What if ? … #immooc

What if

we lived in a world where there was PEACE?

we had schools filled with HOPE and LOVE?

there was no child abuse or sexual abuse ?

children did not have to live in homes affected by alcohol or drug abuse ?

we did not have children who came to school starving?

we lived in a world without violence?

there was no bullying ?

kindness was on the minds of all?

no child would die by suicide?

all students with mental health disorders recieved the supports and treatments necessary?

we had all the supports necessary to assist students with special needs?

every adult who worked in schools were passionate about what they do?

every teacher, counsellor and administrator had everything they felt they needed to meet the needs of students?

no child was left out or discriminated againgst?

all people were treated like a gift to the world?

schools had enough money to do all the innovative things they wanted to?

creativity , fun and joy abounded in our schools?

music and exercise were a part of every student and educators day?

schools were more like the most comfy inviting home you were ever in?

every student LOVED coming to school to learn?

we were all more grateful?

hugs were given freely and respectfully to those who wanted or needed them?

School Counsellors  were seen as essential in every school , at every level K-12 in our country?

schools could easily access any resources and supports they needed in an easy , timely and helpful manner?

What if some of these came to reality? What if we all educated from the heart? Innovative practices would be so much easier.

 

Reflections of a School Counsellor

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It’s summer time and I know I should be resting and believe me I do ! I have so much inside of me that I want to share that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin, but for today I’ll share what has been on my mind. I have been following ASCA’s twitter #ASCA16  feed over the past few days as I was unable to go this year. A couple of reflections come to mind.

  1. Gratitude … Collaborating with others has brought the passion of what I love to do to the forefront. I am so grateful that I connected to @ecmmmason and #scchat only a few short years ago . Yes, #scchat was the first School Counsellor hashtag I followed and it has changed everything . Thank you Danielle Schultz and Erin Mason.  I got and still get so much inspiration from seeing and getting help from all those who posted to the hashtag. I know that is why I am so passionate about others joining in with us as we collaborate this fall on a joint venture. See more here School Counsellors Collaborating as Leaders Worldwide. I care about the future of School Counsellors and School Counselling. I want to give back and so I continue to engage with others who are as passionate as I am.
  2. Refirement not retirement.Yes, I am retiring next year, but I want to go out making it my best year ever. I still really love what I do. I am retiring because it is time to. Time to refocus and engage my energies in other directions, but for now I will stay focused on the present and possibilities.   I am very excited about all the new ventures I will be taking on next school year.

September

  • George Couros MOOC . You may want to join us.

  • Supervise and mentor a new School Counsellor ( I have been doing this for years ). My way to give back while continuing to learn.

October

  • Start a Ted X Youth Club with my fabulous colleague Amy Webster @AmyNoraWebster . We look forward to the many wonderful things our students will create.
  • Working with Empowering Minds  EMLeadership and the most fabulous Cleopatra to create Leadership opportunities for students.
  • Continue to work and create ideas with Connex support.

Sept. to June

  • Continue to work with students to develop ideas around  anti. bullying #whosfrankyyc #carrollculture . Click here  for more information.
  • Continue to refine and work on our book Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind : High School Students Creating Change  Would love to find a publisher . Anyone interested? 

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  • Once a month do a therapeutic Art workshop . Themes to be decided.

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  • Have our second Grad Walk . It was so much fun!

 

Really there are so many possibilities. This is an amazing time in education and these are but a few things I plan on doing in my retirement 2016-2017 school year. Over the summer you may want to consider giving to the Mario Couros Bursary . It is because of the gratitude we in #etmooc feel and it will help a future educator!

To all of you who take the time to read my blog may your summer be filled with  gratitude, ideas and opportunities as well as time to enjoy your family and friends. Rest,relax and rejuvenate! I plan to . Hitting the beach very soon!

A School Counsellors Mindset

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We are School Counsellors

  1. We chose this profession. It is the best profession ever. All professions have struggles. Focus on the positive. Work towards making things better by being an advocate for other School Counsellors. Join your professional organization, have a voice on twitter and /or write a blog celebrating all the amazing things that happen in our profession.
  2. Self care is so important to what we do. We can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves.
  3. Embrace your professionalism. You were trained well. Be ethical. Consult, consult consult.
  4. Model a positive attitude towards work each and everyday.Your students will notice and feel it when you set the tone in your school and in your offices.
  5. Be a good digital citizen. Be authentic , but if you need to vent do so privately and  with colleagues in counselling who understand. Never vent online.
  6. Connecting and collaborating makes us better at what we do.  Collaboration has made me better at what I do. It actually makes the work I do easier. Share , connect and collaborate. It will make you a better professional.
  7. Passion and purpose help our students. If we wake up with the mindset that we have an awesome responsibility to help others today knowing that each and everyday we have an opportunity to make a difference. We don’t always see the fruits of our labour , but that’s ok because we know that the small things we do can have a huge impact.
  8. You are you. Be the best version of yourself. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to any other School Counsellor. Continually focus on professionally developing yourself so that you impact students in a positive way.
  9. Live every day One Day At a Time. Easy to say , not easy to do. Focus all of your energies on making this the best day ever. Just for today I will … laugh.
  10. Maintain gratitude for the work that we do. Being grateful for what we do rather than focusing on the things that we are not happy about is always a great state of mind. We chose this profession. I am grateful everyday that I did.

 

Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind High School Students Creating Change

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“Be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.” … “Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity.” – Parker Palmer

Our students are passionate when it comes to mental health and wellness. They continue to work diligently when it comes to mental health and anti.stigma spreading messages of hope. All year they have continuued to do things that make a difference. Finally due to the generosity of Gary Nissen and Empowering minds … Connex we were  able to produce this lovely colouring book for all to enjoy! Every year partial proceeds will go to a different chaity, but this year students chose the Children’s Hospital mental health unit.

Thanks so much to all those who collaborated with the wellness team to make this a very special project. Our photography , spectrum and who’s frank clubs. All know the importance of reducing stigma. raising awareness and improving overall wellness. We hope you have fun , relax and enjoy this students led project that is meant to touch your heart and make a difference. So let go, de-stress be as creative as you want . We hope you will be inspired to design your own colouring page while thinking about the messages that matter from our students.

A Year of Music

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Wow! Last night I not only got to watch amazing performances by young people, I got to be a part of the excitement. In September I jumped into another opportunity to grow, to learn and to have fun. I have had experiences that will remain with me forever thanks to Youth Singers Calgary. Never in my wildess imagination would I say I would be performing at the Jubilee in Calgary at my age. Of course i should know to never say never. One never knows the fabulous experiences you can have at any age #nevertooold . I really can say all of the new , jump out of my box experiences I have been having lead back to #ETMOOC  and all the supportive people who encouraged risk taking and that it is ok to to fail. Failure is seen as a way to learn, not like real failure to me which is giving up, never trying!

If you haven’t heard of #secondchants, now is the time. We get to work with outstanding musicians, choral directors, wardrobe  and choreorgraphers who are talented and funny.

I am so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful celebration of dedication and passion for music.

Thinking about Youth Singers great choice! If you are of a certain age like me join us on the 28th to see what it’s all about. I have always loved music , but this year of music has given me a chance to have experiences like never before.

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There Is An Artist In All Of Us

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Five years ago I did not paint and now thanks to great friends and my experiences in ETMOOC  , I have more confidence and find it one of the most rewarding , therapeutic experiences that I can imagine. I take mini courses and I watch lots of youtube videos to get tips. It is so much fun.

I have keratoconus a progressive eye disease, ( I was diagnosed later in life ) so I think partly that diagnosis has driven me to create visually in case my vision ever gets really poor. Painting is therapeutic and healing for me. I have played sports all my life and I absolutely love to read,  both which can bring me flow , but nothing brings me the kind of flow that painting does.

Painting brings me flow the kind of flow that was discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Fifteen hours can feel like five minutes for me. I love that it brings me joy and that I am completely absorbed in the process. It is fun and easy and yes I think anyone  can benefit from art and painting.  If I can you can too.

 

I plan on using the painting that I did above,  thanks to the online instructions from theArtSherpa ( see below) with our students. Art and Counselling definitely go together . Paintings tell stories often times with hidden messages.

Process for students:

Today we are going to embark on a journey of letting go of any negativity and go with the flow. For the next two hours you are not allowed to say to yourself I can’t . If you hear yourself speaking those words take your note pad and write I can … I will.

So let’s begin this process by being mindful and breathing. Lead students through a short mindfulness process to begin. Let them know that they are going to create a special painting today and that there are no mistakes. They can create their trees and painting anyway they like even if it is different from the paining they see. Like mine birch trees do not produce multi coloured leaves , but I did just because I wanted to visually and I  love the effect.  This seminar is about being yourself and letting go.

If they would like to follow the step by step instructions here they are:

  1. Write messages of hope and their dreams for their future in pencil on their canvas.
  2. Ask students if anyone would like to share their hopes and dreams with others.
  3. The size of canvas it up to the student. Have students bring the size of canvas they want to work on.
  4. Divide your canvas into six equal sections. They don’t have to be exact and you don’t have to measure them. Tell students they can estimate.  So begin by saying Today we are going to create . We are going to start by painting a rainbow with trees, you can use any method you like to paint your colors on your canvas. I used upwards stokes, but really any would work. Start with red, orange , yellow, greens,  blue and purple.
  5. Guide students through the process being as creative as you like in explaining what they can do next. Constantly remind them it is ok to make mistakes ( really there are no mistakes, but they may perceive them as such). Remind them that their perceived mistakes lead to more creativity and it is ok to be as creative as they wish going with the flow and what their heart wants to paint.
  6. Trees can be very symbolic and you can discuss this with students.Trees are strong and unique just like each of them. Birch trees can mean new beginnings. You can discuss with students what they believe their trees mean for them. I chose nine trees, but they can choose any number that means something to them. I also chose to add flowers and really birch trees have no colorful flowers, but I like the effect. The lovely thing when you create art just for the sake of it is that there is no right or wrong . There are no mistakes. It just is … creative , how wonderful and freeing.
  7. The rest of the directions are below in the video. You can watch and create your own instructions.
  8. Most importantly have fun and trust the process.

Check out the video below for detailed instructions:

If you decide to do this process with your students , please share your creative ideas with me @sspellmancann.

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life

Pablo Paccasso

Celebrating What We Do

As School Counsellors we need to be leaders in celebrating what students do as well as what we do for students.

The past month has been a wonderfully busy month for us at school. It started off with our Who’s Frank #whosfrankyyc bake sale and the elephant in the room.

A big thanks to our Principal and fabulous leader @neilof12 who truly helped spread the anti. bullying message by being Frank.

Then came our Mental Health symposium again run by student leaders who I am always in awe of and so proud of the work they do.

A special thanks to @courosa for joining us virtually and to @brettrothery for sharing his courageous story.

We are also partners with Mount Royal University so I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on sexual violence. Such an important topic !

Next it was Career Speed dating where we had 37 guests share what they were passionate about and the process it took them to get there.

Thanks for coming Verena and bringing your husband. Community members who care!

So School Counsellors celebrate. Share what it is you do because together we are better and can make a difference.

I look forward to you seeing the book we have collaborated in creating Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind High School Students Creating Change.  Coming soon to BCHS as well as our book made with grade 3’s Adventures of Frank at St. James. We can’t wait to share them with you.

 

TED Talks and videos for School Counsellors

The following TED Talks and videos are excellent for School Counsellors:

  1. Martin Seligman The New Era of Positive Psychology

Some highlights from Seligman. Psychology should be as concerned with strength as it is with weakness and in building the best things in life as it is in repairing the worst. It should also be as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as healing pathology .

2. Shawn Anchor: The Secret To Better Work

Some highlights from Anchor. It takes 21 days 3 minutes every day to train your brain to be more positive. What are 3 things you are grateful for ? Write them down everyday. Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. Random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness

3. The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude

Some highlights.  Take time to tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. Do it today!

4. My Philosophy for A Happy Life Sam Berns

Some highlights from Sam. Sam had progeria. Sam lived life fully while he was living. Always have something to look forward to. Accept life when you are feeling badly. You can change the world and he did. Never miss a party.

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.

– Leo Tolstoy

5. My Last Days Meet Zach Sobiech

 

 

You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living. Most people live in the middle , but you don’t have to. What’s awesome about living in this world is that you can help . People we don’t really know can change our lives. Love makes life better.

6.  Educate The Heart 

Highlights : A child’s heart and mind are fragile. We have an enormous responsibility … we need to educate students from the heart. It can start today in our schools.

7. I renamed this to From the heart : What Real Winners Look Like.

 

Highlights: Watch and you’ll see.

If you have any great video’s you know School Counsellors should see please send them my way @sspellmancann.

 

 

Endless Possibilities

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Today is full of endless possibilities.  Never give up. Never give in. The world is full of opportunities. Live in the possible TODAY. BE YOURSELF Be the possible. Love every minute of life and the possibilities within the moments.

Live with NO regrets only of what is possible.

Make things happen.

If life knocks YOU down, pick yourself UP. Look for the possibilities.

Live really live. Breathe.

Live your LIFE the way YOU want to as if everything is possible.

You are in control of your own life. You choose which path you will take and the possibilities are the ones you choose for yourself. Live LOVE Laugh. Always have HOPE and believe in the possible.

Hope is essential.

Smiling is always more attractive than frowning when you think of all that is possible.

The smallest good deed is always better than the grandest good intention.

Do what you LOVE and be with the ones you love

YOU MATTER ALWAYS.

Life is full of endless possibilities.

A Graduation Message From A BCHS Alumni

It's better to fail at what you love than to fail at what you don't . Jim Carrey
It’s better to fail at what you love than to fail at what you don’t . Jim Carrey

This is an email I recieved this week from a student who wishes to remain anonymous. The message is great so I share it with you. I am grateful that BCHS is such a great place to work. Graduates … you amaze me! I am in awe of you.

Hello graduate:
This is a message from a former Bishop Carroll High School student and it is addressed to each graduate in the class of 2015. Before anything else, congratulations! You have endured, grown, been challenged by, and are forever changed by your BCHS journey. You have earned the green slips, made the cutoffs, and can now call yourself a graduate of Bishop Carroll High School; a great Calgary institution that has developed a legacy for turning out exceptional people – people who forge incredible impacts in the world and help make it a better place.

My purpose for writing this is to imbue you with a few friendly words of wisdom, some advice, and to call you to service in your community. What is said in this message is opinion not doctrine and it is meant simply to convey some words of encouragement as you close a proverbial chapter in your life and turn to the next.

Bishop Carroll High School is not a school for a neighborhood or a quadrant – it is a school for the community of Calgary. As a result, it is a place of great diversity and great opportunity. The experiences you have had and the environment you have been in is something that is unique and one that has set you up differently than other people your age. You have been given the Carroll Advantage – the opportunity to learn in a system that hones your strengths, remedies weaknesses, and lets you discover who you are. The result: an ability to think critically, to manage yourself, to take ownership of your destiny, and the ability to make a profound impact on those around you. Self directed learning is a fantastic way to learn and appreciate personal responsibility, develop self management skills, and ultimately learn who you are and grow as a human being. The opportunities, skills, and experiences found in and taken from Bishop Carroll High School create potential for great things in every graduate. All of you have potential that knows only the boundaries you set for yourselves. There is no limit to what you can do; so believe in yourself, set your standards high, dream as big as you can, and never ever quit on something worthwhile.

My time since graduating has afforded me the ability to experience many great things and meet many great people, but every time I encounter something new – a challenge or an opportunity, I often find myself reflecting back on the experiences I had as a student at Carroll. Truthfully, everything I do now is somehow connected back to my time at Carroll. No matter what I face I always tell myself I am a Carroll grad and that gives me the confidence to do just about anything because who I have become was largely started in my three years at Carroll. If nothing else, please take some time to reflect on your BCHS journey: the highs the lows and understand how those experiences will always stick with you. In the bright times use those memories to reflect fondly and appreciate yourself, who you have become, and who you will grow into. In the challenging times use those memories to remind yourself of all you have accomplished and tell yourself you can do anything you set my mind to – you will be better for it. No matter what you face, who you face it with, or what you end up doing know this – if you understand and appreciate what your time at Carroll did for you and that it has helped make you then you really will be able to do anything. There is nothing quite like the confidence or the last minute quick thinking of a BCHS graduate.

Bishop Carroll High School is different than anywhere else, from what I have seen and experienced since graduation it truly does prepare you better and make you more ready for the world. The world you graduate into is one that seems to change exponentially each year. New challenges and new opportunities will demand more of everyone and will likely challenge us as a global community in a way we have not been challenged before. It will take people from diverse backgrounds and skill sets to confront them. Regardless of your path after high school YOU have the power to help change the world. Change does not have to come from grand actions or mega projects – the world can be changed at the grassroots level by the sum of individual actions. So find something you are passionate about – something you love, do it, do it well, and use it to help make the world around you better. Although not everything will be recognized no good action is too small. The opportunities and skills you have now give you the BCHS grad a responsibility to help make a positive impact on the world around you and doing what you love is a great way to make the world better. .

Enjoy each moment, learn from your successes and your failures, never ever give up, appreciate those around you, and live your life to the fullest. Congratulations on your achievement and welcome to the BCHS alumni community. Mane Nobisum Domaine