Consult, consult, consult. I can’t say that enough. There will be many new experiences that you will encounter as a School Counsellor. You can’t be expected to know everything, so please take advantage of all the great mentors and knowledgeable people that are out there. It is more than ok to not know what to do next. Even after forty years in education , I still consult. I must say that it will be more crucial than ever in a pandemic as the unknown will occur for all.
Caplan said that “consultation has the twofold goal of enhancing services and improving functions, both for the consultee’s current challenge and future challenge”. Sometimes you will be the one that teachers want to consult with and at other times you will need to consult with district supervisors, community agencies, and others regarding the complex needs of students. Your students and you deserve the best services possible. Consulting and collaboration helps School Counselors take action, demonstrate leadership , connect with other professionals who are leaders in their field and ultimately make a difference in the lives of students. So when unsure reach out and consult.
This year more than any other year we will all need to take a mental vacation. Maybe you will need to take one hourly , daily or weekly whatever works for you.
Turn on a YouTube video with calming music. You can find one here in my virtual calm room. Then lay back in a comfortable space. If you are doing this from home make sure your space is a positive place for you to feel comfortable in. You may want to spice your working space up a bit . Add flowers and visuals that bring you joy.
Then close your eyes and breathe using the box breathing method. Think about a place you love and that feels safe for you. Personally , I always go to the beach in my mind. It might have something to do with all the summers I spent on beaches. I love the smells and the sounds of water. I picture being on the beach and waving my arms around in complete joy with a big smile on my face, but you do what works for you.
Take that mental vacation whenever you need it and ask anyone you want to join you in that space or just be by yourself and feel all the feels that make sense in the moment.
Spending time with friends is always my favourite thing to do. Tonight we got to spend time with our lifelong friends as they celebrated 35 years together. It was a beautiful evening walking along the Sydney waterfront. Anytime we get to see friends it’s almost as if Covid does not exist at least for a few moments in time.
We need to base what we do on theoretical perspectives that are useful and helpful. Humanists like Carl Rogers ,Viktor E Frankl have impacted me, but so to have others in the field of psychology like Albert Ellis, Irvin Yalom, Fritz Perls, Ed Jacobs, David Burns, Virginia Satir, Donald Meichenbaum, Claudia Black, and Mary Pipher to name a few. There is no one right approach. You need to discover what you believe and make sure it works for you and your students. Developing a sound relationship online and off is essential. Using all the skills you learned in grad school can make a difference. Demonstrate empathy, be genuine and respectful, but more importantly be yourself. Therapeutic alliance will always matter.
If you are going to read anything to start your career I would suggest the following:
One of my all time favourite people who has influenced me and the way I interact is Leo Buscagalia. His lessons on life have truly had a positive impact on my life and as a result I have passed this on to others.
“To live in love is to live in life, and to live in life is to live in love.” “It’s not enough to have lived. We should determine to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of person kind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” Only you will be able to discover, realize, develop and actualize your uniqueness. And when you do, it’s your duty to then to “give it away.” Leo Buscagalia
Each theorist, counsellor and counsellor educator has impacted the way I interact and help students. Along the way I have also worked with some amazing school counsellors , educators and supervisors who have also influenced me in a positive way. Thanks especially to Diane Williams, Deana Helton and Helen MacKinnon. Also to the many School Counsellors in CSSD and #scchat I have much gratitude . Two very special Counsellor Educators and friends Ed Jacobs and Erin Mason thanks for all you do and who you are.
Lesson 2 : Keep learning and base it on theory. Which ones have impacted you?
Sometimes life changes from one moment to the next,that’s why it is so important to capture the moments and seize the day. I like getting up early and going to bed fairly early. That way I can catch the sunrise and the beautiful sunsets. Last night I captured this photo out on a kayak ride on the river, but it was just a moment in time until the sun went down.
This morning I caught the sunrise and took time to just breathe in the calm. Life especially during the pandemic is precarious , so when the moments come pay attention and enjoy them. I know I will.
I feel compelled to help School Counsellors . It’s in the fibre of my being . Today I collated some resources that could be helpful for back to school. I’ve been thinking of you all lately as you enter a school year like no other. I want to help.
I am playing with how to embed this curation tool on to my WordPress site and am still learning, but I think so far this tool is a lovely tool that is quite visually appealing. Once I learn how to embed properly it will be fun to use. Check out my link here School Counsellor Resources on Elink.io
You have chosen one of the best professions in the world and have the ability and educational know how to help others. This is a time like no other in our profession and you will need to be ok with uncertainty. It is important that you model calm , optimism and psychological safety for students whether you are online or off. Be prepared, be calm, be present, be a good digital citizen and be hopeful. You will find ways to engage students. That’s who you are and what you do. Trust the process and focus on what you can do today given the circumstances that will be most helpful. One of the first things I would recommend you do is join twitter and engage with other School Counsellors from around the world who are willing to help you. It will be one of the best decisions you make in your first year of being a School Counsellor. Connect with School Counsellors from across the world in #scchat or find a way to connect with other School Counsellors from your district, whatever way works best for you. If you don’t have a mentor, set up a mentorship group. It’s a great way to start your career and will continue to be one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself. Filter in the good , let go of the negative on twitter and you will find some amazing people who will become your trusted Professional Learning Network.
It is my belief that we have an awesome opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students especially during this time. What we say and do matters now more than ever. Students will forever remember how their School Counsellor interacted with them. How you connect, build relationship and assist students in feeling like they belong in a time when so many are dealing with collective trauma, collective and sometimes complex grief matters. There will be many feeling similar feelings you are feeling as you enter the profession at this time. You have chosen an amazing profession. Reach out we are here to help and support you.
Communication , connection , consultation and collaboration will be vital at this time. Communicating and connecting with your staff, with students, parents, district personnel, outside community agencies, and especially with other School Counsellors is essential. Use email, ZOOM, Google Meet ( beware of Zoom and Google meet burnout) and other creative ways to stay connected. You have an awesome role to play during this time with so many things to consider. In a Comprehensive School Counselling Program it is the responsibility of all. You are not in this alone.
Surround yourself with positive people those that lift you up especially on twitter or any other social media you engage in. Let go of the negative, stay focused on the positive. Remember what you say and do matters , so take time to take care of yourself that includes taking a break from any social media that you feel you need to at anytime.
Playing is what we should all do more often. It gives me great pleasure to see my daughter play scrabble with her grandmother who is medically fragile in so many ways. This is a precious time as one never knows what is around the corner.
For today, I get to enjoy seeing them interact in such a positive way creating memories that we can all look back on with much pleasure. She is extremely good with both her grandmothers. Showing love and patience and helping them out as much as possible. It gives me great hope for how she will be with me one day .
So play away , play with friends, family and those that may need it most. Just take time out to play in whatever way works for you.