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.

What Is The Purpose of Education?

Many people think that education is all about preparing students for the world of work. While I believe we must provide them with the tools to be successful adults, education must include human values.

Schools provide a means to connect students with others so that they develop into caring adults. It is a place for students to be inspired in a culture of caring to think for themselves. A place where their curiousity is developed. A place where they can develop into confident, competent, creative, compassionate citizens, online and off who care about themselves and the world around them.

I love what the Dalai Lama had to say about Education,

”Education must go together with basic human values and teachers must set an example for their students through action and deeds, not merely by words. He further elaborated on this point by saying there is too much stress on developing the mind and too little on developing a ‘warm heart’.”

I want to develop that warm heart in every student who I encounter. I want to be an educator who helps students feel that they belong in a community where we respect them and they respect each other. I want students who bring skills into the world, to make a living and make a difference. My hope is that we inspire our youth to love learning throughout their lives.  What is the purpose of education? I believe it is to assist students on a journey that will help them become better people, giving them the tools they will need to contribute to society and help our world become a better place for all.

Educating the mind, heart and soul.

 

 “ To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

Stephen Covey

School Counselling Week … Lesson #15 We Need To Take Time to Celebrate What We Do

 

Often times we do not take the time to celebrate what we do , so this can sometimes lead to the public not understanding our role. I would encourage all school counsellors to celebrate what you do all year long , not just during school counselling week.

School Counsellors can collaborate in many ways :

  • Vlogging

(thanks to @counselingeek for a great vlog )

  • Blogging
  • Google docs
  • Using livebinders
  • Haiku Decks

What ways do you collaborate?

Happy National School Counselling week my fellow US counsellors and Happy Canadian School Counsellor week to all my fellow Canadians. I hope School Counsellors from across the world will join us in collaborating Internationally.

Congratulations to School Counselor Online Professional Exchange (SCOPE) on your new space. It is a great place for counsellors to collaborate and share ideas and resources.

Please take a look at some of the great things counsellors are doing to celebrate School Counselling:

  • I like this article by Patrick O’Connor Why You Should Celebrate School Counselling Week. In it he says that ” many principals think we should change schedules instead of lives”. I have been extremely fortunate in my career as a School Counsellor in that my principals have felt the exact opposite. They have definately believed that we should change lives instead of schedules. I know that may not be true for some of you and I am very hopeful that the perception of what School Counsellors actually do is changing and will impact the Future Of School Counselling in a positive way. I also believe many counsellors in our School District are very well trained when it comes to knowing  how to help students apply for college. We also have excellent Career Practitioners in our District as well who assist us in this role.
  • This is a great audio  broadcast celebrating School Counsellors with a supportive principal.
  • A blog celebrating the whole child.
  • Some great tips for the celebration.
  • Celebrating @rawolfson’s new blog.
  • Another great article from a principals perspective on the role of the school counsellor.

Hope you are celebrating what you do every day . I have absolutely loved this career and would not change the choice of what I chose to do, but would love to see changes to the understanding and support of the role for the school counsellor. Please share all you do to support students. One life of a child is worth everything. We are fortunate to be able to make a difference every day. I am grateful to be working alongside my fantastic colleagues Peter Damen and Marc Osenton. Thanks for all you do for students and for making me want to go to work every day. I am honoured  to work with you.

It Is Always Helpful to Reflect … Lesson #14 for A New School Counsellor

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Lessons 1-13 are here.

I have been very fortunate to work with and supervise great school counsellors. They teach me and I teach them. One tool that never gets old is the ability to reflect and Marc shares a few of his reflections on my blog. I know that he will have his own blog someday soon as he finishes up his Counselling degree. Listen as this new school counsellor reflects on his practice.

End of Semester Reflection

At this point in the semester, I am impressed at how much learning I have done and how much I have grown as a professional since the beginning of September. I would not have believed it if someone had told me before this semester how many situations and clients I would have worked with and survived. I am impressed with my ability to self-care, and how I am able to regulate my emotional responses. I have experienced anxiety and stress, but I am coping, as I am able to collaborate with my supervisor, reflect with classmates, and engage in my own healing activities. I actually feel less like an imposter and more like I belong in the profession.

However, despite my progress, I’m still aware of how far I have to go. I am still working on developing a conceptual map with each client, determining which theoretical models to add to my toolbox, and what actions I should take in given situations. More than anything, I still have work to do developing the instincts and comfort level required of experienced counsellors. I still make mistakes, and I am still very self-critical. I’ve hesitated, misjudged situations, and lost track of sessions. I still need to work on using my time with clients efficiently and purposefully. I’m optimistic – I’m working on improving, and have faith in my ability to grow. As long as I keep reflecting and pushing myself as a professional, I should improve.

Dual Relationships

This week’s focus on ethics drew attention to some interesting issues at my practicum site.

First, there are the concerns created by the dual roles school counsellors often are given. In schools, counsellors are often given teaching assignments, supervision duties, extracurricular commitments and administrative roles. In some cases, these dual roles can be performed without issue, even adding a positive dimension to the counsellor persona. However, despite this, counsellors still must guard against potential boundary issues, negative impacts upon therapeutic relationships, and confidentiality concerns. At my placement, my role as teacher advisor creates a dual relationship for any student in my ‘TA’ who wants to see me as a counsellor. I must be careful about the nature of my dual relationships with students and be mindful of it in the future.

Second, there are general confidentiality concerns present in schools. Teachers, administrators and parents often want information from counsellors that was given in confidence by students. Apart from cases of abuse or imminent harm, we are bound by our code of ethics to honour the privacy of our clients. That said confidentiality must be balanced by the need to protect our underage clients and by the rights of parents to be informed. This week has been a great start to discussion and reflection for the semester!

Self- Care

Self-care is a topic that all counsellors should have no difficulty reflecting upon, even as it may be easy to overlook. We all are guilty of behaviour that sacrifices our own well-being in favour of client needs, workplace demands, other life commitments, or general poor habits. A novice counsellor like myself is especially vulnerable. I am full of energy, keen to try new ideas, eager to meet the demands of my clients and workplace, and determined to measure up to my ambitious standards. Not only do I lack the experience to determine if my expectations and pace are plausible, but I haven’t had the experience to fully understand as a counsellor how to balance my life and take care of myself. Reminding us of the importance of self-care at this point of our practicum is well timed.

I need to improve my self-care in two different theatres – at work and away from work. At work, I need to take more breaks, leave my office, and connect with more staff. I need to rein in my ambitions and learn to reinforce boundaries and curtail expectations. I need to develop conceptual plans and reflect upon my practice to improve my delivery. I don’t feel overwhelmed at work, but the stress can add up. At home, I need to establish more regular self-care habits. I need to exercise more often and spend more time with friends and family. I enjoy spending time with my daughter, wife and dog, but I could reconnect with friends and family outside my home. I have been putting off certain tasks until I have completed my masters program, buy I need to rediscover hobbies and interests that I enjoy. Further, as illustrated by the ‘I need’ statements throughout, I need to temper my expectations of myself and celebrate my progress and accomplishments.

Hopefully, my career as a counsellor will be a long one. More than anything, I need to be patient.

I love that Marc is so reflective. We discuss his thoughts and concerns and each of us leaves learning something new.

This is a Self- care Haiku Deck that I created this week. In case your having a bad day I suggest you watch this video.