What teachers need to know about introverts


What was on your summer reading list? 

Did you find the time to read everything you wanted to read? 

Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (https://amzn.to/2ZoMsot) has been on my bookshelf for years. I finally read it this summer and I loved it! Even though it was written in 2012, the content is still relevant and can be applied to teaching.  

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As a self-proclaimed introvert, I could see myself over and over again in the many examples provided throughout the book. According to Cain, at least 1/3 of people are introverts. (If you aren't sure where you fall on the scale, take the survey in the book).

Cain defines introverts as

“people who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments".

She further explains that

"extroverts feel at their best and crave a high degree of stimulation but for introverts, the optimal zone is much lower".

In Western society, extroverted...

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What I learned from digital detoxing


I’ve seen a lot of articles in the past year or so related to digital detoxes – why we should do it, how to do it, the benefits, etc.

It’s no surprise that people are writing about this topic because we have become reliant on technology and at an earlier and earlier age.  (Just this morning while walking through the beautiful trails near my home, I saw a parent riding a bicycle pulling a child in a basket while he/she played on a cell phone. Now I’m a parent so who am I to judge, but there seems to be something wrong with spending time in nature while staring at a screen!  And it’s not just kids!)

So, what exactly is a digital detox?  The Oxford Dictionaries Online added this definition in 2013:

a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. 

e.g. "break free of...

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What's up with self-care apps?

phone apps self care Jul 27, 2019

Are you surprised to learn that in 2018, self-care apps topped Apple’s trends list? Consumers spent more than $32M US on mindfulness apps like Calm, Headspace and 10% Happier. This year, Pinterest’s top 100 trends for 2019 indicates that the search for sleep apps has increased by 116%. 

So, are apps the answer to better self-care?  

According to writer Nicole Spector, wellness trends are about owning self-care. What she means is that the trends are less about gadgets and more about putting in the time.

It doesn’t appear that self-care apps are going to disappear anytime soon so when I saw that the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) collaborated to create an assessment framework for mental health apps, I took a closer look.

According to the MHCC and CIHR, the number of mental health apps is growing every day and determining which ones are reliable and actually work is even harder.

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How Danish "hygge" is self-care

I write a lot about self-care which I firmly believe should be

  • easy to do
  • low/no cost and
  • not add time to one’s already busy day. 

When I discovered The Little Book of Hygge (on a shelf in the laundry room in my apartment building where people share books), I was curious to read how hygge (hoo-ga) could be applied to other cultures and whether it could inform our self-care practices.

Hygge is a Danish/Norwegian word that means wellbeing; a sense of comfort and togetherness; coziness and wellbeing.  It’s a feeling or mood that is created from making everyday experiences more meaningful and/or beautiful.  It sounds like the perfect recipe for self-care but would it work where I live in North America?

Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.  He cites many ways to bring hygge into your life but why would the Danes be the experts?  First of all, Denmark typically...

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"Teacher self-care is a thing?"

teacher self-care May 14, 2019
Yes, it's a thing.
An important thing.
I recently attended the TESOL Convention in Atlanta where I had a conversation with a teacher about the work I’m doing related to teacher self-care. I wasn’t surprised when she responded the way she did because a few years ago, I would have responded in a similar fashion.

In 2015, I left classroom teaching after a 20-year career due to professional burn-out. Sadly, self-care was not part of my vocabulary. I’m now on a mission as a teacher self-care crusader and advocate to talk about its importance. 

Teaching is a profession that requires giving of one’s self to make a difference for students. The chronic use of empathy and depletion of emotional resources are strongly associated with emotional exhaustion and/or professional burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).

There is a growing interest in the area of student well-being but everyone must flourish, including students, teachers,...

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60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom is more than just fun and games!

60 Positive Activities for Every Classroom by Teresa X. Nguyen and Nathaniel Cayanan is a fun-filled resource with activities that can easily be used as fillers, enders or energizers. 

I wanted to review this book because I’m a huge fan and student of positive psychology.  Although the book does not explicitly mention the science of this fastest growing form of psychology, the activities are designed to engage students in meaningful experiences individually and with others and increase their positive emotions.

The Importance of Positive Emotions

Positive emotions, like awe, surprise, love, joy, and gratitude promote new and creative actions, ideas, and strengthen social bonds. When students experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. (Frederickson, 2009).  There is fascinating research on laughter too so the activities in the book that elicit laughter induce warm fuzzy feelings in our students as well as...

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60 in 60 Challenge: April - Month 4 (Jamaica was the highlight!)

60 in 60 april Apr 29, 2019

April was a great month.  Ok - maybe it's because I got to spend a week in Jamaica! 

Here's what I did in April:

28. Visited the Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington

I finally met up with my long-time teacher friend Judy Smith. The aroma and colours of the spring flowers were mind-blowing.  A great trip at the end of the winter.  

29. Presented at the first Caribbean TESOL Expo in Jamaica

I was thrilled to speak at this inaugural event.  The conference was fantastic and I met the most interesting and friendly people.  A professional highlight! (but I actually had to buy a suit which was a challenge.  Very few stores have suits these days.)

30. Interviewed on TV - CVM At Sunrise - Jamaica

The conference organizer Venice and I were interviewed at 6:30 a.m. the day of the Caribbean TESOL Expo.  It was a lot of fun and I got to have my make-up professionally done before we went on tv.  

31. Ate at Gloria’s by the Sea


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Rest: Teachers are you doing it right?

Imagine writing a whole book on the subject of rest.  That's exactly what Alex Soojung-Kim Pang did in 2016 (although I just learned about the book last week).  Pang is the founder of the Restful Company (http://deliberate.rest) and a visiting scholar at Stanford.

In my teacher self-care presentations and workshops, one of the most frequent comments from teachers is that self-care takes time, and teachers are busy people.  Yes, I agree but according to Pang, rest:

- makes us more creative

- increases our productivity

- heightens our concentration

- reduces multi-tasking

- calms us down

- boost happiness and

- helps us to focus better


In the last two years, I have been making a conscious effort to be healthier and happier.  This includes downtime, less screen-time, being mindful and resting.  But I think I haven't been resting right. 

If you think rest means lying of the sofa and binge-watching t.v., this is just one form, says Pang...

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Why Teachers Need to Care about Self-Care (Contact, April 2019)

teacher self-care Apr 08, 2019


“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel”. -Eleanor Brownn

Teaching is a profession that requires giving of one’s self to make a difference for students. The chronic use of empathy and depletion of emotional resources are strongly associated with emotional exhaustion and/or professional burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). Also, challenges such as student behaviour, precarious work, multiple workloads or administrative responsibilities can add to the pressures of this demanding profession.

There is a growing interest in the area of student well-being but everyone must flourish, including students, teachers, and administrative staff. Research studies suggest that learning happens best when teachers and their students are well but the added benefit is that as teachers flourish, relationships with students,...

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Did attending a 3-day happiness summit make me happier?

From March 15 to 17, 2019, I had the great pleasure of attending WOHASU’s World Happiness Summit. The event was held at the beautiful University of Miami campus, and since I flew down from Canada, I appreciated the palm trees, sunshine and warmth. UM was also the perfect location because this institution is making “mattering, fairness and wellness” part of their mission statement which could be adopted by all educational institutions. 

In the last three years, I have read as much as possible related to the science of positive psychology or human flourishing and completed two certificates from a Canadian university. Learning about flourishing and happiness and finding ways to apply it to my life and work has been a joy. So, you probably are not surprised that I would be one of those people who would want to attend a 3-day happiness conference.

Am I a happier person because of the summit?  It’s hard to say because I'm already a...

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