Sometimes you see something and you just know you cannot pass this opportunity by. That’s what happened to me as I read a post by my friend Marian on Facebook on Alberta Teachers volunteering with students in Ukraine. I then contacted David who coordinates volunteers for Smart Osvita and have never looked back.Your legacy in life is created by each life you touch. This is one way to connect with youth who are presently living in Ukraine that is meaningful. I could not pass this opportunity by.I hope you too chose to volunteer.
“This opportunity is going to be life changing for those kids, but it will also be life changing for Teachers, and School Counsellors and others who deeply care about youth”
David signed on to a program that gives children who are presently living in Ukraine hour-long virtual lessons where they get to learn about a place in the world, or a topic of interest. The goal is to provide the youth with an hour that they can escape from their worries and focus on their well-being. So fortunately for me I got to present with my co-workers and wellness team Sheila Stacey and Deanne Arada two amazing counsellors who are passionate about making a difference for young people.
Ukrainian children log in to Zoom sessions at whatever location they can, then Falconer , teachers, School Counsellors and others tell them about life where they are and / or present a lesson. Our goal is to make it interactive , provide as much Canadian content as possible while being fun and letting youth escape the worries of the world.
Falconer has had up to 250 people taking part,in his sessions providing Ukrainian children “an hour where they can dream and be totally separated from their current reality.” There are thousands of displaced students needing this support.
Falconer said the lessons being organized are supposed to be educational, but “ultimately, the goal is to have these kids know that people care and indeed that is what we hoped as well. We have completed three sessions and plan on many more and we sincerely hope you do too. Our ultimate goal is to leave them feeling uplifted and hope filled and from their feedback we believe we accomplished this so far.
It is so important to not retraumatize youth providing them with a sense of safety allowing for activities that help them feel truly connected . When planning sessions presenters need to be mindful of this.
For youth who are affected by trauma, the teacher / school counsellor play an even more vital role. Volunteering in this capacity does makes a difference.
What You May Want to Know:
You can do this!!!! It’s fun and a great way to make a meaningful contribution. Feeling powerless like you can’t do anything …well yes YOU CAN, The students so appreciate what you do. They are absolutely amazing. The interpreter is so helpful and positive.You don’t have to do this alone. Find a co-fascilitator. We planned our sessions together and did a run through before each session which was so, so beneficial. We know you will love this experience too. So jump in and do it, you will be so glad you did!
These are some potential resources for you, some may be applicable , so please use what works for you. Just be yourself, share some of your life and most importantly pass on a little hope.
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.
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.
What are some basics that could be helpful to you as a new school counsellor?
Write an introduction letter to parents letting them know who you are and what you do and post it on the school counselling and school website. (If by chance your school does not have a website design a letter introducing yourself and put it in the school newsletter ( put it in the newsletter anyway.) If you wish to do a digital introduction or video introduction you can do that too.
Send this out to students on the school instagram, twitter or other account.
Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time. Virtually you can introduce yourself and let teachers know what services you can provide.
Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. You can do this virtually through google meet or zoom, but put it in your calendar. Celebrate what you do and how you are doing. Discuss what the expectations are of a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan and how you can work together to accomplish this.
Implement a joint admin. counseling blog post at least four times throughout the school year. Counsellors and admin should be joint leaders in any school.
Show initiative. Everyone in a school will benefit. If you have some great ideas, don’t be afraid to share or try out your ideas.
Discuss limits of confidentiality with every student. You might want to put a poster of the limits on your office wall or in your intro to students.
Visually make your office a space students want to be in as best as possible during this time. Make your space at home a comfortable place to connect with students.
Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
Have a plan when meeting new students. Virtually you will need to connect with their homeroom teacher and then have them connect with you by email. When phoning student find ways to connect that hide your cell number.
It might be helpful to keep a notebook of all the things you need to know especially if you are in a new school or counselling a new age group.
You will want to find a simple and easy way to curate information. I use livebinders wakelet and pinterest. They can be extremely helpful tools for new counsellors as well as those that have been around for awhile.
You need to be a positive PR person for the school counseling program , so find many ways to connect with students. Brainstorm with your colleagues ways to make connections with students so that they know who you are and what you do.
Connect with parents. Let them know through parent council or other means what you do.
Ask for help. You are not expected to know everything. Utilize the professionals inside and outside of your building for support. If you are an Alberta School Counsellor . Join your specialist council. Join your specialist council in your area wherever you are in the world. ASCA has many supports whether you are American or not, I would recommend joining the American School Counsellor Association.
Learn as you go about the many community resources that are available and put them in a binder or livebinder.
Don’t be afraid to share your innovative or creative ideas with your counselling team ( if you have one). They and you will benefit!
BALANCE we all benefit from taking care of ourselves. Don’t burn yourself out in the first year. Practice self-care.
You have a big learning curve. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.
Check out this amazing well organized livebinder by one of my past colleagues.
You can also check out some of my past resources here.
For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.
Welcome to one of the best professions in the world,
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.
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.
When I first joined twitter , it was such a lovely space. At least that’s the way I viewed it. People in my PLN were always willing to jump in and help. Connections were amazing. I felt I was able to reach out and my questions were answered. Twitter doesn’t always feel that way today. I still love the connections I have made and for the most part when I reach out eventually someone helps.
I do like is when someone reaches out to help like @oercommons did today when I asked a question of my PLN and they so readily jumped in to assist.
I love that you can connect with people from all over the world and people will collaborate on projects even when there is no money involved. They do it just to help.
Twitter is still my go to place especially for everything educational. My PLN is amazing and Twitter offers the best professional development ever. The resources I find on twitter are exceptional. I just wish we had a little of old twitter back when it seemed as if the world was just a bit closer and kinder.
There are so many things that bring me awe. I am in awe of what some people are able to do. I am in awe of how people take life and live it so extraordinarily. I am in awe of people who have challenges that they overcome daily. I am in awe of parents who had to sacrifice much during this time. I am in awe of people who because of the colour of their skin have had to live life differently than those of us who live a privileged life. I am in awe of educators who have had to challenge themselves in ways they did not think possible. I am in awe of all the healthcare workers who are still forging forward to assist others especially during this challenging time. I am in awe of my friends and the people they are.
Each day I am in awe of the magnificent world in which we live even if right now things are not the way I wish they would be. I am grateful for each day that I get to discover or learn something new. I am in awe of you today Paul Signoreli and the way you use words beautifully to express yourself. Thanks for the inspiration for todays post. Awe.