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.

Lesson #20 I Want To Be A Good Digital Citizen

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Week 2 of #DCMOOC and I find myself thinking about digital citizenship in everything I do. Isn’t that what we want students to do? Isn’t that what I want to do … think before I post, learn to be a good digital citizen. I want to become the best citizen I can. I strive to do that daily and as I reflect, I think about the many times I have made mistakes in life and try to remember that I am still learning even today.

I recognize that it took me a lifetime to become the person I am today and I will continue to make mistakes online and off. Trying to merge my two identities online and off , being authentic and true to who I really am isn’t always easy.

Reflecting brings to light what I want students to do which is to focus on their strengths. I attempt to do that online and off, but at times I fall short. Reflecting makes me aware of what I need to do to change and taking this course helps me bring to light what it is that I want to do differently.

Each year I think about new ways to share my learning on line  so that it will benefit students. I want to model and teach citizenship to our students . By reflecting on others posts, sharing in blackboard collaborate , following the hashtag #DCMOOC and reading in the G + community I am often enlightened as to resources that I can use with our students.

I really like what Deborah had to say about #W2Q2 “I find the best analogy to share with my students is that everything they post online should be something they are willing to share on the morning announcements at school.“Thanks Deb, I think I will start sharing that with students. One thing I will do differently is start my day with something I can share with students on digital citizenship twice a week on the school twitter account. I will commit to this next year.

I want to thank Deborah McCallum for this flipboard. It made me think about fixing up one I had already started . I will share it later.

Taking this MOOC has made me revisit some of the resources I use and try to improve them so that I can then use them with students and share with those in #DCMOOC. As a result I have made a few more flipboards to share with School Counsellors and thanks to @suewaters I can now fix my flipboards to make them better. Thanks to @courosa for always sharing such great resources and here are some more resources.

Yes George, School Counsellors Do Have A Hashtag

 

Thanks to @hatcherelli I saw this post today and it got me to thinking about the many times I have seen this kind of post! There has been hashtags for school counsellors for a very long time, but many are not aware of them.

The longest standing hashtag for school counsellors is #scchat, a great place for school counsellors to gather. Thanks to @ecmmason and @sch_counselor this is a great place to share and learn.

After our time in ETMOOC  @EHordyskiLuong and I tried to get Canadian School Counsellors to join in using the hashtag #CSCchat. We know you are out there school counsellors and we still want you to join in using all the school counsellor hashtags. It is the best PD ever . Don’t miss out!

What is #SCCROWD?  This year @rawolfson started #SCCrowd a different kind of chat that school counsellors from across the world can join in . Check out this SCCrowd website to find out more.

So yes George , administrators, school counsellors, educators and anyone who wants to connect with school counsellors from across the world  there are hashtags  and we welcome you to use them anytime. Collaborating with administrators is so important and that is why I often use the hashtag #edchat . Using the hashtag #cdnedchat  is another great way I  connect with educators from Canada. So please join in and use the school counsellor hashtags listed here.

#SCChat  School Counsellor Chat

#CSCCHAT Canadian School Counsellor Chat

#SCCROWD A Worldwide international School Counsellor Chat

#ESCCHAT Elementary School Counsellor Chat

#HSCCHAT High School Counsellor Chat

#IntlSC for International School Counsellors  thanks to Scott Langston

Everyone please feel free to join us anytime in a chat. We’d love to see you there. Thanks Derek Hatch and George Couros for giving me something to blog about today . Would love to see you jump in anytime using the #SCCrowd or other school counsellor hashtags . Seeing as you are Canadians why not use #CSCchat? This way we can demonstrate positive digital leadership and citizenship by working together . Thanks to #ETMOOC and now #DCMOOC for making me constantly think about digital citizenship and how it relates to school counselling.

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

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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… How do you make a difference when it comes to bullying?

Who’s Frank ? It’s More Than A Day It’s A Way

“No matter what happens in life be good to people.

Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

Taylor Swift

We alll need to find a way to empower students and each other to stand up and make a difference. These young students recognize that they can be empowered to make changes and not let injustices happen to others.

Mount Royal University and Bishop Carroll High School students are doing just that … they’ve started a movement #WHOSFRANKYYC

Take a look here for more details.

Here are some handouts from Barbara Coloroso .

Here are some anti-bullying resources for educators and school counsellors.

Here is another school working to make a difference

What ways will you stand up and make a difference when it comes to bullying?.

Can Students Make A Difference?

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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.