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

Lesson #19 I Want To Be A Good Digital Citizen: #DCMOOC

I want to teach our students at BCHS to be good Digital Citizens
I want to teach our students at BCHS to be good Digital Citizens

Digital Citizenship Lessons

DCMOOC should I shouldn’t I ? This time of year can be so hectic with so many things going on , but I really could not pass up the opportunity to learn along with so many great educators who care about Digital Citizenship. Of course knowing that Alec Couros was going to lead the MOOC made my decision much easier as he is a phenomenal leader. School Counsellors need to model good digital citizenship and I want to continue to learn when it comes to this area.

This is my third MOOC, my second cMOOC and I am glad I decided to keep growing and learning along with you all. My first MOOC was ETMOOC and I was so scared to dive into that MOOC that I joined in on the last day. I believe it changed my life personally and professionally. I no longer have as many fears. I continued painting and feeling free to do so because of all the supportive ETMOOC’ ers. I feel I was released from my fears of I can’t to I can.

  • I am a better school counsellor because of ETMOOC, I now integrate Digital Citizenship and technology in all I do.
  • I am connected to so many fabulous people that I have met on line. I never realized you could make such great friends through  #ETMOOC, #SCCrowd and #scchat.
  • I have learned so many skills that I know I would not have had, had it not been for my involvement in ETMOOC. I blog , vlog tweet , make videos,

google hangout, use google doc’s , use technology to collaborate with people and school counsellors from across the world and so much more.

  • I believe I am a better person more willing to be open and share.

My second MOOC was an edxMOOC called Justice by Michael Sandel. A great orator and an interesting course (and I did like it a lot), but I must admit I learned way more from my cMOOC about life and learning. My bias is all MOOC’s should be run like a cMOOC.

I am very passionate about Digital Citizenship as a school counsellor, parent and person who is living in a digital world. I believe if I am to assist students in a digital world I need to know what they are doing and how they do it, thus my interest in everything digital.

If I want students to be good digital citizens I need role model being a good Digital Citizen, one who does not have fears of making mistakes.

I look forward to this journey with you , knowing that the process will be easier this time around, but the learning will continue and be as exhilarating and exciting! Thanks to every person who has been willing to share and help me on this journey.

I want to make a difference . What about you?

Making A Difference click here to see this Haiku Deck

 

BCHS Italy 2014 Connecting with Students and Staff in a Whole Different Way

Haiku Deck of Italy 2014

IMG_2023 IMG_1985

Who would of thought that going on a school trip with ninety-four students and ten chaperones to Italy would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime? These pictures pretty much sum up the amazing adventure we were about to go on starting April 11 . Every detail was planned and coordinated by our outstanding music teachers at BCHS. I knew they were amazing before this trip, but I gained a new respect for them after this outstanding experience that would last ten extraordinary days.

Here is just a snippet of the 10 wonderful days of music:

FACTS:

Destination Calgary airport.

Group 1 departing for Amsterdam on route to Venice.

Group 2 departing for Toronto on route to Venice

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Our students performing for unsuspecting audience in Amsterdam airport joined by two unknown travellers much to the delight of  travellers
  • Landing in Venice tired but excited Saturday, APRIL 12TH, 2014AT 6.P.M. arriving at our hotel Hotel Villa Florita

Sunday, April 13th Venice, Italy DAY TWO

Our days would often begin early,so that we could fit in as much as possible for our students.

FACTS:

Day starts at 6 a.m. Arriving at Tronchetto Parking lot to transfer by boat to San Marco Area.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Gondola ride
  • Mask making workshop and painting masks ( a lot of fun had by all even the chaperones made masks )

Monday, April 14th Venice DAY THREE

FACTS:

Day begins at 7 a.m. arrive back at hotel after 11:00 p.m.

Each night we debrief with students and each other ending with a prayer

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • St. Mark’s Basilica tour
  • Visit San Vidal Church
  • Pizza Supper where we met up with a choir from South Africa singing together in a moving moment that brought tears to many eyes  as the two choirs spontaneously joined in to sing for each other and then join in together to sing shosholoza
  • Concert Interpreti Veneziani program Vivaldi/Bach/Hasse

 

Tuesday, April 15th  Cremona DAY FOUR

FACTS:

Day begins at 6 a.m. for a two and a half hour bus ride to the Cremona

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A visit to Museo Stradivariano
  • Students perform in courtyard of Museo Ala Ponzone  facts ( first official concert of the tour and it was delightful)
  • Modena Balsamic Vinegar factory tour ,very tasty and what a beautiful location (got to bring back many gifts for families and friends)
  • Arrive at our hotel in Bologna ( Grand Hotel Bologna) another beautiful little town

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16th Bologna, Italy DAY FIVE

FACTS:

6:30 a.m. start

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Walking tour through beautiful city . So many beautiful churches and squares in all these spots
  • Lunch where we attend a great cooking school and make pasta Vecchia Scuola Bolognese (the lunch they made for us was amazing,but we had so much fun making linguini together in groups. The students sang to the owners and helpers to thank them for such a delightful afternoon.
  • Arrive at Grand Hotel Bologna E del Congress

Thursday, April 17th Florence and Assisi DAY SIX

FACTS: start 6:30 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Friday, April 18th Assisi  DAY SEVEN

FACTS: start a little later this morning

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Visit the Basilica in Santa Maria Degli Angeli
  • Held our own liturgy for Good Friday which was also amazing. The organ playing  done by our student . The horn playing by our choir teachers husband and the beautiful readings and prayers done by students and staff made this one of my favourite memories of the trip.
  • Stayed at Hotel Casa Leonori
  • A talent show by students and chaperones ( loads of laughs and fun )

Saturday, April 19th ROME

FACTS: start 6:00 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tour of St. Peters Basilica, Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel
  • Walking tour of Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps
  • Dinner at Papa Rex with opera singing and an accordion player and a nice meal
  • This by far was the most hectic day keeping track of all our students in such large crowds

Sunday, April 20th Easter Sunday in the Vatican Pope Francis 

FACTS: Early start so we could arrive in the square by 7:30 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Just being at the Vatican on Easter Sunday
  • Listening to the message in many languages
  • Having this fantastic experience with so many wonderful students and staff

There is absolutely no way to really tell you how appreciative I am to be able to have spent the ten days together with students and colleagues.  The organization was exemplary. The students were unbelievably well behaved and represented themselves and the school exceptionally well. My most favorite part was being able to connect with students on a different level and be exposed to their wonderful talents. Now when I see them in the hall we can smile and talk with each other. We have a shared experience and memories that will last a lifetime. I absolutely loved all the music as I believe music can heal the body,mind and spirit. I am extremely grateful for this experience as it helped me connect as a school counsellor with students in a way I would never have been able to previously. The trip was a mental health break which I will treasure forever.

 

 

Lesson #18 Things School Counsellors Need To Know About Social Media

IMG_0001

There is always great information on twitter for school counsellors. One of the things I like best is that the information is relevant and usually makes you think about what was posted. I really like this article by Gary G Abud Jr posted on twitter by Alec Couros @courosa who often posts extremely resourceful information that school counsellors can use. Enjoy and share what you think!

A Mental Health / Wellness Challenge

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

 

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

When it comes to mental health we want students to:

CONNECT

With someone they trust like their teacher advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in connecting …

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

CARE

About mental health and wellness and the impact it can have on themselves or their friends or familes

CONCERNED

We want students to be concerned about their fellow human beings and show COMPASSION when it comes to mental health

COLLABORATE

We want educators to collaborate with us 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. Our mental health/wellness committee is working on several ways to make a difference , but one idea started by Peter Damen ( fellow Counsellor) was to have an alternative activity that students could get credit for in every discipline Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Phys. Ed, Music. Art, Drama, CTS etc. 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 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 will be creating a google doc that will be ready in June that we will be sharing with you about all our ideas around mental health and wellness in High School.

We are excited about the many possibilities and hope you will join us in CREATING several resources that will be beneficial to all. You can open this doc to start collaborating. 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 ?

Do something today to remain CALM make a difference when it comes to  your own mental health. Practice self-care.

 

 

Lesson #16 Children of Alcoholics … School Counsellors Can Help

photo

Don’t Talk … Don’t Trust … Don’t Feel a saying coined by Dr. Claudia Black a leader in the field of addictions

Lesson#16 We can make a difference

 Children of Alcoholics Haiku Deck cc image slide 3 photo by inkshots

According to the study done by Jane E Mc Namee and David R Offord in 1991 there are approximately one million children of alcoholics living in Canada. No doubt a lot more today. In the US some stats  say one in five children are living with alcoholism.

Children of alcoholics often keep their parents drinking a secret, but teachers and school counsellors can often spot that something is wrong and reach out to these students. Sometimes students show up in our offices sad and scared because mom or dad had been drinking on the weekend and they are feeling helpless and hopeless. Here are some signs that children may be living with alcoholism.

As school counsellors we can identify these children using CAST Children of Alcoholics Screening Test. You as a School Counsellor should not underestimate your ability to have a lfe long impact on children who are living with a loved one with an addiction. You may be the first person this child’s life that they have felt safe enough to share what is happening in their life. You may be the one to give them permission to share openly what they have been feeling and going through. This can be life changing.

Children of Alcoholics need to know:

  • That they are not alone
  • That pouring out or hiding their parent’s alcohol does not help
  • That their parents drinking is not their fault (they did not cause it, they can’t control it and they can’t cure it)
  • That they are not doomed … they can get help and do not have to repeat the pattern themselves (children of alcoholics are at a higher risk for alcoholism and other mental health concerns)
  • There is help for them (they can talk to you the school counsellor) you care
  • They can go to Alateen
  • They do not have to be ashamed (alcoholism is a disease)
  • Alcoholics can get help
  • There is hope and help for them and their family
  • They can learn to be happy and healthy no matter if their parent stops drinking or not
  • They can survive and thrive
  • There is hope, no matter what their situation

You may be the one safe person they can turn to make a difference in their lives. What you say and do does matter.

You can refer them to Alateen in your area.

Find out more .

Here is one teen’s story:

I was so scared at home. I never knew if my dad would be drinking when I got home from school.  Actually I never knew what to expect. Mom was always threatening to leave dad and all four of us (my brother and sisters) would often line up at the door to leave, but we never did. None of my teachers ever knew that there was alcoholism in my home. They often told me how lucky I was that I must have had great parents. I guess that was because I behaved so well in school, trying to be the perfect child so no one would find out my secret. I was embarrassed that my dad drank too much and I was also angry a lot. I was angry with both my mom and my dad. Sometimes I was angrier with my non- alcoholic mom because I did not understand why we stayed and put up with the drinking. I saw her reaction to his drinking and that had an impact on me. I would also throw my dad’s alcohol down the sink or hide it around the house so he could not find it. Little did I realize that doing that was making me sick emotionally. I often felt irritable and unreasonable, but I never knew why. I was in denial about alcoholism being in my family. Here is a journal entry I wrote in the first few weeks I decided reluctantly  to go to Alateen, because I thought it was their problem, not my problem.

“ I wish I could work out my problems. I hope Alateen will help. Mom really doesn’t care about anyone but herself (at least that what she’s pretending to do). I think she needs me as much as I need her, but how do we solve this problem? I depend on mom and dad. I am not mature. I get mad at every little thing without wanting to. I hope Alateen will help with this too. I would try to help myself if I knew how. I remember thinking about killing myself, but I would never go through with it because I was too scared and I did not want to really.”

I’m so grateful I did not go through with harming myself because Alateen did work. Actually my whole family got help. I learned everything I could about how alcoholism affects families and things slowly, but surely got better and better. I recognize that alcoholism affects everyone in the family each to a different degree. Today I look for the good in everyone and everything.  I recognize that I don’t know where I would be today if it were not for Alateen. If you are a teen living with a parent who drinks too much Alateen can help. Reach out!


Children of alcoholics can be resilient and you can help them develop these skills. As a School Counsellor you can be the one and only person that child turns to . You can make a difference!

 

Can Students Make A Difference?

Image

The students in my school have inspired me and I truly mean it. I am in awe of them. I know I did not have the creativity, determination, passion,  compassion and self -direction that they have to make a difference at such a young age.

I have been working alongside these students since September on an initiative called #whosfrankyyc and what transpired yesterday was absolutely amazing. Last week students brought me their outline and a full detailed moment-by-moment plan of what our day would look like. I added or deleted nothing to the plan. I knew it would be great, but I really had no idea just how it would move others and me. It was one of those experiences that you had to be there. The media coverage just does not tell you how much thought, effort and caring went into what these students are trying to do. I received several notes and calls to let me know just how fabulous the day was and how fabulous our students were. There were several reporters there to interview Barbara Coloroso and students .

One reporter noted that he “could honestly say that in more than 25 years of reporting , and having sat through many student presentations, I’ve never witnessed one that was as inspiring as the one created by your students. It was simply amazing.” Yes, indeed it was and we shared this note with them.

#WHOSFRANKYYC is more than a day … it is a way. Bishop Carroll and Mount Royal University students and staff are working together to raise awareness and empower students to stand up and be brave. They want to make  a difference when it comes to people not hurting other people. Hurt people hurt people, but students can make a difference by having the courage to speak up and act to end the cycle of violence.

Our students have begun to do just that and we hope you join us in the movement. We want all people to post positively to #whosfrankyyc. Thinking about your digital tattoo is one way to make a difference and let others know that bullying is never ok.

Yes, students can make a difference. I see it in my school everyday.

  • students who raise money all the time for those less fortunate and don’t get any recognition
  • students working together to make the world a better place through water initiatives
  • students braiding it forward
  • students opening the door for others
  • students showing random acts of kindness like posting positive messages handwritten on stickies on every locker which happened a couple of weeks ago
  • holding faire trade fairs
  • volunteering with students with special needs in their school and community
  • volunteering with elderly in their communities
  • volunteering at feed the hungry
  • students raising 10,ooo to build a home in another country

No this is not a comprehensive list, but I do see acts of kindness almost daily in my school. Too often students do not get recognized for all the good they do. It does not make the news, but they do it anyway.

Global News Video

A gigantic thank you to Barbara Coloroso who was extremely compassionate and engaging with our students. She took the time to converse with them in a meaningful helpful way , letting them know that what they are doing can have an impact in their school communities and the world. Also a big thanks to Julie @dinnerwithjulie a Bishop Carroll alumna who prepared a beautiful lunch for our guests.

Look out for more to come on students making a difference at Bishop Carroll High School with our Mental Health Symposium and more…

To find out more about #whosfrankyyc click  here . Elephants (WHO”S FRANK?) are intelligent, compassionate beings and #WHOSFRANK is is only the beginning of the process these students want to continue in assisting their fellow human beings  to being the kind, caring, compassionate humans they are capable of being.

We are very grateful to our partner Mount Royal University. Working together on this initiative has been an absolute pleasure and together we are able to invite others to come along on this journey to make #whosfrankyyc make a difference in the world. Eighteen other schools have gathered up their frank banks to join us.

Here is another example of  the great work our students do. This was a project for Religion:

There is so much to celebrate at Bishop Carroll High School. Too often we notice the things that others do wrong instead of all the great things they do . Let’s continue to celebrate all the great things others do especially our students.

Yes, students can and do make a difference and you can too. Join us #whosfrankyyc.