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.

Inspiring Leadership Begins With Me

“There are scores of people waiting for someone just like you to come along, people who will appreciate your compassion, your encouragement, who will need your unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because you took the time to share what you had to give.” Leo Buscaglia

This week I am fortunate to attend the Inspiring Leadership Form at The University of Regina. I look forward to listening to women who have had many challenges in life and turned them into opportunities to learn and grow and inspire young women to take leadership roles at an early age. As Dr. Vianne Timmons says to make sure we surround ourselves with others who lift us up.

Presently, I am running a leadership group for a group of grade five students. I recognize that in order for them to take on leadership roles, I must model positive leadership and expose students to as many leadership opportunities as I can at an early age.

Being a leader isn’t always easy. It involves being brave, having courage, love , hope, passion, risk, self awareness, strength and trust among many other qualities. Sometimes it means having a thick skin, not allowing negativity to stop us from reaching higher. Having a growth mindset helps young leaders learn that failure is not a bad word. It is how we learn and grow and gain the strengths to be positive leaders in many ways throughout life. We each have a role to play in being leaders.

As School Counsellors we are in a unique position to not only model leadership , but to provide opportunities for students to thrive as leaders of today and tomorrow who are advocates and not afraid to become the kind of people they are meant to be … not perfect, but full of potential helping to make this a better world.

Collaboration and connecting with other leaders will help us to find our voice and be the kind of leaders our young people need.

Inspiring leadership begins with me and I hope with you too.

10 Education Twitter Chats Just For You

Often when I am looking for a twitter chat I notice #scchat is left out , so if you have never heard about it look no further.

SCCHAT is held the first Wed. of every month from Sept.-June 6:30MT 8:30ET #scchat is an International School Counsellor chat for those across the world, but even if you are not a School Counsellor we welcome you in . School Counselors ,administrators and teachers collaborate all the time. We need each other . We are better with each other . So come along with us. Drop by any month for a little chat. We’d love to connect with you.  

You can learn more about our founder, chats and co-moderators here.

Education Hashtags  you may wish to follow:

#1 SCHOOL COUNSELLORS ,COUNSELLOR EDUCATORS #scchat

#2 EDUCATORS  #EdChat

#3 PARENTS #Parents

#4 PRINCIPALS #Principals

#5 EDUCATORS #MasteryChat

#6 STUDENT VOICE #StudentVoice

#7 DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP#DigitalCitizenship

#8 GLOBAL ED #GlobalEdChat

#9 EDTECH  #EdTech

#10 EDUCATORS #AchievementGap

For those of you interested in specific subject areas here are other Education hashtags  you may wish to follow:

ART #ArtsEd 

ENGLISH #engchat 
HISTORY #historyteacher
LANGUAGE foreign language #Langchat 
MATH  #Mathchat
MUSIC #MusEdchat 
PHYS. ED #PhysEd
SOCIAL STUDIES #SSchat 
SCIENCE #Scichat 
STEM #STEMchat

COMPUTER SCIENCE #CompSci

For those interested in Grade Level hashtags

EARLY CHILDHOOD #EarlyEd
ELEMENTARY #ElemSchool
HIGHER EDUCATION #HigherEd
HIGH SCHOOL #HighSchool
PRE SCHOOL #PreSchool

For a list of dates and times of weekly Education chats you can click here.

Aim For Improving Lives

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As a School Counsellor you have many roles to play and from personal experience I know sometimes we get caught up in all the daily things that need to get done . So just for today why not aim for improving the lives of your students and better yet why not look for ways to improve your own life. Amy Fast @fastcrayon says , “we don’t do what we do in schools to get good results/ data. We do what we do to improve the lives of humans. Good academic results are the byproduct. If we only aim for data, we may not succeed in improving lives. But , if we aim for improving lives the data will always follow

First let me start with a few questions.

  • What are ways you feel hopeful that you can improve the lives of your students and instil hope?
  • How do you help those that are struggling academically, socially or emotionally?
  • How do you educate the mind and the heart?
  • How do help students love learning and life ?
  • How do you help students live positively as a good citizen in their community and in the world?
  • How do you build healthy meaningful relationships with students and help them to do the same?
  • How do you help students feel a sense of belonging?
  • How do you assist students in finding their purpose and passion?
  • How do you help students make better choices?
  • How do you create a spark in a child’s eye so that they can become the people they are meant to be?
  • How can you make a difference in the lives of the students you serve, academically, socially, emotionally , physically and spiritually?
  • How can you collaborate with others to improve the lives of students so that they know how much they matter and can be successful in school and in life?

Reflection makes us all better and in the end it not only helps us improve our own lives, but also the lives of those we work with. Let’s start with you and your worth and then let’s move on to students. How can you improve your own life? :

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If you take good care of yourself you will be better able to assist students in improving their lives. Every day you as a School Counsellor reach out to help make students lives better. Keep doing the amazing work you do every day and keep on reflecting. As a Professional School Counsellor you can and do make an impact and a difference every day in oh so many ways.

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.

 

Crisis Response: School Counsellors Are You Prepared?

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Handling a crisis can impact the school and the School Counsellor in ways that are unforseen. The School Counsellor often takes the lead along with administration in our schools, but may be missed in recognizing the support they need because of their uniques role in offering social emotional supports to so many.

This podcast below will help all School Counsellors in a preventative way . Thanks to Trish Hatch @hatchingresults for the excellent podcast on Putting Out The Fire: A School Counsellors Role in Times of Crisis.

Your comment,  “what’s unique about the School Counsellor is that they are involved in the crisis as well, what often happens is the School Counsellor puts their own needs aside as they take care of others.” This concept is so important for all to recognize. We are helpers and how we model handling a crisis is vital.  If we remain calm, then students and staff will see that . As a School Counsellor I know I often handled crisis with calm , but on the inside I knew I  would need support after the crisis was over. That’s why debriefing and supports are essential.

If we are the leaders in our Student Services teams, we need to monitor how our team is doing and if they have been triggered by the crisis for whatever reason. We need to step in and step up to support them. Even if that means letting them know it is ok to step back and let others handle the crisis. The School Counsellor may have worked with the student or students related to the crisis , so they may need time for themselves to process and take care of their own needs. We too as the leader may be impacted so we need to be self-aware and know when we ourselves need to step back. This is one of the many great reasons to have districts who have a district crisis team that can come into the school and assist.

We are most certainly in the uniques role of helping others , so having a supportive admin. team is essential. Fortunately for me I have had wonderful leaders who know, support and understand the role of School Counsellors.

I hope you will use this podcast as a reflective tool and a great segue to important discussions with your counselling teams.

For easy access to this podcast, click here and listen to the end. It is perfect PD all online  for School Counsellors.

At 20:00 check out Vanessa Gomez Lee where she discusses ( a crate, a file box) I’ll call it a CR Kit for SC that every School Counsellor should have .

All districts have an emergency response plan and lock down kits each unique to their district. The CR School Counsellor Kit will be different . What should be in the kit that is different from your lock down kits?

Crisis Response Materials

  • Brochures or other materials on natural responses to grief. So many other great resources here .
  • Crisis Plan
  • Important Phone numbers
  • Community Resources
  • Kleenex
  • Markers and Paper for Students to write or draw their feelings

What else do you think should be in this kit?

  • Water
  • Stress balls ????????

I would love to hear your ideas. Again thanks to all the great School Counsellors who not only take the lead in their schools , but are always willing to share and help others . Thanks #scchat!

 

Childhood Trauma School Counsellors Can Help: Change the question from what’s wrong with you to what’s happened to you and how can I help?

 

According to the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre, in 2008, there were 14,403 substantiated cases of child abuse in Alberta.*

  • 6665 Infants, Youth and Children assessed at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC to date
  • 124 New cases assessed per month at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC
  • 11690 Visits from children to our Child Space since July 2013

For updated stats go to the SKYouth Advocacy Centre.

 

I am fortunate to volunteer for the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre with #youthchampionsyyc. The Youth Champion Initiative in collaboration with Youth Smart  empowers junior high and high-school students to develop their leadership capacity by taking responsibility in their school communities to promote a climate of well-being, healthy relationships and resiliency.

We know that adverse childhood experiences ACES have a long-lasting impact and there is much to do when it comes to trauma in youth.

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Today on 60 minutes Oprah Winfrey is bringing her voice to the world by discussing childhood trauma with Dr. Bruce Perry.

CBC did an amazing three-part series on childhood trauma. Thanks to @HeatherTuba for sharing.

You can listen here:

PART 1 : “Our bodies psychological armour … How do some children remember abuse ? The link between obesity and trauma. Have a listen  CBC ALL in The Family Part 1 

PART 2: Childhood trauma is increasingly being seen as a major factor in academic under-achievement. Have a listen CBC All in The Family Part 2.

PART 3: Understanding and healing  childhood trauma is essential. Have a listen to part 3 in this series CBC All in The Family Part 3.

There is much to learn when it comes to childhood trauma. My hope is that these resources will help you start a dialogue with educators and others re childhood trauma and the effects.

There is help and support in your community and School Counsellors are one of the many people who can help students with childhood trauma. It does take a village , but the relationship with a School Counsellor may be a start to changing a child’s life. What is your ACES score? What is the ACES score of some of the students you serve?  You may be the person who will make a difference in their life. Won’t you join in and help?