Reality #IMMOOC

I love #IMMOOC and all the learning and connections in it, but keeping up isn’t easy in a MOOC and it is not supposed to be. The reality of everyday life kicks in. School gets busy, family responsibilities and life gets busy especially in the fall. We are all back to reality.

The nice thing about a MOOC is you can take what you like , do what you like , connect with people that you like ,when you like, how you like.

There are no failures!!!! Learning for the sake of learning is your option … without guilt.

I am grateful that I can particpate on voxer because it suits me to check in anytime from anywhere.

I also like that I can choose when to respond and where to respond and that I don’t have to do it all ( although I am tempted to want to ). So step into the reality and enjoy the learning along the way. If you learn 1 new thing or 100 new things it does not matter. Enjoy the process.

My goals:

  • Connect and share on voxer .
  • Read at least two blog posts and make comments.
  • Join in the live sessions as much as possible.
  • Blog once a week.
  • Put into practice somethings I have learned at work.
  • Follow the twitter and facebook feeds and learn from the posts.

Thanks to all for sharing . I especially love the live posting on twitter. Voxer peeps you rock , love all the learning. Amazing job Emily Clare @EClare_AHS for organizing and keeping the learning going.

Reality : No matter how much or how little you do in #IMMOOC  … YOU MATTER … YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE . You are taking the time out of your life as an educator and person to learn and help others knowing in the end that you will help students … How great is that?

For any of you who are School Counsellors , I know that this week you may have saved a students life that is your reality … so thanks just in case no one has noticed .

Enjoy your reality …

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 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

#ReachHigher … You Can Too … Go Make A Difference

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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. Brown from 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.

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.

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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.