Interview with Susan Spellman Cann

Counseling Blog Author

Registered Psychologist, Former School Counsellor


About Susan: Susan Spellman Cann is a Registered Psychologist who loves working with adolescents. She is retiring from school counselling after being in a field she has loved since 1991. She has worked in education since 1980 in elementary, special education, junior high as well as high school. She has presented to many audiences online and off on several topics related to counselling and education. Today Susan still plays women’s lacrosse (yes, you are never too old) and spends a lot of time on her new found passion: painting. Originally from Nova Scotia, you may find her spending more of her leisure time Out On The Mira. Susan belongs to a show choir called Second Chants. She also loves connecting and collaborating with others online. You can find her co-moderating #scchat the first Wednesday of each month as well as connecting and collaborating with several #etmooc-ers to whom she will always be grateful. You can find more about Susan by going to https://about.me/sscann or by visiting go her blog: https://sspellmancann.com/over-the-years-some-of-the-things-i-have-done/


[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] When and why did you originally start a blog on school counseling and collaboration?

[Susan Spellman Cann] I started my blog five years ago this January 2018 because I took a Connectivist MOOC called ETMOOC (Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course) conceived and created by the amazing  Dr. Alec Couros @courosa. We were strongly encouraged to develop our own reflective, learning space, to create a blog for continuous reflection, creativity, and resource sharing. And so I did. I focused on school counselling because that was my passion and what I knew best, but it has evolved into a space for me to share many ideas including resources for educators and counsellors worldwide.

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] What do you hope to achieve by maintaining Counsellor Talk: Creative Collaborative Connections?

[Susan Spellman Cann] When I started counselling many people reached out to help me be better at what I do. Back then there wasn’t an option to go online to find resources or help, but now counsellors do not have to feel isolated or look far for helpful resources or information; they can click a button to do that. Help is really just a click away. I knew that I could easily collate information and collaborate with others to assist me in my daily work with young people. Together we are definitely better. I hope to continue to help others and give back. Essentially I want to pay it forward for as long as I can. I also look forward to new connections and collaborations. As I grow and change so will my blog I am sure.

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] We highlighted your post, “School Counsellor With An Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC” because of the numerous and diverse ways you include for a school counselor to continually learn and cultivate their creativity both inside and outside the classroom. What are some of the specific ways you’ve found to foster better collaboration between school counselors and school personnel?

[Susan Spellman Cann] Relationship building and collaboration is crucial not only in life, but most importantly in schools where we want to help large numbers of students. Our counselling team collaborated on several resources that would be helpful for the whole school, not just for individual students. Working on blog posts with an administrator or fellow teacher not only helps us to get to know each other better, but allows us to develop positive relationships which can also have a positive impact on students.

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Your blog has a definitively global focus, with featured content entitled, “Celebrating School Counsellors from Across the World.” What are some innovative school counseling ideas or trends that you’ve come across from professionals outside North America?

[Susan Spellman Cann] There is so much to learn from others. I have connected with school counsellors and many amazing educators on Twitter from many regions of the world like @kadriblaster from Australia, who utilizes mindfulness to make a difference with students. The one trend I believe we all agree on and recognize is that using technology can help us all be better at what we do. We can reach and impact students in a new, useful way. I have learned so much from many counsellors across the world, but especially from my dear friend and colleague from the US, Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason who created SCOPE School Counsellor Online Professional Exchange: www.scope4scs.com. Erin continues to build resources that have a positive impact on our profession.

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] In the same post, you feature a quote you love by author George Couros: “When you are networked great ideas find you, not the other way around.” Do you have any examples of counseling projects, posts, or ideas you developed in a collaborative group setting that you couldn’t have developed on your own?

[Susan Spellman Cann] Absolutely, and you can find many of them in past blog posts. One I am especially proud of is the mental health document we put together with so many wonderful resources. You can find it in this Google doc: http://sspellmancann.com/2015/01/11/mental-health-symposium-with-dr-alec-couros-courosa/

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] One of your many roles is moderating the monthly school counseling chats, #SCCHAT and #SCCrowd. How did you first get involved in this role and how do you prepare for each session?

[Susan Spellman Cann] I first started co-moderating SCCrowd which was founded by @rawolfson in 2014. Ross and I collaborated to find the best ways to run the chat. He wanted to find a way for school counsellors to learn from and with each other. There were already several great chats on Twitter for school counsellors, but Ross wanted one that was just a little different. I felt it was important to make it an international school chat as I wanted to engage, learn and collaborate with others from across the world. Hence the idea for #SCCrowd.

I started co-moderating #scchat in September 2017 because @ecmmason was looking to get more people involved. SCCHAT was established in 2011 and introduced by Danielle Schultz and Erin Mason as a way to connect with others in the field.  Erin Luong @ehordyskiluong and I as well as Erin Mason and others collaborated to find ways to make one chat instead of two. We wanted all counsellors  from across the world to be able to go to one place to chat . We collaborate in Google hangouts, Google docs and FaceTime to make our chat work. That truly is a whole blog post for another time. We really do want to connect with counsellors from across the world so check out #scchat and #sccrowd on Twitter any time, any day and we will collaborate with you. You will meet some of our amazing co-collaborators there.

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Networking and professional development are very important, but of course they also be rather time-consuming. This can be especially challenging for school counselors who often have extremely hectic schedules. Among the many ways you’ve found to connect and collaborate with other school counselors, which would you say are the fastest and most impactful to meet other professionals and stay plugged in to the latest developments in the field?
[Susan Spellman Cann] For me personally Twitter has been the most transforming. It is a quick way to connect and learn about new trends and professional ideas that are useful and helpful. Twitter has access to outstanding PD accessible any time day or night. It is convenient and always worth my time. It has enriched my learning and made my job easier for sure!

[OnlineCounselingPrograms.com] Why did you choose “Hope” in multiple languages as the banner for your homepage?

[Susan Spellman Cann] Hope has always been extremely important to me even as a child myself. Without it we are lost, with it we thrive. I want to instill hope in every child or adult who crosses my path in life. This banner was so kindly made for me by a teacher Ray Mirshahi @rmirshahi whom I have never met in real life, but only on Twitter. Because of a conversation we had on Twitter he knew I loved the word “hope” and so he graciously offered to make this poster just for me. I loved a poster he had made on freedom in different languages, so that is where the idea came from. Hope is needed throughout the world and I hope to continue to connect with others who want to make this world a better place to live…one full of HOPE!


Thank you for your time Susan. Learn more about Counsellor Talk on our Top Counseling Blogs list.


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