For Desmond Tutu meeting Trevor Huddleston determined the path of his life. In my own life there are many defining moments that led me to who I am today. Teachers, coaches , community members and a School Counsellor had an impact.
In grade 12 (1976) my School Counsellor Mrs. Brown gave me $100.00 towards my post secondary education. My family could not afford to pay my way. I was the first in my family to go to University so it was certainly a big deal. I did not realize at the time just how much money that was or even how incredible it was that she did that. What a gift and an impact she had on the trajectory of my life. A lacrosse scholarship and a bursary ( both recommended by community members) paid for all four years of my Bachelor of Child Study degree. How fortunate was I ?
I never underestimate the power of a small (albeit grand) gesture in forming who we are and what we choose to do in our lives. I intentionally make sure each day I work with students I keep that in mind. I intentionally pay it forward on as many occasions as I can.
All it takes is a defining moment and you might be the one that makes that happen and if someone makes that happen for you tell them.
Handling a crisis can impact the school and the School Counsellor in ways that are unforseen. The School Counsellor often takes the lead along with administration in our schools, but may be missed in recognizing the support they need because of their uniques role in offering social emotional supports to so many.
This podcast below will help all School Counsellors in a preventative way . Thanks to Trish Hatch @hatchingresults for the excellent podcast on Putting Out The Fire: A School Counsellors Role in Times of Crisis.
Your comment, “what’s unique about the School Counsellor is that they are involved in the crisis as well, what often happens is the School Counsellor puts their own needs aside as they take care of others.” This concept is so important for all to recognize. We are helpers and how we model handling a crisis is vital. If we remain calm, then students and staff will see that . As a School Counsellor I know I often handled crisis with calm , but on the inside I knew I would need support after the crisis was over. That’s why debriefing and supports are essential.
If we are the leaders in our Student Services teams, we need to monitor how our team is doing and if they have been triggered by the crisis for whatever reason. We need to step in and step up to support them. Even if that means letting them know it is ok to step back and let others handle the crisis. The School Counsellor may have worked with the student or students related to the crisis , so they may need time for themselves to process and take care of their own needs. We too as the leader may be impacted so we need to be self-aware and know when we ourselves need to step back. This is one of the many great reasons to have districts who have a district crisis team that can come into the school and assist.
We are most certainly in the uniques role of helping others , so having a supportive admin. team is essential. Fortunately for me I have had wonderful leaders who know, support and understand the role of School Counsellors.
Unique role of helping others … although it’s happening to us too #scchat It’s why my principal used to say, “your job is to take care of the kids . My job is to take care of you.” We all need support ! https://t.co/A0KQqEHEUu
I hope you will use this podcast as a reflective tool and a great segue to important discussions with your counselling teams.
For easy access to this podcast, click here and listen to the end. It is perfect PD all online for School Counsellors.
At 20:00 check out Vanessa Gomez Lee where she discusses ( a crate, a file box) I’ll call it a CR Kit for SC that every School Counsellor should have .
All districts have an emergency response plan and lock down kits each unique to their district. The CR School Counsellor Kit will be different . What should be in the kit that is different from your lock down kits?
“Nothing leaves a deeper impact on students than actually allowing students to see proper social media usage modeled daily by respected adults (parents, teachers, administrators) and by allowing students to use social media properly in the actual space” says Nikki D Robertson in her article Don’t Ban Social Media.
Digital Citizenship becomes even more important daily as students and adults figure out what matters online. As School Counsellors you can take the lead in this area. If you know how to navigate and model proper social media usage , then you will be able to assist the students you serve to do so too.
I know for me learning all the ins and outs was not easy ( and still isn’t ) , but the lessons were so important for me to learn as a seasoned School Counsellor. I am here to say we are never too old to learn and we should indeed continue to discover and educate ourselves. Every day I continue to master new ideas and believe we must start early to teach all students and all staff about digital citizenship.
Daily online, I see school administrators, counsellors , teachers and students who do not understand the basic concept of EVERYTHING ONLINE IS PUBLIC. Even if you believe it is private … it is not. Many fall into the trap of the Illusion of Privacy.
If you’d like more articles on digital citizenship you can check out my online School Counsellor Talk weekly here.
I hope to see many more School Counsellors take the lead when it comes to this most important area in a comprehensive school counselling program plan. Won’t you join me on this learning journey?
People have been asking me if I am really serious about retirement and yes I am , but that doesn’t mean I don’t really love my job anymore . I absolutely do. I plan on making this year great! Why? Because each and every day I work with students and what I say and do matters.
I am far from perfect, but I really try my best to help students and create a positive environment in the school I work in. I love collaborating with educators and others that I know truly care.
I am often reminded that what I say and do matters and that is a scary and awesome responsibility. I never want to hurt a child or anyone for that matter, but I am human and I make mistakes . When I do I need to say sorry , make amends and do my best each and every day to be the best person I can be. I also recognize that I can be that one person who changes the trajectory of a students life , making a positive difference that they remember for a lifetime.
Does what you say and do matter? … you bet. Students are watching us daily … so as I enter my retirement year I want my students to know that I love what I do and will continue to do so until the day I retire. I love being with them and helping them as much as I possibly can. I look forward to this year and will treasure the memories I make with each and every person that crosses my path.
What I Say and Do Matters … and so does what you say and do.
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 ColourYourWayTo AHealthyMindHigh 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.
Thanks to the Bishop McNally staff especially Adam, Emily, Loretta and Theresa for your assistance today in having me present. Presenting is always a collaborative effort. A big thanks to the principal Deana Helton @deanaH2 for asking me to kick off her mental health initiative. I had a great morning with you and your staff.
Kicking off Mental Health and Wellness with Susan Spellman Cann, Adam Russell and staff at Bishop McNally High School pic.twitter.com/kXBGlmBMTv
Below you will find all the resources I used and a few extra that might help you. Loved the pass the chicken activity organized by Emily and the PE department. It was a great fun and a wonderful team building activity.
Lastly, I really appreciate all of you sharing on your stickies:
One thing I will do to take care of my own mental wellness
One thing I will do in school to aide in the mental health and wellness of students
Hoping you have a great year as you focus on taking care of yourselves and your students.
Here is just a few great examples of things YOU plan on doing:
Today prejudice, stigmatization and discrimination are deeply embedded in our language, in our beliefs and in the way we interact with one another. Though a mental illness is one aspect of an individual’s life, all too often the label alone bars that one person from achieving a self-directed life with meaningful connections to his or her community.
Dr. Neil Houston Sociologist
According to Patrick Carney positive mental health is ” the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well being that respects the culture,equity,social justice, interconnections and personal dignity” ( public health Agency of Canada (PHAC) , 2006
There are already a hundred things you do right in your High School : Focus on those. There are also a 100 ideas of things you can do to promote mental health and well being. The wellness fund has a few videos to give you some ideas.
More resources from Who’s Frank? It’s More Than A Day It’s A Way …
Gratitude affects your wellness take a look:
When it comes to mental health we want students to:
With someone they trust like their Teacher Advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in connecting …
With their School Counsellor who can assist them in connecting with their doctor, health care provider and or parents to assist them with their mental health concerns
About mental health and wellness and the impact it can have on themselves or their friends or families. Reduce Stigma!
We want students to be concerned about their fellow human beings and show COMPASSION when it comes to mental health
We want educators to collaborate to make a difference when it comes to mental health and wellness
and lastly we want to …
CHALLENGE you to take action and integrate mental health into your curriculums. We challenge you to make a difference when it comes to mental health. What is one activity that you could get students to do that would increase their mental health literacy and reduce stigma?
We CHALLENGE you to become literate yourself when it comes to mental health.
If you get the opportunity please go to a training with Dr. Stan Kutcher or a Go to Educator training in your area.
One of important things that Dr. Stan Kutcher discussed during a mental health literacy training that I attended was the difference between:
Mental Health Distress (one example lose your keys)
Mental Health Problem (one example a parent dies)
Mental Health Disorder/Illness (one example clinical depression)
We need to teach our young people the difference between distress, problem and disorder and the Mental Health Curriculum Guide does just that. It teaches students and educators the Mental Health Literacy that they need in today’s world based on present day research on the brain. You may get some ideas here to start to integrate this into the subjects you teach.
Are you ready to take the CHALLENGE? If you come up with some ideas please add it to our community doc.
We are excited about the many possibilities and hope you will join us in CREATING several resources that will be beneficial to all. School Counsellors and educators can make a difference when it comes to the mental health / wellness of our students and ourselves. We can work together all across the world to make this happen. Won’t YOU join in ?
Schools are a positive setting for promoting positive mental health for more background take a peek here.
As school counsellors, there are some very important things we wish to share with you.
You are the reason we do what we do
We care; we mean really care about teenagers. We do our best to touch as many students as we can, being advocates for you in school. We feel you have a right to know why we do what we do. We are counsellors by choice. Some of the things we have to do are difficult, but we choose to be here.
We are here because we believe we can help
As your School Counsellors, we have several roles. Even if we get caught up doing several things at once, our hearts are always with you, the student.
What you do with your life is up to you
You are in charge of you. We are here to help you reach your full potential. We will insist that you learn. It is your ticket to absolute freedom.
Be all that you can be
It isn’t easy being a teenager; even we can get frustrated with your raging hormones. You are growing and changing. We understand that. Take responsibility for your life and your actions and your teachers and others will respect you.
We do care, don’t ever forget it
That’s why we are here
That’s why we choose to do what we do
We will help in any way we can. We may get you support with a mentor, another counsellor or whomever can help us help you.
Stop … Think … Speak
Remember, your thoughts lead to feelings lead to your actions. Change your thinking and you will have control of your life.
No matter what anyone else says or does to you, you are a worthwhile person
Truly you are a gift
You are somebody
You deserve dignity and respect
There will be times during your school experience where negative things are said or done to you. You may experience painful times. Life can be difficult. It’s not what happens in your life that matters, but how you choose to respond to it and we are here to help.
What you put into school is what you will get out of it
With your help, we can make a difference. If you choose to share a part of yourself with us, we can work together to make changes in your life. Your school experience will become everything you hoped it could be. Get involved and you will feel better about yourself.
Give life a chance
One of the easiest things to say and one of the most difficult things to do are to live one day at a time. If you can master letting go of the past, not worrying about the future, but living each day to the fullest, then you will have lived a great life full of few regrets.
Change takes time. Let yourself grow. We all can change if we have the courage and the wisdom.
We have faith in you
Never give up! Have Hope! Live every moment to the fullest! Become all that you are meant to be and you pay it forward to others.
In a system that is more learner-centered, Albertans see the role of the teacher changing from that of a knowledge authority to an architect of learning – one who plans, designs and oversees learning activities. Albertans said the teacher should consider the interests, talents, passions and natural curiosities of the learner. The teacher should inspire and motivate, while planting the seeds for life-long learning.–Inspiring Education: A Dialogue with Albertans p. 23
Collaboration is so important and this month I get to collaborate with my Principal Neil O’Flaherty @neilof12 as we co-facilitate a session for ULead 2015 on curriculum redesign.
High School redesign is essential to creating an environment where students can thrive.
Here is a schedule of our day:
9am-10:30 a.m. St. Anne Academic Centre Introduction to HS Re-Design and involvement to date. Here is the Ulead St. Anne 2015 presentation. Norm Martin and Martin Kovack presenting.
2:45pm-4:00 p.m.–Break-out Q & A (“Re-Design Carousel?”)–delegates can visit all three schools or remain with one at their discretion.
Bishop Carroll High School is part of the Canadian Coalition for Self Directed Learners. CCSDL has been in operation since 1971 based on the ideas put forth by Dr. J. Lloyd Trump in his book A School for Everyone. Even though this innovative school has been in operation for forty-three years BCHS is still working to stay on the cutting edge when it comes to curriculum redesign and we are fortunate to be a part of the team of people working to make this happen. If you have never seen how Bishop Carroll operates please take a look at this short video to get a window into the life of BCHS.
This is what 21st Century Learning should look like:
We want students to develop the competencies to become engaged thinkers, ethical citizens with an entrepeneurial spirit.
Alberta Ed Competencies so important for educators and students Engaged Thinkers| Ethical Citizens | Entrepreneurial http://t.co/Kz9YVIrRn5— Susan Spellman Cann (@SSpellmanCann) March 02, 2015
We need to work together to prepare ourselves and our students for the future. Here is a livebinder created by Peter Damen @naramata22 one of our School Counsellors to assist BCS students in planning for their future. Here you will find a collaborative doc that we put together with many stakeholders on mental health and wellness. Please click here for a livebinder of resources on High School redesign.
Here is the video from Italy that Neil spoke about in his presentation with the Capetown choir . You can hear the two choirs joining in at about 2:00 mins. in. This is true learning and collaboration at its finest.
It is The Right Time to collaborate and rethink what we do. This post is meant to provide you with as many resources as possible so if you revisit this blog in a week it will be updated from the U lead conference. We hope you had a great time and please share any resources you have created with us. Please tweet to @SSpellmanCann or @NeilOF12.
Is it time to redesign our curriculum for the digital age ? What do you think? We believe it is the right time to collaborate with our colleagues and to work together for the betterment of all students like was done in OCLMOOC the The Connectivist Mooc for Alberta Educators. There is no doubt that this is a process, but it is made easier through the use of technology. We can collate information easier and faster than ever before. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just make the wheel better and better so that our students benefit and become better citizens in this ever changing world.
What a great day to spend with colleagues sharing our best practices. Meeting with leaders from across the world to share and connect is always rewarding. There were principals from Reykjavik, Iceland, delegates from Sweden , New Zealand and lots of Albertans.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” – Howard Thurman
At Bishop Carroll High School we take mental health and wellness seriously. Our district and province have made a committment to focus on the well being of our students . Take a look at the video below to see what Alberta teachers are saying.
Our mental health wellness committee put together our second symposium featuring Dr. Alec Couros.
Need a background start here and really think about the words you use when it comes to mental health .
Take a peek at our 2005 Mental Health Living Fully Alive Symposium:
Mental health is important and if you need to find out why take a look at these facts about mental illness. It is one of the reasons we decided to put together a symposium. It will be a great day when mental health is understood and de- stigmatized.
If you want to see what we did last year you can can take a look at the pins below:
Below we hope you could make use of some of our resources. Feel free to use any and or all ideas. We need to work together to make this a better world for our youth.
Our Living Fully Alive advertisement can be found here.
Haiku decks for School Counsellors and students click below:
We need to teach students how to find their flow state and use it to keep themselves healthy. How do you get yourself into this state? For me one way is painting.
Our mental health wellness is a collaborative project that we began last year . The following documenthas a wealth of resources that we hope high schools, educators and school counsellors will use. It is an ongoing work in progress, so if you’d like to collaborate with us please feel free to tweet me @sspellmancann and join us on our journey as we pay attention to our own mental health as well as the mental health and wellness of others.
I am so inspired by the First Ladies commitment to help students #reachhigher as well as her dedication and support for School Counsellors.
When I reflect back to my high school years , I am not sure if I would have attended University if it were not for my School Counsellor, Mrs. Brownfrom Dartmouth High School. I certainly could not afford to go to post-secondary , even though I had worked part-time for a very long time. In fact I am certain I would not have attended, if it were not for that meeting.
It was only after a meeting with my School Counsellor who led me in the direction of a Bachelor of Child Study at MSVU Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, that I even considered the possibility. She also contributed $100.00 to my University Education which was a lot of money back then. I am so grateful to Mrs. Brown ( who has since passed away ) . I never got to thank her , but I have attempted to pay it forward many times.
Becoming a School Counsellor was never on my radar back then , but again as I reflect back I am sure that one gesture had a HUGE impact on me. I would be the first child in my family to graduate from University.
My community also stepped up to help me. I was very fortunate to receive a university scholarship for playing lacrosse from Canada Fitness and Amateur Sport( A member of my community Shannon Park – Wallis Heights – a forces base, pointed me in this direction to get this scholarship ) . I also received a bursary from Officers’ Wives.
They say it takes a village to raise a child , and for me that was true. My community came together to help and support me and as a result I now have a University education and a lifelong love of learning. I am forever grateful. I feel passionate about students believing they can go on to post-secondary, no matter what their situation.
So School Counsellors, let’s gather together and let students know they can #reachhigher , no matter where they live whether it be in Canada , the US or wherever they live in the world.
Make a poster like the one I did above and share it . Maybe one student will be inspired to reach for their dreams. A special thanks Mrs. Obama for your fabulous leadership and support for School Counsellors . We feel it everywhere.
Thanks to all those who helped me reach my dreams along the way including so many teachers who I adored and one special School Counsellor who really made it all possible. Mrs. Brown, you made a difference. If ever any one of your relatives reads this, know the impact one person can have to change the trajectory of a child’s life. I strive to be that kind of person each and every day for the students in my care.