Learning Something New

About a month ago, we got an extra-large chess game in our Library Learning Commons. It currently sits on the floor while we await the Woodworking class to make us a table for it. I bought it because on any given day, the four chess boards in the Library are being used by students playing chess.

Since September, I have wanted to learn how to play. I will sometimes join the other students gathered around to watch to see if I could pick up the game, but the learning doesn’t stick. There are too many pieces and it is too complex. I am going to admit, I felt kind of stupid not being able to pick up the game.

So the other day, I picked up a Quick Chess game that touts, “The Quick & Easy Way to Learn Chess!” The game takes each chess piece and creates a mini-game out of it so that you learn the role and function of each.

It also provides Quick-reference diagrams. My husband and I first played the Pawns game–learning about the role of the pawns, followed by short games isolating each of the other pieces (rook, bishop, king, queen, & knight). I was not nearly as frustrated as I had been trying to watch a Youtube video or watching others; I learn by doing. Each time I played a mini-game I felt more and more confident and the role of each piece became committed to my memory.

After I would say about two hours, my husband and I were ready to play an actual game. I’m not going to be a pro any time soon, but I feel confident enough in my abilities, that I may challenge a student to a game sometime this week. I will also bring this game in for the students, who like me, are watching all of the students and longing to play the game, but are too scared to try or feel it’s too complicated to learn.

Real learning is fun. It’s not about worksheets but about trial and error, the iterative process and feeling successful.

This experience has prompted me to wonder:

-How do we scaffold learning for students in a way that is easier for them to grasp complex topics, but not necessarily boring?

-What role do anchor charts play in teaching and learning?

-How might we incorporate gamification and game-based learning in the classroom to make challenging information more fun?

-How might we use this approach with professional learning?

I think about my Amazing Race EDU collaborative game and Breakout EDU games, as well as Design Thinking challenges (check out Global Day of Design), and I know that there is a movement towards active learning and resources to support teachers to try.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

 

 

Today I think of love

Today I think of love

amidst red and pink flowers

candy-grams

and romantic gestures 

Today I think of those who feel unlovable,

shunned 

and alone.

and those whose homes are not so happy

circumstances grim.

Today I can be the hope

the love

the warm smile.

Today I think of love 

that costs nothing

that means everything

Today I don’t think of love; I show it.

 

Jennifer Casa-Todd

 

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Kindness is my #oneword (well technically one of my two) for 2018 and today marks the beginning of Random Acts of Kindness Week.   I am not a fan of isolating one day or one week to engage in what should be a daily practice. Nonetheless, it does provide a good impetus to begin.

As this week begins, however, let’s not just limit our acts of kindness to in-person (though these are extremely important).  Every day, we have opportunities  both online and in person to make someone’s day brighter.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see positivity and kindness take over the internet??

Ideas for RAK Week and beyond

  • Tell your students that every day you will, as a class, connect with someone to let them know they are special by sending them a direct message or a tweet or an email or a post-it note
  • Have students write their name in fancy letters on a sheet of cardstock and pass it around for students to write positive adjectives on it
  • Do an extra special clean up of your desk or area so that your mom, dad, guardian, or the caretaker at school doesn’t have to do it
  • Send someone a GIF that will brighten their day
  • Bake a batch of cookies and surprise someone with it
  • Leave $2 for the next senior citizen in line at a coffee shop to get a free coffee
  • Send someone a special note on one of your social media platforms
  • Invite someone who is sitting alone to come and sit with you
  • Go out of your way to say hello and smile to every person you meet for a day
  • Check out the tweets by the students in Rachel Murat’s class by searching the hashtag #positivelykind

Also…

  • Check out the RAK website for ideas and inspiration
  • Check out the PSA these kids created:

Check out our #RAKWeek2018 PSA!! Teamed up with my heroes @lauriesmcintosh @MrsMacsKinders & @bmilla84 & their Ss to challenge YOU & your Ss to spread KINDNESS next week! Be sure to share w/ us @ #thekindclub & #bekindEDU! https://t.co/1WzENubSMA#kidsdeserveit #tlap #engagechat pic.twitter.com/4HVonxa1Ho

— Roman Nowak (@NowakRo) February 10, 2018

  • How about making kindness go viral? Check out this Kindness passion project created by Tamara Letter (She is all about kindness and depending on when you are reading this, will be moderating #tlap chat Monday night focusing on this topic)
  • A video which really emphasizes the simplicity of spreading kindness is, Color Your World with Kindness, which shows how small actions can have a powerful impact
  • Check out my ideas from a previous post, Creating a Culture of Kindness

Created using Visme. The Easy Visual Communication Tool.

What will you do?

Thinking about Inclusion

I recently attended the Ontario Library Association conference in Toronto. This year’s theme: Fearless. It felt different than the edtech conferences I have been to. Firstly, I was not presenting a single thing and so that gave me the flexibility to genuinely explore without thinking about my own session. I also know that as a new teacher-librarian, I have much to learn.  I loved meeting some of the Ontario teacher-librarians from whom I have been learning on Twitter for the past few years.I decided to attend sessions that I normally would not attend.  Three powerful sessions come to mind and this question bubbles up for me as a result of what I have heard:

How are we genuinely building community in our schools and helping our most vulnerable students feel welcome and included?

Here’s what

  1. Jesse Wente, a First Nations activist, gave me much to ponder in his opening keynote:

He said, “We have a storytelling issue when it comes to how we relate to each other.”

How do we think about the stories being told? Who gets to tell those stories? What are some of the preconceptions we have of indigenous people and how do they impact the stories we read and tell?

He spoke about FEAR that sometimes impacts our ability to do things differently vs the way we have always done things.  I know this and how it applies to technology-enabled learning, but how does it impact the way we view the world and the information that is shared with us through the lens of journalism? 

Wente called out cultural appropriation as” the theft of our stories “which I had never ever thought about before, but can’t stop thinking about now.

He challenges that a “Narrative gap skews the way future generations will see each other.”

As he spoke, I thought about our desperate need for Critical Literacy which is incredibly important to our ability to get students to question and think critically about what they are reading.

2. Jennifer Brown and Laura Badovinic’s session on Truth and Reconciliation carried over many of these themes into a classroom setting. Brown was careful to say, “Even when we are not a member or a group. Try to go on a learning journey.” She talked about the need to be fearless about asking questions vs not saying anything at all or saying something that may harm.

They reminded us that teachers, teacher-librarians, and leaders we have a foot in coaching & mentoring but also a direct impact on kids.  

She too emphasized critical literacy questions as she worked with a grade 4 class and I loved her idea to “debunk a book” with kids, reminding us that children and competent and capable if we give them the tools.

3. Desmond Cole, a Toronto activist spoke passionately about the difference between fearless vs people who confront their fears. He says, “There are no fearless people…but those who push forward through their fear.” 

He talks about the work of educators that requires lifting people up: to provide enrichment & love of learning.

He says, “Our work is emancipatory”. He talks about harm reduction and building community and the fact that as humans our struggle is  not a “blacklivesmatter one” or an “undocumented children” one, but a collective one.  He challenged that those who have the ability to speak collectively are not, but should. 

So what?

Many of these conversations are still swirling around in my head. When you know better, you do better. How can I do better?  My Library tech did a massive weeding of our fiction section and had Of Mice and Men on the list to renew. I remember teaching this book and being very uncomfortable about the language in it, but at the same time appreciating the conversations it started with my students about ageism, racism, and discrimination against people with special needs. I had to ask myself, Is having this book doing harm to the students in my school community?  I don’t believe in censorship, and yet….

At war with myself, I asked my friend Dwayne Samuel to chat with me about it. He is the only black teacher on staff. He wondered about cultural appropriation and whether or not someone with more power who wants to start a discussion is more of an “ally than a thief.” In the end, we decided that we would get the book, but that we would tag it so that if a student takes it out, we have a conversation with him/her about it.

More importantly, he thanked me for engaging him in a conversation about this and for asking the question, “Is this doing more harm than good?”

Now what?

Inviting these discussions into the classroom can be very tricky. I talk about this in Chapter 10 of Social LEADia.The resources for that chapter may be of some help to you. I think it is necessary to have kids question texts and it is just as important for students to connect with people from around the world who hold a different perspective than they do–because social media allows us to do this simply.

Make Critical Literacy a daily practice in your school:

 

I am thinking about my LGBQT students struggling with their identities and the FNMI, Asian Heritage, and the other cultures represented in my school community and wondering about how they might know that our space is one of inclusion.  I don’t have it figured out am committed to walking the journey alongside my staff and students.

This Flipgrid by Bronwyn Joyce (based on SDG 10) asks kids to consider the topic of inclusion and may be an good way to start:

The February OnEDSschat focuses on Human Rights of Children and may also be a good way for you to invite these conversations into the classroom.

Thanks to the organizers of the OLA Superconference for inspiring these conversations.Would love to hear your thoughts.

Student Leadership

Everywhere I look at my school, I see students taking on leadership roles: whether it be in the classroom or for clubs and committees. We are cheerleaders for our students; we give them guidance and then wait in the fold to support them if it’s needed.

So often, however, we forget to include leadership opportunities in online spaces. I don’t know if it’s because we just don’t think of it or if we don’t see a natural fit with leadership or perhaps it’s fear or discomfort?

This is why I am so proud to be a co-organizer for the Ontario Ed Student Chat (@ONEDSschat) with Leigh Cassell (she’s really the best project manager ever), Brock Baker, Allison Fuisz, and Nicole Kaufman along with students Rylin, Sam, Ella, Nigel, Austin, Emiliano, Lindsay, and special monthly guests.

Every month, I am inspired by our student panel. They create the questions and the graphics, they share the message, and they decide on the topics. Our role is advisory.

January’s topic was certainly close to my heart as it was student leadership. One of the comments, really resonated with me: Leadership isn’t always about the “Big” things, but the way we act on a daily basis! via (a student at my school). There was also a great conversation in the chat about how technology often lets our quieter students have a voice.

Classes are encouraged to use the Youtube chat feature (YES–imagine that!), as well as Twitter to join in on the conversations. Here are a couple of my favourite moments from this month’s chat. In many cases, students are composing their responses which get shared to a class account because they are under 13.

Check out information the January Tweet & Talk as well as info for our February chat where we talk about Human Rights of Children.

In Social LEADia, I showcase and celebrate students who are leveraging social media in strategic and positive ways and who are leading in their in-person communities as well as online. Every day I continue to see teachers not just taking pictures to showcase the learning in their classrooms, but inviting students to be a part of it. And I continue to learn about student leaders who are making the world a better place today! A twitter chat such as #ONEDSschat is but one way we can show students the power of connecting with others. 

 

How are you empowering your students to lead online and face to face?  Who are some inspirational students who inspire you and your students? Please share!

Content Curation: A necessary skill for today’s learners

Curation is the “ability to find, to filter, to evaluate, to annotate, to choose which sources are valuable” (Valenza, Boyer , Curtis, 2014). In our information-rich age, not only is it necessary to curate, but creating content from curated resources is an excellent way to consolidate understanding and provides students with the opportunity to think critically and creatively. I have written about Content Curation and Digital Leadership before. I also include curation tools in the chapter, “The Other Social Media Tools” in Social LEADia because I believe that Storify, and curation tools like it…

provide a great way for students to summarize and synthesize learning by allowing them to create something new out of any online content, including social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. What I love most about curating tools is that several people can draw from very similar information and their final products can end up completely different–the results are based entirely on a person’s selection and interpretation of the resource, making the story unique to their learning.

With that in mind, you could ask students to draw from a specific hashtag connected to a movement, an organization, an author, or a politician and then have them summarize their interpretation of the main messages. Older students could generate a thesis and use the artifacts and examples they find to prove it. Or, better yet, you could turn the traditional essay on its head by having students use a curation tool to write a persuasive “essay” (page 147).

Here is an image I created that shows how a few curation tools can support literacy.

Wakelet

So with Storify gone, Wakelet looks like a great replacement tool for all learners to curate information. It has a simple interface. Unlike Storify, you need to grab external links, but a useful Chrome extension means you can use Wakelet to curate all your resources in one place with the option to create wakes from them at any time.

Randall Sampson, who loved Storify as much as I did, created a wake about how to create a wake. Check it out here.

Moving your Storify Stories to Wakelet

Check out this video on how to verify and import stories from storify to Wakelet. I very simply transferred my stories over.

What it DOES not tell you is that you can exit the app and Wakelet will email you when your stories have been fully imported.

 

What is a curation tool you use to curate social media links? Do you have a good alternative to Storify? Would love to hear about them in the comments!

Sources

Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Curation outside the library world. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 51.

Gratitude & Kindness

This post is inspired by two posts I read recently: Jay Dubois’s post challenging me to write about my #attitudeofgratitude and Tamara Letter’s post, Serving Others Unseen (Tamara is the queen of kindness). I also love the #oneword challenge and enjoy various posts about the one word that will shape the new year. I could not pick one word: instead, my 2018 will be framed by Gratitude and Kindness.

Gratitude…

I have had a tumultuous year. I reflect upon the fact that last year, my friends graciously volunteered to buy Christmas presents for me because I could not go to a mall, or a drugstore, or even a grocery store for that matter. My Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) had me down and out for quite some time in 2017. The year started as one of the most personally challenging of my life. I actually didn’t write a #oneword last year as a result. And yet, despite the really rough start, this has been one of the most amazing years as well.

I am grateful for the support of George Couros, Dave and Shellley Burgess, and Erin Casey who helped me to become the author of Social LEADia in June of 2017.  Being a part of the Dave Burgess Consulting (DBC) Family has allowed me to get to know other DBC authors who are so very brilliant and inspiring.

I am grateful to Doug Peterson, Paul Paterson, Justin Schleider, Katie Martin, and Stephanie Viveiros, my mother and father-in-law, and my teens for helping me to edit my book when I couldn’t actually look at a screen for more than 30 minutes.

I am amazed by the the accomplishments and the exemplary leadership of the students I feature in the book, as well as the student leaders I continue to meet both in person and online every day.

I have been fortunate enough to belong to several different PLNs again this year, and if at all possible, I feel even more connected to people with whom I mostly collaborate online. Meeting so many of them in person has been so very special, and I hope to meet many more of  the educators with whom I regularly interact on social media in 2018.

I owe so much to Sarah Thomas and Jennifer Bond as well as the entire Edumatch family who helped keep me sane when I was home and sadder than I’ve ever been in my life and for the continued support and encouragement of the Edumatch crew. I was able to meet so many of them at ISTE and further connected with Heidi and Toutoule in Vegas for Cue Vegas where I met so many more wonderful people.

The Ed Tech Team (Emily, Jeffrey, Sylvia, Kim, Sandra, Jen, Joanna) have been so amazing to work and learn with and as a result of the Summits, I have met and had the opportunity to get to know some incredible and passionate educators.

My #DigCit PLN (Nancy, Kristen, Marialice, Michael, Jaimie, William) and the many #DigCitSummit leaders and planners are changing what we think of when we talk about digital citizenship.

My GEG Ontario Leaders group (David, Amit, Laura, Larissa, Mike, Marie-Andree) inspire me, as do the planning team for Dig Cit Summit Toronto (Tina, Mark, Andrew, Carlo, Gwynth, and Bessie).

The ONEdSs chat has connected me with an incredible and inspiring group of students who are changing how students connect and converse on Twitter. I am grateful for the leadership and support of Leigh, Brock, Allison, Nicole, and Jay–the adults on the team.

I have never laughed so hard as I have when I share my worst off-tune singing with my Singoff Snapchat crew (Mandy, Tara, Tish, Rodney, Evan, Mandy, and Rachelle) and I am really learning Snapchat as a result of this group!

There are so many teachers in Ontario that are inspiring leaders and thinkers. The #onted PLN (way too many to list), supported to a great extent by Doug Peterson and Stephen Hurley (VoiceEDRadio), is a testament to the fact that we have way more to celebrate in education in our province than to complain about.

I am grateful to be in a job where I can impact as well as learn from so many young people who remind me why I became an educator in the first place, and I am grateful that I am able to be back working full time without feeling too many adverse effects from my MTBI.

Kindness…

I think it is this attitude of gratitude that has really inspired me to promote kindness and generosity towards others. I have always been an altruistic person, but especially this year, I feel like I need to pay my blessings forward.

Students at my school have been performing random acts of kindness for others for their Religion CPTs.


Our school held a school-wide drive for St. Vincent De Paul (a local organization that donates Christmas gifts to the less fortunate).

In our own home, we also sponsored a family with our extended family. My husband bought a pair of jeans for a student in need as well as other necessities.  I sought out a family I knew could use some help in our school community and the student’s joy and thanks brightened up my entire holiday. I was so excited to leave a gift card at a local coffee shop for seniors to enjoy, that I forgot to pick up my own coffee. And yesterday, my neighbours were setting out to deliver gifts to a family of 7 children who are refugees from Nigeria.

My youngest daughter took it upon herself to collect money for her class and this week, we went out together so she could buy the items requested by the family. I was so proud of the care she took to choose and wrap each gift.

I am always conflicted about sharing random acts of kindness on social media; good deeds must be done with good intentions, not for attention (author unknown). But sharing these might inspire others to perform a random act of kindness for another and another and another. I know that my own children look to my husband and I as role models.

There is so much good in the world and yet we are so ready and willing to share the negative. What if we took the spirit of giving that envelops us at this time of year and made Random Acts of Kindness and #Gratitude regular habits both online and in person?

Please join me in making #KINDNESS and #GRATITUDE words to live by in 2018.

 

Learning is Social

This week in my Principles of Learning Course, we talked about an article called Brain/Mind Natural Learning Principles (Caine & Caine, 2012)  which outlines 12 principles of learning. I focused Capacity #2: All students have the capacity to comprehend more effectively when their needs for social interactions and relationship are engaged and honored.

As an educator who has been involved in co-teaching for many years, I have the advantage of observing classroom practices and notice that so much of the instruction in our classrooms is about students working independently and quietly at the same task as others in the classroom.  I reflect on my own teaching of English many years ago and how much time I spent instructing and students working. This principle reinforces the need to revisit some of our traditional practices.

Research of teacher-centered learning and cooperative learning in science has found  that “learning is more effective when students are actively involved in sharing ideas and working cooperatively with other students to complete academic tasks” (Ebrahim, 2012, pg 16).  In my own experience as a Literacy Consultant, I used the Adolescent Literacy guide to help teachers understand the development of the adolescent learner. The guide references the importance of social learning and in particular provides this advice to teachers in terms of how they might tap into students’ social development and learning:

  • providing opportunities for students to interact with each other to attain personal and collaborative goals;

  • grouping and regrouping students for a variety of purposes to build confidence and competence in various social arrangements (Edugains , 2016, pg 16).

Strong relationships are foundational to educating students today which Willms, Friesen & Milton argue includes building social cohesion: “Today’s teachers are called upon to work with colleagues to design learning environments that promote deeper engagement in learning as a reciprocal process. Learning can no longer be understood as a one-way exchange where ‘we teach, they learn.’ It is a reciprocal process that requires teachers to help students learn with understanding, and not simply acquire disconnected sets of facts and skills” ((Willms, Friesen & Milton, 2009). They stress the importance of making school a “socially, academically, and intellectually exciting and worthwhile place to be” (Willms, Friesen & Milton, 2009).

I see this with my own daughter, who will use Facetime to video conference with her peers before a big test in order to learn the material more effectively. She complains about not having enough opportunities to do this in school.

I am passionate about using the vast reach of technology and social media to connect students. And in my experience connecting students to each other using technology and social media, has been extremely effective. I have seen an increase in engagement and achievement when students connected their learning in a social context. An example I share in my book, Social LEADia occurs when I helped connect a Religion class to a class in Buenos Aires, the teacher noted:

“Everything we learned about in class could be related back to our interactions to Argentina and because these were experiences they were having and connections they were making the learning was individualized and made important to them! This directly translated into academic success as they just wrote their Unit 2 test and the class average was 91%  in comparison to their Unit 1 tests which the class average was 71%. On many of the student’s tests they included examples and stories of their connections to those students in Argentina and for me that was a huge teacher win!” (Machala, 2016).

Social media connections serve to complement in-class connections as well. Students’ shared experience connecting with others can bring a class together. I have seen this happen on several occasions especially when time is given to reflect on the process.

I am also right now working with students who are working together to create a Pit Stop (game about a location in the world) for an Amazing Race EDU collaborative project, as well as their own Breakout EDU challenges. The final product asks them to consolidate their learning and arrive at a product which relies on the collaborative contributions of others. Students are actively engaged and their biological need to work with others is being met. It is important to note that  the planning for the project happens in face to face groups as well as online.

This principle caused me to pause and reflect on my instructional practices to ensure that I am actually meeting the needs of my students. Is most of what we require individual? How do we strike a balance to ensure that the needs of students who do really thrive on independent work are balanced with the need to be social? I invite your own thoughts and reflections in the comments.

References:

Brain/Mind Natural Learning Principles  Renate N. Caine, Ph.D. and Geoffrey Caine, LL.M.

Ebrahim, A. Int J of Sci and Math Educ (2012) 10: 293. https://doi-org.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/10.1007/s10763-011-9293-0

Edugains. Adolescent Literacy Guide. (2016) 1-124. Retrieved from

http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesLIT/AdolescentLiteracy/Vision/AdolescentLiteracyGuide_Interactive.pdf

Mahala, R. (2016, October 31). Global Connections [Web log post]. Retrieved October 28, 2017,

from http://www.calledtobecatholic.com/2016/10/31/hello-world/

Willms, J. D., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What Did You Do in School Today? (First National

Report). Toronto: Canadian Education Association. cea-ace.ca/sites/cea-ace.ca/files/cea-2009-wdydist.pdf

Are we clear with all stakeholders about why we are posting to social media?

I recieved the following letter from a concerned parent:
I was hoping you could help direct me.  I have small children in preschool and the school uses social media for their marketing purposes.  While a highly effective marketing strategy, I’m concerned with their lack of guidelines, considering small children are involved.  Do you have any resources you could direct me to which would help highlight do’s and don’ts in using social media as an advertising technique in schools?
Thanks, 
My response:
I don’t know if I can direct you to a specific resource. Ontario is bound by privacy laws that prevent educators from posting pictures or names without explicit parental permission.  Was a Freedom of Information form signed? If so, then the school assumes the right to post. If not, then this issue should be brought to the attention of the school principal or supervisor. I’m not sure if you are from Ontario or the US?
You use the word, “marketing”. I know that there is definitely a school of thought that encourages schools to  tell the story of their school, and to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of staff and students via social media. I’m not sure that is what you mean by marketing purposes or are they literally creating brochures and posters that they have shared without permission? 
In many cases, social media acts as a window into the classroom. I know several teachers who post, with parent permission, some of the interesting happenings so parents can be more involved in the school day.  To include all children, where Freedom of Information forms have not been signed, many teachers take pics of hands, heads, and feet. One of the great side effects of this is that parents not only learn about what’s going on in the classroom, but also learn about the tools that their own children are or will be using so as to bridge the inter-generational digital literacy gap that is sometimes prevalent.
It sounds like, however, your principal did not share the “why” they are posting on social media. I might begin with asking that. When I work with administrators and teachers, I always tell them to communicate with parents not just what they are doing, but why. 
In my role, I also encourage students to make decisions about what should be posted and what should be kept private, or what is appropriate or not appropriate to share. I believe, and research supports the fact that adult mentoring is very important to prevent problematic media use. It may be worthwhile to inquire if students are participating in the posting.
I am not sure how much I helped with your question, but I hope I at least gave you insight as to a few different perspectives of how schools use social media as opportunities to mentor young people. How you are feeling warrants a conversation. I would encourage you to book an appointment to ask clarifying questions about the intent and purpose of social media being used.
Best,
Jennifer
I have no idea if this response resonated, because I never heard back from the parent, but this email made me wonder if we need to reflect upon why we share pics of our students? Is it to give insight into the classroom? Is it to celebrate their achievements? Is it to mentor their use of social media tools? Or are we using kids as a means to promote our own greatness or market our school?
Are we so focused on “branding” that we are forgetting that we need to be models of effective digital citizenship and digital leadership?
I think about how this situation could easily have been prevented if the principal or teacher had been transparent with parents and explained the why.  I love this example of how Brad Gustafson does this when he talks about his school’s use of social media:

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

When sharing is healing

Yesterday, my family and I experienced a loss we had never ever felt (thankfully) before, but I am sure we will experience again. We had to put our dog, Ginger down.

I anticipated it would be awful, but was not quite prepared for the sorrow of watching my family be so emotional or how I would feel when our beautiful pup lay there motionless as she breathed her last breath.

We wondered whether we should post anything on social media or whether we should keep our grief private. We put the idea away for a while as we gathered all of Ginger’s belongings: her food, her favourite toys, her bed.

We were all exhausted from the sheer emotion of it. We didn’t answer the phone when it rang or pick up our phones at all.

Everywhere we looked, there were reminders. The silence was and is perhaps the hardest. By the end of the afternoon, we thought it might be easier to post what happened, so we could avoid that awkward question when someone asked how Ginger was doing.

The resulting outpouring of support and condolences was so overwhelming and touching and it helped me. And you may say, sure, it’s that dopamine high from getting likes on social media, but it was more than that. You see people took the time to send a message or a separate DM, or a text. A friend even shared a poem.

I take away two thoughts.

  1. For as much as people blame social media for the ills of the world, this was yet another reminder to me that it can be an incredibly beautiful and supportive space too.
  2. We will all be in school tomorrow still grieving in our own ways. I am reminded that we need to reach out to people in kindness every day because we don’t know what inner struggles they are facing or the heaviness of their hearts.

Thank you to all of you who made a positive difference in my world this weekend.