5. Downtown Calgary is a ghost town in the events of the flood. No power. pic.twitter.com/pTjf24g3YX
  6. Thank you so much to everyone who has been retweeting our crisis line # during this difficult time, 403.266.HELP(4357) #yycfloods
  7. Thank you for the generosity #yyc! 2 Timmy’s gift cards left tucked into a cruiser window 🙂 #WeAreCalgary pic.twitter.com/AqbiyTUYZW
  8. Wanted to share my livebinder – Calgary Resources for families Responding to A Natural Disaster livebinders.com/play/play_or_e… #yycfloods #Calgary
  9. @metrocalgary: Flood victims will receive $1,250 per adult and $500 per child. Eligibility and distribution plans are being finalized #abflood #yycflood
  10. Flooding goes to row 8 in the Scotiabank Saddledome #yycflood #yyc pic.twitter.com/ARd2yseLJO
  11. Volunteers (18yrs old min) Please meet at McMahon Stadium at 10 a.m.on June 24. ow.ly/mjE5t #yyc #yycfloods
  12. This ones for all the volunteers helping out with the #YYCFlood
    #CALGARYSTRONG Song youtube.com/watch?feature=…
  13. Nenshi-mania at McMahon. A line of volunteers forms to hug the mayor, who responds ‘this is re-energizing me’ #abfloods #yycfloods
  14. Premier Alison Redford announces initial $1B in flood relief | Calgary | News | Calgary Sun calgarysun.com/2013/06/24/bui… #YYCFLOODS
  15. Receding water reveals staggering toll of flood damage in Calgary and southern Alberta bit.ly/144qG4f #yyc pic.twitter.com/JjcNifZ03U
  16. The #ctrain line north of #erlton looking all roller coastery. #yycflood #yycfloods #letsrebuild instagram.com/p/a87yduozIH/
  17. “@JayCyyc: Calgary shows up. Thanks! #yycfloods pic.twitter.com/rqMUGU7xrE” #awesome #abfloods
  18. We have lots of news today, most of it good. The rivers are slowly returning to more normal flows, it is still very dangerous. Please stay away from the riverbank and river pathways. Perhaps the biggest news is that everyone in a single family home affected is allowed to return to do a self-assessment, with the exception of the 2200 block of 8th Ave SE in Inglewood. Please note that assessment of multi-family units (e.g. apartment complexes and condos) must be completed by the building owner or building superintendent. Individual occupants of multi-family units should confirm assessment has been completed and approved with their building contact.For important updates related to re-entry, transit, waste and recycling, and the situation downtown, please visit calgarycitynews.com/The federal and provincial governments have also made several announcements today regarding their plans to assist citizens and communities affected by flood relief. I want to thank Premier Redford and Prime Minister Harper and their ministers for their continuing support for rebuilding our city.
  19. Wow. Just, wow. #yyc #abflood Photo courtesy J Dowd. pic.twitter.com/ydwpseoIEt
  20. More flood damage in the community of Mission. #yyc #yycfloods #yycflood #YYCFlood013 #globalyyc pic.twitter.com/27ltj9yPo4
  21. Our city is filled with kind, wonderful people. It will recover fast #yycfloods
  22. Here’s what the flood did to 2 vehicles in Mission. (David Wakely photos) See more: bit.ly/10O2mFJ #yyc pic.twitter.com/fizvLy3SiF
  23. The Alberta Floods 2013 – Pictures & how you can help! buff.ly/12dNiPZ #abflood #yycfloods
  24. We are thinking of those affected by the floods. If you need a listening/accessible ear please do not hesitate to stop by. #yycfloods
  25. You can do your part to help…
  26. Text 30333 to automatically donate $5 to help w flood relief or visit redcross.ca #yyc #yycfloods #abflood pic.twitter.com/17or6VsDIC

    Mon, Jun 24 2013 00:31:12IMPORTANT: Calgary Catholic School District and Calgary Board of Education schools to remain closed until Thursday #ABflood#yycflood

  27. @buzzbishop @dadcamp Love thy neighbour Agree Calgarians are amazing. We don’t have to look for the helpers they are everywhere #yycflood
  28. Calgary Catholic employees will receive direct information via email regarding staffing. #CCSD
  29. Military moves in to protect key Enmax substation in southeast bit.ly/1349cby #yyc #yycflood pic.twitter.com/KTF0f2DfTx
  30. Calgary Herald front page flood coverage. June, 1929. twitpic.com/cyv6co
  31. Red Cross to receive proceeds of artist’s Scuba Nenshi shirt sales #yycflood #yyc calgary.ctvnews.ca/red-cross-to-r… @CTVNews pic.twitter.com/DzfHYIFYEo
  32. Refreshingly optimistic, as Calgary always is. #yycflood pic.twitter.com/YmeNddUqvZ
  33. In the end we will be better Calgary I can see it and I think they can too!
  34. Photo of Calgary #YYC courtesy Keri. #ABflood pic.twitter.com/hV5SqjTM04

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Do You Really Want To Be A Teacher?

I say an emphatic YES. I have no regrets about choosing a profession I love and have loved since 1980.

When I hear people tell young people to not go into teaching it saddens me, because I think we need great teachers who love what they do. Of course there are things that are not so great that teachers have to do and yes parts of what teachers do are extremely difficult. There is no doubt about that, but it is still a wonderful profession that has many, many rewards.

The students are why we do what we do.  We want to be part of their learning. We want to make a difference in their lives. We want to impact how they live their lives and contribute to society. So if anyone asks me if they should become a teacher I will say YES, YES, YES. I will tell them they have an amazing opportunity to be around and impact youth. No doubt there will be frustrations and work you don’t like to do, but the positives will so outweigh the negatives.

There are so many great things about being an educator:

  • Working with students is number one
  • Working with people who love what they do is number two
  • Having choices to do a variety of jobs within a district…teaching at different levels, consulting, administration, counselling etc.
  • Having the freedom to be creative every day
  • Learning, learning, learning. If you are a teacher you are always learning
  • So many, many more reasons

This is an exciting time in education. There will be many changes over the next few years and teachers will have the opportunity to work with youth differently while still impacting their lives in a positive way. I encourage you to find your passion and if it happens to be teaching both YOU and the students will benefit! So I say go ahead CHOOSE TEACHING.

Since 1991 I have been a School Counsellor and I believe teaching and School Counselling have been the best careers in the world. Everyday,I am grateful!

All you educators out there tell me why you would tell young people to go into teaching. Please share your ideas.

Making A Difference On Line … Using Social Media to Make the World A Better Place for Educators and Students

Just for Today recognize that you can build a positive reputation. Even if you have said or done negative things in the past, start today to be honest, reliable and reputable. You can use social media to make a positive difference or a negative difference. It is all up to YOU.

Digital Citizenship has a place in every school and we need to focus on the positive aspects of the internet as well as the things that concern us.

You might want to ask yourself:

  • What are the creative opportunities on the web?
  • How can I make a positive impact on the world on the web?
  • What are the ethical dilemmas?
  • What are the rewards and the risks of being on line?

As an educator it is important for you to find great examples on the internet of students doing things to not only improve their own opportunities, but to improve the lives of those in their school, communities, and around the world. We also need to encourage students to look for these great examples as well.

I’d like to see schools focus on those students who make a difference on the internet by providing them with a scholarship that recognizes all the good they do online.

I’d also like to see every school teach students and educators about Creative Commons .

As educators we need to create our own digital footprint and model good Digital Citizenship for our students. Taking Care Of Your Digital Self highlights the importance of a positive digital presence.

When teaching Digital Citizenship we need students to recognize that they need to be responsible and learn everything they can about being a good citizen period.

We need to ask students:

  • If I were to look you up online what would I find?
  • What would you want others to find?
  • If your grandmother googled you would she be proud of what she found?
  • What is your digital tattoo? Find out more information at http://digitaltattoo.ubc.ca/

George Couros discusses the importance of students developing digital leadership skills—positive, proactive connection, cultivation, sharing, and creation of new knowledge and learning to help others.


Be a Digital Citizen

Choose what happens next … a you tube video that is interactive for students

 Alec Couros has an excellent wiki of amazing resources to use :

My livebinder on Digital Citizenship:

My pinterest site on Digital Citizenship:

Check out my Haiku Deck on Digital Identity

Act As If …

If you have any other ideas or resources to share on this topic please do.

Being An Open Educator Is Definitely A Process

Being an Open Educator is definitely a process for me. What does being open mean? Well at this point in my life it means that I am open to learning, open to discovery, open to connecting,  open to inspiration, open to reflection, open to remaining hopeful, open to collaboration and open to finding ways that will assist and impact our students now and in the future. As a school counsellor my role is different, but being open is the same. I am connecting with diverse educators and counsellors who all want the same thing … what is best for our students. They are motivated, caring people who want to impact students in a positive way, wanting them to thrive.  They choose to be in a profession to work with students because they know that students matter and so does being an Open Educator.

Alec Couros began my thinking of being open during ETMOOC. He defines Open Teaching  in the following way:

  “Open teaching is described as the facilitation of learning experiences that are open, transparent, collaborative, and social. Open teachers are advocates of a free and open knowledge society, and support their students in the critical consumption, production, connection, and synthesis of knowledge through the shared development of learning networks.”

Part of being open is helping students and myself understand and use Creative Commons .

I believe I am becoming more open all the time by involving myself in the following:

  • Open Spokes: A fellowship for anyone who is interested in using video for reflecting on the practice of teaching and learning . Check out the following links:

The Fellowship of Open Spokes

Vote for Questions to ask these Vloggers

Become a member of Open Spokes

Here is what my fellow Vlogger  Jas has to say about being open.

My Vlog on being an Open Educator : 

I love what Sheri my fellow Open Spokes friend has to say about being open:

Open is Attitude Open is Hope

Other ways I am being Open …

I am happy to be learning along with such great Open Educators who challenge my thinking and encourage me to be better at what I do. Thanks to all of my PLN. You have helped me in the process of becoming an Open Educator and as a result I know it will positively impact students.