Each Day A New Opportunity

@sspellmancann taken on my walk today

Each day we have a new opportunity to look at our life from a new perspective. We are never sure what life will bring us as is evident from this pandemic and all that happens to people we love and know. No one gets through life without bumps along the way. No matter what challenges we may encounter , how we perceive them is up to us.

As I walk, I notice the world around me and have time to reflect on how I will deal with life. Today is my opportunity to devour all the goodness that life has to offer and so I will.

Play … Wherever You Are

It’s a dreary day in the Maritimes today, but I decided to paint,play and post.

Design by @sspellmancann

I love everything about the maritimes , so I am often inspired to design maritime swag. Today I played painted and created new designs. I hope you are inspired to create and play too. It’s ok to play even as an adult. Now that I am retired I get to play in so many ways. It’s the kind of freedom I love having,

I am working on finishing a book called Nova Scotia Hugs in which all paintings /pics will be done by me. I’ve always wanted to do this ,but was never able to do all the painting until now.

So go ahead and play away. I think I’ll have a summer of doing just that.

Everyone Needs That Kind of Friend

@sspellmancann

Everyone needs a friend that will call and say”get dressed we are going on an adventure”

Many of us have felt stuck in our homes the last while, so I suggest get a friend and explore your own city, province, state or country if you are allowed (making sure you are following health regulations) during Covid19. I am very fortunate to have friends that I can be spontaneous with. I love deciding to see or do something new at a moments notice. A few years back a friend of mine and I had such a fabulous time . We bought new clothes, new hats, borrowed her mother’s convertible, and went on a road trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Oh what fun we had with such great memories to look back upon. I smile from ear to ear and remember the joy it brought us both as I think about that time. So get out there with friends and make memories. Everyone needs that kind of friend.

Painting For Pleasure

@sspellmancann

I just started painting in the last eight years and I have to say it brings me so much joy. I love to play all day just exploring texture and color. Painting brings me flow like no other experience. Especially during this time I love to escape and paint as much as possible.

You can also find me on redbubble in my shop. A few years back my son told me to join and I thought if he thinks it’s cool it must be and so I did. I have donated hundreds of pieces of my art , because I believe in giving back and the truth be told I just had too much art. I got on a violin painting kick during covid19. I love everything about the violin, the way it looks, the way it sounds and especially the way it can be painted. It was an opportunity to donate some to those who love the violin as much as I do.

I hope you too find something during this time that can bring you as much joy as painting brings me.

10 Ways To Kick Start Your Day Just for Today #2

  1. Just for Today I will make my moments marvellous.
  2. Just for Today I will write messages and jokes in chalk. Carol Stevenson
  3. Just for Today when I take a shower , I will sing my favourite song at the top of my lungs. Neil O’Flaherty
  4. Just for Today I will share my favorite song that reminds me of them with someone I care about. 
  5. Just for Today I will sit quietly and listen to the world around me. Susan Viveiros
  6.  Just for Today I will think before I act. 
  7.  Just for Today I will give up complaining .
  8.  Just for Today I will stop overthinking.
  9.  Just for Today I will enjoy the little things in my day.
  10.   Just for Today I will share my favorite memory of someone with them. Andrea Hecker Cumatz

If you’d like to check out our old posts here they are: 101 Ways To Kickstart Your Day In A Positive Way and 10 Ways to Kickstart Your Day Just for Today .

I shared my music that reminds me of my friend and she shared hers today you can check them out on Twitter @sspellmancann

Erin Luong and I would love to hear how you are using these or please add your Just For Today in the comments …

Connecting and Networking With #SCCHAT the first Wed. of every month

SCCHAT is an online monthly chat on twitter for School Counsellors, School Counsellor Educators, grad students from across the world and really it is for anyone interested in School Counselling. Even if you cannot make the monthly chat because you are in a time zone that just won’t work, jump into #scchat any time of day so we can connect with you and please tell us where you are from. Connecting with School Counsellors from across the world makes us all better!

Check out our co-moderators here.

If you’d like to collate the chat you can use waklet. Check out the how to video below…

Mark Your Calendars

Sept. 4th 2019 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

It’s All About Relationships

Tonya Romine @TromineTonya and Joanne Brisebois @BriseboisJoanne

Oct. 2nd, 2019 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

Trauma Informed Schools

Kathy L’Heureux @CounselorLaroo  , Joseph Batiano@MrBatianoR1
and Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann

Nov. 6th 2019 6:30MT 8:30 ET

Attendance Matters: Getting Kids to School

Angela Avery @MrsAveryBMS and Kelly O’Brien @missobrienweav1

Dec. 4th 2019 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

School Counselors + Library Staff: Partnering to Promote Future-Ready Students

Angela Cleveland @angcleveland Kristina Holzweiss @lieberrian and Lakisha Kidd @kiddcounselor15

Jan. 1st 2020 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

Counsellors Role in Restorative Practices ACES 

Leanne Lazar @lazar_leanne and Shawn Adkins @sadkinsump

Feb. 5th 2020 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

Thriving School Counseling Programs – National School Counseling Week
Erin Mason @ecmmason and Angela Avery @MrsAveryBMS

March 4th 2020 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

A Date with Data: Using Data to Enhance your School Counseling Program

Rawn Boulden@rawnboulden and Nicohl Webb @CounselorPCE

April 1st 2020 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

Mental Health Literacy
Erin Luong @ehordyskiluong , Cynthia Morton @c_morton
and Susan Fuller @EElementarySC

May, 6th 2020  6:30 MT 8:30 ET

Interrupting Racism with Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr and authors Rebecca Atkins @counselorup and Alicia Oglesby @aliciakolglesby

June 3rd, 2020 6:30 MT 8:30 ET

To be decided. Maybe YOU would like to co-moderate. Let @sspellmancann know what topic and who you would like to co-moderate with.

We look forward to seeing you in #scchat this year.

Lessons for A New School Counsellor

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What do I believe are some important lessons for a new School Counsellor to be aware of ? These lessons will not be in order of importance, but are all lessons I feel are worthwhile for you .

Lesson #1: We can’t help everyone, but we can sure try to help the ones that come to us or are referred to us (and yes sometimes we need to go to them).

Students will often disclose very serious issues that you as School Counsellors need to address. Sometimes when you disclose to parents that their son or daughter is thinking of suicide or some other life threatening concern (the end result might be the student may never return to see you). Hopefully you have connected the student and their family to resources that can improve and indeed in some cases save their lives.

It is important for you the new school counsellor to not get discouraged if a student does not return to see you (don’t personalize it). You may have helped the students tremendously and yes indeed you may even save their life,  but they will be unaware of just how at this present time in their life. Know that students have stopped me in stores and other places years later to let me know what a difference I made. So hang in there knowing that you did what you needed to do. It would be great to help all students , but unfortunately even if you do everything correct sometimes we lose a student and this will be absoltely devastating. So make sure you always debrief and get help for yourself.

It is also important to be self-aware, so always run by big concerns with another counsellor and see if indeed there was something else you could have done or ask what if anything could you have done differently. Remind yourself that you are in a process of learning.

Consult… consult… consult… a lifelong lesson for ALL School Counsellors.

It is also OK to recognize that you are NOT a match for every student. Hopefully there are other counsellors in your school or outside agencies that you can refer your student to if this happens. I let students know that they have a choice when it comes to counsellors and they need to see the person they feel most comfortable and safe with. Hopefully, that will be you , but if that is not so that is OK too.

Lesson # 2: We need to base what we do on theoretical perspectives that are useful and helpful. Humanists like Carl Rogers and Victor Frankl have impacted me, but so too have others in the field of psychology like Albert Ellis, Irvin Yalom, Fritz Perls, Ed JacobsDavid Burns, Virginia Satir, Donald Meichenbaum, Claudia Black

and Mary Pipher to name a few. There is no one right approach. You need to discover what you believe and make sure the theories work for you and your students.

Each theorist has impacted the way I interact and help students. Along the way I have also worked with some amazing school counsellors , educators and supervisors who have also influenced me in a positive way. Thanks especially to Ed Jacobs, Diane Williams, Deana Helton , Erin Mason , and Helen MacKinnon.

Lesson #3: Find great mentors and learn from them. One of my all time favorites is Ed Jacobs. Ed is a genuinely helpful man as well as being a great therapist. I love how he interacts and works with young and old people alike and makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Check him out on YouTube here:

 

Lesson #4: There are so many people and resources you can learn from that can impact students in a positive way. I think Leo Buscaglia  has the best lessons that can be used in counselling students. I can honestly say I loved Leo . He was and still is an inspiration to me. Which brings me to an extremely important lesson … lesson #5

Lesson #5: Continually professionally develop yourself. Keep learning and learning and learning. One of my new favorite ways to do this is to connect with other school counsellors worldwide on twitter. See my past post on amazing school counsellors and what they are doing. My twitter handle is @sspellmancann. If you are not on twitter sign up TODAY! Join us in #scchat on the first Wed. of every month at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET. Post to #scchat anytime and there is always great resources there for you to access for free.

Lesson #6: Read great counselling books . A few I really like are : Impact Therapy by Ed. Jacobs, Creative Counselling Techniques by Ed. Jacobs, Group Counseling Strategies and Skills Jacobs, Masson, Harvill, Letters To A Young Therapist Mary Pipher, The Gift of Therapy  Irvin Yalom, and Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

As I think about the lessons I believe a new counsellor should be thinking about I realize that there are some practical considerations that a new counsellor might want to implement. Here are a few:

What are some basics that could be helpful to you as a new school counsellor? 

  • Write an introduction letter to parents letting them know who you are and what you do and post it on the school counselling and school website. (If  by chance your school does not have a website design a letter introducing yourself and put it in the school newsletter ( put it in the newsletter anyway.Tweet this out to students on the school twitter account and post it to the school Facebook account.
  • If you engage on social media please remember that NOTHING is PRIVATE ( even if you think it is ).  Digital citizenship is a lesson we all need to learn.
  • Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time.
  • Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. Celebrate what you do and how you are doing. Discuss what the expectations are of a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan and how you can work together to accomplish this.
  • Counsellors and admin should be joint leaders in any school.
  • Show initiative. Everyone in a school will benefit. If you have some great ideas don’t be afraid to share or try out your ideas.
  • Discuss limits of confidentiality with every student. You might want to put a poster of the limits on your office wall.
  • Visually make your office a space students want to be in.
  • Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
  • Have a plan when meeting new students.  It is helpful to get a cell phone number so that you can follow-up.
  • It might be helpful to keep a notebook of all the things you need to know especially if you are in a new school or counselling a new age group.
  • You will want to find a simple and easy way to curate information. I use livebinders and pinterest. They can be extremely helpful tools for new counsellors as well as those that have been around for a while.
  • You need to be a positive PR person for the school counseling program , so find many ways to connect with students. Brainstorm with your colleagues ways to make connections with students so that they know who you are and what you do.
  • Connect with parents. Let them know through parent council or other means what you do.
  • Ask for help. You are not expected to know everything. Utilize the professionals inside and outside of your building for support.
  • Learn as you go about the many community resources that are available and put them in a binder or livebinder.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your innovative or creative ideas with your counselling team ( if you have one). They and you will benefit!
  • BALANCE we all benefit from taking care of ourselves. Don’t burn yourself out in the first year. Practice self-care.
  • You have a big learning curve. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.

I am adding one of my live binders called school counsellor resources. Please as in all my livebinders  take what you like and leave the rest.

For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.

My next Lessons for a new School Counsellor will be posted soon.

Welcome to the best profession in the world School Counselling.

It’s A New Day

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A month away from school and the realization has set in that I won’t be going back. I see all the posts from my fellow school counsellors ( most in the US who are starting already) and I so hope you have a phenomenal year. Know that you are about to make a difference this year, one that you may not get to realize until many years later. It is so great when students come back to tell you two or thirty plus years later what a difference you’ve made or those students who take the time to write a beautiful note. i treasure mine. Keep yours in a space you know you can go back to. They are a  great reminder  of why you chose this amazing profession.

My goals in this new chapter are many. It’s a new day to make a difference in a new way. You can read more here about why I want to keep my blog going. I will continue to co-moderate and keep #scchat going along with Erin Mason @ecmmason and Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong. So if you are looking for a great school counsellor chat . Join us most third Wednesday’s of each month. The first one for September will be Monday, September 11th at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET co moderated by Dr. Susan Fuller. Topic to be decided. Check out #scchat in September for more information. Most chats  after that will be on the first Wed.

It is a new day!  School Counsellors across the world , I am wishing that you have the best school year ever! Be kind to yourself and go out there and make a difference.

A gigantic thank you to those who have decided to help out with our chats. If I have missed anyone please DM me and I will add you.

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason                                  Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong              Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr                                Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC                             Pennsylvania
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers                        Vienna, VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya                            Northwest ISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski                          Battle Creek ,MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski                              Metairie, LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors                          Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor                   Columbia, MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS                            Biddeford, Maine
  12. Joanne Brisebois @BriseboisJoanne                    Calgary, Alberta
  13. Bridget Helms @bridgethelms                             Northwest, Indiana
  14. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann             Calgary, Alberta

School Counselling Will Always Hold A Special Place In My Heart

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It really is hard for me to believe that I have retired from a career I not only felt passionate about, but loved deeply. Well, it wasn’t the career so much as the students I worked with that continued to make a difference for me.

School Counsellors really have a multifaceted role which can be exhilerating and exhausting. They do save lives every year. Unfortunately sometimes even though they do their best they are unable to prevent student trauma. Trauma does and will continue to occur in schools.  I want to continue to support School Counsellors so that is why I will continue to co-moderate and help faciltate a School Counsellor chat #scchat

I want to thank those people that have decided to help co – facilitate our chats next year. YOU ROCK!:

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers Vienna VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya NorthwestISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski Battle Creek MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski Metairie LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor Columbia MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS Biddeford, Maine
  12. YOUR name here
  13. YOUR name here
  14. YOUR name here
  15. YOUR name here
  16. YOUR name here
  17. YOUR name here
  18. YOUR name here
  19. YOUR name here
  20. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann Calgary, Alberta

Erin , Erin HL  and I would like to get at least 20 people who are willing to co-moderate at least one chat ! We will put a how to video together soon so that you will feel comfortable in leading a chat . You can always ask Erin, Erin HL or I questions at anytime. If you have any ideas for topics please let us know.

I am also interested in featuring you in a blog post . So if you are a School Counsellor and interested please let me know.

School Counselling Matters and so do you!

 

There Is An Artist In All Of Us

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Five years ago I did not paint and now thanks to great friends and my experiences in ETMOOC  , I have more confidence and find it one of the most rewarding , therapeutic experiences that I can imagine. I take mini courses and I watch lots of youtube videos to get tips. It is so much fun.

I have keratoconus a progressive eye disease, ( I was diagnosed later in life ) so I think partly that diagnosis has driven me to create visually in case my vision ever gets really poor. Painting is therapeutic and healing for me. I have played sports all my life and I absolutely love to read,  both which can bring me flow , but nothing brings me the kind of flow that painting does.

Painting brings me flow the kind of flow that was discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Fifteen hours can feel like five minutes for me. I love that it brings me joy and that I am completely absorbed in the process. It is fun and easy and yes I think anyone  can benefit from art and painting.  If I can you can too.

 

I plan on using the painting that I did above,  thanks to the online instructions from theArtSherpa ( see below) with our students. Art and Counselling definitely go together . Paintings tell stories often times with hidden messages.

Process for students:

Today we are going to embark on a journey of letting go of any negativity and go with the flow. For the next two hours you are not allowed to say to yourself I can’t . If you hear yourself speaking those words take your note pad and write I can … I will.

So let’s begin this process by being mindful and breathing. Lead students through a short mindfulness process to begin. Let them know that they are going to create a special painting today and that there are no mistakes. They can create their trees and painting anyway they like even if it is different from the paining they see. Like mine birch trees do not produce multi coloured leaves , but I did just because I wanted to visually and I  love the effect.  This seminar is about being yourself and letting go.

If they would like to follow the step by step instructions here they are:

  1. Write messages of hope and their dreams for their future in pencil on their canvas.
  2. Ask students if anyone would like to share their hopes and dreams with others.
  3. The size of canvas it up to the student. Have students bring the size of canvas they want to work on.
  4. Divide your canvas into six equal sections. They don’t have to be exact and you don’t have to measure them. Tell students they can estimate.  So begin by saying Today we are going to create . We are going to start by painting a rainbow with trees, you can use any method you like to paint your colors on your canvas. I used upwards stokes, but really any would work. Start with red, orange , yellow, greens,  blue and purple.
  5. Guide students through the process being as creative as you like in explaining what they can do next. Constantly remind them it is ok to make mistakes ( really there are no mistakes, but they may perceive them as such). Remind them that their perceived mistakes lead to more creativity and it is ok to be as creative as they wish going with the flow and what their heart wants to paint.
  6. Trees can be very symbolic and you can discuss this with students.Trees are strong and unique just like each of them. Birch trees can mean new beginnings. You can discuss with students what they believe their trees mean for them. I chose nine trees, but they can choose any number that means something to them. I also chose to add flowers and really birch trees have no colorful flowers, but I like the effect. The lovely thing when you create art just for the sake of it is that there is no right or wrong . There are no mistakes. It just is … creative , how wonderful and freeing.
  7. The rest of the directions are below in the video. You can watch and create your own instructions.
  8. Most importantly have fun and trust the process.

Check out the video below for detailed instructions:

If you decide to do this process with your students , please share your creative ideas with me @sspellmancann.

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life

Pablo Paccasso