Lesson 6 for A New School Counsellor

Engaging Students

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There are many ways to engage students whether it is one to one or in groups. It is one of the best way to form a therapeutic alliance. At the beginning of every session I often ask students the following question. How can I be most helpful to you today? At the end of every session I check in with the student to see how the session went. I will often ask something like how are you feeling about what we talked about and did in session today? What is the one thing you will use as a result of our time together? This allows me to gage if I have been helpful and if there is something I said that the student connected with.

Utilize humour, creativity and whatever tools you have in your toolbox Technology can be an asset , so use what works for you. I often have students paint while we chat especially the younger students (I always ask first if they’d like to and many do). Koi paint sets are easy to use and don’t take up too much space.

Make sure your space is inviting and warm. Students enjoy coming to a space that is comforting. Ask them for ideas that will make your space a place where they will love to come to.

Get to know the student. Find their strengths and focus on what will work for them.

Finding ways to engage students is a process and throughout your years as a School Counsellor you will find many more ways to engage them. Ask more experienced counsellors what they do engage the most difficult to engage students.

It’s often more about how the student feels when they are with you. Make them feel valued and important like everything they say matters , which it does. Let them know how amazing they are.

Be present. Don’t answer your phone if it rings unless it is an emergency. There are so many ways to engage students, but most importantly be you . You entered this profession for many reasons and one of the biggest will be because you wanted to help. Be engaging and the helping will happen.

People Not Programs Change Children

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We all know that relationships matter, but sometimes we still need reminders. We keep searching for the perfect programs to help kids. In my opinion , time would be better spent being the person who makes a difference in a child’s life and helping increase the quality and number of people who can make a positive impact.

There are so many children who need our help for a multitude of reasons. Find ways to support, nurture, interact, listen to, respect, give hope to, and connect kids with people and resources that can help them.

Be that adult who attends to the emotional health of the children as well as your own. Model your humanity and compassion daily. Provide a safe haven where you and those you work with enjoy going to school each day, no matter the stresses of the world. Be present each day to the best of your ability and forgive yourself and others if things don’t go as planned. It’s more than OK to not feel at your best each day considering the circumstances, just do the best you can for the kids and reach out for support if and when you need it.

It is especially challenging being an educator right now like no other time I have experienced in my past forty years in education. I know what you do matters and I want to thank you for all that you do. Click here for a little gift. I hope in some small way this brightens your day.

People not programs change children. You have an abnormally large heart , I am sure that’s why you became an educator in the first place, so continue to be one of those people who makes a difference in the life of a child while taking good care of yourself.

A Gift For Teachers

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Teachers deserve so much more than this for all they do day in and day out. This is my little treat for them as we enter World Teachers’ Day on Monday. It’s my small way to say thanks for who you are and what you do. Click here for a little gift.

Shedding A Little Tear As I Say Farewell

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This year I feel very sad to leave this safe haven and return to the big city , but I’m also excited to see my children and friends. Farewell Nova Scotia I look forward to my return next year hoping life looks a little brighter for all of us at that time.

Burn Out … Educators Take Care of Yourself

Just for Today I will take the necessary actions so that I don’t burn out during Covid 19. I will take breaks and put things on pause when I need to.

I think we all need this reminder today, but especially educators and all who work in schools. This is a very draining time for many. It will mean making a conscious effort to not overdo things. I know easier said than done.

Prioritizing your well being is essential. I know too many don’t really understand the work educators do, or how hard you are working to make this all work right now, but you do. There has never been a more important time where you need to prioritize your well being .These ten ideas are a few things you can do to take care of yourself during this time.

  1. Show yourself a little love. Get up a little earlier than the rest of your family and take 15 minutes just for you. A half hour even better. Make yourself a cup of tea and do nothing , just be by yourself and enjoy the quiet time.
  2. Get to work a little earlier, buy yourself some flowers to put on your desk even if working virtually, and take time to smell the flowers throughout the day.
  3. Take a lunch break , unless you are dealing with an emergency. Get outside, take a short walk and recharge. Exercise as much as possible each day at a time that works for you.
  4. Take a break from social media and the news. I avoid the news as much as possible these days. Get someone to tell you the highlights if you really need the news.
  5. Collaborate as much as possible with a colleague to lighten your load.
  6. Ask yourself what you can take off your plate.
  7. Recognize you are still coping with the effects of Covid 19 yourself and YOU do not have to do everything. Use positive self talk throughout the day. Say, I can get through today only and make it the best day possible.
  8. Let go of the need to be all , do all.
  9. Celebrate the things you are doing to make this world a better place. You show up for kids daily so that their lives can be better, acknowledge that.
  10. Go home early. You don’t need to live at school. You have a life , live it . Spend time with those you love and focus on how you can have a great life during this pandemic without burning out.

Don’t burn yourself out, take care of yourself today and every day. It’s the best gift that you can give yourself and your students.

If you have a tip for educators to help during this time please share in the comments.

Taking Time

All photos by @sspellmancann

How often do we take time to notice all the beauty that surrounds us? I take the same walk many times throughout my week, but each day I see something new. Change isn’t always easy, but if we look at change as seeing things from a different perspective, then maybe we will embrace it even more. Although the thought of change can be scary, it can also be exhilarating. So just for today I will take time to embrace change.

Focus On The Good

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It’s so easy during this time to focus on all the bad, however I choose not to. I skip by all the negative news. Oh yes, I do peek at it every now and then, but I don’t stay focussed on it.

If we look for the good we are bound to find it. I love when I hear good news of a wedding or a new baby or that someone’s operation turned out better than they thought. Often times I focus on the small things that I am grateful for. I can walk, see, hear, love, develop friendships, read, dance, sing, and breathe without much effort. There are so many things I can do that others are not able to and I do not take that for granted.

I can focus on the good in every young person I encounter. They have so much potential so much good left to be discovered.

Don’t get me wrong I am no pollyanna, I do sometimes get stuck on the negative, but I never live there long as I know how unhelpful it is. So just for today I chose to focus on the good.

Growing Up By The Sea

It gets harder and harder to leave a place I love, leaving behind so many friends and family for yet another year. Being near the water brings me such a sense of peace, except when there is an expected hurricane of course, but that doesn’t happen very often.

I loved growing up near the sea. I love being near, listening to the sounds of the water and just looking out and observing the ever changing Mira River. I am connected to the beauty and the people here and each year I need to let go and go west. The coming and the going like the flow of the ocean, is what I am meant to do.

As I head back west I look forward to that chapter as my family and friends there too. I am connected deeply to both places. Fortunately for me I had the joy of growing up near the sea and can keep coming back.

Maintaining connections with great friends although I moved so far away so long ago, has allowed me to feel like I belong.

Growing up near the sea will always be a part of me.

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