Cleaning our minds from the clutter can help us on our journey to deeper thinking. A beautiful walk in the morning can do just that. I walk almost every day during the school year with @ehordyskiluong. We share ideas, get inspired, and think about innovative and creative ideas. We vent if we need to (not often). Talk about our families, but mostly we clear our minds of the clutter so we can begin each new day fresh.
As we enter this six weeks of #IMMOOC , I am sure we will discuss all the new things we are learning on our walks. We will refresh some of our old ideas like Walking Talking Counselling.
We have discussed getting treadmills in our counselling offices and allowing those students who are interested to walk , problem solve and share and grow with us. We are interested in what you think. We would love you to share your ideas , thoughts , and possible resources.
Another way to clear the clutter is to build in a lunch time for yourself. I recommend to all new counsellors that I supervise to get out of their office for lunch, leave their phone behind and clear the mind so they are ready to go for the afternoon. Self care is a necessity in our profession.
Our minds when in a relaxed state says Daniel Goleman are ready for optimal performance that is why many times throughout the year Erin and I also start our day with 10 minutes of headspace which is an amazing way to clear the mind.
Wishing you all in #IMMOOC some amazing connections, new ideas and ways to help your students, but don’t forget about you. Clear the mind. Clean the clutter and have fun along the way.
Here is the link and questions to think about for week 1.
People have been asking me if I am really serious about retirement and yes I am , but that doesn’t mean I don’t really love my job anymore . I absolutely do. I plan on making this year great! Why? Because each and every day I work with students and what I say and do matters.
I am far from perfect, but I really try my best to help students and create a positive environment in the school I work in. I love collaborating with educators and others that I know truly care.
I am often reminded that what I say and do matters and that is a scary and awesome responsibility. I never want to hurt a child or anyone for that matter, but I am human and I make mistakes . When I do I need to say sorry , make amends and do my best each and every day to be the best person I can be. I also recognize that I can be that one person who changes the trajectory of a students life , making a positive difference that they remember for a lifetime.
Does what you say and do matter? … you bet. Students are watching us daily … so as I enter my retirement year I want my students to know that I love what I do and will continue to do so until the day I retire. I love being with them and helping them as much as I possibly can. I look forward to this year and will treasure the memories I make with each and every person that crosses my path.
What I Say and Do Matters … and so does what you say and do.
Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain … To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.
Every day no matter the situation I try very hard to embrace life. No matter what is happening in my world and yes there are always things, sometimes big things , sometimes little things as most of us experience the challenges that life can bring our way. I work hard at focusing on the things that matter, but like all humans sometimes I fall short. I love to celebrate the moments.
Being around a lot of others this summer that are less mobile than I , I focus on remembering to be grateful. I have two feet that are mobile, I am able to walk ! Sometimes we take these things for granted. I am able to jump for joy. Even though I cannot jump very high these days I still can jump. So every chance I get I jump for joy.
As I get ready to walk into a new school year , my retirement year. I look forward to the joy of new students and those that are returning. I jump for joy as I celebrate with students the new moments and for me the new chapter to come. I plan on walking through my retirement year with joy , gratitude and revelling in the moments that bring me and others true pleasure!
Life can take a turn in a minute for each of us, so celebrate each day … jump for joy , take a walk . If you are unable to walk, let someone take you for a walk. Notice and celebrate all the reasons to experience joy even if it is only in the moment . Do it now!
I’d love to hear all the reasons you will jump for joy this year !
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 …
“Please Help Me”
Please come into my life –
but don’t try to take over.
Please help me think-
but don’t try to think for me.
Please help me to find a better way –
but don’t expect me to do it your way.
Please help me – even if I’m wrong
Help me to stand again –
but don’t carry me.
Please help me to move forward again
even if we move forward in different directions.
And – last of all –
If you can’t help me to be what I want to be,
then please don’t hurt me by trying to make me
what you expect me to be.
~ Bud Hadfield
Bud Hadfield was the founder of the multimillion-dollar Kwik Kopy printing. He failed at nine business ventures before he found success at his first printing shop.
As a School Counsellor I think this is a powerful message that we all need to heed when it comes to the young people we serve.
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.
Kicking off Mental Health and Wellness with Susan Spellman Cann, Adam Russell and staff at Bishop McNally High School pic.twitter.com/kXBGlmBMTv
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:
One thing I will do to take care of my own mental wellness
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:
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.
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:
With someone they trust like their Teacher Advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in 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
About mental health and wellness and the impact it can have on themselves or their friends or families. Reduce Stigma!
We want students to be concerned about their fellow human beings and show COMPASSION when it comes to mental health
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.
The following is the first in my series of resources and information on various topics for School Counsellors from A-Z.
1. What is Alateen?
Alateen is a group for children of alcoholics. Approximately 6.6 million children under the age of 18 in Canada live in a home with at least one alcoholic parent. So when discussing this with students you can assure them they are not alone, although to them it may feel like it. Children of alcoholics often hear the messages don’t talk, trust or feel. School Counsellors can help these young people change those messages. Here are two great videos about how Alateen can help.
One teens story:
I was so scared at home. I never knew if my dad would be drinking when I got home from school. Actually I never knew what to expect. Mom was always threatening to leave dad and all four of us (my brother and sisters) would often line up at the door to leave, but we never did. None of my teachers ever knew that there was alcoholism in my home. They often told me how lucky I was that I must have had great parents. I guess that was because I behaved so well in school, trying to be the perfect child so no one would find out my secret.
I was embarrassed and ashamed that my dad drank too much. I was also angry a lot (meaning almost every day) . I was angry with both my mom and my dad. Sometimes I was angrier with my non alcoholic mom because I did not understand why we stayed and put up with the drinking. I saw her reaction to his drinking and that had an impact on me.
Often times I would also throw my dad’s alcohol down the sink or hide it around the house so he could not find it. Little did I realize that doing that was just making me sick emotionally. I often felt irritable and unreasonable, but I never knew why. I was in denial about alcoholism being in my family.
Here is a journal entry I wrote in the first few weeks I decided reluctantly to go to Alateen, because I thought it was their problem, not my problem.
“ I wish I could work out my problems. I hope Alateen will help. Mom really doesn’t care about anyone but herself (at least that what she’s pretending to do). I think she needs me as much as I need her, but how do we solve this problem? I depend on mom and dad. I am not mature. I get mad at every little thing without wanting to. I hope Alateen will help with this too. I would try to help myself if I knew how. I remember thinking about killing myself, but I would never go through with it because I was too scared and I did not want to really.”
I’m so grateful I did not go through with harming myself because Alateen did work. Actually my whole family got help. I learned everything I could about how alcoholism affects families and things slowly, but surely got better and better. I recognize that alcoholism affects everyone in the family each to a different degree. Today, I look for the good in everyone and everything. I recognize that I don’t know where I would be today if it were not for Alateen. If you are a teen living with a parent who drinks too much Alateen can help. Reach out!!
There are young people we see in our offices with similar stories. Children of alcoholics often keep their parents drinking a secret, but teachers and School Counsellors can often spot that something is wrong and reach out to these students. Sometimes students show up in our offices sad and scared because mom or dad had been drinking on the weekend and they are feeling helpless and hopeless. Recommending Alateen can help. As School Counsellors we can identify these children using CAST Children of Alcoholics Screening Test.
You as a School Counsellor should not underestimate your ability to have a life long impact on children who are living with a loved one with an addiction. You may be the first person in this child’s life that they have felt safe enough to share what is happening . You may be the one to give them permission to share openly what they have been feeling and going through. This can be life changing.
Things children of alcoholics need to know:
They are not alone
Their parents drinking is NOT their fault. They did not cause it ,they cannot control it and they cannot cure it.
Alcoholism is an illness. You do not need to feel ashamed.
Alcoholics can and do recover.
There is hope and help for alcoholics and their family.
They can live a happy and productive life whether their parent is drinking or not.
They can be resilient.
They need to understand alcoholism. If their parent had diabetes they most likely would learn all they could about the disease. They can learn and understand about alcoholism as well.
The only person they can change is themselves.
It is not a dishonour to their mom and dad to talk and tell the truth.
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!
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.
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.
As school counsellors, there are some very important things we wish to share with you.
You are the reason we do what we do
We care; we mean really care about teenagers. We do our best to touch as many students as we can, being advocates for you in school. We feel you have a right to know why we do what we do. We are counsellors by choice. Some of the things we have to do are difficult, but we choose to be here.
We are here because we believe we can help
As your School Counsellors, we have several roles. Even if we get caught up doing several things at once, our hearts are always with you, the student.
What you do with your life is up to you
You are in charge of you. We are here to help you reach your full potential. We will insist that you learn. It is your ticket to absolute freedom.
Be all that you can be
It isn’t easy being a teenager; even we can get frustrated with your raging hormones. You are growing and changing. We understand that. Take responsibility for your life and your actions and your teachers and others will respect you.
We do care, don’t ever forget it
That’s why we are here
That’s why we choose to do what we do
We will help in any way we can. We may get you support with a mentor, another counsellor or whomever can help us help you.
Stop … Think … Speak
Remember, your thoughts lead to feelings lead to your actions. Change your thinking and you will have control of your life.
No matter what anyone else says or does to you, you are a worthwhile person
Truly you are a gift
You are somebody
You deserve dignity and respect
There will be times during your school experience where negative things are said or done to you. You may experience painful times. Life can be difficult. It’s not what happens in your life that matters, but how you choose to respond to it and we are here to help.
What you put into school is what you will get out of it
With your help, we can make a difference. If you choose to share a part of yourself with us, we can work together to make changes in your life. Your school experience will become everything you hoped it could be. Get involved and you will feel better about yourself.
Give life a chance
One of the easiest things to say and one of the most difficult things to do are to live one day at a time. If you can master letting go of the past, not worrying about the future, but living each day to the fullest, then you will have lived a great life full of few regrets.
Change takes time. Let yourself grow. We all can change if we have the courage and the wisdom.
We have faith in you
Never give up! Have Hope! Live every moment to the fullest! Become all that you are meant to be and you pay it forward to others.
REACH OUT it is important to reach out to friends , family, and people you trust.
REALIZE SMALL STEPS MATTER when you are trying to cope it all depends on what you have to cope with every small step you make towards being able to cope matters.
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONSif you are trying to cope with something serious the process to feel better could take a long time and you may require supports. Set realistic expectations of yourself.
REMEMBER TO BREATHEbreathing helps. You can learn breathing techniques that can assist you in life. Ask your School Counsellor to help you.
REMEMBER TO NOURISH YOURSELFdrink your water and eat things that make your brain work better.
REVIEW YOUR SELF TALKwhat you say to yourself matters. Learn new ways of talking to yourself that are helpful and positive.
RECREATION CAN HELP you may like to do Art , exercise or any other recreational activity like music that can heal and help you.
REMINDyourself that there is hope and help. You can …
REFLECTon what has worked in the past and what could work in the present and future.
REACH OUT FURTHER you may need to see a School Counsellor or therapist. It is OK to seek help. For more serious concerns you may need a Psychiatrist or other helping professionals to work with you on a team. YOU MATTER, so you need to know reaching out for as many supports as you need is a sign of strength.
You can learn to cope. Connecting with the right people can help you cope in an effective manner. Hopefully the above list will give you new ways of coping and if you have a great way of coping please share your ideas!