Keeping Our Students Safe

As School Counsellors and educators one of the biggest responsibilities we have is to keep our students safe .

How do we do that? Very carefully and with much thought and effort as well as an understanding of the research around what works best. Bruce Perry founder of child trauma academy states that active shooter training is not always done properly , the training that occurs in schools should focus on adults. He says, “if the educators and people who are responsible for children remain calm then the students will reflect that emotional state”. Read more about what he says here.

What can be done? The answers are complex and require teams of people to assist. That is where a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan comes in. School Counsellors are always looking at ways to make school better for students, putting the psychological health and safety of students as a priority. We need to get students the help they need long before a serious threat occurs. The answers are not easy , but those who have learned before us can teach us some things we may need to know. Take a look at these recommendations from the Sandy Hook advisory committee.

As stated in that report , “There is at least one place, other than a home, in which every person, whether a child or adult, should feel absolutely safe and secure from the threat
of physical harm: school. ” I could not agree more. School Counsellors can take the lead along with staffs to make schools a safe place to be. Mental health literacy is essential for all students and staff members. Building relationships is one small step towards creating a community that focuses on what is important.

Working to ensure that we have a safe and caring school community is always on the mind of a professional school counsellor. Best practices should be reviewed and reflected upon each year based on individual school needs. School Counsellors are in a unique position to assist in preventative measures helping students to deal with stressors and social isolation. We also know it takes a team and we don’t have all the answers, but there are many things we can do and are doing already. We are but one of a community of people that make a difference. We as School Counsellors can help make our schools a safe place to be.

You Are There For A Purpose

Each day as a School Counsellor you have an opportunity to impact a child’s life in a way unlike others are able to do. Never ever lose sight of that. It might be a small action that touches a child’s heart and makes a difference for a lifetime. You have the time to truly listen and understand what it is a child needs and how to help them in a way that can change their perceptions of themselves and the world around them. It is a gift you have been given to give away , so treasure the moments that are right there in front of you each day as you enter your school. You are there for a purpose.

I Want to Shout It From The Mountain Tops School Counsellors Make A Difference

As we come up to School Counselling Week I reflect on the difference that School Counsellors make and want to thank each and every one of you for what you do no matter where in the world you are.

All too often people do not truly know what School Counsellors do. I recognize you go about your days silently helping a child, so thank you. I think about the many colleagues I have know who worked tirelessly to promote the profession , but more importantly who did small things daily that may have gone unnoticed. They each found ways to do what was in the best interest of a child hoping that life could and would be more positive for them in the long run.

I have been fortunate to surround myself with professionals who notice and know that School Counsellors matter.

There are too many School Counsellors to thank, but know that I am truly grateful for all your support, resources and ongoing help whenever I need it. I know that you are just a click away thanks to #scchat. 

Below you can find some daily announcements that you may wish to use during School Counselling week or make up your own using these as a guide.

FOR YOUR DAILY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Monday: This is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge each student and staff member to express your gratitude to someone at school by telling them thank you for… You could even write a post card to them. The cards will be available all week in the Counselling area. Being grateful improves your overall happiness. Do it today! You make a difference.

Tuesday: It is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge students and staff to do one small good deed and when you do please post it to twitter, instagram or facebook using your school hashtag. Have a fabulous day. You make a difference.

Wednesday: This week is Canadian School Counselling Week / National School Counselling Week. We challenge you today to take 10 mins. out of your day to exercise or practice mindfulness. Have a great day! You can make a difference.

Thursday: It is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge students and staff to let one of your family members know how important they are. Pick up a card in Student Services and tell people what a difference they make in your life and give it to them. Remember you can make a difference today.

Friday: It is the last day of School Counselling Week / National School Counselling Week. Your School Counsellors want you to know we are here for you anytime. Come see us. Today we challenge you to show an act of kindness and try not to get caught (that’s the best kind of kind) . Recognize that you can make a difference.

This week is a time to be grateful and reflect. I am so grateful I have a principal who fully supports a Comprehensive School Counselling Program and if you do too , make sure you take time to thank them.

To you my dear School Counselling friends and colleagues without you I never would be able to do what I do. Together we are undoubtedly better. So join us whenever you can in #scchat . Post often to the hashtag and tell us what you are doing. Sharing , connecting and chatting with colleagues from across the world is the best PD ever.

I want to shout it from the mountain tops that School Counsellors are working everyday to help students in numerous ways in schools across the world even though you may not understand what it is that they truly do.

The Effect You Have As A School Counsellor Is Not Always Measurable

Cq4QzbFUkAEiZCS.jpg-largeYou have them , I have had them. You know that student that you had no idea you had such an impact on, but they let you know years later. Sometimes 36 years later as I did two years ago. A young man came into the office at the High School I was working in at the time. He wanted to see me to tell me how I had influenced his life. He had googled me and tracked me down because he wanted to tell me his story . I am grateful he did as I would have never known that I had affected his life in the way he let me know I had.

I have been blessed with letters and notes from students who have told me they believed I had saved their life. It is an honour and privilege that they believe something I said or did had impacted them in such a positive way. More often than not we don’t get these notes, calls or letters and we may not know the impact we have had on students. Not because we did not , but because the person may not have put their thoughts to words for whatever reason.

A couple of days ago one of my best friends who is also a retired School Counsellor , got one of those notes from a student whom she had known 18 years ago. The note was from a young woman reporting she was now happily married with two children , She told my friend that she was the reason she was alive, happy and successful today. She let her know it was World Suicide Prevention Day and that maybe my friend would like to know the impact she had on her life when she was in High School.

The woman had tracked my friend down on Facebook and felt compelled to write her the beautiful moving, heartfelt note (I’m purposefully leaving out the details, but trust me we both cried a lot reading it) . Of course she had no idea that particular student felt that way. So what a gift it was to receive a note like this. It is truly why we do what we do choosing to be in education.

If one young person is impacted in this way by what we have said or done, then our years of dedication to a career we have loved is all worth while. We both agreed that we were so fortunate to work in schools with amazing young people and feel truly blessed to have had a career we both were passionate about.

So many still do not fully understand what a School Counsellor does behind closed doors, but know and trust that you need to keep doing what you are doing as a School Counselor wherever you are in the world. You can never know the impact you can have. Small gestures and words can matter.

The effect you have as a School Counsellor is not always measurable , but that does not matter. What you say and do everyday does.

School Counselling Technology Collaboration and Making A Difference

I am grateful to work for a district that supports School Counsellors and School Counselling . Today I get the honour of presenting to my colleagues who make a difference every day. Thanks for all you do! You can find the link to my slide deck here.

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make

Canva is an amazing tool for School Counsellors. You are often the one to help organizes special events, make posters that are relevant to School Counselling , share ideas etc. Canva can help you create all the resources you need.

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (1)

Twitter is one of the best resources there is for School Counsellors . You can connect with and share resources with other School Counsellors worldwide. Access is immediate and you never know what great connections you can make that help you be better at what you do.  You can follow the ATA of School Counsellors and the president of the Council @ehordyskiluong. Check out #scchat here . 

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (2)

Teacher Pay Teachers is an inexpensive wonderful resource for School Counsellors. I did not always support this resource as I felt educators needed to share freely, but now I understand what hard work goes into making these resources and really they are very inexpensive for the work being done. School Counsellors why reinvent the wheel when it is already invented? Check it out on TPT .

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (3)

Haiku Deck : This is and always has been my favourite app to use for so many reasons. School Counsellors Put A Positive Spin On Your Day .School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (4)

APPS:  There are so many apps that can make a School Counsellors life easier. Here are just a few.

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (5)

 

RESOURCES: There are so many great resources and people are the best resource so get connected and share share share.  School Counsellor Online Professional Exchange is a resource that you won’t want to miss thanks @ecmmason for creating it! SCOPE 

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make

Check out :

Bridget Helms on pinterest .

Carol Miller on pinterest .

Susan Spellman Cann on pinterest.

Other School Counsellors on pinterest.

More resources on pinterest.

Blogging: There are so many fantastic School Counsellor Blogs. Each one is different ,but most have tips and resources you can use tomorrow. Creating your own blog can help other School Counsellors and students

School Counselling and Technology Collaboration the difference you can make (6)

 

 

 

Instilling an Insatiable Desire to Learn : How Do We Help Students Self- Regulate When It Comes To Their Cell Phone Use?

 

pexels-photo-994870.jpegHow do we instill an insatiable desire to learn and live life to the fullest while teaching students to self regulate when it comes to cell phone use?
Self – regulation is the process that the brain goes through that gives us the ability to control our behaviors and emotions in response to a particular situation. It’s having the skill to calm ourselves down when upset or in distress.

In this day and age all of us need to monitor how and why we use our cell phones. According to Dr. Stuart Shanker self -regulation is as much about regulating positive emotions as it is about down regulating negative emotions . Only when we are regulated can we self – regulate.

As adults we need to model self – regulation. There are several ways we attempt to soothe ourselves. some good , some not so good. The coping skills we use can help us or hurt us. If we want to help others then we need to model positive cell phone use and be able to share with others what we do and how we do it.

Self–evaluation is pivotal.  Evaluate your thoughts , feelings and actions when it comes to your cell phone use

• Be open … ask yourself is my cell phone use helping or hurting me or others?

Ask yourself …

  • Does my cell phone use lift me up or tear me down?
  • Is there ways to change my use of my cell phone so that I can feel better about myself?
  • Am I on my phone too much ? Do others notice and think I should change?
  •  Is using my cell phone too much stressing me out? If so how can I restore my energy? What do I need to do differently?
  • Am I getting enough sleep , exercise , and nutrition ? Acknowledge what you need to do to change.
  • Do I have a positive self –esteem? Am I using my phone because I know it will help me or hurt me?
  • Are my relationships in tact? Do I find many opportunities to connect F2F?
  • Am I more anxious , happy or sad because of my cell phone use?
  • Do I really need to use your phone right now or can it wait till later?
  • Am I on track with what I need to do or is my cell phone just a distraction for me right now?
  • Am I being mindful of what I really need to do ? Am I prioritizing what is truly important in my life or am I using my cell phone as an escape?

How to self – regulate when it comes to phone use:
• Try asking your friends and family for tips. What works for them?

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Try some of these tips.
• Keep phone on vibrate instead of listening to the constant ping of the phone. I have my phone on vibrate 99% of the time.
• Turn phone face down when not using it so you don’t look at it all the time.
• Put your phone somewhere not easily available when eating meals or at times that you know you need a break.
• Set times that you will use your phone and times you won’t ( I make it my rule that I never take my phone out while eating a meal or talking with someone) .
• Get involved … have a number of interests. It’s hard to use your cell phone while playing hockey or dancing or singing or a zillion of the other great things you can get involved in.
• Put your phone away at night and use an alarm clock instead so you can get a good nights sleep away from your phone.

Use Self- talk
• I do not need to be on my cell phone right now, it is not helpful.
• I can wait till later to use my cell phone because I need to be present to what is happening right now in this moment.
• I am proud of myself and the positive ways I use my cell phone

Journalling

pexels-photo-955452.jpeg • If cell phone use has become a concern  … journal what is happening for you.
• Journal all the positive ways you use your cell phone.

Meta moment
• Do you pause between being triggered and responding by being on your phone? Ask yourself is connecting leading to you feeling happy, sad, validated or invalidated, included or excluded?
• Ask yourself : How can I feel connected and close to others ? Is online the best way to do this at this time?

Positive Coping Strategies
• Make a list of yours and share it with your family and friends.

Stages of Change
• Ask yourself and be honest What stage of change am I in ? Ask yourself what is holding me back or moving me forward when it comes to my cell phone use ?
• Ask yourself … do I need help to get to where I want to go? If so your School Counsellor, Psychologist or a therapist can help you.

Reach Out
• To friends, teachers, your family, a School Counsellor . We all need a little support in order to self – regulate when it comes to our cell phone use. It is a strength to ask for help.

Maybe you need a little digital detox . It is more than ok to take a break from your phone. You decide what works best for you now that you have taken an honest look at yourself.

woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192.jpegOnce you have learned ways to help yourself , you maybe able to assist others with their technology use as well. Recognize that you are not perfect and will need to self evaluate often … I know I do.

So grow, learn and live the best possible life you can recognizing that technology has the power to help you or hurt you. What you do is up to you. I love my phone and I’m sure you do too. So let’s see if we can self-regulate to make ourselves and the world a better place. Maybe someday we’ll meet face to face and talk about how we did.

 

Emotional Intelligence : It Begins With Me.

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All emotions matter! What we do with those emotions matters as well. We need to help students understand that feelings are neither right nor wrong it is what we do with those feelings that truly matter.

If we want to teach students how to regulate their emotions then we too need to be able to regulate our own emotions. Modelling how we feel is important for students. If we are not afraid to admit when we are angry, frustrated or sad and we handle those emotions in an appropriate way , the students will learn how to do that as well. Being open and honest about how we feel in a respectful manner is great modelling for students and other educators.

Marc Brackett , director of Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and expert in social emotional learning  has developed an acronym RULER for emotional skills that is helpful for educators:

R recognizing emotions in yourself and others

U- understanding the causes of your emotions

L- labelling your emotions

E- expressing emotions

R- regulating emotions

Educators and School Counsellors can and do make a difference in promoting the wellbeing and emotional intelligence of students. When we put ourselves in a childs shoes we may be more compassionate to how they are feeling. What is it like to be them? Could they be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions and how does this impact them , their feelings and their learning?

Sesame Street has some great videos that explain feelings and teaches students about emotional regulation. Here is a good example:

Emotional Regulation Resources for educators  :

APPS

The Mood Meter App  cost of 1.39 cents

Calm free

Headspace free

Moodmeter overview:

Helping students with mixed emotions:

Casel educating the heart educating the mind  is an excellent website for educators.

Teaching students to have meta moments.

One of the best strategies we used when my daughter was a teenager was for her and I to agree that when we were angry with each other or when our emotions were running high we would agree to back off and give each other space and discuss things the next day. Each of us would signal the other that it was ok to discuss when we were both more level-headed. I would call these mega moments. This strategy  saved our relationship in those emotional years.

Yes , it does begin with me. Being a lifelong learner I hope to be able to fully understand emotional regulation by reading the newest research so that I can best help myself, my students and my family.

What are some of the best strategies  you use as educators, parents and School Counsellors?