Lesson 2 for a New School Counsellor : Keep Learning and Base it on Theory.

pic from Nicole Lisafeld

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 JacobsDavid 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:

If you haven’t already read it , I highly recommend Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Ed Jacobs Impact Therapy Actually anything by Ed and Christine Schimmel Counseling Children and Adolescents is also fantastic.

Dr. Allen Francis Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life is a must for your bookshelf.

Dr. Bruce Perry The Boy Who Was Raised by A Dog. A must read to understand the impact of trauma.

Dr. Erin Mason 101 Solutions for School Counsellors and Leaders in Challenging Times. So many great tips, resources and helpful strategies.

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?

Lessons for a New School Counsellor: Lesson 1

Lesson #1 What You Say and Do Matters

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.

Stay tuned for lessons 2-? …

Learn Something New Every Day You Can

The things you learn on twitter are unending and so helpful if you want to make things a little better for your website ,twitter feed or useful for what you want to create for your use in schools.

Today I learned how to make an animated gif in google slides. I learned how to do this from @nadinegilkison on twitter. She is amazing and oh so helpful in learning to create. If you don’t follow her you should.

Step 1 Make an emoji with the app emoji me. Save to your desktop by emailing to yourself.

Step 2: Make a copy of this banner using google slides

Step 3: Add your emoji in by right clicking and replace pic.

Step 3 Change your background to whatever you like

Step 4: Copy and paste your first slide and add a letter each time typing what you’d like to say

Step 5 : Once completed go to talltweets.com and sign in with google

Step 6: Watch the tutorial and then make an animated gif

Step 7: Post gif to twitter and save to your desktop.

Hope this mini tutorial helps you to create something fun and if you learn something new please share with me.

Life … Look For The Small Things

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention

J Burroughs

As each day passes I continue to look for the little things in life because really the little things are the big things.

The way you treat a friend.

The smile that you give someone.

The kindness that you show.

How you interact in the world.

The moments you make matter.

The way you listen.

The time you take.

The way you count your blessings.

The ways you find to live, love and laugh.

25 Ways Of Making The Best Of Each Day : Just For Today For Educators During Covid19

Choose ONE of the following tips. You may want to post it on your mirror at home or pin it to your desktop and remind yourself of what you need during this time.

  1. Just for Today I will acknowledge that we are all grieving the world as we once knew it. I will be compassionate with myself and my students.
  1. 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.
  1. Just for Today I will be grateful I am an educator who loves and cares for youth.
  1. Just for Today I will remember that relationships are a key factor for academics to occur especially as I move online. 
  1. Just for Today I will trust the process . If I don’t get exactly how to use the tech at this time that is more than OK.
  1. Just for Today I will acknowledge that I need time and space for myself and my family,  I will take time to care for my own well being and theirs.
  1. Just for Today I will share a just for today , a positive quote or thought with my students.
  1. Just for Today I will not speak negatively about myself, treating myself empathically focusing on what I do know, not on what I don’t. 
  1. Just for Today I will focus on doing my best and let go of the rest, acknowledging that I care about all of my students.
  1. Just for Today I will make sure that I take time to have a proper lunch and take breaks.
  1. Just for Today I will find ways to decrease my workload.
  1. Just for Today I will connect with a colleague and  collaborate knowing this will lighten some of my load. 
  1. Just for Today I will focus on my strengths and not fall into the trap of comparing myself to others .

14. Just for Today I will not put 20 things on my to do list. I will tackle one concern at a time.

  1. Just for Today I will centre myself while helping students find ways to centre themselves.
  1. Just for Today I choose the path of being there for a child.
  1. Just for Today I will acknowledge that I cannot be everything to everyone.
  1. Just for Today I will accept support from others.
  1. Just for Today I will find a way to celebrate student success.
  1. Just for Today I will film a short message to check in with my students.
  1. Just for today I will avoid overthinking by attempting to stay in the moment.
  1. Just for Today I will remember that it’s okay not to feel okay.
  1. Just for Today I will collaborate with my team to share resources.
  1. Just for Today I will send a message of thanks to a member of my school community.
  1. Just for Today I will turn my computer off at the end of office hours. 

Want to check out previous posts for students. You can find them here.

What is your Just for Today Tip? Please share in the comments. Erin and I would love to hear your ideas.

10 Ways To Kick Start Your Day Just for Today #2

  1. Just for Today I will make my moments marvellous.
  2. Just for Today I will write messages and jokes in chalk. Carol Stevenson
  3. Just for Today when I take a shower , I will sing my favourite song at the top of my lungs. Neil O’Flaherty
  4. Just for Today I will share my favorite song that reminds me of them with someone I care about. 
  5. Just for Today I will sit quietly and listen to the world around me. Susan Viveiros
  6.  Just for Today I will think before I act. 
  7.  Just for Today I will give up complaining .
  8.  Just for Today I will stop overthinking.
  9.  Just for Today I will enjoy the little things in my day.
  10.   Just for Today I will share my favorite memory of someone with them. Andrea Hecker Cumatz

If you’d like to check out our old posts here they are: 101 Ways To Kickstart Your Day In A Positive Way and 10 Ways to Kickstart Your Day Just for Today .

I shared my music that reminds me of my friend and she shared hers today you can check them out on Twitter @sspellmancann

Erin Luong and I would love to hear how you are using these or please add your Just For Today in the comments …

10 Ways To Kick Start Your Day Just for Today

  1. Just for Today I will think about what makes me happy and snowball ( use paper snowball or a real one if there is any snow) any negative thoughts away.  Barb Brown
  2. Just for Today I will visit my old neighbourhood and call an old friend. Graham Kennedy
  3. Just for Today I will acknowledge that I am worthy and loved . Louise Hamilton
  4. Just for Today I will  learn a new skill and tomorrow a new life skill.  Kim Souillet
  5. Just for Today when I brush my  teeth I will pretend that I am a zookeeper brushing a hippos teeth.  Carol Stevenson
  6. Just for Today I will read my favourite book.  Kate Kucharski
  7. Just for Today I will smile and wave at every person who passes by my house.  Susan Viveiros
  8. Just for Today I will tell my teacher about the things I do well and help them understand what makes me feel happy and safe. Verena Roberts
  9. Just for Today I will reflect on where I  have been, where I have gone, and the road I have built upon, I will take a step forward into the unknown world with familiar faces … holding hands would be nice too Kristen Copes
  10. Just for Today I will call, text or video chat a peer who needs encouragement.  Cynthia Nunnally Morton

Yesterday we published 101 Ways to Kickstart Your Day In A Positive Way : A Guide for Educators Parents and Students. Erin and I love the response we are getting. Thanks George Couros for inspiring the post and for sharing our thoughts. We were hoping that educators would use them and they are already doing just that. Here is one from a school in Missouri …

We would love it if you would continue sharing and using. If you have a Just for Today thought please share it with us.

Just for Today we hope your day is filled with wonderful people who bring you love and joy.

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.