School Counsellors are trained professionals who understand child development, often with Masters degrees in Counselling or more, who partake in ongoing professional development and extensive mental health training . They know school culture and how the education system works, making them readily able to help youth in an effective manner.
Often the first place students present any concerns are in schools because that is where they spend so much time. The educators get to know students well building trusting relationships. School Counsellors have the whole child in mind with access to a comprehensive background regarding the students history in school, so are often able to make decisions collaboratively in the best interest of students.
If you are a new teacher and have never accessed your School Counsellor , please do so. They are there to help you help the student. When all work together to help our youth it is more likely to make a difference in the life of a child. Now more than ever we must do all we can together to help.
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.) If you wish to do a digital introduction or video introduction you can do that too.
Send this out to students on the school instagram, twitter or other account.
Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time. Virtually you can introduce yourself and let teachers know what services you can provide.
Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. You can do this virtually through google meet or zoom, but put it in your calendar. 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.
Implement a joint admin. counseling blog post at least four times throughout the school year. 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 or in your intro to students.
Visually make your office a space students want to be in as best as possible during this time. Make your space at home a comfortable place to connect with students.
Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
Have a plan when meeting new students. Virtually you will need to connect with their homeroom teacher and then have them connect with you by email. When phoning student find ways to connect that hide your cell number.
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 wakelet and pinterest. They can be extremely helpful tools for new counsellors as well as those that have been around for awhile.
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. If you are an Alberta School Counsellor . Join your specialist council. Join your specialist council in your area wherever you are in the world. ASCA has many supports whether you are American or not, I would recommend joining the American School Counsellor Association.
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.
Check out this amazing well organized livebinder by one of my past colleagues.
You can also check out some of my past resources here.
For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.
Welcome to one of the best professions in the world,
Consult, consult, consult. I can’t say that enough. There will be many new experiences that you will encounter as a School Counsellor. You can’t be expected to know everything, so please take advantage of all the great mentors and knowledgeable people that are out there. It is more than ok to not know what to do next. Even after forty years in education , I still consult. I must say that it will be more crucial than ever in a pandemic as the unknown will occur for all.
Caplan said that “consultation has the twofold goal of enhancing services and improving functions, both for the consultee’s current challenge and future challenge”. Sometimes you will be the one that teachers want to consult with and at other times you will need to consult with district supervisors, community agencies, and others regarding the complex needs of students. Your students and you deserve the best services possible. Consulting and collaboration helps School Counselors take action, demonstrate leadership , connect with other professionals who are leaders in their field and ultimately make a difference in the lives of students. So when unsure reach out and consult.
Just for Today I will think about what makes me happy and snowball ( use paper snowball or a real one if there is any snow) any negative thoughts away. Barb Brown
Just for Today I will visit my old neighbourhood and call an old friend. Graham Kennedy
Just for Today I will acknowledge that I am worthy and loved . Louise Hamilton
Just for Today I will learn a new skill and tomorrow a new life skill. Kim Souillet
Just for Today when I brush my teeth I will pretend that I am a zookeeper brushing a hippos teeth. Carol Stevenson
Just for Today I will read my favourite book. Kate Kucharski
Just for Today I will smile and wave at every person who passes by my house. Susan Viveiros
Just for Today I will tell my teacher about the things I do well and help them understand what makes me feel happy and safe. Verena Roberts
Just for Today I will reflect on where I have been, where I have gone, and the road I have built upon, I will take a step forward into the unknown world with familiar faces … holding hands would be nice too Kristen Copes
Just for Today I will call, text or video chat a peer who needs encouragement. Cynthia Nunnally Morton
Yesterday we published 101 Ways to Kickstart Your Day In A Positive Way : A Guide for Educators Parents and Students. Erin and I love the response we are getting. Thanks George Couros for inspiring the post and for sharing our thoughts. We were hoping that educators would use them and they are already doing just that. Here is one from a school in Missouri …
We would love it if you would continue sharing and using. If you have a Just for Today thought please share it with us.
Just for Today we hope your day is filled with wonderful people who bring you love and joy.
I don’t often get very nervous, but last night as I co-moderated #scchat , I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with the pace of the chat. My role was posting the questions in a timely manner. I knew there was a team around me and leading the way and I felt happy about that. They were outstanding! Thanks to Erin Mason, Laura Ross, Alicia Oglesby, Cynthia Morton , Caroline Lopez- Perry, Shay Reynolds, Vernice Jones, Chloe Benjamin , Joanne Norris, Kelly Wright and as always Erin Luong helped to help people feel connected.
My dear friend Erin Mason @ecmmason led the way knowing that this chat could connect us and validate our collective concerns and I believe that happened. There is much for us all to learn going forward , but yesterday in #scchat for about an hour and a half I lost myself . It was as if I didn’t have a care in the world I left all my worries behind . I had to focus and that I did. Well if you call watching 1138 tweets fly by focusing I guess I did.
Loved seeing all the newcomers and the willingness to help each other.
Today I am grateful for all of the online connections and most of all friendships that I have made. School Counsellors are passionate people who really care about the next generation of youth. Their willingness to share gives me great HOPE.
You 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.
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 statementJUST BECAUSE YOU CAN … DOESN’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:
Haiku Deck A personal favorite of mine. This app helps students, teachers and school counsellors share stories that can make a difference.
Twitter A fantastic tool for teachers and school counsellors to utilize for professional development.
Livebinders A wonderful virtual 3 ring binder that helps educators and school counsellors not have to reinvent the wheel as there are so mant fantastic school counselling and educational binders already made. You can copy and use the binders available or create your own.
Jux A beautiful, visual space that teachers and school counsellors can use to share ideas or important information. I use it for a school counselling website www.sspellmancann.jux.com
Pinterest A wonderful place for teachers and school counsellors to find great resources and share them with othes.
Google plus. Here are a few tutorials on you tube to get you started.
A must site to be able to share with colleagues and those from across the world. Google hangouts are a must.
Animoto This is a nice app to use for easy videos. Teachers can sign up for a free account . Make sure you check that feature out. Check here: Animoto for Education
Flipboard A great educational and personal app that can curate information you can access easily.
Tellagami A fun easy tool that you can use to send messages to parents and students.
Ted Ed An inspirational place to find videos for PD or to use with students.
For more tools go to SCOPE School Counsellor Online Professional Exchange and Go to: