Celebrating School Counsellor Joanne Brisebois

“You cannot change others ,but you can change yourself.”

Joanne is a High School Counsellor in Calgary, Alberta and got her Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan and her Masters degree in Counselling from the University of West Alabama. Did you know that she loves hiking, connecting and laughing with her team as well as travelling and learning new things?

She wants all  her students to know that the most popular students to successful adults – all have had struggles throughout their lives, and not everyone or everything is at it seems. You might tend to think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, well it is not. As well, she wants students to know that accessing support or help is considered a strength, not a weakness. We all learn from each other. There is always a solution or steps to move towards that solution each day.

Her message to other School Counsellors listen, support, access help for others and yourself, and take breaks. Counselling is so difficult yet so rewarding. draining and energizing. Empower your students, and your peers — it’s amazing what happens when students/colleagues feel supported and valued. Lastly — love yourself, and look for the positives in people and life — it makes your journey so much more fun. You can find Joanne in #scchat and on twitter @briseboisjoanne.

Raise Up Your Voice Canada … It’s School Counselling Week

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As soon as I entered the field of School Counselling I knew I had to be an advocate. I thought as a teacher I knew what School Counsellors did. Was I wrong!!!

Since then my colleagues and I have advocated at a district level to bring more awareness to what we do.  Has it made a difference? YES! YES! YES! Our district is one of the best in the country when it comes to supporting , understanding and recognizing the work that School Counsellors do.

I have also advocated at a provincial level by being one of the voices and president of the then Alberta Guidance Council. Today my friend Erin Luong has taken up that advocacy role in the ATA Council Of School Counsellors and they are lucky to have her.

At a national level in 1999 , I was part of the first delegation of Counsellors to go to China along with my leader and friend Maria de Cicco as part of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association . My administrator and district supported me as a School Counsellor advocate on this journey. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure and never forget.

Strong leaders are needed to be the voice along with School Counsellors . We need someone in Canada who has the same powerful, inspiring voice as Michelle Obama does here:

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Today although I am semi retired I still want to advocate. I believe School Counselling is one of the most important positions that every school still needs , maybe now more than ever.

So I say Canadian School Counsellors raise up your voices, if you want change , make it happen … be the change!!!!! We need your voice! Being silent won’t produce the changes needed across the country. You are valuable. You do matter . You are needed and you do make a difference.  YOUR VOICE MATTERS!

Want to know how to be a great advocate just follow the #SCCHAT feed on twitter to see how it’s done. Let’s join in Canadians with our world counterparts who are advocating and being the voice for School Counsellors worldwide.

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A School Counsellors Mindset

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We are School Counsellors

  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.
  2. Self care is so important to what we do. We can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves.
  3. Embrace your professionalism. You were trained well. Be ethical. Consult, consult consult.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Maintain gratitude for the work that we do. Being grateful for 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.

 

Canadian School Counselling Week

It is the second year for Canadian School Counselling Week and I am very hopeful we will see more Canadian School Counsellors on twitter connecting and learning from each other. It is also National School Counselling Week started by my fellow Americans so I want to wish them and all the School Counsellors around the world an amazing week  and an amazing career because it is . I still love this profession the same as when I started. Really,  I love the students they make me love what I do.

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If you are new to twitter and a School Counsellor anywhere in the world please follow the hashtags #SCCrowd and #scchat.

I’ve adapted the public announcements to suit our school and you can too. We plan on sharing these all week long.

Monday: This is Canadian School Counsellor 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 card to them. The cards will be available all week in Student Services. Being grateful improves your overall happiness. Do it today! You make a difference.

Tuesday: It is Canadian School Counsellor Week. Today we challenge students and staff to do one small good deed and when you do please post it to the hashtag #carrollculture or come and share with us what you did and we will share it on our school Facebook site. Have a fabulous day. You make a difference.

Wednesday: This week is Canadian School Counselling Week. We challenge you today we challenge you to take 10 mins. out of your day to exercise or practice mindfulness. Set up a fitbit challenge with friends. Need more information or tips please pick up todays tips in Student Services. Have a great day! You can make a difference.

Thursday: It is Canadian School Counsellor 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. Your School Counsellors want you to know we are here for you anytime. Come see us in Students Services. Today we challenge you to think about your favourite wellness quote and post it to the hashtag #carrollculture or share it with us in Student Services and we will feature it in the upcoming weeks. Have a wonderful weekend and remember, you 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.

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You can easily make one of these in Haiku Deck like I did.  Check out this haiku deck One Million Reasons To Love School Counselling

Check out tomorrow’s blog where I will share a video I made for the fabulous Dr. Erin Mason.

Let’s join together to share all the things we love about our profession.

How do you thank someone? … You can too …

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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 .

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. 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 YOU will join us.

About the award :

The Mario Couros Memorial Bursary will 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. 

To donate online:

  1.                    Go to http://www.uregina.ca/giving
  2.                    Click the Donate Now button on the right side
  3.                    Click the In Honour/In Memory button

Enter your donation information and click add to gift basket.

Please ensure you enter Mario Couros under the second tab and continue to payment

If you would like any assistance with contributing please contact Erin Werner at 1-306-585-5432 or erin.werner@uregina.ca .  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.

Have you or someone you know been impacted by @courosa or @gcouros ?  You may want to really consider contributing. This post yesterday by @gcouros on “Has twitter changed our view?”  is very thoughtful and thought provoking. Twitter has most certainly changed mine for the positive. #lifechanging #friendshipsIneverwouldhaveimagined #grateful

REMINDER:
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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coping Skills Just 4 You for Teens Ideas from A-Z

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 YOU time. 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.

Breathe just Breathe

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.

Overcome Obstacles

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!

R: Relax:

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.

U: Understanding your coping skills matters.

V: Visualize what you want.

Virtual bubble wrap enjoy click here.

W: Watch a funny show to get your mind off all the serious stuff.

X: eXtra special. That’s the way you need to treat yourself. So start today.

Y: YOU MATTER . Remember this always.

Z: A-Z another list. Please share your coping skills and strategies Thanks for adding your ideas below.

Remember:

The Smallest Good Deed is Better Than The Grandest Good Intention

(Alateen) Children of Alcoholics … Soft Is The Heart of a Child

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.

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.
  • Reaching out takes courage and strength.
  • You as the School Counsellor are there for them.

Sentence Completions for Children of Alcoholics:

  1. As a child of an alcoholic I …
  2. I feel …
  3. I wish …
  4. I want my mom …
  5. I want my dad  …
  6. I wish …
  7. I plan to …
  8. I want to change …
  9. I need to learn to …
  10. It would help me if I …

RESOURCES:

Soft is the heart of a child . As a School Counsellor you can make a difference in the life of a child dealing with addictions . I am sure many of you already do. Please keep up the life saving work.

Please stay tuned for my next Counsellor Talk on Bullying.