Aim For Improving Lives

 

IMG_2896As 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? How do you instill hope in your students?
  • How do you help those that are struggling academically, socially emotionally?
  • How do you educate the mind and the heart?
  • How do help students love learning , life and living 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.

The Effect You Have As A School Counsellor Is Not Always Measurable

Cq4QzbFUkAEiZCS.jpg-largeYou have them , I have had them. You know that student that you had no idea you had such an impact on, but they let you know years later. Sometimes 36 years later as I did two years ago. A young man came into the office at the High School I was working in at the time. He wanted to see me to tell me how I had influenced his life. He had googled me and tracked me down because he wanted to tell me his story . I am grateful he did as I would have never known that I had affected his life in the way he let me know I had.

I have been blessed with letters and notes from students who have told me they believed I had saved their life. It is an honour and privilege that they believe something I said or did had impacted them in such a positive way. More often than not we don’t get these notes, calls or letters and we may not know the impact we have had on students. Not because we did not , but because the person may not have put their thoughts to words for whatever reason.

A couple of days ago one of my best friends who is also a retired School Counsellor , got one of those notes from a student whom she had known 18 years ago. The note was from a young woman reporting she was now happily married with two children , She told my friend that she was the reason she was alive, happy and successful today. She let her know it was World Suicide Prevention Day and that maybe my friend would like to know the impact she had on her life when she was in High School.

The woman had tracked my friend down on Facebook and felt compelled to write her the beautiful moving, heartfelt note (I’m purposefully leaving out the details, but trust me we both cried a lot reading it) . Of course she had no idea that particular student felt that way. So what a gift it was to receive a note like this. It is truly why we do what we do choosing to be in education.

If one young person is impacted in this way by what we have said or done, then our years of dedication to a career we have loved is all worth while. We both agreed that we were so fortunate to work in schools with amazing young people and feel truly blessed to have had a career we both were passionate about.

So many still do not fully understand what a School Counsellor does behind closed doors, but know and trust that you need to keep doing what you are doing as a School Counselor wherever you are in the world. You can never know the impact you can have. Small gestures and words can matter.

The effect you have as a School Counsellor is not always measurable , but that does not matter. What you say and do everyday does.

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!

 

Celebrating What We Do

As School Counsellors we need to be leaders in celebrating what students do as well as what we do for students.

The past month has been a wonderfully busy month for us at school. It started off with our Who’s Frank #whosfrankyyc bake sale and the elephant in the room.

A big thanks to our Principal and fabulous leader @neilof12 who truly helped spread the anti. bullying message by being Frank.

Then came our Mental Health symposium again run by student leaders who I am always in awe of and so proud of the work they do.

A special thanks to @courosa for joining us virtually and to @brettrothery for sharing his courageous story.

We are also partners with Mount Royal University so I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on sexual violence. Such an important topic !

Next it was Career Speed dating where we had 37 guests share what they were passionate about and the process it took them to get there.

Thanks for coming Verena and bringing your husband. Community members who care!

So School Counsellors celebrate. Share what it is you do because together we are better and can make a difference.

I look forward to you seeing the book we have collaborated in creating Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind High School Students Creating Change.  Coming soon to BCHS as well as our book made with grade 3’s Adventures of Frank at St. James. We can’t wait to share them with you.

 

TED Talks and videos for School Counsellors

The following TED Talks and videos are excellent for School Counsellors:

  1. Martin Seligman The New Era of Positive Psychology

Some highlights from Seligman. Psychology should be as concerned with strength as it is with weakness and in building the best things in life as it is in repairing the worst. It should also be as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as healing pathology .

2. Shawn Anchor: The Secret To Better Work

Some highlights from Anchor. It takes 21 days 3 minutes every day to train your brain to be more positive. What are 3 things you are grateful for ? Write them down everyday. Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. Random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness

3. The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude

Some highlights.  Take time to tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. Do it today!

4. My Philosophy for A Happy Life Sam Berns

Some highlights from Sam. Sam had progeria. Sam lived life fully while he was living. Always have something to look forward to. Accept life when you are feeling badly. You can change the world and he did. Never miss a party.

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.

– Leo Tolstoy

5. My Last Days Meet Zach Sobiech

 

 

You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living. Most people live in the middle , but you don’t have to. What’s awesome about living in this world is that you can help . People we don’t really know can change our lives. Love makes life better.

6.  Educate The Heart 

Highlights : A child’s heart and mind are fragile. We have an enormous responsibility … we need to educate students from the heart. It can start today in our schools.

7. I renamed this to From the heart : What Real Winners Look Like.

 

Highlights: Watch and you’ll see.

If you have any great video’s you know School Counsellors should see please send them my way @sspellmancann.

 

 

Privacy an Illusion

Too many people think that what they post on line is private. I was one of those people before #ETMOOC almost three years ago. I thought if I put on my privacy settings that I would be protected. Don’t be fooled. Act as if all is public always. I know that it isn’t easy for young people today because the world is watching. It makes me wonder if I would have acted any diffferent in my youth if I knew that. Teachers, School Counsellors and Administrators are increasingly posting on line and they most certainly need to be good citizens online and off. We are role models for all. Take a look at what Russ Sabella had to say during his session on Ethics at #ASCA15

If you scan Dr. Sabella’s QR code you can download the presentation into your dropbox files. if you are not sure how to scan go to the website on the tweet above.

I like the statement JUST BECAUSE YOU CANDOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD

One of the many great things I learned in ETMOOC was that you need to create your own digital footprint before anyone else does it for you. So flood the internet with the positives that you do and are.

School Counsellors you can and must be a leader. Google yourself often to make sure your presence is what you want it to be. Set up google alerts to make sure your footprint is positive. You can start today to create your digital identity. By you learning all the ins and outs of posting online you will better understand your students and how you can help them. Will you make some mistakes? I am sure you will, I certainly have, but I feel I am much better prepared today to prepare our students for tomorrow.

You can spread your positive ideas and make a difference in the world and as a result be a role model for students and encourage others to do the same.  So if you don’t know already complete privacy is an ilusion.  I ask you to please make your mark in the world a positive one. Think before you post.

Here are a couple of my haiku decks on Digital Citizenship and privacy:

The Illusion of Privacy

Digital Citizenship lessons

For our High School Students

Now it’s your turn. What will you post today?

Lessons from Leo

One of my all time favourite educators and authors is Leo F Buscaglia. I started Hug Days in my school district because of Leo in the days when it was ok to hug students. I still believe it is ok to hug students , recognizing boundaries and always being respectful of students and their boundaries.

What did I learn from Leo that I still think applies to students and myself today? Here are some of the lessons i learned from the amazing Leo Buscaglia:

  • Be passionate
  • Love learning , love life, love yourself, love …

“Perhaps love is the process of leading you gently back to yourself” Saint -Exupery

  • Make yourself into the best person you can be, because you are all you have
  • Schools should be the most joyful places in the world
  • Be spontaneous
  • Live fully alive

“Oh God , to have reached the point of death,only to have found that you have never lived at all ” Don Quixote

  • Leo wanted us to live fully to enjoy every single moment of life

from another Leo more wisdom comes …

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful,
to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate.
It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something,
to have made some difference that you lived at all.”

Leo Rosten

  • Accentuate what is right instead of focusing on what is wrong
  • Feel free to make mistakes and learn from them
  • Believe in change
  • Every time we learn something new we become something new
  • You control your destiny
  • Stop looking for or striving for perfection
  • Life isn’t always easy, but rise to the challenge to face life head on

“Everyone needs at least one person  to love them no matter what ” Leo Buscgalia

  • Be that someone for someone
  • You need a path with a heart
  • Be real , be you
  • There is so much more to know, to be, to do

A favorite question Leo liked to ask was … If you only had five days to live, how would you spend them? With whom? 

We need to always reflect on this and live … fully live.

  • Death teaches us what love is
  • Ask yourself “What are YOU giving to life?’

If you have never read Leo Buscaglia’s books do it now.The lessons are timeless. These lessons are from Living, Loving and Learning by Leo Buscaglia. Stay tuned for more lessons from Leo.