As we come up to School Counselling Week I reflect on the difference that School Counsellors make and want to thank each and every one of you for what you do no matter where in the world you are.
All too often people do not truly know what School Counsellors do. I recognize you go about your days silently helping a child, so thank you. I think about the many colleagues I have know who worked tirelessly to promote the profession , but more importantly who did small things daily that may have gone unnoticed. They each found ways to do what was in the best interest of a child hoping that life could and would be more positive for them in the long run.
I have been fortunate to surround myself with professionals who notice and know that School Counsellors matter.
There are too many School Counsellors to thank, but know that I am truly grateful for all your support, resources and ongoing help whenever I need it. I know that you are just a click away thanks to #scchat.
Below you can find some daily announcements that you may wish to use during School Counselling week or make up your own using these as a guide.
FOR YOUR DAILY ANNOUNCEMENTS
Monday: This is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge each student and staff member to express your gratitude to someone at school by telling them thank you for… You could even write a post card to them. The cards will be available all week in the Counselling area. Being grateful improves your overall happiness. Do it today! You make a difference.
Tuesday: It is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge students and staff to do one small good deed and when you do please post it to twitter, instagram or facebook using your school hashtag. Have a fabulous day. You make a difference.
Wednesday: This week is Canadian School Counselling Week / National School Counselling Week. We challenge you today to take 10 mins. out of your day to exercise or practice mindfulness. Have a great day! You can make a difference.
Thursday: It is Canadian School Counsellor Week / National School Counselling Week. Today we challenge students and staff to let one of your family members know how important they are. Pick up a card in Student Services and tell people what a difference they make in your life and give it to them. Remember you can make a difference today.
Friday: It is the last day of School Counselling Week / National School Counselling Week. Your School Counsellors want you to know we are here for you anytime. Come see us. Today we challenge you to show an act of kindness and try not to get caught (that’s the best kind of kind) . Recognize that you can make a difference.
This week is a time to be grateful and reflect. I am so grateful I have a principal who fully supports a Comprehensive School Counselling Program and if you do too , make sure you take time to thank them.
To you my dear School Counselling friends and colleagues without you I never would be able to do what I do. Together we are undoubtedly better. So join us whenever you can in #scchat . Post often to the hashtag and tell us what you are doing. Sharing , connecting and chatting with colleagues from across the world is the best PD ever.
I want to shout it from the mountain tops that School Counsellors are working everyday to help students in numerous ways in schools across the world even though you may not understand what it is that they truly do.
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.
We chose this profession. It is the best profession ever. All professions have struggles. Focus on the positive. Work towards making things better by being an advocate for other School Counsellors. Join your professional organization, have a voice on twitter and /or write a blog celebrating all the amazing things that happen in our profession.
Embrace your professionalism. You were trained well. Be ethical. Consult, consult consult.
Model a positive attitude towards work each and everyday.Your students will notice and feel it when you set the tone in your school and in your offices.
Be a good digital citizen. Be authentic , but if you need to vent do so privately and with colleagues in counselling who understand. Never vent online.
Connecting and collaborating makes us better at what we do. Collaboration has made me better at what I do. It actually makes the work I do easier. Share , connect and collaborate. It will make you a better professional.
Passion and purpose help our students. If we wake up with the mindset that we have an awesome responsibility to help others today knowing that each and everyday we have an opportunity to make a difference. We don’t always see the fruits of our labour , but that’s ok because we know that the small things we do can have a huge impact.
You are you. Be the best version of yourself. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to any other School Counsellor. Continually focus on professionally developing yourself so that you impact students in a positive way.
Live every day One Day At a Time. Easy to say , not easy to do. Focus all of your energies on making this the best day ever. Just for today I will … laugh.
Maintain gratitude for the work that we do. Being gratefulfor what we do rather than focusing on the things that we are not happy about is always a great state of mind. We chose this profession. I am grateful everyday that I did.
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. It is hard to believe three years has passed since ETMOOC. I personally have learned so much in the last three years thanks to my ETMOOC PLN and especially Alec Couros. How do you thank someone who has made such a difference ? For us in ETMOOC it was by helping to create something that will hopefully make a difference for Alec, his family as well as future educators.
According to Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy people judge you on two criteria when they first meet you .
Can I trust this person?
Can I respect this person?
Alec Couros@courosa has earned the trust and respect of so many , but especially those of us in ETMOOC and as a result we wanted to do something special for him. Thus the Mario Couros Memorial Bursary .
Please take time to read the criteria below and if you feel like you too want to thank Alec by contributing to an award that honours him and his dad who meant the world to him, then please do so. Several of us plan to work hard this year to promote and get others to contribute to this award and we hope YOUwill join us.
About the award :
The Mario Couros Memorial Bursarywill help newcomers to Canada in reaching their dream of being one of tomorrow’s educators by providing financial assistance to pursue their Education Degree at the University of Regina. Mario came to Canada from Greece on December 14th 1957. He lived, worked and raised his family in Saskatchewan. He wanted to make a life and a difference for his family. Mario was a volunteer, a caring supportive father, grandfather, a loving husband and an extremely hard working man. He was a great role model for his children and others as he continued to be a lifelong learner with a fabulous work ethic until his passing. This award is dedicated in his memory.
It is also a tribute to his son Dr. Alec Couros who continues his father’ s legacy by inspiring and encouraging others to pursue their educational aspirations and follow a path to life-long learning.
The bursary will make a meaningful impact by breaking down the financial barriers to higher education and encouraging outstanding academic achievement. By contributing to this bursary you will enable Education students to focus on what matters most : their education.
The goal is to raise $ 25.000 to create an endowment that will allow for a permanent bursary at the University of Regina ‘s Faculty of Education. Your contribution to the Mario Couros Memorial Bursary will live on in perpetuity in memory and honour of Mario’s legacy.
Enter your donation information and click add to gift basket.
Please ensure you enterMario Couros under the second tab and continue to payment
If you would like any assistancewith contributing please contact Erin Werner at 1-306-585-5432 or email@example.com . Those from other countries may wish to do so if they have difficulty contributing. If you need a paper copy just email her.
You too can help ! Consider letting other educators know they can contribute to this important fund. Each contribution can and will make a difference. Alec has 99.5k followers . If each person following @courosa donated $ 1.00 we would have more than we need to keep this fund alive and help young people who want to be educators.
A very special thank you to all those in ETMOOC that have volunteered to promote this fund and all those who have already committed to contributing. I am so grateful for you . Kindness flows in ETMOOC ‘ers
I look forward to many more years of connecting , growing and learning with all of you. I think my heart is bigger today because of all of you.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ! Truly think about donating, even if only a small amount and pass this on to someone who you think would contribute. TOGETHER we are better!
Please consider blogging about this award and sharing on twitter , facebook and google plus . YOU too can help to make a difference. Thanking you in advance. There truly are so many good people in the world and if you have taken time to read this blog post to the end and contribute. I know you are one of them.
Please let us know you have contributed by either DM ing me at @sspellmancann or by posting in the comments section so we can acknowledge YOU!
When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: Check out my haiku deck on coping skills here: How You Cope depends On What You Have To Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you can help you cope. Below you will find some strategies that may help you . Use the strategies that work best for you.
ABC’s Coping Skills for Teens:
A: Attitude: Your attitude matters.
Allow yourself extra time to get up in the morning and get to places. Being 15 to 20 minutes early can reduce your stress level.
Allow 10-15 minutes a day for YOUtime. Time to wind down, time to reflect, time to let go of your worries,
B: Books : A book on the topic you are trying to cope with can help. Beliefs- what you think matters. Challenge your thoughts about the topic that stresses you.: Be positive! Books can be healing!
Be a person who can say NO and not feel guilty. It is OK to say no to things that are not healthy and things you really don’t want to do. It’s also ok to give yourself a break and say no to something.
Be a person who knows how to wait, read a book online or have a book with you that you can devour while you have to wait somewhere. It not only makes the time go faster, but it is a wonderful way to pass the time.
Brain: Your brain is amazing. Click here to find out what you should know about your brain.
C: Caring and compassion make a difference: Helping others helps you to focus on others, not on your own problems. Volunteer with other students with special needs. You will not only feel better , you will make a difference.
Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself on a mirror with an erasable marker. Write a positive note to yourself on a card and carry it around in your wallet.
D: Decide to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Reaching out is a strength not a weekness.Your School Counsellors are there to help.
E: Express your feelings . Feelings are neither write or wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else then that needs to be changed. So write down your feelings.Tell someone how you feel. Draw your feelings in an Art journal. Find some great ideas for Art Journalling on pinterest.
Exercise is always helpful. You might only need to exercise 7 mins. each day. You can do it! Find an app that helps you exercise.
F: Focus on your strengths
Find great strategies. There are so many coping strategies. You need to find one that works. Brainstorm a list of 20 that work for YOU.
Failing Does Not Mean You Are A Failure
If YOU Have Never Failed You Have Never Lived
G: Give yourself a break. Try these brain breaks:
H: Hope . It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective.
I : Invite others to help you : Kids Help Phone, another adult, find someone who can really help you.
J: Just be yourself.
K: Kindness is always a good thing . Do a Random Acts of Kindness for someone else today.
L: Listen to music . It soothes the soul.
M: Mindfulness matters. Focus on your breath. Here are some tips for teens.
N: Naming game : 54321 . 54321 Coping Technique and I would add an extra 1 One thing you are grateful for. 543211.
O: Open your mind to new ideas strategies.
Check out these tips for overcoming obstacles here
P: Positive self talk matters. make sure you are speakig to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.
Q: Quite your mind. Be still!
Remember there is more to you than…
S: Strategies : Sleep matters so take care of yours. Some tips here.
T: Toxic stress is not good for you. Get rid of it. Train your brain to go to a safe place. Your safe place might be a beach, a room that you like to go to. Your space is unique. Find one that works for you.
Trust: that your negative feelings will not last forever. Develop positive connections with people that heal and help not hurt and harm.
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.
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!
It is always time to talk about mental health and wellness when it comes to students. This year we held our second Mental Health Symposium with Dr. Alec Couros, but throughout the year we hold small events that inform students about the importance of their own wellness.
Last year our theme was Living Aware, Living Informed , Living Empowered. We want our students at Bishop Carroll High School to feel fully empowered and we want them to be good digital citizens by posting to the hashtag #empowerBCHS
Take a look at some of the great things our students have to say:
Click here to find out more information about our symposium last year.
Our theme this year was Living Fully Alive. We really wanted students to think about all the reasons they could and should want to live. Click here to learn more.
We wanted students to leave with resources which you can find by clicking here.
We also want to continue the dialogue and have students learn more about mental health literacy. Thanks to Dr. Stan Kutcher we can .
When it comes to mental health we need to :
1) Know how to obtain and maintain good mental health
2) Understanding mental disorders and their treatments based on the best scientific evidence
3) Decrease Stigma
4) Know when and where to get help , know what to expect when you get help and having the tools to empower us to get the best care possible
Take a look at his fabulous website to find out more Teenmentalhealth.org. We hope you will join us in our work . You can collaborate anytime with us on the topic of mental health and wellness by contacting @sspellmancann . Go ahead make a difference for teens , because mental health and wellness matters.
This year I will be supervising another first year school counsellor, the difference being this time I want to blog about it so that I can help him as well as learn new things myself. I also hope this will help other new school counsellors in the process.
I absolutely love being a school counsellor. It is a career that I have never regretted choosing. I registered as a psychologist in 2007, and tested out private practice part time. The decision to do this helped me realize just how much I love being in a school helping students and connecting with educators. The work of a school counsellor fulfills me and makes me very happy. I love going to work every day. It is extremely rewarding because I know I can make a huge difference in the life of students and their families. I believe as school counsellors we can change the path that a student’s life will take to a more positive one.
I know that school counsellors can save lives by what they do . They can be the first person to assess that a serious concern exists and connect the family with resources that can change the lives of the student and their family for the better.
When a student walks into my office the first question I often ask is “ how can I help you today” ? I always want to be helpful. I believe that if we are not being helpful then we are not meeting the needs of our students. At the end of the session I usually ask what did we discuss today that will be helpful to you and what will you use as a result of our spending time together today.
As a school counsellor I want to be able to replace despair with hope and sadness with joy not unlike the words in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
I want the school counselling office to be a safe place for students to explore what isn’t working and find out how they can make things work in their lives. I like to focus on the strengths of the student. Often times students have told me they would not go to or do not like going to see counsellors. They say to me that being in my office is different ; meaning somehow I am different and that I don’t seem like the perception of what they think a “counsellor” is.
Now don’t get me wrong I have had students who did not like me. It is part of what happens as a school counsellor, teacher , educator or anyone in any profession and if that happens hopefully they will connect with the person who will be most helpful to them.
What do I believe are the important lessons a new school counsellor should know? These lessons will not be in order of importance, but are all lessons I feel are worthwhile being aware of. As the school year progresses I will continually add to this list.
Lesson #1: We can’t help everyone, but we can sure try to help the ones that come to us or are referred to us ( and sometimes we need to go to them).
Students will often disclose very serious issues that we as school counsellors need to address. Sometimes when we disclose to parents that their son or daughter is thinking of suicide or some other life threatening concern (the end result might be the student may never return to see you). Hopefully you have connected the student and their family to resources that can improve and indeed in some cases save their lives.
It is important for new school counsellors to not get discouraged if a student does not return to see you (don’t personalize it) it may just be that you have helped them a great deal, but are unaware of just how at that time. Students have stopped me in stores and other places years later to let me know what a difference I made. So hang in there knowing that you did what you needed to do. It is also important to be self aware, so also run by your concerns with another counsellor and see if indeed there was something else you could have done or ask what if anything could you have done differently. Remind yourself that you are in a process of learning. Consult… consult… consult… a lifelong lesson for ALL school counsellors.
It is also OK to recognize that you are NOT a match for every student. Hopefully there are other counsellors in your school or outside agencies that you can refer your student to if this happens. I let students know that they have a choice when it comes to counsellors and they need to see the person they feel most comfortable and safe with. Hopefully, that will be you ,but if not that is OK too.
Lesson # 2:We need to base what we do on theoretical perspectives that are useful and helpful. Humanists like Carl Rogers ,Victor Frankl have impacted me, but so to have others in the field of psychology like Albert Ellis, Irvin Yalom, Fritz Perls, Ed Jacobs, David Burns, Virginia Satir, Donald Meichenbaum, Claudia Black
and Mary Pipher to name a few. There is no one right approach. You need to discover what you believe and make sure it works for you and your students.
Each theorist has impacted the way I interact and help students. Along the way I have also worked with some amazing school counsellors , educators and supervisors who have also influenced me in a positive way. Thanks especially to Diane Williams, Deana Helton and Helen MacKinnon.
Lesson #3:Find great mentors and learn from them. One of my all time favorites is Ed Jacobs. Ed is a genuinely helpful man as well as being a great therapist. I love how he interacts and works with young and old people alike and makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Check him out on youtube here:
Lesson #4:There are so many people and resources you can learn from that can impact students in a positive way. I think Leo Buscaglia has the best lessons that can be used in counselling students. I can honestly say I loved Leo . He was and still is an inspiration to me. Which brings me to an extremely important lesson … lesson #5
Lesson #5: Continually professionally develop yourself. Keep learning and learning and learning. One of my new favorite ways to do this is to connect with other school counsellors worldwide on twitter. See my past post on amazing school counsellors and what they are doing. My twitter handle is @sspellmancann. If you are not on twitter sign up TODAY!
Lesson #6: Read great counselling books . A few I really like are : Impact Therapy by Ed. Jacobs, Creative Counselling Techniques by Ed. Jacobs, Group Counseling Strategies and Skills Jacobs, Masson, Harvill, Letters To A Young Therapist Mary Pipher, The Gift of Therapy Irvin Yalom, Mans Search for Meaning Victor Frankl
As I think about the lessons I believe a new counsellor should be thinking about I realize that there are some practical considerations that a new counsellor might want to implement. Here are a few:
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.)
Tweet this out to students on the school twitter account and post it to the school facebook account.
Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time.
Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. 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.
My plan this year is to 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.
Visually make your office a space students want to be in.
Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
Have a plan when meeting new students. It is helpful to get a cell phone number so that you can follow up especially in a self-directed High School.
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 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.
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.
I am adding one of my live binders called school counsellor resources. Please as in all my livebinders take what you like and leave the rest.
As I learn along with my new school counsellor I will be sharing any insights that we both might have. For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.
Welcome to the best profession in the world school counselling.