Category Archives: Established Relationships

A Mindfulness Practice that Makes a Difference

I had the pleasure in watching the documentary My Year of Living Mindfully in which Shannon Harvey, journalist went on a journey to put meditation to the test in regards to bring about positive mental health. As a teacher, I work with other teachers who have instituted mindful practices, deep breathing, trauma-informed practices, changing their classroom environments, etc. What interested me in this documentary was how a simple practice could offer some outstanding results not just for one’s health but overall sense of being.

I watched the documentary with a two pronged focus. The first was to see how I could further incorporate this into my personal life, And the second was to see how to engage teachers in trying it in their classrooms for the upcoming school year (2020-21).


Starting at the end of June, I will be taking the four week Monash University, Mindfulness and Wellbeing for Peak Performance Course. It will be interesting to see what my initial experiences will be. How many participants will be attending and working through this course with me? What concepts will we be tackling? What will the meditation be like? I look forward to finding out will keep you all posted.


I think I need to go through the Uni course, review other meditation resources before I respond to this. I also want to see how to incorporate tech tools that will support with this so that teachers can have a space or tools to provide effective meditation opportunities for students of all ages in an easy and engaging manner.

Do check out Shannon’s website that further speaks about her journey, includes resources and an opportunity to purchase a viewing of her documentary when it is released globally.



Using a Growth Mindset During Tragedy

This past weekend has been an especially hard one emotionally for me. I am speaking of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus tragedy whereby 15 people were killed as they made their way to a playoff hockey game in Saskatchewan. Both my children are in sports and we often travel to games whether by motorcoach or car. We also indirectly know some of the hockey players and two of them attended schools in the school division that I work in.

Image from Silvia Pecota Studio

This post sheds the use of a growth mindset in the face of tragedy. I find that Jack Canfield succinctly shares ways in which we can deal with disasters. This can easily be used in any environment to help anyone.

How to deal with overwhelming emotions (via Jack Canfield):

  • take a deep brief and that whatever you are experiencing this too shall pass
  • be patient with yourself
  • be patient with others
  • forgive yourself
  • use ETF tapping (video below)
  • practice gratitude


  • to make it easy for myself, I created a Google Keep note and started to type down things that I’m Grateful For… I used Canva to create the .png image. I find I like Google Keep since it is available on my smartphone, on my laptops so that if something pops up, I can quickly add via voice or text the already created note.

Now check out the ETF Tapping Therapy video below:

The ETF tapping therapy looks like something that I could possibly use more in the work that I do to support teachers who support students.




The Elusive Why – Yours and Theirs

Today in my inbox was an explosive article, in my opinion, that got me to thinking about my journey so far in the Innovative Teacher Academy. Over the past several weeks, I have been learning with an amazing group of educators from a variety of experiences and places throughout the world. A.J. Juliani, our guide, has set up some amazing weekly backgrounders, activities and questions to keep us talking and sharing. There are opportunities for the ITA17 group to interact socially and virtually. If it weren’t for ITA17, I would not have been exposed to this article. It’s OK not to have a ‘Why’ by Tim Le Roy streamed in my Medium Daily Digest this morning (one of the tools presented to us in ITA17) and set me off to use my Google Voice Typer so I could get my ideas down that were swirling in my head (I just couldn’t type fast enough and I didn’t want to lose any of my thoughts).

PAUSE here to READ the article!

Yes, it’s worth the read first and come back to my musings below. In my work with teachers and administrators as well as Senior Exec in my school division and sitting on various educational committees (provincially and internationally), I believe that the success in moving forward on any project or idea IS THE WHY. If people in an organization, students in a classroom, administrators in a school division, educational departments in a Ministry of Education don’t have a strong handle on THE WHY, no matter who is part of the group, then the WHY doesn’t come as easily, nor do the actions to move the WHY forward, nor the sustainable results. We cannot just skip over THE WHY and Tim’s article is potent in saying that THE WHY can be an individual OR a collective one. For me that was exciting to read. In both my professional and personal life I carry several WHYs, some are easy to attain and attend to (such as supporting my children’s academic and athletic pathways) while others are more elusive (my goals in ITA17 need to change since I’m not completely achieving them).

Reading this article then also pointed me to another goldmine of interesting people and topics. For those of you who are TED-talk aficionados, you’ll now appreciate, if you have not yet been exposed to, like I was to the DO Lectures with speakers who inspire others to DO, too. I came upon Timothy Ferriss’ How and Why to Be Unreasonable Lecture from 2008. I did not know who Timothy was so it was interesting to hear about his incredible experiences when he introduced himself and the different case studies that he shared.

Watch his video (26 mins.) below while thinking about:

  • What resonated with you?
  • What is your FIRST next step?


Timothy Ferriss: Aim for the Impossible from The Do Lectures on Vimeo.

I leave you with one of the quotes that Timothy mentioned, in further detail so that you can appreciate Marianne’s overall thoughts. It also captures the VISION for the educational work that I work relentlessly to support.


Make Yourself Open to Opportunity

Kare Anderson is a super story teller and brings us into her world where everyone can make a difference. Not only are we all “smart” at something, we also can connect with each other and also connect others so they can network and learn. If our stories, our ideas and/or our products/services are presented by people who are startling (grab your emotion), compelling (show you there is a way) and credible (some experience), then change can and will happen.

It’s a great video to watch yourself, but even a better one to watch as a group!

Ask yourself/group – How are we using our collective talents to create a better society? Are there others (outside organizations/people) that we should tap into to help with our cause(s)?


The Power of Relationships

Sticks and Stones

Photo via

Recently, AASA, The School Superintendent’s Association held a National Conference on Education #NCE16. Some of my twitter colleagues happen to be attending this and from afar I was able to gleen off some learning moments, gems and resources. One of which was @DanielLFrazier’s photo of a quote from @dave-weber. Daniel, a Superintendent from Litchfield was attending Dave’s Sticks and Stones Exposed: The Power of Our Words presentation. It was the quote that got me hooked and then it was my persistence in tracking down more information that has me writing this blog and then ordering Dave’s book!

So, this post first off shows the power of my Twitter PLN. Once again, and daily, I find gems, stories, ideas, connections, research, opportunities for not only my own professional focus but for my colleagues. These virtual relationships allow me to engage in more consistent and constant ways that pre-Twitter would be very difficult to do.

Back to the quote and the understanding of the importance of relationships. We’ve all heard in education that teachers DO make a difference, administrators DO make a difference and the specific evidence that goes along with it. However, what got me to think deeper is THIS quote. Have I really thought about the relationships with staff being a predictor of student achievement before? Not as a direct focus no (informally through staff retreats, teacher VS student activities, etc.), but it did get me to ponder….what can I do from a district-support level to engage, encourage and offer the environment in order for this to occur. I don’t have a checklist established yet, maybe reading Dave’s book will establish some parameters for me.


Effective Classroom Instruction Using Tech: Cooperative Learning

Photo Credit: DoDEA Communications via Compfight cc

Eight years ago, the authors Pitler, Kuhn and Malenoski1 took the eleven essential instructional strategies that were identified originally by Marzano, Pickering and Pollock2. These essential instructional strategies allow teachers to then use them purposefully to steadily improve student learning. In this digital age of learning and in considerations of this research, I have included not only an outline of how technology could be used to complement and enhance these teaching strategies but also specific technology tools/resources.

Essential Instructional Strategy #7

In cooperative learning teachers focus on having students interacting with each other in groups to enhance their learning experiences. Technology facilitates group collaboration and communication. It also provides structure for group authentic tasks.

To enhance student learning and engagement by providing all students with equal opportunities to respond to the teacher’s questions and orally process their learning

Oral Processing – we remember more of what we say than what we hear, so frequent oral processing and sharing are important.

  •         Dr. Marcia Tate, author of Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites – “The person doing the most talking is the person doing the most learning.”
  •         Cooperative Learning is not about putting kids in groups to create a product or to demonstrate their learning after the teaching and learning; it’s about putting kids together to learn together during / as part of the teaching and learning.
  •         Vygotsky suggests that “learning takes place through the interactions students have with their peers, teachers, and other experts. Consequently, teachers can create a learning environment that maximizes the learner’s ability to learn through discussion, collaboration, and feedback.” Learning Theories Website

Because it requires that students talk to each other, cooperative learning:

  •         Helps develop listening and speaking skills
  •         Helps develop social skills
  •         Helps students think deeper

In order to develop these skills, we need to provide the opportunity and the structure (we need to teach them how to learn together in socially respectful ways).

Within the learning environment, various resources may be used. Below is a complementary list of actions and ideas, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Please add your ideas in the comments section if you like.

Group processing with advance organizers and rubrics through DigiTales, Digital Storytelling.

Join a collaborative project like JASON, Literature Learning Ladder or check out How Stuff Works.

Join ePals.

Collaborate online with shared calendars, bookmarking (Diigo) and managed courses (Google Classroom, Moodle).

Interactive multiplayer simulation games such as Girls Inc., PowerUP, Education Arcade.

A starting point for integration of Kagan Structures is well summarized by Gavin Clowes.

Kagan structure RallyRobin is used for:

  •         For generating lists
  •         For brief answers to simple questions or tasks that have multiple short answers
  •         For reviewing information that has been presented
  •         By helping the brain clear its working memory and tag information for storage in long-term memory

When you might use RallyRobin:

– in early years for things like having students take turns each reading a sentence of a story that you have already read together; for saying the alphabet; to count by 2’s…

– In middle years, it might work for naming the different parts of a cell in science class, or answers to a simple recall question about a list of information you want students to learn.

Gambits- phrases or stems that the teacher provides for students; give students the language for developing social skills

Timed Pair Share uses a copycat gambit paired with a complete the sentence gambit.

Sample gambits for Timed Pair Share:

  •  Thank you for sharing your thinking. From your answer I learned…(paraphrase)
  • Your answer was well thought out. The part I remember most is…

* That’s an interesting answer. It made me think of …

Kagan structure Timed Pair Share is used:

  •         For open- ended questions or tasks that have complex answers
  •         For processing information that has been presented
  •         For activating prior knowledge about a topic

When you might use Timed Pair Share:

– in Language Arts, you might use Timed Pair Share to have students discuss character traits of a particular character-

An open-ended task might be – Which parts of this chapter best reveal the main character’s traits? Talk about what the character did or said, and what trait is revealed by these actions.

In early years it might be “what do the pictures on this page tell you about what might happen next in the story?”

–  Timed Pair Share would also work great for having students respond to critical thinking questions- those open ended questions that require students to use criteria and evidence to support their judgement.

–  In lower grade levels- who says “show and tell” needs to be reserved for ONE student a day? All kids can “show and tell” their partner something they brought that relates to a SS or Science topic. Take turns with partner showing and telling.

–  The question might be: How does your object relate to our SS topic?

–  Provide a gambit that would be appropriate to that task.

–  OR when assigning different teams, tell students the day before that the next day they will be getting new teammates. Students can bring in an object the next day that says something about themselves, and do a show and tell to their new teammates.

–  The question might be: What does this object say about you? Gambit: Thank you for sharing this information about yourself. I learned that you…



1 – Pitler, H., R., E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria: ASCD.

2 – Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Also look at Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H. & Stone, B.J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement, 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.



Yes, go ahead and LOOK UP!


cc licensed (BY SA) 500px photo by Andrea Goh

I have a moment right now and am taking a few minutes to clean and organize my inbox email messages. I’m finding a variety of tweets, links, resources, ideas, questions, discussions AND gems that just….

  • inspire
  • compel
  • evoke emotions
  • are powerful

One such resource is ‘Look Up’ (written, performed and directed by Gary Turk) which is a video shared via a love story, where connection is key but not always attempted.

Take time to view this video. Where do you see yourself in this scenario? What about your students? How can we promote daily interactions that are meaningful, relevant and authentic using a variety of resources, including technology but also promote the human spirit?

If you do work with students, show them this video, ask them beforehand where they rate their screen time (with phones, tablets, computers, digital gaming, TV). Do they see themselves more so as tech-centric or people-centric? Then watch the video and hear out their opinions about what the video speaks to and what they think. Do they have an action plan? Has the video changed any of their pre-reflections?


C is for Champion

Every student needs a close connection with an adult in their school, whether its a teacher, an educational assistant, an administrator, a custodian, a librarian, a parent volunteer, a secretary, etc…. Any adult who regularly works with students has the ability to connect with students, make them feel special, develop profound and pertinent relationships.

This TED Talk with teacher, Rita Pierson, is always an excellent example to share with colleagues as to the importance of building relationships with the students we work with.



Healthy Relationships are Cultivated

relationshipOver the past couple of years on this blog, I have had the opportunity to really develop my leadership abilities by delving into several foundational areas of leadership. These experiences have enabled me to draw into a deeper commitment and understanding about who I am/what role do I play? and what kind of an impact I can make/have made with my leadership.

Some key resources that I’d like to point to are the Intentional Leader guide from Leadercast which contains monthly themes, weekly directions and daily activities. Each week I would review the theme, read and answer the questions, reflect individually, do some action-research and discuss my thoughts with colleagues. This resource was a fantastic way for me to focus my energies to increase my confidence, my influence and my ability to make a real and lasting difference as a leader/colleague. (See my first post about this HERE.)

My second key resource was recently acquired. The Leadercast Now is an online subscription website that allows me to watch specific video clips on leadership followed by choosing and/or creating action steps. The video library has 100s of real leadership scenarios (with regular additions) for me to choose to watch. Just as the Intentional Leader was focused on specific themes, Leadercast Now has 7 behaviors of a Leader Worth Following – simplicity, bravery, beyond you, vision, culture, insight and creativity.

So for the 2014-15 school year, I pledge and will actually book a weekly timeslot to watch one video, make/complete an action item and blog about my findings/learnings.

This week I took time to watch Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Great Leaders Cultivate Healthy Relationships” video clip. Not only is it important to have growing and healthy relationships, but also to have trust, encouragement and connection with others. Dr. Cloud notes that there are THREE important things for humans to survive:


Humans require oxygen to breathe, glucose for food and relationships to grow and develop.

Another piece he mentioned was that it is important to LISTEN to one another. Taking time to ask colleagues questions about a particular situation/topic, “What is it like for you? What is it like for your clients (staff/students/parents)?” Holding a time and a space to share these answers will be key for a department to move on or to develop a new process or to ask for further assistance, etc. The main thing is that people are being listened to…..which in this 24/7 fast-paced global world may not always be considered important. This time allows for encouragement and connection which changes the situation into a more positive light and energy.

Dr. Cloud’s talk reminds me of Kid Presidents Pep Talk for teachers and students:

It also warms my heart to know that I don’t have to do life and work on my own. I am able to collaborate, bounce ideas, disagree, share, learn and give/receive support and encouragement. I’ll take a few moments to either call, email or visit a few key people over the next few days that support and encourage me – hearing/reading these comments are a good thing!


Do you have ideas on how you will build your own leadership abilities and experiences? Feel free to share in-person or online.



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A Gift that Matters




Kid President reminds us that really the upcoming holidays need not be stressful. A great video to share both children and adults alike!