It’s OK To Go With the Flow

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I’ve been thinking about flow a lot lately. Maybe it comes with getting older. I like to be in the flow state more often these days.

According to Milhaly Csikszentmilhalyi, in his national bestseller flow, a joyful life is an individual creation one that cannot be copied from a recipe. I have always worked at creating a joyful life. My version of one to be sure and I want to instill in my students that they can create a joyful life as well (their version of one). I want to focus on their strengths so that they too can find what brings them flow.

“Psychology must be concerned with human strength as with weakness”  says Seligman. I would say we definitely need to look at our young people’s strengths and help them discover their hidden strengths so that they can be more free to enter into states of flow. As Martin Seligman says we should be interested in building the best things in life as we are in repairing the worst. “We need to be concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as we are with healing pathology.”  Below you can take a deeper look at what he has to say.

I find that too many people focus on the disease model of the past. Some describe students as their disorder instead of looking at all their strengths. I still hear words being said when describing students that don’t look at the whole person. Language matters and we need to take the lead when it comes to describing , healing and helping students.

I believe we need to find our own flow states so we can help students find theirs. I love what Csiksezentmihalyi says,

” contrary to what we usually believe, the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” .

During flow you can’t feel anything , time stops. That is what happens to me when my mind is being stretched . That is the way I feel when I create. Creating for me is therapeutic. It is healing , it is magical. I love that my mind goes to this space and that is freeing.

I can achieve this through artistic endeavours ( a newfound passion in the last three years), by playing lacrosse and by doing what I love to do … helping. I often find joy in the process of everyday living , but through creating I have found the flow state like never before. Sometimes 15 hours feels like 5 minutes.

In chapter 5 of Martin Seligman’s Flourish he makes a poignant point . If you ask any of us what we want for our children it is not things like achievement, success and  literacy at the top of the list. It is more important things like happiness, love, balance. More to do with the well-being of the child. Yes, we all want our young people to achieve, but we also want them to thrive and be well.That’s why School Counsellors are so important. We do what we love to do and help students to achieve while looking at the whole young person. We help teach students to be well.

We can also help students to find a flow state , to be grateful and to recognize that it is their beliefs about adversity , not the adversity itself that leads to their feelings of worthlessness etc.

So for today I say get your flow on … and go with the flow  …

Future School Counsellors … If I Can You Can Too

Technology is a very important part of students lives today and will be even more prevalent in the future. School Counsellors can find a way to incorporate exciting new practices into their School Counselling programs. These changes can inspire not only their students , but the School Counsellors themselves.

IF I CAN YOU CAN TOO

I’ve been asked by Dr. Chris Schimmel  @doc_schimmel an outstanding Counselor Educator to present to future School Counsellors on the use of technology. I love technology and think it is essential to future School Counsellors. Why? Because it allows us to connect with students in their space as well as allows us an opportunity to connect to the whole school population. Of course there will always be a place and a space for meeting and connecting with students individually, but it is also extremely important to reach as many students as possible  and that can be done through the use of technology.

Technology also allows us to develop a PLN  with people from all around the world. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to connect with not only School Counsellors who are passionate, but also with other educators who use technology to assist them in improving and reflecting on what it is they do for students. Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmmason  my friend is an amazing leader when it comes to School Counsellors utilizing and creating ideas with technology.

So, University of West Virginia Counseling students this blog post is for you. I look forward to meeting , connecting  and sharing and helping you in the Google Hangout organized by your professor Dr. Chris Schimmel.

The rest of this blog will be about the resources I think School Counsellors can use that make a difference.

#1 is Twitter so I encourage you to get an account today. It will transform your life and the life of your future students if used properly. Twitter is where it all began for me and then ETMOOC changed the way I offered parts of my School Counselling program. A special thanks to Alec Couros @courosa  Ed tech professor extraordinaire and social media expert at the University of Regina. You will want to follow him and his brother George @gcouros a leader and fabulous Administrator on twitter.

Advantages of twitter:

  • It allows for opportunities to connect, collaborate, share and learn from and with people from all over the world.
  • I have used Twitter and Google docs to collaborate with other School Counsellors and educators who have wanted to contribute to Mental Health in High School as well as many other projects.
  • Using the hashtags #SCCrowd and #scchat as well as some other great chats allows us to connect with School Counselling professionals who are more than willing to help us as we continue to work with and make a difference for students.

School Counsellor chat schedule

  • The instant anytime access allows me to get information or resources that I can utilize in an open manner which not only helps me , but may help others.
  • It also allows us a voice for reaching out to others to let them know that what we do matters.

University of Regina President Vianne Timmons saying School Counsellors Change and Save Lives

This post has had 9,458 people who have seen it in two days. Social media can reach people quickly.

  • If you’d like to start to follow and share on #SCin30 you too can have a voice. We’d love to know what you think as a future School Counsellor. Pose a question and answer it. Then share and we can learn from you.

The most rewarding part of my job as a School Counsellor

  • Twitter allows you as a School Counsellor to share and help other School Counsellors, School Counselling students and educators.

If you want to learn more about School Counsellors observe their twitter accounts. Please follow them using the hashtags above and you’ll get a good sense of how you too can be a positive digital citizen and model this for your future students.

Ask for help. Other School Counsellors and educators are always willing to help you. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to ask.

One of the best ways you can find the best tech tools to use as a School Counsellor is to check out SCOPE School Counselor Online Professional Exchange. Spend some time there. It will be worth your time and effort.

#2  Haiku Deck As a School Counsellor you will have to give presentations or you may wish to share ideas or messages with students that you think are important. Haiku Deck @haikudeck is my number one go to app. It has a creative commons license built within the app that allows a visual experience that is like none other.

Below you can see some of my haiku decks that I have used to share with School Counsellors and students.

The power of social media to touch others is absolutely amazing. This simple @haikudeck on Who Matters?  has had 79,769 views . One never knows the impact a simple gesture   can have online and off.

#3 Livebinders I love to use livebinders to organize and share useful School Counselling information. At Bishop Carroll High School we use livebinders to share large amounts of important information with students in a single space.

Here are two of our livebinders co-created by our School Counselling team Erin Luong  @ehordyskiluong ,  Peter Damen  and I   :

  1.  Post Secondary Planning
  2.  This Personal Wellness  livebinder is a work in progress.

#4  Smore

There are so many benefits for using smores. You can find a few ideas here.

Here is our Welcome to Student Services smore. It is an excellent way to share information with your future students , parents and staff. Also it is an amazing tool for gathering ideas to present to students as you can see in our personal wellbeing livebinder section .

#5  iMovie  / YouTube I use iMovie more and more to present to students information that I think will be helpful to them. Dean Shareski , a Canadian educator said once and it has stayed with me video trumps text, so I try to use video as much as possible to create information students can relate to and then upload the iMovie to YouTube. I do this all on my iPhone which makes things very easy for me.

Here are two iMovies ,  one  I made and one our students made as part of our student led wellness team.

Welcome grade 10’s

There Is More To me Than PSA

Here is one I made from haiku deck :

Ten Things You Should Stop Doing: Notice the attribution to Haiku Deck at the bottom of the movie which you should always do . Give attribution that is. That is where people can see where the pictures come from and who to attribute them to.

Ten Things You Should Stop Doing

#6  Blogs

Blogs are a great tool to create, connect and learn from others. For me creating blogs still requires a great deal of effort as I am still learning, but today’s example is a great way of sharing information with others from far away. I started my blog in May of 2013. It has had 15,113 views from 105 countries.

  1. SCOPE blog
  2. Blog roll of School Counselors

#7  Google docs are an amazing way to collaborate.  I collaborate with our students on our Wellness committee  and our Who’s Frank? team. Here are two google docs that you can collaborate on and I hope you do:

  1. Connecting with School Counsellors
  2. Mental Health in High School A Collaborative Project

One Tool At A Time Google Drive and Forms

#8 Pinterest is a fabulous way to collate information and gather information for future use. I love the visual aspect of pinterest.

Pinterest does indeed inspire creativity . I have used it for many things including creating School Counselling bulletin boards as well as for ideas for presentations.

#9  Google hangouts

Again, yet another great way to connect with School Counsellors and educators from across the world.

The Future of School Counselling Google Hangout

Post ETMOOC Google Hangout

For more ideas of why technology is important for you check here.

You can see that I use multiple tools in multiple ways to help me do a variety of things that help not only School Counsellors , but students as well. Three years ago I did not know how to do any of this so …  if I can you can too.

IT IS THE RIGHT TIME to focus on MENTAL HEALTH IN HIGH SCHOOL

Thanks to the Bishop McNally  staff especially Adam, Emily, Loretta and Theresa for your assistance today in having me present. Presenting is always a collaborative effort. A big thanks to the principal Deana Helton @deanaH2 for asking me to kick off her mental health initiative.  I had a great morning with you and your staff.

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Below you will find all the resources I used and a few extra that might help you. Loved the pass the chicken activity organized by Emily and the PE department. It was a great fun and a wonderful team building activity.

Lastly, I really appreciate all of you sharing on your stickies:

  1. One thing I will do to take care of my own mental wellness
  2. One thing I will do in school to aide in the mental health and wellness of students

Hoping you have a great year as you focus on taking care of yourselves and your students.

Here is just a few great examples of things YOU plan on doing:

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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

According to Patrick Carney positive mental health is ” the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well being that respects the culture,equity,social justice, interconnections and personal dignity” ( public health Agency of Canada (PHAC) , 2006

There are already a hundred things you do right in your High School : Focus on those. There are also a 100 ideas of things you can do to promote mental health and well being. The wellness fund has a few videos to give you some ideas.

Here are a few things we are doing at BCHS:

More about Career Speed Dating …

  • Our personal wellness live binder.
  • We have students post positively to #carrollculture
  • Bishop Carroll wellness committee on Facebook
  • Student voice
  • Google doc with many many resources related to mental health ( feel free to add )
  • Who I Am Makes A Difference ribbons

There Is More to Me Than video:

Who’s Frank?

More resources from Who’s Frank? It’s More Than A Day It’s A Way …

Gratitude affects your wellness take a look:

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 families. Reduce Stigma!

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  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. 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 please 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 are excited about the many possibilities and hope you will join us in CREATING several resources that will be beneficial to all.  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 ?

Schools are a positive setting for promoting positive mental health for more background take a peek here.

A great resource to get ideas.

and for all you Educators if you really want to get happier take the The Science of Happiness a MOOC by edX.

You can find some of my haiku deck’s here that I used in my presentation.

  1. It Is The Right Time to Focus on Mental Health in High School
  2. Ten Things You Should Stop Doing
  3. BCHS We Don’t Say Anti – Slur campaign
  4. Digital Citizenship Lessons
  5. Just For Today
  6. One Kind Word
  7. How To Have A Great Day
  8. Life Lessons
  9. Who Matters?

I know you are a champion because you read this post. So here you go some more resources Positive Mental Health Teacher resources from Ever Active Schools.

Sit back relax … take time for you …

I look forward to collaborating with any of you that are passionate about mental health and wellness in High School.

35 years in Education The Passion Continues

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I cannot believe I started teaching thirty five years ago. I have to say I am as passionate about my profession and even more so because of all the learning that has taken place over all these years. I am so grateful to learn with and from students , other educators , friends , my husband and our children.

I love what I do and I let students know that. I feel it is extremely important to care about what you do and remain passionate . If you are no longer passionate about being an educator or School Counsellor it is time to change as it is a major disservice to the students we serve. I plan on retiring (not now),but with passion for a profession that fulfills and will always hold a special place in my heart!

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Being a lifelong learner has served me well. I feel I still have sooooooo much to learn. Thanks to Twitter and my PLN especially those in #etmooc  #SCCrowd  and #scchat, I continue to learn and grow every day. It has actually given me new ways to do what I love to do.

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The use of technology has allowed me and our Student Services Team to share ideas and resources with the whole school.

Here is our Welcome To Student Services Smore.

We love to collaborate at BCHS and Peter Damen one of our School Counsellors took the lead in creating  a Post Secondary Planning livebinder to assist students with finding academic information. It is fantastic.

Erin Luong (another School Counsellor at BCHS ) and I are working on this Personal Wellness livebinder to assist students in finding resources related to wellbeing and mental health. We will eventually create a live binder just for parents. I am so fortunate to work with a School Counsellor @ehordyskiluong who loves using tech as much as I do.

I so look forward to this school year as I know I will find the extraordinary in the ordinary days and remind myself to be grateful for each and every day.

Please check out our student wellness team latest PSA There Is More To Me Than:

If you are looking to read any books this year try these two. Have a phenomenal year . I look forward to connecting and collaborating with you!

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You can find me @sspellmancann on twitter.

A Graduation Message From A BCHS Alumni

It's better to fail at what you love than to fail at what you don't . Jim Carrey
It’s better to fail at what you love than to fail at what you don’t . Jim Carrey

This is an email I recieved this week from a student who wishes to remain anonymous. The message is great so I share it with you. I am grateful that BCHS is such a great place to work. Graduates … you amaze me! I am in awe of you.

Hello graduate:
This is a message from a former Bishop Carroll High School student and it is addressed to each graduate in the class of 2015. Before anything else, congratulations! You have endured, grown, been challenged by, and are forever changed by your BCHS journey. You have earned the green slips, made the cutoffs, and can now call yourself a graduate of Bishop Carroll High School; a great Calgary institution that has developed a legacy for turning out exceptional people – people who forge incredible impacts in the world and help make it a better place.

My purpose for writing this is to imbue you with a few friendly words of wisdom, some advice, and to call you to service in your community. What is said in this message is opinion not doctrine and it is meant simply to convey some words of encouragement as you close a proverbial chapter in your life and turn to the next.

Bishop Carroll High School is not a school for a neighborhood or a quadrant – it is a school for the community of Calgary. As a result, it is a place of great diversity and great opportunity. The experiences you have had and the environment you have been in is something that is unique and one that has set you up differently than other people your age. You have been given the Carroll Advantage – the opportunity to learn in a system that hones your strengths, remedies weaknesses, and lets you discover who you are. The result: an ability to think critically, to manage yourself, to take ownership of your destiny, and the ability to make a profound impact on those around you. Self directed learning is a fantastic way to learn and appreciate personal responsibility, develop self management skills, and ultimately learn who you are and grow as a human being. The opportunities, skills, and experiences found in and taken from Bishop Carroll High School create potential for great things in every graduate. All of you have potential that knows only the boundaries you set for yourselves. There is no limit to what you can do; so believe in yourself, set your standards high, dream as big as you can, and never ever quit on something worthwhile.

My time since graduating has afforded me the ability to experience many great things and meet many great people, but every time I encounter something new – a challenge or an opportunity, I often find myself reflecting back on the experiences I had as a student at Carroll. Truthfully, everything I do now is somehow connected back to my time at Carroll. No matter what I face I always tell myself I am a Carroll grad and that gives me the confidence to do just about anything because who I have become was largely started in my three years at Carroll. If nothing else, please take some time to reflect on your BCHS journey: the highs the lows and understand how those experiences will always stick with you. In the bright times use those memories to reflect fondly and appreciate yourself, who you have become, and who you will grow into. In the challenging times use those memories to remind yourself of all you have accomplished and tell yourself you can do anything you set my mind to – you will be better for it. No matter what you face, who you face it with, or what you end up doing know this – if you understand and appreciate what your time at Carroll did for you and that it has helped make you then you really will be able to do anything. There is nothing quite like the confidence or the last minute quick thinking of a BCHS graduate.

Bishop Carroll High School is different than anywhere else, from what I have seen and experienced since graduation it truly does prepare you better and make you more ready for the world. The world you graduate into is one that seems to change exponentially each year. New challenges and new opportunities will demand more of everyone and will likely challenge us as a global community in a way we have not been challenged before. It will take people from diverse backgrounds and skill sets to confront them. Regardless of your path after high school YOU have the power to help change the world. Change does not have to come from grand actions or mega projects – the world can be changed at the grassroots level by the sum of individual actions. So find something you are passionate about – something you love, do it, do it well, and use it to help make the world around you better. Although not everything will be recognized no good action is too small. The opportunities and skills you have now give you the BCHS grad a responsibility to help make a positive impact on the world around you and doing what you love is a great way to make the world better. .

Enjoy each moment, learn from your successes and your failures, never ever give up, appreciate those around you, and live your life to the fullest. Congratulations on your achievement and welcome to the BCHS alumni community. Mane Nobisum Domaine

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.

 

EdcampHome … Exhilarating, Exciting and an Experience I won’t soon forget

 

Thanks Katie for this view of the day. It epitomizes how I felt. SLAM.. I was scared ,but I felt the fear and did it anyway and I am so grateful I did .

A year filled with gratitude . That is what I want my year to look like and I am so grateful to these organizers. Watching what they did was AMAZING … INSPIRING … and so HELPFUL .

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John Wooden

Here is more information for you to get the idea of what the day was about: EdcampHOME 2014