10 Reasons To Live

In October while attending CCSDL conference 2014, I met Josh , a positive intelligent young man. Inspired by his teacher ( N von Krogh) who asked students to complete a project titled “15 reasons to live”,  Josh made this video. I hope watching Josh’s 15 reasons to live gives you inspiration to come up with your own top 10 reasons to live. The students projects at CCSDL in B.C.  inspired me to bring this idea back to our wellness team at BCHS .

The Mental Wellness team Living Aware,  Living Informed, Living Empowered  will be coming up with their own top 10 reasons to live to share with the Bishop Carroll High School Community. This project is an adapted version of what Mrs. von Krogh did. The project we plan on doing is also inspired by The Buried Life , who are positive young Canadians who go out and cross things off their bucket list by doing the things they want to live for, but a very important part of the process is doing something kind for others.

Directions for our project:

For our project I’d like you to reflect on your life and think about things that matter, the things that make you, you and give you reasons to live life fully.

Some questions to ponder:

What do you live for and love?

What are your reasons to trust, to overcome adversity, to cope, to laugh, to love?

What makes you get up every day?

What makes you happy and makes your life worth living?

What do you value?

What motivates you to make a difference?

What are the peak moments in your life that have impacted you?

Who are the people or relationships in your life that make you want to celebrate life?

What are the places in the world that inspire you or bring you comfort?

What do you want to do before you die? What are your TOP 10 reasons to live?

This is a reflective activity. You might start listing 100 reasons to live randomly. Then go through your list and pick the top ten to CELEBRATE .

You may wish to celebrate your TOP 10  in several ways:

  • An Art piece
  • A display
  • A magazine article
  • A mobile
  • Music … there are many ways to celebrate your reasons to live … an album cover …
  • A photo gallery
  • Postcards
  • Poster
  • Use a tech tool like @haikudeck to tell us about your top ten
  • You can make a YouTube video
  • You can be creative and come up with your own ideas

You may wish to collaborate with some others or you may choose to make this more personal to you .Who you do this with and how you do this is totally up to you.

Check out the trailer by Alan Zweig’s 15 Reasons to Live for more inspiration.

Our wellness team want you to think about all the things that make a difference to you and hopefully seeing others projects inspires you to think of many more ways to enjoy your own life as well as ways you can make a difference in others. We will be displaying or sharing some of the presentations at our Mental Health Symposium.

We challenge you to find two people who would be willing  to do this project and share this project with us so we can spread more HOPE in the world. What are your ten reasons to live? You also need to think of one way you can make a difference in someone else’s life. I’d like you to reflect on one of my favourite quotes when you do something good for someone else, something that will make them feel that you care and that they matter.

“The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention

You can look back here at a later date to see our projects.

Now it’s your turn. Go make a difference and when you do please post your ideas to this blog or tweet @sspellmancann so I can share your inspirational projects.

Words Can Change The Way We Perceive Others and Ourselves

Words really do matter. I am in the process of developing an online presentation for adults on mental health and wellness so that they may assist students in their post – secondary programs. As I think about what I will say I recognize that my words matter. What I say could potentially influence educators. What they say to their students could potentially transform what happens for the students and their families. Mental health literacy matters,  stigma matters , words matter.

Sometimes I hear people use words way too loosely when describing someone with a mental illness or someone who has special needs or challenges. They may say so and so is an ADHD kid or so and so is bipolar, an alcoholic etc.  It matters to me when I hear words used inappropriately as I believe strongly that we are people first ( the labels used like ADHD are only a very small way of telling us something about someone). We are so much more. Who we truly are cannot or should not be described in a few words.

So the next time you find yourself using the label first STOP and THINK about the power of your words. Jack or Jill may have a million attributes that are positive and when you use one word to define them you are missing such huge pieces of who they truly are. So eliminate so and so is a developmentally delayed child etc. and say their name and the many wonderful things about them. When you do this you start to perceive them differently. You also begin to treat each human being , each child in your care with so much more dignity and respect.

Words really do matter

Words can bring about acceptance

Words can change our brains

Words can hurt or heal

Words can hold back or help

Words can break hearts or touch hearts

Words can build others up or tear them down

Words allow people to tell their stories

Words give people their voices

Words can challenge us to be resilient

Words can give us the strength to carry on … to give us HOPE

Words can ruin someone’s day or make someone’s day

Words have the power to change others and change ourselves

What words will you use when speaking about and to your students today?

School Counselling Apps you can use

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1. Anxiety: Have your students been struggling with anxiety?  MindShift by AnxietyBC, is a mobile app designed to help teens and adults cope with this problem.

2. Conversation starters : Conversation Starters is an app to get the conversation going and could be used in a a group small or large.

3. Haiku Deck : An i pad app you can use to create stories with and for students. Here are some for School Counsellors:

4. Flipboard : Flipboard is a great way to collate information you want to share in a visual way. Here is one of mine called Lessons for New School Counsellors

5. Stress reliefBreathe2Relax is an app that will help students. It is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.

6. Toxic thinking : A great app for students. Toxic Thinking app is an app that explains what toxic thinking is as well as listing triggers and appropriate actions.

7. Who’s Frank? :An anti-bullying app designed by Mount Royal University in collaboration with MRU and Bishop Carroll High School’s movement against anti bullying . Who’s Frank Anti- bullying app . See more here: #whosfrankyyc .

There are so many great apps to use. Please share your favourites in the comments below.

I Am A School Counsellor

 

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I am a School Counsellor

I was a School Counsellor the moment I realized students needed help and I could make a difference

Throughout the day I can be called upon to assist, encourage, intervene, give support, make serious decisions and more

I am privileged to see the potential in each and every student

Honoured that students and their families allow me to help them

Thankful that I have chosen a profession I can be proud of and one that allows me to leave a legacy

You, the parents allow me to enter your world and help the most precious gift you have been given in life your child

Students matter to me and I will counsel your children from my heart, always maintaining a professional response

I am a School Counsellor and I will never take that responsibility lightly 

I will have the courage , strength and hope to do what is necessary

I will provide a place and a space where you can trust what I do 

Knowing that you have allowed me to spend my precious days with the future

I am a School Counsellor and for that I am filled with gratitude each and every day

Susan Spellman Cann

 

 

I Am A School Counsellor

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I am a School Counsellor

I was a School Counsellor the moment I realized students needed help and I could make a difference

Throughout the day I can be called upon to assist, encourage, intervene, give support, make serious decisions and more

I am privileged to see the potential in each and every student

Honoured that students and their families allow me to help them

Thankful that I have chosen a profession I can be proud of and one that allows me to leave a legacy

You, the parents allow me to enter your world and help the most precious gift you have been given in life your child

Students matter to me and I will counsel your children from my heart, always maintaining a professional response

I am a School Counsellor and I will never take that responsibility lightly 

I will have the courage , strength and hope to do what is necessary

I will provide a place and a space where you can trust what I do 

Knowing that you have allowed me to spend my precious days with the future

I am a School Counsellor and for that I am filled with gratitude each and every day

Susan Spellman Cann

Hope : A Message We All Need to Hear


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The following post was written by Vince Fowler a Business Coach, Speaker and Veteran in Calgary . He allowed me to share it with you. I think it is one of the best posts I have read, thus I am sharing it with you. You can follow Vince on twitter @VinceFowler

It would appear that the lives of most people who actively post on Facebook  are somehow living the perfect life – a life filled with laughter, with joy, money, friends, love, appreciation, amazing holidays, best job ever, best opportunities ever, etc … etc.

At times, it just might seem to you that everyone around you is having more fun than you, that their life is somehow better, more fulfilling and more rewarding than yours.

That’s just not reality.

Everyone has challenges. Everyone has fears. Everyone has pain … and I truly believe that we all have our own demons & skeletons kept secretly in our closets … under the proverbial  lock and key.

“Help” is something that way too many people have a hard time asking for … and when issues go un-addressed, people begin to lose hope. And when all hope appears lost, the only available decision left in the room seems to be the exit-life door … and then they’re gone… just as Robin Williams is gone.

Sad. So very sad.

Please – do not feel that my life or anyone else’s – celebrities included – are better than yours. Everyone is a little messed up in their own way … I know I am.

Just because I post my joys, doesn’t mean I don’t experience sadness. Just because I post my excitement, doesn’t mean I don’t experience boredom. Just because I post my successes and aspirations, doesn’t mean I don’t experience pain and failure.

I wish Robin Williams were still alive. He was funny beyond belief. He shared his talents with so many for no other purpose than to make them laugh. Sure, he was rich and famous … not because he discovered a way to monetize his talents, but because people actually valued his art and his craft.

That said, Robin Williams clearly had issues – which means Robin was a human being … which means he was just like you and me. Sadly, he wasn’t able to deal with those issues. Because he was loved and appreciated by millions, millions are now mourning his loss.

I once heard many, many, years ago … a man can live 40 days without food. He can live 4 days without water, but he cannot live 4 seconds without hope.

I don’t judge Robin Williams … I will miss Robin Williams.

Thanks Vince for saying what so many of us feel. Teens are particularly vulnerable at this time and we want to make sure they are safe. Your message is a message for all!

If a person believes there is no hope in winning a game,you can visibly see their efforts drop

If a person believes there is no hope in a relationship improving, they sometimes immediately break up

I challenge you to look around and observe on your own

As long as there is HOPE , even a glimmer of HOPE, people keep trying

By Vince Fowler 2014

I want a future where we treat all human beings with dignity, respect with understanding and compassion. I want a world where we have better treatments for mental health disorders and a world where there will be no future losses due to these illnesses. I want a world where all people are not ashamed or afraid to reach out for help. It is more than OK to reach out for help there are many places and people where you can. There is hope and I have hope that we can help .

Susan Spellman Cann

Resource for teens in CalgaryHearing Youth Helping Youth 403-264-8336

Adults can also call the Distress Centre : 403-266-4357 403.266-HELP

Resources to assist with hope: 

Click here: Livebinder on depression

Click here: Mental Health resources for teens

Click here: Suicide prevention resources

Click here: Depression Resources : High School Counselling

Click here: Haiku Deck on hope

Hangouts and School Counsellors

Hangouts are an excellent way for School Counsellors and educators to connect from across the world. You can pick a time to connect to share resources,  ideas or just to get to know each other.

One of the best features of hangouts is that ten people can collaborate to make a difference in the lives of students.

If you have never used hangouts before below is a great explanation by Martin Shervington:

Below is a hangout that Erin Mason facilitated last year on The Future of School Counseling.

Here is a great example of how to use google hangouts for webinars:

Benefits of google hangouts:

  • All you need is a google plus account to start a hangout
  • It’s ok to make mistakes (other educators especially other school counsellors will assist you)
  • You can connect with educators from all over the world
  • There are many creative ways to use google hangouts, you can come up with a few of your own and when you do please share
  • They are fun and easy to do once you catch on

Connecting with school counsellors in a hangout is a great new way to grow professionally . It is an amazing way to work on a google doc or watch a video together that you have made on school counselling. I look forward to you sharing the many ways you have found to use google hangouts.

If you’d like to see how other educators are using google hangouts you can check out these Edcamphome google hangout videos . I participated in my first edcampHOME  last year and it was a fun, interesting educational experience. The best part watching the organizers do such an amazing job of coordinating.

Have fun learning!

 

Conference With A Difference #ASCA14

I have been to many school counselling conferences over the years, but this one was different why?

1. CONNECTING : As much as I loved Michelle Obama and I did believe me. I’ll share more about that later. I love connecting with people in real life, people that can and do support you, people that make a difference in your life and you get to share that F2F. Twitter allows you to do that. It really does! So many school counsellors have not quite figured that out yet. Twitter helps you do what you do and do it better. Ultimately impacting our students in so many positive ways.

 

As you can see from the video my favorite part of #ASCA14 was connecting with so many school counsellors in one space. I need to thank my wonderful roomie @bridgethelms. I want to thank her nephew and friend for helping make my experience in Orlando so enjoyable. Also a  big thanks to @FSabens for rescuing me when I could not leave Orlando because of the storm. Thank heavens for twitter again. To Danielle Schultz @sch_counselor it was my pleasure to sit down and chat and learn about the many wonderful things that you do. There are so many extraordinary school counsellors that I met F2 F in Orlando and for that I am extremely grateful. Look out world there are many more amazing things to come from these vibrant, intelligent, caring school counsellors.

What difference did twitter make? Well because of the twitter connections I have made I could come to Orlando by myself and NOT feel alone in any way. I had not met any one of my twitter friends F2 F before the conference, so it was fabulous to feel like I was coming to a reunion with so many who had impacted me in my profession in such a positive way and who were so helpful online. I can thank twitter and our twitter chats #scchat and #SCCrowd for making my conference experience so much more enriching.

2. COLLABORATING: I met counsellors from all over the world that I plan on collaborating with in the future It might be in a hangout or maybe just on twitter. However, I most certainly will look forward to the future collaborations that will help me and our students.

3. CARING: I met so many fun and caring school counsellors that it gives me much HOPE for the future of school counselling. Check out these fine people :
• @apoovey
• @bridgethelms
• @carlicounsels
• @ChrisWood
• @CounselingGeek
• @cscaMatthew
• @c_morten
• @cfsml
• @ecmmason
• @erebss
• @FSabens
• @JoryHouser
• @humbleofferings
• @KellyHanscom
• @mertensminute
• @MrJGoldman
• @MrSchoolCounslr
• @nemmers_nat
• @PhilEchols
• @SandraLogan
• @sch_counselor
• @SvySchCounselor
• @tmscounselor
• @tx_sch_cnslr

And of course to @rawolfon and @ConnieMWard who led the #notatasca14 chat . I missed you. @EHordyskiLuong and @charlieosenten amazing Canadian School Counsellors  I know you were following along and may join in next time!

4. CONTINUING EDUCATION: I absolutely loved the session School Counselling: Running Groups on a Duct Tape Budget  Yes, duct tape there are so many ways to impact student in groups using duct tape. If you ever get a chance to go this session in the future , please do it was fantastic and so much fun.

Ed Jacobs and Group Counselling techniques. Go to downloads from here. I never get tired of Ed’s sessions and although we have become lifelong friends ( I met him at a conference fifteen years ago in Florida) , I love hearing him present along with his co presenter Dr. Chris Schimmel. This is a must see at any conference you go to.

Branding and Marketing Your School Counselling Program. Jeff and Jeremy give wonderful tips on how to market the amazing School Counselling Program that you have developed in your school. This session is especially great for those new to the profession.

Resources: For the best notes ever check out @FSabens . It is like you are there with her.

Franciene’s  ( Notes )

So many resources: Check out these posts:

 

Check out the local news with some of my favorite school counsellors @bridget helms @tmscounselor and @MrSchoolCounselr  here.

5. COMPASSION: As for seeing Michelle Obama  @flotus well it was an absolute highlight. She epitomized compassion .  I am not American, but felt she was directly talking to Canadian School Counsellors. Everytime she said a gem I would edit to make it that she was talking to Canadians, talking directly to me and others like me.  The ripple effect of her message will undoubtedly affect students and school counsellors from across the world now and for years to come.

#ASCA14 for me was definitely a conference with a difference because of my connections on twitter, the great people I met and having the privledge to see Michelle Obama who was extraordinary. How often will I have the opportunity to see and listen to an amazing role model with a message like she did that will have the impact to create change for students and school counsellors? This was most likely a once in a lifetime event for me.

To all the School Counsellors worldwide . Keep making a difference and stay connected and even though you were #notatasca you can live virtually through others especially on twitter. I look forward to the next time our paths cross maybe on twitter and hopefully in a chat #SCCrowd or #scchat. Until next time. For now it’s time for self-care on the beaches in Nova Scotia.

“With every life you transform, with every life you save, you all have an impact that is truly beyond measure,” Michelle Obama

Lessons For a New School Counsellor: Year end post

Originally, I planned to share this post with Marc. In reflection, I think this post should stand alone.

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Reflecting on my first year of counselling makes my successes, struggles, observations and learning apparent, showing how I have changed professionally and personally.  In many ways, it appears that my experience in my first year of counselling mirrors my experience in my entire Master’s program.

My studies taught me about models and theories of counselling.  In my first year I have worked to apply my eclectic approach centred upon Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).  I have learned the strengths and limitations of SFBT, how to apply its approaches and techniques effectively, and in what contexts it is appropriate.  I have applied elements of REBT, CBT, Narrative Therapy and other theories as I have built my knowledge and skill base.  I realize that I need to increase my knowledge and skills in a variety of therapeutic models through further professional development.

My studies taught me about the ethics of counselling.  In my first year I have been exposed to a number of ethical issues and questions as I have considered issues of boundaries, self-care, confidentiality, and proper conduct.  I have learned through my own work, the experience of others, and consultation what potential concerns can arise and how to work through the decision making process.  I have had my own conceptions challenged, and have had to learn how to balance the rights of parents, students, my employer and myself.

My studies taught me how to work with a client to create a positive working alliance and how to develop an effective intervention plan.  My first year has been a tremendous learning experience, as I have played ‘guess and test’ with different approaches and techniques.  I have learned how to conduct myself in a way that creates a positive relationship with a client, while still remaining true to my personality and principles.  I have learned the value of a conceptual plan, as I struggled in some sessions to adjust to new information or move forward in a deliberate manner.  Videotaping my sessions has provided me with tremendous opportunity for growth, as I have observed and reflected upon my demeanor, approach, and delivery.  I have surprised myself, as I begin to feel that I could actually ‘do this’.

I came into my first year very aware of my naïveté.  I battled ‘imposter syndrome’, worrying that clients or colleagues would question my abilities as much as I did.  I wondered if I would be able to handle all the potential scenarios placed before me.  Even at the end of my first year, I am aware of my inexperience and the potential struggles of a novice counsellor.  However, I have learned so much and come so far that I believe I am well-equipped to begin my journey as a counsellor.  Personally, I have been surprised by what I have learned from clients, how my experience has impacted me, and how I have been able to manage emotionally.  I have seen the value of self-care, boundaries, and realistic expectations.  I believe that my experience has made me a more reflective person, a better listener, and more aware of the perspectives of others.  Professionally, I believe I have made the right career choice.  I plan to work in schools, helping students with their academic and personal needs.  I have learned how to work with other professionals, how to communicate with parents and clients, and what my role as a counsellor entails.  I am both overwhelmed and excited by the amount of growth I have ahead of me; through experience, reflection and professional development, I plan to keep learning and developing.

If I could give any advice to a new counsellor facing the first year of their new career, it would be this: You have chosen a profession with a steep learning curve, a variety of potential presenting issues, the emotional impacts of others, and tremendous demands of your time, energy and patience.  You will be frustrated and challenged, misunderstood and exhausted.  So relax and enjoy it.  You’re much better at it than you think you are, there are many resources and supports out there for you, and the job is incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.  You’re making a bigger difference than you realize.  Isn’t that what we want?

Marc Osenton

My final thoughts : I have been fortunate to work alongside such a *fabulous new school counsellor. Fly on your own  Marc ( well sort of ) but remember to always consult, consult, consult, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate, continue to tweet and continue to make a difference.

You most certainly did this year.

Please follow Marc on twitter @charlieosenton

I look forward to Marc’s School Counselling blog as school counselors know reflection is always a good practice.

Living Aware … Living Informed … Living Empowered

Alec presenting

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health and wellness since our mental health symposium facilitated by Alec Couros. Thinking about and discussing mental health is so important. This day was a culmination of five months of meeting with students and staff to discuss what we would like to do. I’ll share more about that later. Check here for some more information on our symposium. Our teachers , counsellors,  students and Alec worked very hard to share with the whole school the importance of mental health.

 Thanks to Kevin , my twitter friend I noticed this tweet:

There are so many things in the article that resonate with me and things I believe high school students , teachers and staff need to know about mental health.

1. Stigma matters: We need to teach students how to pay attention to facts not myths when it comes to mental health

2. Media can either lift up or tear down our understanding of mental health. That’s why we held a mental health symposium and tied it to social media and digital citizenship.

Our students were empowered to use social media to develop mental health literacy skills and to break through some of the stigma around mental health.

3. We need students to understand the difference between a mental health problem, mental health distress and a mental health disorder. Thanks to Stan Kutcher’s materials  students can explore and discover the differences. Let’s begin to STOP over pathologizing.

4. We must continue to dialogue about this important issue.

 

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By having elementary students involved in this symposium , they could see that our students were modelling that mental health and wellness is important.  Digital Citizenship was experienced and shared.

We know students find most of their mental health information on line,  so we need to assist students in finding valuable information that will help them. Mental Health Literacy and Digital Literacy are extremely important. We want students to understand both.

Thanks to #DCMOOC I can tie these two literacies together even more.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW: According to media smarts Matthew Johnson:

  • If there is a rule in the home about respecting others online students will more than likely engage in positive online behaviour.
  • Focus should be on ethics , rather than scare tactics.
  • We can encourage empathy. We need to understand that online we are often missing cues that help us feel empathy . We fall into empathy traps online where we are missing the facial cues, tone of voice , body language etc … Students need to understand this.
  • Don’t be a bystander … be an upstander .
  • ” Many problematic behaviours-bullying, sexting, plagiarism etc. are less common than students think” Knowing this will help the rates drop.
  • To be a citizen means students need to understand and exercise their rights.
  • Let’s help students be involved in civic debates on and off line. We need them to have the skills to be able to do this.
  • Give students opportunities to contribute positively online by not blocking sites that can help them.
  • They need to know how to interact positively in gaming communities. As a member of a community they can change how a community behaves. They can be empowered to act in a pro-active way.
  • Students need privacy policies explained to them. I would guess that many teachers need these explained too.
  • Young people need to know that they have rights to freedom of discrimination, they have the right to be free. Girls often have different experiences on line. Boys and girls have the rights to be free from harassment. Students have a right to be heard. Students need a chance to present their works to authentic audiences. Students have a right to education. Most importantly an education that uses digital technology to explore and understand their world.
  • Students need to know … it is OK to make mistakes.

Thanks so much to Matthew for sharing his expertise.

I believe students when on line and off line need to be good citizens which will in turn affect their positive mental health and well being. Let’s continue the dialogue.