Social media what you need to know …

IMG_0001

There is always great information on twitter for school counsellors. One of the things I like best is that the information is relevant and usually makes you think about what was posted. I really like this article by Gary G Abud Jr posted on twitter by Alec Couros @courosa who often posts extremely resourceful information that school counsellors can use. Enjoy and share what you think!

Bent But Not Broken

2

img_01662.jpg

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

How many of the students you have worked with with would you describe as bent , but not broken? Even under the most horrific of circumstances they remain resilient.Why is that?

Haiku Deck Resilience

According to Steven M Southwick and Denis Charney in Resilience The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges there are 10 resilience factors that people use as coping strategies that make them more resilient.

People who are resilient :

  1. Are active problem solvers who look for meaning and opportunity in adversity
  2. Accept social support and seek it out
  3. Accept the things thay cannot change as well as confront their fears
  4. Attended to their health and well being
  5. Have an optimistic, but realistic outlook
  6. Imitate strong role models
  7. Rely on their own inner moral compass
  8. Use humour even in their darkness
  9. Take personal responsibilty for their own emotional well being
  10. Utilize religious or spiritual practices

People who are resilient will often look to their experiences as ways to find a platform for growth. I have seen this with students who have lived through physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as other traumas. Students will find a means and a way to ask for help, but do more than that by using their inner strengths to push forward and make a difference in themselves and their world. They show themselves and the world what they are made of.

One of my all time favorite authors Viktor Frankl ,  who wrote Mans Search for Meaning, describes in this rare seen footage how we can help students by promoting them to what they really can be. We need to see students as they should be and help them to see what they are capable of becoming. We can help them in becoming more resilient by being that role model for them.

Over the years, I have seen many examples of students who are amazingly resilient as well as those that need to be taught how to be. I know I want to model resiliency for the students I serve. What about you?

Resources:

Here is a great video on teen stress and how to cope:

Haiku Deck on Coping Skills

Livebinder on resiliency

 

A Mental Health / Wellness Challenge

3

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

 

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

When it comes to mental health we want students to:

CONNECT

With someone they trust like their teacher advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in connecting …

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

CARE

About mental health and wellness and the impact it can have on themselves or their friends or familes

CONCERNED

We want students to be concerned about their fellow human beings and show COMPASSION when it comes to mental health

COLLABORATE

We want educators to collaborate with us 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. Our mental health/wellness committee is working on several ways to make a difference , but one idea started by Peter Damen ( fellow Counsellor) was to have an alternative activity that students could get credit for in every discipline Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Phys. Ed, Music. Art, Drama, CTS etc. 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 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 will be creating a google doc that will be ready in June that we will be sharing with you about all our ideas around mental health and wellness in High School.

We are excited about the many possibilities and hope you will join us in CREATING several resources that will be beneficial to all. You can open this doc to start collaborating. 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 ?

Do something today to remain CALM make a difference when it comes to  your own mental health. Practice self-care.

 

 

It’s More Than A Day It’s A Way… How do you make a difference when it comes to bullying?

“No matter what happens in life be good to people.

Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

Taylor Swift

We alll need to find a way to empower students and each other to stand up and make a difference. These young students recognize that they can be empowered to make changes and not let injustices happen to others.

Mount Royal University and Bishop Carroll High School students are doing just that … they’ve started a movement#WHOSFRANKYYC

Take a look here for more details.

Here are some handouts from Barbara Coloroso .

Here are some anti-bullying resources for educators and school counsellors.

Here is another school working to make a difference

What ways will you stand up and make a difference when it comes to bullying?.

Children of Alcoholics … School Counsellors Can Help

photo

Don’t Talk … Don’t Trust … Don’t Feel a saying coined by Dr. Claudia Black a leader in the field of addictions

 Children of Alcoholics Haiku Deck cc image slide 3 photo by inkshots

According to the study done by Jane E Mc Namee and David R Offord in 1991 there are approximately one million children of alcoholics living in Canada. No doubt a lot more today. In the US some stats  say one in five children are living with alcoholism.

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. Here are some signs that children may be living with alcoholism.

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 lfe long impact on children who are living with a loved one with an addiction. You may be the first person this child’s life that they have felt safe enough to share what is happening in their life. 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.

Children of Alcoholics need to know:

  • That they are not alone
  • That pouring out or hiding their parent’s alcohol does not help
  • That their parents drinking is not their fault (they did not cause it, they can’t control it and they can’t cure it)
  • That they are not doomed … they can get help and do not have to repeat the pattern themselves (children of alcoholics are at a higher risk for alcoholism and other mental health concerns)
  • There is help for them (they can talk to you the school counsellor) you care
  • They can go to Alateen
  • They do not have to be ashamed (alcoholism is a disease)
  • Alcoholics can get help
  • There is hope and help for them and their family
  • They can learn to be happy and healthy no matter if their parent stops drinking or not
  • They can survive and thrive
  • There is hope, no matter what their situation

You may be the one safe person they can turn to make a difference in their lives. What you say and do does matter.

You can refer them to Alateen in your area.

Find out more .

Here is one teen’s 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 that my dad drank too much and I was also angry a lot. 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. 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 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!


Children of alcoholics can be resilient and you can help them develop these skills. As a School Counsellor you can be the one and only person that child turns to . You can make a difference!

 

Can Students Make A Difference?

Image

The students in my school have inspired me and I truly mean it. I am in awe of them. I know I did not have the creativity, determination, passion,  compassion and self -direction that they have to make a difference at such a young age.

I have been working alongside these students since September on an initiative called #whosfrankyyc and what transpired yesterday was absolutely amazing. Last week students brought me their outline and a full detailed moment-by-moment plan of what our day would look like. I added or deleted nothing to the plan. I knew it would be great, but I really had no idea just how it would move others and me. It was one of those experiences that you had to be there. The media coverage just does not tell you how much thought, effort and caring went into what these students are trying to do. I received several notes and calls to let me know just how fabulous the day was and how fabulous our students were. There were several reporters there to interview Barbara Coloroso and students .

One reporter noted that he “could honestly say that in more than 25 years of reporting , and having sat through many student presentations, I’ve never witnessed one that was as inspiring as the one created by your students. It was simply amazing.” Yes, indeed it was and we shared this note with them.

#WHOSFRANKYYC is more than a day … it is a way. Bishop Carroll and Mount Royal University students and staff are working together to raise awareness and empower students to stand up and be brave. They want to make  a difference when it comes to people not hurting other people. Hurt people hurt people, but students can make a difference by having the courage to speak up and act to end the cycle of violence.

Our students have begun to do just that and we hope you join us in the movement. We want all people to post positively to #whosfrankyyc. Thinking about your digital tattoo is one way to make a difference and let others know that bullying is never ok.

Yes, students can make a difference. I see it in my school everyday.

  • students who raise money all the time for those less fortunate and don’t get any recognition
  • students working together to make the world a better place through water initiatives
  • students braiding it forward
  • students opening the door for others
  • students showing random acts of kindness like posting positive messages handwritten on stickies on every locker which happened a couple of weeks ago
  • holding faire trade fairs
  • volunteering with students with special needs in their school and community
  • volunteering with elderly in their communities
  • volunteering at feed the hungry
  • students raising 10,ooo to build a home in another country

No this is not a comprehensive list, but I do see acts of kindness almost daily in my school. Too often students do not get recognized for all the good they do. It does not make the news, but they do it anyway.

Global News Video

A gigantic thank you to Barbara Coloroso who was extremely compassionate and engaging with our students. She took the time to converse with them in a meaningful helpful way , letting them know that what they are doing can have an impact in their school communities and the world. Also a big thanks to Julie @dinnerwithjulie a Bishop Carroll alumna who prepared a beautiful lunch for our guests.

Look out for more to come on students making a difference at Bishop Carroll High School with our Mental Health Symposium and more…

To find out more about #whosfrankyyc click  here . Elephants (WHO”S FRANK?) are intelligent, compassionate beings and #WHOSFRANK is is only the beginning of the process these students want to continue in assisting their fellow human beings  to being the kind, caring, compassionate humans they are capable of being.

We are very grateful to our partner Mount Royal University. Working together on this initiative has been an absolute pleasure and together we are able to invite others to come along on this journey to make #whosfrankyyc make a difference in the world. Eighteen other schools have gathered up their frank banks to join us.

Here is another example of  the great work our students do. This was a project for Religion:

There is so much to celebrate at Bishop Carroll High School. Too often we notice the things that others do wrong instead of all the great things they do . Let’s continue to celebrate all the great things others do especially our students.

Yes, students can and do make a difference and you can too. Join us #whosfrankyyc.

What Is The Purpose of Education?

Many people think that education is all about preparing students for the world of work. While I believe we must provide them with the tools to be successful adults, education must include human values.

Schools provide a means to connect students with others so that they develop into caring adults. It is a place for students to be inspired in a culture of caring to think for themselves. A place where their curiousity is developed. A place where they can develop into confident, competent, creative, compassionate citizens, online and off who care about themselves and the world around them.

I love what the Dalai Lama had to say about Education,

”Education must go together with basic human values and teachers must set an example for their students through action and deeds, not merely by words. He further elaborated on this point by saying there is too much stress on developing the mind and too little on developing a ‘warm heart’.”

I want to develop that warm heart in every student who I encounter. I want to be an educator who helps students feel that they belong in a community where we respect them and they respect each other. I want students who bring skills into the world, to make a living and make a difference. My hope is that we inspire our youth to love learning throughout their lives.  What is the purpose of education? I believe it is to assist students on a journey that will help them become better people, giving them the tools they will need to contribute to society and help our world become a better place for all.

Educating the mind, heart and soul.

 

 “ To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”

Stephen Covey

School Counselling Week … A Time to Celebrate What We Do

School Counsellors can collaborate in many ways :

  • Vlogging

(thanks to @counselingeek for a great vlog )

  • Blogging
  • Google docs
  • Using livebinders
  • Haiku Decks

What ways do you collaborate?

Happy National School Counselling week my fellow US counsellors and Happy Canadian School Counsellor week to all my fellow Canadians. I hope School Counsellors from across the world will join us in collaborating Internationally.

Congratulations to School Counselor Online Professional Exchange (SCOPE) on your new space. It is a great place for counsellors to collaborate and share ideas and resources.

Please take a look at some of the great things counsellors are doing to celebrate School Counselling:

  • I like this article by Patrick O’Connor Why You Should Celebrate School Counselling Week. In it he says that ” many principals think we should change schedules instead of lives”. I have been extremely fortunate in my career as a School Counsellor in that my principals have felt the exact opposite. They have definately believed that we should change lives instead of schedules. I know that may not be true for some of you and I am very hopeful that the perception of what School Counsellors actually do is changing and will impact the Future Of School Counselling in a positive way. I also believe many counsellors in our School District are very well trained when it comes to knowing  how to help students apply for college. We also have excellent Career Practitioners in our District as well who assist us in this role.
  • This is a great audio  broadcast celebrating School Counsellors with a supportive principal.
  • A blog celebrating the whole child.
  • Some great tips for the celebration.
  • Celebrating @rawolfson’s new blog.
  • Another great article from a principals perspective on the role of the school counsellor.

Hope you are celebrating what you do every day . I have absolutely loved this career and would not change the choice of what I chose to do, but would love to see changes to the understanding and support of the role for the school counsellor. Please share all you do to support students. One life of a child is worth everything. We are fortunate to be able to make a difference every day. I am grateful to be working alongside my fantastic colleagues Peter Damen and Marc Osenton. Thanks for all you do for students and for making me want to go to work every day. I am honoured  to work with you.

It Is Always Helpful to Reflect … Lesson #14 for A New School Counsellor

IMG_0751

Lessons 1-13 are here.

I have been very fortunate to work with and supervise great school counsellors. They teach me and I teach them. One tool that never gets old is the ability to reflect and Marc shares a few of his reflections on my blog. I know that he will have his own blog someday soon as he finishes up his Counselling degree. Listen as this new school counsellor reflects on his practice.

End of Semester Reflection

At this point in the semester, I am impressed at how much learning I have done and how much I have grown as a professional since the beginning of September. I would not have believed it if someone had told me before this semester how many situations and clients I would have worked with and survived. I am impressed with my ability to self-care, and how I am able to regulate my emotional responses. I have experienced anxiety and stress, but I am coping, as I am able to collaborate with my supervisor, reflect with classmates, and engage in my own healing activities. I actually feel less like an imposter and more like I belong in the profession.

However, despite my progress, I’m still aware of how far I have to go. I am still working on developing a conceptual map with each client, determining which theoretical models to add to my toolbox, and what actions I should take in given situations. More than anything, I still have work to do developing the instincts and comfort level required of experienced counsellors. I still make mistakes, and I am still very self-critical. I’ve hesitated, misjudged situations, and lost track of sessions. I still need to work on using my time with clients efficiently and purposefully. I’m optimistic – I’m working on improving, and have faith in my ability to grow. As long as I keep reflecting and pushing myself as a professional, I should improve.

Dual Relationships

This week’s focus on ethics drew attention to some interesting issues at my practicum site.

First, there are the concerns created by the dual roles school counsellors often are given. In schools, counsellors are often given teaching assignments, supervision duties, extracurricular commitments and administrative roles. In some cases, these dual roles can be performed without issue, even adding a positive dimension to the counsellor persona. However, despite this, counsellors still must guard against potential boundary issues, negative impacts upon therapeutic relationships, and confidentiality concerns. At my placement, my role as teacher advisor creates a dual relationship for any student in my ‘TA’ who wants to see me as a counsellor. I must be careful about the nature of my dual relationships with students and be mindful of it in the future.

Second, there are general confidentiality concerns present in schools. Teachers, administrators and parents often want information from counsellors that was given in confidence by students. Apart from cases of abuse or imminent harm, we are bound by our code of ethics to honour the privacy of our clients. That said confidentiality must be balanced by the need to protect our underage clients and by the rights of parents to be informed. This week has been a great start to discussion and reflection for the semester!

Self- Care

Self-care is a topic that all counsellors should have no difficulty reflecting upon, even as it may be easy to overlook. We all are guilty of behaviour that sacrifices our own well-being in favour of client needs, workplace demands, other life commitments, or general poor habits. A novice counsellor like myself is especially vulnerable. I am full of energy, keen to try new ideas, eager to meet the demands of my clients and workplace, and determined to measure up to my ambitious standards. Not only do I lack the experience to determine if my expectations and pace are plausible, but I haven’t had the experience to fully understand as a counsellor how to balance my life and take care of myself. Reminding us of the importance of self-care at this point of our practicum is well timed.

I need to improve my self-care in two different theatres – at work and away from work. At work, I need to take more breaks, leave my office, and connect with more staff. I need to rein in my ambitions and learn to reinforce boundaries and curtail expectations. I need to develop conceptual plans and reflect upon my practice to improve my delivery. I don’t feel overwhelmed at work, but the stress can add up. At home, I need to establish more regular self-care habits. I need to exercise more often and spend more time with friends and family. I enjoy spending time with my daughter, wife and dog, but I could reconnect with friends and family outside my home. I have been putting off certain tasks until I have completed my masters program, buy I need to rediscover hobbies and interests that I enjoy. Further, as illustrated by the ‘I need’ statements throughout, I need to temper my expectations of myself and celebrate my progress and accomplishments.

Hopefully, my career as a counsellor will be a long one. More than anything, I need to be patient.

I love that Marc is so reflective. We discuss his thoughts and concerns and each of us leaves learning something new.

This is a Self- care Haiku Deck that I created this week. In case your having a bad day I suggest you watch this video.