Take 10 Minutes

Take 10 minutes and go for a walk.  This is one of the suggestions provided by my therapist today.  I think it’s important to share this with you for two reasons:

  1. It really is important to go for a walk, even if it’s a short one.
  2. We need to mention therapy more often.  If we talk about it, perhaps it will become more normalized and people would benefit from getting help when we need it.


Although some of our conversations have improved, and we encourage “others” to talk about mental health (think about #BellLetsTalk Day), we rarely discuss our own mental health.  There are a variety of reasons for this, including social awkwardness and the potential of sharing too much information.  I get it.  There’s a time and place for everything.  But where and when do we have these conversations?

So, I’m having one.  Actually, I’m having a few.  Last week, I asked my doctor about therapy, and he was more than happy to book a referral.  Until then, I learned more about my workplace EAP (Employee Assistance Program), and had my first over-the-phone session this evening.  Surprisingly, it went rather well, although I had been disappointed that there were no face-to-face options for our area.


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i love therapy. therapy is the best goddamn thing i ever did for my mental health. i treasure all of it, the hard moments, the scary moments, even my bad therapists managed to teach me something in the end. therapy still has a stigma around it. sometimes when i’ve mentioned to someone that i attend therapy, they ask “why?” get that uncomfortable look, and i sense their gears turning, trying to figure out what’s wrong with me, haha. “because i’m mentally ill and i’m working on myself”, i say. sometimes it gets awkward, but most times it opens up some real, vulnerable conversations. i love when that happens. so i always make a point of saying “i’m off to therapy, i’ll be back in two hours”, when i left school or work to go to an appointment. because that’s what i do if i have an appointment at my dentist or physician, and there’s noting unusual about that, so why should therapy be any different ? i’m proud of the steps i take in therapy, i’m proud to see progress, even if it’s slow. therapy is cool 🌈 • • • #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalhealthawareness #psynligt #nostigma #mentalhealthwarrior #recovery #schizophrenia #eatingdisorders #bulimia #anorexia #ptsd #borderline #bpd #ocd #bipolar #bipolardisorder #anxiety #depression #pain #chronicillness #adhd #art #digitalart #artistsoninstagram #comic #crazyheadcomics

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What are your thoughts about mental health?  Do you talk about it?  Are there people you feel more comfortable talking to?  Have you talked with a therapist?  Have you benefited from using your EAP?


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Have You Participated in a TLLP Project? Please Share Your Experience(s) with Technology!

Next month, Leanne Oliver and I will be leading a session for new TLLP groups.

We are going to provide a variety of technology options for these new groups, such as Google Tools, Flipgrid, TeachOntario, Twitter, Telligami, etc., but we would prefer to have a collection of stories from our PLN!

Use the comment section below to share your story:

  • When did you begin your TLLP?
  • What was the experience like?
  • How did technology help you share your learning?
  • What worked well, and what didn’t?
  • What advice can you give to new TLLP participants, re: technology?

When you have shared your story/advice, please share this blog post (feel free to tag other people who might help too).  It would be great to provide some solid options for our new TLLP groups!

Thanks so much 🙂

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The Benefits of a Flexible Workplace Day

The transition between semesters is hectic, to say the least.  High school teachers enjoy tying up any loose ends from first semester, marking culminating tasks and/or exams, calculating final marks, writing report cards, and preparing for new courses that begin in semester two.  This is why I wanted to take advantage of a Flexible Workplace day; to have the freedom to stay at home if need be, and to focus on a course that I haven’t taught before.  I knew that a lack of planning would affect my stress levels, and that’s the last thing anyone needs at this time of year.  Or any time of year.  *I also knew that my friend Lindy would be presenting to new teacher candidates at Lakehead University and I couldn’t wait to hang out.


While Lindy shared her presentation in the Bora Laskin auditorium, I began preparing my Course of Study for ICS2O (Introduction to Computer Studies, Grade 10).  It was my opportunity to text my Principal a number of times as I refreshed my memory on the requirements for courses of study, since I hadn’t had to write a new one for some time.

Later, I stopped in at my high school to speak with Sam, our Information Technology Services Technician, who sorted through a variety of computer parts to help me build a collection of equipment that could be used in my course.  Not only did we begin preparing a rough plan for the first few weeks with Computer Studies students, but we discussed his role and how his post-secondary education related to his work.  He also agreed to visit my class to share his knowledge with students!


I left school *early* (because I could), and because I had arranged to meet with Peter McAsh and Doug Peterson, my two friends (and superstars from ECOO).  When I found out that I would be teaching ICS2O, they were the first people I contacted.  I have relied on their amazing support for years, and I wasn’t about to stop asking for help now!  😉

We reviewed a long list of resources that they had been sharing with me over the past while, and they helped me gain a better understanding of the overall flow of the course.  I could feel my stress levels subsiding as my familiarity with expectations grew.



So, I guess this post is a bit of a thank-you note.  Thanks to our union for negotiating a day that respects teachers and allows them to use time that suits them best.  Thanks to my Principal for allowing me to use this day the way I needed.  Thank you to Doug and Peter, for helping me wrap my head around this course (and for the constant hand-holding that will probably be needed through this semester).  Thanks to Sam for helping me prepare the equipment that we will need for hands-on learning and for your courage to come and speak to my students.



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One Word 2018

I’m not sure if there is a term for the kind of moment that helped me realize what my #oneword2018 would be, but maybe someone who reads this post will be able to help me find it.  What is it that happens when we finally allow ourselves to relax and to drift, to forget about our daily stresses and allow our minds to wander?  Those moments when we are just about to fall asleep, or when we are driving a familiar road and we begin to daydream — where new ideas are formed, and we connect what seem to be distant thoughts that become an entirely new creature.

Yesterday, my family and I went to see the movie Star Wars:  The Last Jedi and at one point I found myself emotional because I had been pulled into the story and found myself connecting to one character’s desperate need for hope.  In the middle of a movie theatre, I found what I needed to move forward, whether it was the realization that I yearned for hope or that I loved the feeling of wandering and getting lost for a time, I’m not sure.  Maybe both.



Image credit:  starwars.com

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Too Much

This year has been tough.  I discovered that I have limits because I pushed myself past them; my commitments, projects and goals became too much as I began to cope with a variety of health concerns in my family, including my own.

For the first time in my teaching career, I was overwhelmed — but it took me a while to understand the reasons why.  I neglected the professional goals that I set for myself this past summer because I couldn’t even think about work.  In fact, I still haven’t opened the two books I planned to read during July and August.  Usually I love diving in to new ideas and challenges have always excited me.  That’s not the case right now.

The beginning of this school year didn’t feel the same way as other years; the excitement was somehow muted because I couldn’t seem to fight my way through sadness and anxiety.  It felt a bit like being under water while everyone else was on dry land.  Sights, sounds and even movement became clouded and murky.

Thankfully, I have had people I could turn to, who would listen without judgment and offer compassion.  As much as we hear about the importance of talking to others when you’re struggling, it is a seemingly impossible task when you’re the one who needs to talk.

Look for the silver lining.  There are people who are going through much worse than you.  Other people are busy with their own problems, they don’t need to hear yours.  If you tried hard enough, you would find a way through this.  It’s not that big of a deal.  There are thousands of ways I could convince myself not to make that phone call to my little sister, or to text a friend.  These moments are the hardest:  coming to terms with the extent of your problems and needs, and accepting them enough to reach out — and to fight the fear that the person you talk to won’t be able to (or want to) help.

My family and I have begun to focus on our health, something that requires a bit more effort and planning than we have been willing to sacrifice in the past.  My daughter and I began working together on a side project that was completely different than anything we had done before.  I’ve needed to readjust my sails and rethink my priorities, sometimes a few times a day.  Joyful moments are slowly finding their ways back in to our lives and I will do my best to welcome them with open arms.

To my family and friends who support me, thank you.  Some of you have held me through some of my raw moments, and your kindness means everything to me.

If you are struggling in any way, and find it difficult to cope, take a moment.  Or two.  Or as many as you need.  Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to accept love from others.  Don’t forget to talk.  A lot.

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Yesterday, I listened.

Doug Peterson recently spoke with Stephen Hurley on VoicEd Radio and together they discussed one of Doug’s blog posts which highlights some of the work by educators in Ontario.  I paused when I listened to these gentlemen discuss Jennifer Casa-Todd’s post, “Blue Whale App:  What is it and what should I do?”.  I hadn’t read her post at that point but I’m glad I finally sat down this morning to absorb her message.

What I appreciate most about her post is that it serves as a reminder to us, to listen.

Two days ago, one of my students spoke to me in class about the interactions between two of her classmates that concerned her.  The next day, I made sure to follow-up on her concerns by sharing two videos (shown below) and then explaining the reasons why we weren’t jumping in to our academic class activities right away.  I also let my students know that sometimes we forget to act like the people we hope to be.  Sometimes we make mistakes, but we have friends (and teachers) who are there to catch us when we fall.

*I also shared this clip from Will Ferrell’s commencement speech.

Yesterday, my student came and spoke with me about the messages I shared because she wanted to check if I had done this because of what she told me.  Then she smiled and thanked me.


Thank you, Jennifer, for your thoughtful post.





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Leadership: Faith in Others


Somehow, through a series of fortunate events, I am benefitting from the support of other leaders.  My career is beginning to evolve and it is only through my relationships with strong and secure leaders that I am able to believe them when they say “you can do it”.  I have faith in them and they have faith in me, therefore I have faith in myself:  can the Pythagorean theorem apply to developing leaders?

A few months ago, I was asked by my friends at OTF to help present at the TLLP training session that was held earlier this month.  (have you noticed the subtitle on OTF’s website?  Your Voice.  Your Strength.)  This session is vital for new TLLP teams, as it provides them with the encouragement and information that they will need to manage a successful project.  I certainly appreciated the lessons I learned at last year’s event.




At about the same time that I was asked to present at #TLLP2017, I had a very interesting phone call.  My Principal watched my class while I spoke with Suzette Clark, the Director of Educational Services at OSSTF.  She was developing and planning the upcoming Embracing Technology conference for May 15th and wanted to know if I would be the keynote speaker.

~ I think I forgot how to speak ~

She gave me some time to think about the idea, and after a few hours (and some deep breathing), I accepted.  I began contacting some of my trusted colleagues for advice — and I relied on the support given by my friends.  Peter McAsh and Doug Peterson acted as my editors as they reviewed my initial thoughts and provided invaluable suggestions while we all collaborated using Dropbox Paper.

The weekend before the conference, I stayed with my friend Lindy (a.k.a. “the Mother of the TLLP), which was so much nicer than staying at a hotel.  Not only did I get caught up on laundry, but she encouraged me to practice my keynote with her, which allowed us to make some last-minute revisions.

The day before the conference began, Doug and Peter traveled for hours to help out.  We met the afternoon before the conference started, became familiar with the room where I would be speaking, went over my notes and slides, and made sure to meet early the next morning to get my equipment ready — everything from making sure my laptop was properly connected, to helping me distribute crayons and play-doh to every table before attendees arrived.


Much like waiting for Christmas, when it seems that the big event will always remain in the future, it finally arrived.  No more preparations, pep-talks, or revisions.  It was show time.

Contrary to my fears, I actually found myself enjoying the keynote.  All of the attendees at #OSSTFtech were so encouraging while I spoke; their smiles gave me courage and they participated in our activities together — check out the gallery of their work by searching the conference hashtag or by clicking here.

I’ll admit that part of my reason for writing this post is an effort to savour my first keynote (who knows if I’ll get another chance at this!), and another is to thank the leaders and educators who have faith in others.  My hope is to become the kind of leader who can pay it forward.


You learn leadership by doing leadership” ~ Carol Campbell 

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