Keeping Our Students Safe

As School Counsellors and educators one of the biggest responsibilities we have is to keep our students safe .

How do we do that? Very carefully and with much thought and effort as well as an understanding of the research around what works best. Bruce Perry founder of child trauma academy states that active shooter training is not always done properly , the training that occurs in schools should focus on adults. He says, “if the educators and people who are responsible for children remain calm then the students will reflect that emotional state”. Read more about what he says here.

What can be done? The answers are complex and require teams of people to assist. That is where a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan comes in. School Counsellors are always looking at ways to make school better for students, putting the psychological health and safety of students as a priority. We need to get students the help they need long before a serious threat occurs. The answers are not easy , but those who have learned before us can teach us some things we may need to know. Take a look at these recommendations from the Sandy Hook advisory committee.

As stated in that report , “There is at least one place, other than a home, in which every person, whether a child or adult, should feel absolutely safe and secure from the threat
of physical harm: school. ” I could not agree more. School Counsellors can take the lead along with staffs to make schools a safe place to be. Mental health literacy is essential for all students and staff members. Building relationships is one small step towards creating a community that focuses on what is important.

Working to ensure that we have a safe and caring school community is always on the mind of a professional school counsellor. Best practices should be reviewed and reflected upon each year based on individual school needs. School Counsellors are in a unique position to assist in preventative measures helping students to deal with stressors and social isolation. We also know it takes a team and we don’t have all the answers, but there are many things we can do and are doing already. We are but one of a community of people that make a difference. We as School Counsellors can help make our schools a safe place to be.

You Are There For A Purpose

Each day as a School Counsellor you have an opportunity to impact a child’s life in a way unlike others are able to do. Never ever lose sight of that. It might be a small action that touches a child’s heart and makes a difference for a lifetime. You have the time to truly listen and understand what it is a child needs and how to help them in a way that can change their perceptions of themselves and the world around them. It is a gift you have been given to give away , so treasure the moments that are right there in front of you each day as you enter your school. You are there for a purpose.

The World Would Be A Different Place Without YOU In It

 

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“You are not here to fill space or be a background character to someone else’s movie. Consider this: nothing would be the same if you did not exist. Every place you have ever been and everyone you have ever spoken to would be different without you. We are all connected, and we are all affected by the decisions and even the existence of those around us. ” David Niven

I believe we all have a purpose in life. Each child that comes our way is precious and we were brought to them to make a difference. It is up to us to leave them feeling or thinking or doing something differently than when they walk into our office. It is up to us to help . That is the reason we do what we do. So keep doing it! The world would be a different place without YOU in it!

 

 

 

Instilling an Insatiable Desire to Learn : How Do We Help Students Self- Regulate When It Comes To Their Cell Phone Use?

 

pexels-photo-994870.jpegHow do we instill an insatiable desire to learn and live life to the fullest while teaching students to self regulate when it comes to cell phone use?
Self – regulation is the process that the brain goes through that gives us the ability to control our behaviors and emotions in response to a particular situation. It’s having the skill to calm ourselves down when upset or in distress.

In this day and age all of us need to monitor how and why we use our cell phones. According to Dr. Stuart Shanker self -regulation is as much about regulating positive emotions as it is about down regulating negative emotions . Only when we are regulated can we self – regulate.

As adults we need to model self – regulation. There are several ways we attempt to soothe ourselves. some good , some not so good. The coping skills we use can help us or hurt us. If we want to help others then we need to model positive cell phone use and be able to share with others what we do and how we do it.

Self–evaluation is pivotal.  Evaluate your thoughts , feelings and actions when it comes to your cell phone use

• Be open … ask yourself is my cell phone use helping or hurting me or others?

Ask yourself …

  • Does my cell phone use lift me up or tear me down?
  • Is there ways to change my use of my cell phone so that I can feel better about myself?
  • Am I on my phone too much ? Do others notice and think I should change?
  •  Is using my cell phone too much stressing me out? If so how can I restore my energy? What do I need to do differently?
  • Am I getting enough sleep , exercise , and nutrition ? Acknowledge what you need to do to change.
  • Do I have a positive self –esteem? Am I using my phone because I know it will help me or hurt me?
  • Are my relationships in tact? Do I find many opportunities to connect F2F?
  • Am I more anxious , happy or sad because of my cell phone use?
  • Do I really need to use your phone right now or can it wait till later?
  • Am I on track with what I need to do or is my cell phone just a distraction for me right now?
  • Am I being mindful of what I really need to do ? Am I prioritizing what is truly important in my life or am I using my cell phone as an escape?

How to self – regulate when it comes to phone use:
• Try asking your friends and family for tips. What works for them?

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Try some of these tips.
• Keep phone on vibrate instead of listening to the constant ping of the phone. I have my phone on vibrate 99% of the time.
• Turn phone face down when not using it so you don’t look at it all the time.
• Put your phone somewhere not easily available when eating meals or at times that you know you need a break.
• Set times that you will use your phone and times you won’t ( I make it my rule that I never take my phone out while eating a meal or talking with someone) .
• Get involved … have a number of interests. It’s hard to use your cell phone while playing hockey or dancing or singing or a zillion of the other great things you can get involved in.
• Put your phone away at night and use an alarm clock instead so you can get a good nights sleep away from your phone.

Use Self- talk
• I do not need to be on my cell phone right now, it is not helpful.
• I can wait till later to use my cell phone because I need to be present to what is happening right now in this moment.
• I am proud of myself and the positive ways I use my cell phone

Journalling

pexels-photo-955452.jpeg • If cell phone use has become a concern  … journal what is happening for you.
• Journal all the positive ways you use your cell phone.

Meta moment
• Do you pause between being triggered and responding by being on your phone? Ask yourself is connecting leading to you feeling happy, sad, validated or invalidated, included or excluded?
• Ask yourself : How can I feel connected and close to others ? Is online the best way to do this at this time?

Positive Coping Strategies
• Make a list of yours and share it with your family and friends.

Stages of Change
• Ask yourself and be honest What stage of change am I in ? Ask yourself what is holding me back or moving me forward when it comes to my cell phone use ?
• Ask yourself … do I need help to get to where I want to go? If so your School Counsellor, Psychologist or a therapist can help you.

Reach Out
• To friends, teachers, your family, a School Counsellor . We all need a little support in order to self – regulate when it comes to our cell phone use. It is a strength to ask for help.

Maybe you need a little digital detox . It is more than ok to take a break from your phone. You decide what works best for you now that you have taken an honest look at yourself.

woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192.jpegOnce you have learned ways to help yourself , you maybe able to assist others with their technology use as well. Recognize that you are not perfect and will need to self evaluate often … I know I do.

So grow, learn and live the best possible life you can recognizing that technology has the power to help you or hurt you. What you do is up to you. I love my phone and I’m sure you do too. So let’s see if we can self-regulate to make ourselves and the world a better place. Maybe someday we’ll meet face to face and talk about how we did.

 

Focusing On What I Can Do … Instead Of What I Can’t

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This is my first blog post in a long time, I had eye surgery ( crosslinking  plus limited PRK I have keratoconus ) on November 23rd and I realized I have been focussing way too much on what I can’t do instead of what I can. So as 2018 begins, I am going to focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t!

I can ask for help when I need it ( this is so hard for a helper especially for me who is used to helping others).

I can learn to use the accessibility keys on my computer and phone.

I can write more , paint more, sing more dance more , be more ...

I can exercise more, eat healthier more, do more …

I can live more and spend more time focussing on what I can do!!!!!!!!

I can be kinder , more loving , more helpful!

I can elicit the help of others to do more of what I want to do and can do.

I need to stop that voice in my head that says I can’t drive ( for now) , I can’t see as well as I would like ( for now) , I can’t …  I can’t …

Oh yes I can, I just need to figure out how and do it. Just like how I figured out how to fix my computer at school and at home with bigger fonts. At work I asked for help, at home I googled how for my Mac system and did it! I asked for a bigger screen at work and can now easily use the scroll to increase font size to see my email. I am using the accessibility keys on my phone and computer to help me do lots of things. I can and do access online support through a keratoconus Facebook group. I am very grateful . This group and my friends and family have helped me a tremendous amount in my recovery process.

This is the first time in my life that I have lost my independence , but with help and support I can and will do lots of things … sometimes I just have to ask (even when it isn’t easy to do).

There are so many things I can do if I stay focussed on the I can! I can choose healthier options psychologically and physically. Not only can I … I will!

Who Matters?

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Who matters?

“Everything you do has an impact. Who you are – that you are – actually matters. In an interconnected world (the only kind we have), our actions and the actions of others are inextricably linked- we are always and forever in a dance of mutual influence with those with whom we directly and indirectly participate. It is the unavoidable reality of being social creatures, only magnified by an ever-increasingly complex and interwoven societal structure. We matter to each other.” – Paul Greiner

This sums up my feelings about so many people and about so many things. Today I sobbed as I viewed the faces of all those lost in the Vegas tragedy. They mattered to so many people and today they mattered to me even though I did not know them.

Life is truly fragile and I am ever reminded of this. I try very hard to live every day as if it is my last. Am I always successful ? No, but I really wish to live life as fully as I can, love those I can and let the people in my life that I am closest to know they matter. I don’t want to wait til someone passes away for them to know that they really matter to me.

So if you are one of those precious people in my life reading this , know that you do really matter to me and I am so grateful to have you in my life. So today and every day let others know that they matter and hopefully you too will see as Greiner says that in this complex interwoven societal structure we matter to each other.

Supervising School Counsellors

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I have been very fortunate to work with and supervise many great School Counsellors. I learn from them and they learn from me. Giving back matters and I believe seasoned School Counsellors should supervise our future School Counsellors. It helps us stay on top of our profession and allows us to be in a constant state of learning.

According to Bradley and Gould (2001) all supervision models should incororate a collaborative relationship which focuses on the indiviuality of the supervisee and one that facilitates growth and autonomy.

 

Some things to reflect on if you are ever in the position of supervising a student counsellor :

  • Have they developed a conceptual map with each client?
  • Which theoretical models are they adding to their toolbox?
  • What actions should they take in varing situations?
  • Are they developing the instincts and comfort level required of a beginning counsellor?
  • Are they aware of professional informed consent and record management for School Counsellors? 
  • Are they developing a leadership role within the school?
  • Are they being culturally sensitive?
  • How are they collaborating with staff? How are they optimizing their role?
  • Do they understand how a comprehensive counselling program plan is executed?
  • Have you discussed limits to their scope of practice?
  • Have you let them know they will make mistakes, misjudge situations, and lose track of sessions , but time and experience will take care of all of this.
  • Have you let them know lifelong reflection is essential?
  • Have you discussed dual roles, boundary issues and confidentiality?
  • Have you discussed ethical issues as they arise?
  • Have you modelled on a regular basis your counselling skills?
  • Have you updated read about updated models of supervision?
  • Are you in a constant state of professional development?
  • If you are a psychologist are you constantly aware of your own code of ethics?
  • Do you model and practice self- care strategies yourself?

The above are but a few thoughts to get you started. For more information on supervision and supervisory practices click here. The ATA Council of School Counsellors also offers excellent resources for a new School Counsellor.