A Glimps into Living With Schizophrenia

This week my Innovation and Change Coursera Course asked me to ask the customer what they need. For me as a school counsellor, my students are my “customers” and it’s important for me to keep in touch with what they need.

I really appreciate the following video I found about living with schizophrenia because it allows me an opportunity to develop empathy towards students with this condition. I would also recommend it as a resource for sharing with high school students who might need to learn more about this illness.


Reach Out- Social Media Helping to Relieve Tension in Times of Pressure

Yesterday I woke up to a surreal situation. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, my hometown, the place where I have lived since birth, was declared to be in a state of emergency due to flooding. I heard it on the news and then went straight to my twitter account to gain all the latest up to date information.

The first thing everyone I know did was touch base with each other and make sure that everyone was ok. – Thankfully everyone I knew was safe, even if they had to be evacuated. I had many conversations like the following:

Verena Roberts ‏‪@verenanz‬ 20 Jun 

‪@deirdrebailey Just checking in on you… ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@SSpellmanCann ‪@Stephkrammer

. Erin Luong ‏‪@EHordyskiLuong‬ 21 Jun 

‪@verenanz thanks for checking on… How about u?

Susan Spellman Cann ‏‪@SSpellmanCann
21 Jun
‪@verenanz ‪@deirdrebailey ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@Stephkrammer thx for checking hope all are safe

Thanks to the power of social media, my family from all over the world had heard about the flooding (even my father in Kuwait and uncle in New Zealand had heard the news), but I was also able to reassure everyone that my family was ok.

My mom and stepdad live on the opposite side of the city. Flooding made it impossible for us to physically reach each other, but texting and phones helped us feel connected.
sandy beach
An uncle from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, called to give our family advice around plumbing and keeping our drinking water safe. I was very touched that he took the time to reach out to us, and also awed by the power of social media.

Throughout the day I was constantly receiving updates via twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and email not only about the tragedy and loss of property and park space (here are a few pics from a few blocks from my house) …

mckenzie fish creek

mckenzie golf coures

mckenzie lake
But also of inspiration and hope as I learned about other citizens, as well as students from my own high school I teach at, who were coming together to support our community.



I had forgotten that the military does more than go over seas. I was so grateful to see the tanks driving in to help out.

Volunteers were helping out all over supporting our vulnerable citizens and animals around the area. The big cats from the Calgary Zoo were even moved into the court house for safe keeping as Princess Island is totally under water.

Requests for volunteer support were both given and accepted on social media sites such as Twitter and Kijiji. An email from my church in the evening asking for sleeping bags and supplies was met with a quick response.

Now 24 hours later I can’t imagine how much more isolated and scared my family would have felt if we did not have all of these 21st century connections. Personally I am thankful that my family is both safe and plugged in this evening.

Sending love and prayers out over the net to all those affected by the Alberta floods.


Am I looking for students to experience “Failure” or to realize that somethings are worth working for?

Today I read the following excellent blog post WHERE DOES FAILURE FIT http://somewherefromhere.edublogs.org/2013/05/28/finding-the-freedom-of-failure/#.Ua35T5GtC1g.twitter

After reading Kirsten’s thoughts I began to wonder? “Am I looking for students to experience “Failure” or to realize that somethings are worth working for?”

I decided that the next thing I need to do was reframe my perception of failure, and to do so I should look up a few synonyms.

When I looked up the synonyms for failure the following statements popped up in my minds eye.
It’s not the end of the world?
Try going on another path?

How can we encourage students to find those other paths?

Tony Wagner suggests the following 7 survival skills http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills
• Critical thinking and problem-solving
• Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
• Agility and adaptability
• Initiative and entrepreneurialism
• Effective oral and written communication
• Accessing and analyzing information
• Curiosity and imagination

I would suggest promoting RESILIENCY

On Social Intelligence (SI) and Emotional Intelligence(EQ) Curriculum in Schools

 “People don’t leave companies- They leave bad bosses”- D. Goleman

My ah ha moment during our staff meeting today when we were discussing the pros and cons of promoting Google hangouts was: “If I force a child to come to me they will never come, if I flex and meet them where they are at they can be drawn”. – Erin Luong
Teachers need to listen, students are telling us they want to engage with technology and we need to allow this. However we need to use technology to enhance core ideas rather than replace them. Google hangouts are one method for teaching students communication skills.

If we don’t connect with our kids we turn them off and fail to teach.

New society and work environments create the need for Social and Emotional Competencies- (probably why it needs to be more emphasized in schools today)

A current school issue- only focusing on academics not teaching coping skills, self awareness, managing emotions and problem solving.

During our online lecture this week Dr. Boyatzis commented on a longitudinal study that he had completed with a group of colleague around changes in the educational system of American from the 60’s until now. One of the trends his team had observed was that our school systems began placing less of an emphasis on Social and Emotional skills in schools, and more of an emphasis on facts and assessment. They hypothesized that— A decrease in Social and Emotional skills being explicitly taught to students has been correlated with a lack of impulse control and an increase in negative societal consequences such as : violence, teen pregnancy, defiance, drug use, suicide, eating disorders, and depression.

All of the results prove to me that the importance of Social and Emotional Learning needs to increase
*** Schools need to support SEL philosophy

By helping our students learn to manage their emotions and the emotions of others they could quiet the emotional voices in their heads and hold onto more information.

CASEL was founded in 1994 by Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, educator/philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald, Timothy Shriver, Linda Lantieri, Mark Greenberg and David Sluyter. We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning.
Benefits of Social Emotional Learning

Schools that help students and staff develop greater social and emotional competencies, in turn help ensure positive short and long-term academic and personal outcomes for students.

SEL improves students’ positive behavior and reduces negative behavior.
It promotes young people’s academic success, health, and well-being at the same time that it prevents a variety of problems such as alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying.
SEL is also associated with significant improvements in students’ academic performance and attitudes toward school.
A landmark review found that students who receive SEL instruction had more positive attitudes about school and improved an average of 11 percentile points on standardized achievement tests compared to students who did not receive such instruction.
SEL prepares young people for success in adulthood.
SEL helps students become good communicators, cooperative members of a team, effective leaders, and caring, concerned members of their communities. It teaches them how to set and achieve goals and how to persist in the face of challenges. These are precisely the skills that today’s employers consider important for the workforce of the future.

For further information on the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning- CASEL project as well as examples of how to address Emotional and Social Intelligence in schools I would recommend checking out the following website http://casel.org/

How Do We as Educators Promote SEL?
Emotions need repetition and practice

Through the careful incorporation of Positive Emotional Attractors (PEA) and Negative Emotional Attractors (NEA).

The PEA is:
a. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system to cause arousal; feeling positive and hopeful; thinking about the future, dreams, and possibilities;
b. Being optimistic, focusing on one’s strengths;
c. Excited about trying something new, experimenting; and
d. Being in resonant relationships.

3. The NEA is:
a. Activating our sympathetic nervous systems (Fight and Flight) ; feeling negative and fear; thinking about the past or present, expectations of others and problems;
b. Being pessimistic, focusing on one’s weaknesses;
c. Feeling obligated to things you “should” or are “expected by others” to do, like a performance improvement plan;
d. Being in dissonant relationships.

4. Sustained desired change tends to start in the PEA.

Teachers who are able to create PEA’s can be described as “ OPEN, WARM, OPEN TO BAD MOVES AND GOOD LISTENERS
Teachers who create NEA’s tend to be: Aloof, ridged, focused on minor details, remote, uncaring,
To sustain learning or change efforts, it is likely that you have to spend 3-6 times in the PEA as the time spent in the NEA. This is to compensate for the observation that negative emotions are stronger than positive.

My roles as an mom, counsellor, educator and mentor is to help the children around me develop a vision of their futures.

I hope to one day to be remembered as the person who inspired someone’s legacy list.

Empowering Our Students: Strength Based Approaches and Self Direction


A Strength-Based Approach is a positive psychology perspective that emphasizes the strengths,capabilities and resources of a youth. A Strength-Based paradigm requires educators to adjust our language and how we communicate with our students. Rather than focusing on “PROBLEMS students are encouraged to view challenges as opportunities to explore, take risks and discover solutions Our role should be to Guide not Direct students, so that they can develop their capacity to be self sufficent.

“It is important to understand the strength-based approach is not about denying that youth do experience problems and challenges and that these issues do need to be addressed. But, when the problem becomes the starting point with an emphasis on what a young person lacks, a dependency is created on the helping profession with lowered positive expectations and blocked opportunities for change “ (www.resiliencyinitiatives.ca).
Strength-Based and Deficit-Based Concepts: A Comparison (Hammond 2011)
Principles of Strength-based Approaches
1)RELATIONSHIPS are key- positive change can only occur in the context of authentic relationshiops

 2)Every student has potential- Think: “I believe and I WILL see” rather than “Prove it”

 3)Start with what students can already do. Small successes lead to building blocks for growth.

 4) Confidence to take risks grows when students are invited to start with what they already know.

 5) Believe that success is inevitable, students are intrinsically good and do want to learn

 6)  It is the STUDENT’S STORY (perception) which is most important, not the adults.

 7) Be mindful that the language we use demonstrates value –  reframe  – “Did you not hear what I told the other students?” to “It looks like you tried doing this exercise another way let’s see how it worked for you.”;

 8) “It takes a village to raise a child”- different adults can provide for different needs…. No one needs to be the sole expert.

9) Sustainable change is a cumulative process, not a destination.

Self –Directed Learning Forms A Natural Partnership with Strengths Based Approaches
Strength Based Approaches empower students to take risks and explore. One way to facilitate this type of learning to allow students opportunities to become Self- Directed Learners. When schools allow students to begin to create their own assignments they not only build content capacity, but also learning capacity


This approach may be applied in many ways including:

The Inside-Out School: A 21st Century Learning Model

How to Maintain a Connection with Teens

The future is changing and we need to prepare our students to navigate life’s superhighways. The following video demonstrates why it is so important for educators to maintain a connection with Today’s youth, to promote discussions around DIGITAL LITERACIES and DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP SKILLS.

But how do we do that, when at times teens seem to be tuning us out and relying on peer mentorship rather than adult guidance?

Well, from what I can tell in my office it’s all about the RELATIONSHIP, LANGUAGE and INVITATIONS.

Students’s want to be heard, and they want to feel valued. The power of the internet allows them to FLIP our classrooms, and if given permission, to become the expert. Learning is no longer about who has the answers. It’s about allowing students opportunities to explore areas of learning and then modelling to students how to ethically share their knowledge.

Jeff Merrell was one of the connections I made during my #etmooc experience. He is “dedicated to researching and designing innovative solutions for sharing knowledge across organizations intent on making positive social contributions” http://purplelineassociates.com/about/. His recent blog and our interaction during #etmchat last night led to the following:

Thank you, Erin. During last night’s #etmchat I had a short Twitter conversation with Carolyn Durley, Catherine Cronin and Bonnie Stewart about this very topic. Carolyn really captured it the best in her blog post.

But at the end of our conversation, Bonnie wrote “there’s something about shifting perspective to identifying as learner that’s really powerful.” And I think that has struck us all. I know it has, for me.

Flipping our classrooms allows both the adult and the teen to become active learners in the process of obtaining knowledge.

flip 2
Flipped Class Webinar (3/27/13) http://sophia.adobeconnect.com/r81n91f3b8g/

In a Flipped classroom:
1) Teachers are not lecturers and students do not sit back passively and absorb info.

2) The focus is not on LOT (lower order thinking) but on HOT (higher order thinking)- Bloomstaxonomy

3) Learners are Active, Engaged and Involved

I often FLIP my high school counselling office.

When a student comes to me with a concern I maintain a strengths based approach, inquiring, asking and inviting them to help me “BUILD THEIR COUNSELLING TOOL BELT” with them.

Just the other day I was speaking to a student about anxiety. We were exploring how to stop her negative thoughts and she showed me this app that she was currently using (on her own without me telling her to) in order to make her worries disappear…. it was even better than anything I had been trying to teach her.



Continuing My Mission for Life Long Learning

This is the last week of #etmooc. I’ve noticed that many of you have jumped in with your last posts, so I figured that although this will not be my last post (I’m now addicted to blogging) I would try to put into words how life changing my #etmooc experience has been for me.

#Etmooc is no longer a thought, it’s a lifestyle. Just this week I’ve been inspired by the courage of vlogs. I’ve shared my ideas with the collaborative article. I had a colleague over to my office today to help her get started with Twitter, Pinterest and Haiku Decks. Tomorrow I will be having “coffee” in a Google+ Hangout. I have even submitted a proposal to the BC School Counselling Association to present at their conference in October. All things I never in my wildest dreams would have thought possible on January 17, 2013 when I first logged onto etmooc.org.

Remembering my first vlog (if you notice I couldn’t even pronounce MOOC!!!)

As I prepare to launch myself into the world, I find myself worrying that I will loose some of what I’ve had over the last three months… However every time I waiver I am reassured again and again that we are a COMMUNITY not just a COURSE

As always, we’d love you to share your resources with us in our #etmooc Diigo Group https://groups.diigo.com/group/etmooc. We’ve also shared a few below that may be of interest.
■Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide – from Alberta Education.http://education.alberta.ca/media/6735100/digital%20citizenship%20policy%20development%20guide.pdf
■Common Sense Media – Excellent digital citizenship resource.http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/digital-citizenship
■Digizen – Great resource for teachers.http://www.digizen.org/teachers/
■Digital Citizenship Resources – from Mike Ribble.http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Resources.html
■‘Teens, kindness & cruelty on social network sites’ – From Pew Internet. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media/Summary/Findings.aspx
■Popular Essays – from danah boyd.http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/bestof.html
■Digital Activism – various resources.http://www.ned.org/research/democracy-research-guide/digital-activism
■5 Online Tools By Activists for Activists – from Mashable. http://mashable.com/2011/07/15/online-tools-activism/
■‘Hashtag Activism & Its Limits’ – from the NYT. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/business/media/hashtag-activism-and-its-limits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&
■‘Are Millennials Lazy or Avant-Garde Social Activists?’ – from Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/larissafaw/2012/10/23/are-millennials-lazy-or-avant-garde-social-activists/
As part of my Life Long Learning Adventure, I have also decided to try out a few other MOOC experiences this year including:

Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence
Case Western Reserve University

Human Evolution: Past and Future
University of Wisconsin–Madison (my anthro dreams to be lived!!)

Social Psychology
Tip: Because the focus of this course is social, students often enjoy taking it with friends so that they can discuss and study the material together. If you choose to invite a few friends to take the course (which we encourage), the ideal study group size is usually 3-5 people. (Any takers)

and finally

Creativity, Innovation and Change- Coursera

A course which I am very excited about already due to the fantastic invitations I have been sent already (check this out)!!


We are so pleased you have decided to embark on this epic journey with us. Creativity and innovation are enormously complex subjects. From our personal experiences, we can tell you that this learning journey will be tough at times, but it will also be insightful, particularly when the unexpected happens. In the end, we hope it will be wildly exciting or at a minimum, personally satisfying. Your efforts are priceless, as you will build invaluable creative problem solving skills and a new outlook on change that will bring you success in your career and life.

You are important to us in creating this course. We need your assistance in developing a network of participants who are willing to combine their creative abilities into a team effort. If possible, reach out to your friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to sign up for the course with the understanding that you will be collaborating and co-creating by sharing ideas and experiences to enhance everyone’s efforts.We are asking you as your first assignment, to find people who are willing to join you in taking the course and be part of your network. See if you can use some creative approaches if possible to diversify your circle.

If you wish to take the course completely on your own, as an independent learner, that’s perfectly fine too. You will be able to select from the same modules, and your work will go through peer review just like everyone else in the course. If, at any time, you decide to connect with an existing network or form one during the course, please do so! We do encourage networking because it helps stimulate more and different ideas.

Again, welcome to the course! It promises to be an unforgettable experience for us all.


Jack, Kathryn, Darrell, and John

Hello and welcome again, Adventurer, Explorer or Tourist Erin Luong !

We are very happy to see our community growing with more students each day. At this point we are still more than five months away from the start of your course in “Creativity, Innovation and Change”. In this email we want to tell you about three levels of engagement in this course: Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists. Below our names, we summarize previous emails in case you recently joined this MOOC.

Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists
From previous MOOC offerings, we know that not all students engage with the course materials and assignments in the same way or with the same intensity. This is fully understandable! You might have lots of time and interest, and so are ready to invest deeply in this course; or you might have many life commitments that leave you with less time, but still want to learn many of the concepts that this course will offer. We want to make our class useful for YOU — whatever your life and interests lead you to right now — and so we are creating three kinds of student profiles, called Adventurers, Explorers, and Tourists.

Adventurers. You have signed up for the class and are serious about mastering the entire course. You are committed to doing the course-related quizzes, activities, and assignments, AND you are eager and able to complete a course-long project, either alone or as part of a team. As an Adventurer, you want to take full advantage of this great opportunity to build on your creative potential and create something innovative that will change your life or the lives of those around you for the better!

You are eager to learn and contribute to the course, but your available time allows you to participate only in the class assignments (weekly quizzes and activities), not in project work. You are excited about the material and play an active role in the course, perhaps by providing feedback and mentoring other students, just as Adventurers and Tourists can do at any time. We need the contributions of everyone in the community!

Tourists. You have signed up for the class, love it, want to take it, but because of other commitments in life, you cannot commit to the course all the time. This is fine! As a Tourist, you come and go to the course platform, watch some of the videos now and then, participate in some activities here and there, and do your best to stick with the class from the beginning to the end , trying to get as much as you can out of it. Maybe …you will have more time to commit to the class in future offerings!

These are broad categories, and you might even want to switch from one to another – and that’s perfectly fine. We just want to create more choices for you, so that you can make use of the course to the extent that your schedule allows. If you have a chance, please go to our facebook page at: http://on.fb.me/13iAQRM or tweet us @PSUCIC and give us feedback on this idea! We’d love to hear from you. Also, please let your friends, family, and colleagues know about the different options for taking this course; we want to reach as many people as possible with our positive message about creativity, innovation, and change, and we understand that people have different amounts of time available to spend in online learning.

Next, here is some more creative food for thought that we would like to share and discuss with you on Facebook. (http://on.fb.me/13iAQRM)
If you have a blog or website where you’d like to respond and talk with your friends, we would love hear from you just tweet us @PSUCIC so we can keep track of everyone’s responses to be used in the course. We love co-creation.

James Watson How DNA was Discovered (http://bit.ly/14hnvII)

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement about Failure (http://bit.ly/ZZCXlI)

On Creativity and Travel:Fearless Creativity (http://bit.ly/XvdEYz)

Lastly, if you happened to miss the first email we sent out, below our names is a summary of what we shared then. We are delighted to have you in our community.

Your friends,
Jack, Kathryn, and Darrell
Dear CIC Champion Erin Luong,Thank you for registering for our course, “Creativity, Innovation, and Change” (CIC)! We will be emailing you periodically to keep you informed about the course design and to request your input on content and concepts you want to see. For now …

– Facebook / Twitter. We have set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account so we can communicate with you prior to the start of the course. You can “Like” us on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/13iAQRM and follow us on Twitter @PSUCIC (http://bit.ly/ZZGf8D). We will post interesting articles and movie clips to continue the excitement for the course and to seed conversation about the course goals: creativity,innovation, and change in your corner of the world!

Inviting others. We know that you are excited about developing your expertise creatively and taking action to make change. We are excited too! So please don’t hesitate to encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and others to sign up for the course. We sincerely want to help as many people as possible explore their potential to create positive change by learning the tools and processes in our course. For many of you, your recruits are likely to be the people you partner with during the course.
– An intro article. To spark your curiosity, we’d like to recommend a short article called “We are All Creative People Living in a Creative World” (http://bit.ly/YKjjJu). Post your thoughts or link your blog on our Facebook page or tweet us, and we will begin to build our creative and collaborative community even before class begins!

Jack, Darrell, and Kathryn


The positive energy, and language is giving me the shivers…. So who out there wants to go on a new adventure…….