The Tough Topics in Education … Suicide

This week in #openspokes we were asked to tackle the tough topics and I decided to tackle the topic of suicide which is NOT easy.

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 some due to a completed suicide which is the most tragic of all.

Below listen to a young man’s story that begins to tell the story of the impact on family and friends. I am not sure that there are any words to descibe the impact that this tragedy truly has,but his words I am hopeful will help other students.

As school counsellors our role is to be helpful in anyway that we can by infusing HOPE in as many ways as possible.

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.

Here are my livebinders on Suicide Prevention and HOPE:

Suicide Prevention and HOPE

Mental Health resources

I know school counsellors save lives everyday and I want to thank you for the important work you do that no one else sees. I know because I have been a school counsellor for a long time. So keep doing what you are doing even though it can be extremely difficult at times.

There are students who you will make a difference for… of that I am sure! Take care of yourself so that you can continue to help others.

Sharing: Unlocking the Key to My Filing Cabinet and Keeping it Open … HOPE


This blog is the beginning of me keeping my filing cabinet open. I have many resources I have wanted to share with school counsellors,but did not realize I could do it. This blog is how and the time is now thanks to the fantastic open sharing in ETMOOC and especially because of Alec Couros. The process stated with me being referred to Alec’s work by Vianne Timmons, so I went to his workshop and got going on twitter. So began the best PD ever. I have been following the fantastic work of Dr. Erin Mason and other school counsellors in the United States and beyond, but I was still not ready to jump into a blog. Fears got in the way. I have been fortunate to have many, many great dialogues with Erin Luong which also helped with my decision making. ETMOOC was the final push and as a result I believe I will share, share, share and in an OPEN EDUCATOR way. I have so much more to learn and as I do this I am very GRATEFUL for all of ETMOOC participants who have inspired me to share openly.

My first THEME HOPE.. I hope school counsellors can use some of the ideas and materials. Take what you like REMIX ( a term I now really understand because of ETMOOC ) and leave the rest.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible” Christopher Reeve

HOPE is essential when it comes to school counselling. School Counsellors can take a leadership role when it comes to instilling hope in students. Listen to Derek’s story of not giving up which demonstrates the power of HOPE. We know that if students are resilient they are better able to self- regulate and that means they can cope more effectively. According to Barbara Frederickson a psychological researcher at the University of North Carolina, “a positive mood makes people more resilient physically”.  Resiliency and hope definitely go hand in hand.

Shane Lopez, psychologist and author of Making Hope Happen helps us understand more about hope and the steps needed to help students be more hopeful.

We want students to never give up and if we can access resources to help us do this we will make a difference and possibly save a life.

How can we spread hope throughout the school in a digital way?

  • We can post videos like Derek’s story on our counselling website.
  • We can tweet out to stories of hope on twitter.
  • We can post stories of hope on our school Facebook site as well as our school website.
  • We can embed Hope themes and pictures into our curriculum guides

Hope is an Open Heart a book by Lauren Thompson can be used with younger students to discuss losses and the overcoming of hardship.

Students could be encouraged to:

  • Make videos of HOPE
  • Create Art pieces around the theme of HOPE
  • Make @haikudecks on iPad with a HOPE theme
  • Design hopeful songs or music
  • Find people who inspire HOPE and write about them
  • Brainstorm ways to inspire hope in others
  • Make bulletin boards on themes of HOPE and Suicide Prevention
  • For younger students they could make trading cards the size of hockey cards and design cards of HOPE that they can trade with others
  • Performing Random Acts of Kindness can inspire hope as well.


  1. At you can find smile cards which you can download and hand out.
  2. Who I am Makes a Difference ribbons can be ordered at These ribbons are great to use in a Celebration of HOPE assembly or as a beginning of the year activity.
  3. Some great books for school counsellors are called :The Power To Prevent Suicide  A Guide To Helping teens by Richard E Nelson, A Parent’s Guide for Suicidal and Depressed Teens by Kate Williams Beyond the Blues a workbook to help teens overcome depression by Lisa M Schab
  4.  At you can make your own bulletin boards or make them and post for all kids to see.
  5. At pinterest you can see some ideas for HOPE on this board
  6. Search institute has done extensive research on what adolescents need to be resilient. They have great resources. Go to

As a school counsellor incorporating a suicide prevention theme with the theme of hope just makes sense. Running suicide prevention workshops for your students at the beginning of the school year is also very valueable.

Look Listen and Link is a video which could be very helpful for Suicide Prevention for teens. You can find it on Youtube. Here is another message of hope.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention has fantastic resources for school counsellors.

  1. A great book for students is When Nothing Matters Anymore by Bev Cobain

At the APP store students can access a digital blue ribbon that they can share with others sending positive messages to anyone they feel makes a difference. You can find a link to the blue ribbon in my livebinder.

Finally you can access my livebinder on HOPE for more ideas.

These are but a few ideas. Please share yours so we can help students everywhere.

This blog post will be a work in progress and as I continue to learn. I will share more and more.

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.

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.

Connection In a Self- Directed Learning Environment: Learning and Teaching in the Digital Age

What’s going on inside the building of Bishop Carroll is not only exciting, but innovative, educational and engaging. Not only are the halls of Bishop Carroll High School buzzing, but inside the offices of several educators learning is taking place.

Bishop Carroll High School is a part of the Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learning

Bishop Carroll works together with other members of the coalition to improve the self-directed experience of all the learners. These schools meet together on an ongoing basis as well as convene at a yearly conference to look at ways of improving the model for students.

All of us at Bishop Carroll agree that we have never been in a school where so much focus and dialogue on instruction takes place on a regular basis. In fact, our staff has biweekly professional development meetings to ensure that we are able to collaborate on best practices and share new ideas. Teachers are continually focusing on how they can make things better for students in a self-directed learning environment.

Bishop Carroll has been around and functioning for over 40 years. Changing visions and learners have meant that staff has also adjusted to honor the shift.  Within the last four years, the staff started making a technological commitment. Innovative practices, sharing, collaboration, encouraging our students to experiment with different formats and technological materials has produced growth for not only students, but also teachers. Students have many choices in how they choose to receive information ranging from personal exploration of a topic, pod casts, discussion forums, Google- docs, multimedia presentations, digital learning guides and a focus on digital citizenship.

Technology has not replaced teachers, but has enhanced the learning experience for both the teacher and the student. Technology can be seen as a launching pad for further and more in depth discussions.

Three of us at Bishop Carroll have signed up for an educational experience like none other.  Seeing as we already focus on technology as part of our teacher professional growth plans, we felt that getting involved at an international level would be very beneficial. This is a first MOOC for all three of us. What is a MOOC? It is a Massive Open Online Course. We are taking #ETMOOC and are so happy we are involved in this process as it reminds us of what it is like to be a student in the 21st century. For more information go to ETMOOC

How are #etmoocers like students in our self-directed school?


  1. are self- directed learners.
  2. set our own learning goals
  3. at first experience an increase of  anxiety in a new learning environment
  4. are following a personalized program
  5. are excited about learning in a place that honors the way we want to learn
  6. are encouraged to be autonomous and have opportunities to direct our own learning
  7. are taking risks (we ask students to do this every day)
  8. are critically examining what we do and why we do it
  9. look to teachers to guide them through the process
  10. are self- paced, involving continuous progress
  11. are student centered environments with a focus on active learning, reflection and collaboration
  12. ask for HELP, and often it’s  just a click away

Today we chose to collaborate to write this blog post as part of the sharing experience. As we progress through this open forum we hope to continue to share best practice in both the teaching realm as well as what we are doing in the role as school counsellors.
Happy blogging
erin heather susan

Role Reversal Part of the #ETMOOC Experience

Tonight as I sat down to enter my #ETMOOC chat, my daughter was making a great supper. As I began to open up my laptop, get my cell phone ready so that I could  to begin to find the hashtag to enter a twitterchat for #etmchat , here’s what my daughter said. “Mom put that away we are eating supper!”

I said, ” I can’t because I am in a class and this is part of what I have to do”. She told me a few more times  to put down the technology and I continued on to keep up with the chat. I repeated what I needed to do and finally she accepted it. How many times in the past had I told her to put away her phone etc? It almost made me laugh as I realize now how when my kids are engaged in something they feel is important to them, they don’t want to stop.

On the other side of that, we have been very fortunate as a family to have many dinners together where we are all fully engaged in conversation and not distracted by technology.

So many life lessons to learn as I journey on with my #ETMOOC experience. As my professor used to tell me all the time when I did my Master’s in Counselling,”trust the process”. So I will!

So many things to learn. Isn’t life about learning lessons, no matter how old we are?

So happy to be a part of the inaugural chat. Thanks to my new online colleagues at #ETMOOC.


Educate From The Heart To The Heart

I hope all school counsellors and teachers do this. As school counsellors we deal with such emotional issues and if we cannnot connect to the heart of a student we will never be able to help them . I know what I do impacts those around me and everyday I attempt to do the best I can by reaching out with heartfelt compassion to those around me. I do not believe I am always successful, but I know it is my goal everyday to do so.

In my attempt to assist students along their journey in life, I reach out attempting to make a difference. This jumping out of my box into the ED tech world is my way of touching the hearts of many students so that they can get the supports they need. Counselling is more than assisting a student in my office. It is reaching out to students on a more global scale. It is being able to use technology to reach and teach them.  I will promise to use this process to educate from the heart using technology and all the tools ETMOOC gives me.

This week my daughter found this heart tomatoe in our fridge. I guess it was meant for this blog. So this post is from my heart to yours.

ImageSchool Counselling With Technology From the Heart.

Connecting with like minded people…My ETMOOC Introduction

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Hoping you enjoy my Introduction. I am learning … so playing with all the options to see how this works. This video shows how to embed a smilebox slideshow into your wordpress blog.

Still figuring things out!
If I deleted any comments sorry . You will have to repost.

Getting Ready For A New Adventure ETMOOC Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course

I am a life long learner and willing to take risks and here I am signing up for #etmooc. The tweet by @courosa from @fryed on What is #ETMOOC and why should you join us is what finally convinced me to… just do it!!!

In one of my @haikudecks I said I would DO MORE in 2013 and here I am. Stepping out of my box and doing more.

A little nervous yes, but at least I am NOT going to be graded, I can just learn!! Yahoo!!! I love learning without being graded. I have had enough of that.

So in the next few months, I look forward to learning just for the sake of learning.

It is Alec Couros who inspired me to become interested in technology as much as I have and I am grateful. So thanks Alec.

Here I am as the title of my god daughter @SarahDevaeau ‘s book says, ” Sink or Swim “. I think I’ll swim!

There are now over 1200 participants registered representing 67 countries – take a look! (Apologies that not all participants seem to show up on the map). Holy!!!!


Here Alec is motivating me again … So my journey begins…