Summertime Reflection

Sarah summersalt  Sarah beach

One of the many blessings of the career I have chosen is that I get to kick back and relax and reflect over the summer. As I do that in Nova Scotia a place where I was born and love, I watch the children around me and think about how summer should be , but often is not for all too many children.  Summer should be a time to truly be a child, to feel the exhiliration of doing cartwheels on the beach or rolling down your front lawn like I watched a group of young boys do, yes it should be a time to be free. Free from the big concerns of life. Abandoning wordly concerns for periods in time is good for all of us. We as school counsellors need to do this too.

beach

School counsellors can assist children to get back to being a child, finding the fun in the moments. We can remind students that:

  • It is OK to laugh even when things don’t seem all that funny
  • It is OK to feel free even if they live in chaos, or are dealing with the many stresses that surround them
  • It’s OK to let go
  • It’s OK to play , be curious and enjoy life

Too often children who live in a home where dysfunction occurs become much too adult like. We can remind them and ourselves that is OK to enjoy the childlike sense of wonder.

Students mental health and wellness is our concern. We have a lot to offer students as they proceed through their developmental stages in life and go on to make important choices about their education and careers.

Coming to my childhood home and reconnecting with friends and family reminds me that how we handle these precious moments in time in students lives can have a lifelong impact. We can and do make a difference, but we also need to take time to kick back ourselves and take time for self-care. Summers often allow us to do just that.

Susan

I will #reachigher to increase the graduation rates of students at risk.

Conference With A Difference #ASCA14

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I have been to many school counselling conferences over the years, but this one was different why?

1. CONNECTING : As much as I loved Michelle Obama and I did believe me. I’ll share more about that later. I love connecting with people in real life, people that can and do support you, people that make a difference in your life and you get to share that F2F. Twitter allows you to do that. It really does! So many school counsellors have not quite figured that out yet. Twitter helps you do what you do and do it better. Ultimately impacting our students in so many positive ways.

 

As you can see from the video my favorite part of #ASCA14 was connecting with so many school counsellors in one space. I need to thank my wonderful roomie @bridgethelms. I want to thank her nephew and friend for helping make my experience in Orlando so enjoyable. Also a  big thanks to @FSabens for rescuing me when I could not leave Orlando because of the storm. Thank heavens for twitter again. To Danielle Schultz @sch_counselor it was my pleasure to sit down and chat and learn about the many wonderful things that you do. There are so many extraordinary school counsellors that I met F2 F in Orlando and for that I am extremely grateful. Look out world there are many more amazing things to come from these vibrant, intelligent, caring school counsellors.

What difference did twitter make? Well because of the twitter connections I have made I could come to Orlando by myself and NOT feel alone in any way. I had not met any one of my twitter friends F2 F before the conference, so it was fabulous to feel like I was coming to a reunion with so many who had impacted me in my profession in such a positive way and who were so helpful online. I can thank twitter and our twitter chats #scchat and #SCCrowd for making my conference experience so much more enriching.

2. COLLABORATING: I met counsellors from all over the world that I plan on collaborating with in the future It might be in a hangout or maybe just on twitter. However, I most certainly will look forward to the future collaborations that will help me and our students.

3. CARING: I met so many fun and caring school counsellors that it gives me much HOPE for the future of school counselling. Check out these fine people :
• @apoovey
• @bridgethelms
• @carlicounsels
• @ChrisWood
• @CounselingGeek
• @cscaMatthew
• @c_morten
• @cfsml
• @ecmmason
• @erebss
• @FSabens
• @JoryHouser
• @humbleofferings
• @KellyHanscom
• @mertensminute
• @MrJGoldman
• @MrSchoolCounslr
• @nemmers_nat
• @PhilEchols
• @SandraLogan
• @sch_counselor
• @SvySchCounselor
• @tmscounselor
• @tx_sch_cnslr

And of course to @rawolfon and @ConnieMWard who led the #notatasca14 chat . I missed you. @EHordyskiLuong and @charlieosenten amazing Canadian School Counsellors  I know you were following along and may join in next time!

4. CONTINUING EDUCATION: I absolutely loved the session School Counselling: Running Groups on a Duct Tape Budget  Yes, duct tape there are so many ways to impact student in groups using duct tape. If you ever get a chance to go this session in the future , please do it was fantastic and so much fun.

Ed Jacobs and Group Counselling techniques. Go to downloads from here. I never get tired of Ed’s sessions and although we have become lifelong friends ( I met him at a conference fifteen years ago in Florida) , I love hearing him present along with his co presenter Dr. Chris Schimmel. This is a must see at any conference you go to.

Branding and Marketing Your School Counselling Program. Jeff and Jeremy give wonderful tips on how to market the amazing School Counselling Program that you have developed in your school. This session is especially great for those new to the profession.

Resources: For the best notes ever check out @FSabens . It is like you are there with her.

Franciene’s  ( Notes )

So many resources: Check out these posts:

 

Check out the local news with some of my favorite school counsellors @bridget helms @tmscounselor and @MrSchoolCounselr  here.

5. COMPASSION: As for seeing Michelle Obama  @flotus well it was an absolute highlight. She epitomized compassion .  I am not American, but felt she was directly talking to Canadian School Counsellors. Everytime she said a gem I would edit to make it that she was talking to Canadians, talking directly to me and others like me.  The ripple effect of her message will undoubtedly affect students and school counsellors from across the world now and for years to come.

#ASCA14 for me was definitely a conference with a difference because of my connections on twitter, the great people I met and having the privledge to see Michelle Obama who was extraordinary. How often will I have the opportunity to see and listen to an amazing role model with a message like she did that will have the impact to create change for students and school counsellors? This was most likely a once in a lifetime event for me.

To all the School Counsellors worldwide . Keep making a difference and stay connected and even though you were #notatasca you can live virtually through others especially on twitter. I look forward to the next time our paths cross maybe on twitter and hopefully in a chat #SCCrowd or #scchat. Until next time. For now it’s time for self-care on the beaches in Nova Scotia.

“With every life you transform, with every life you save, you all have an impact that is truly beyond measure,” Michelle Obama

#DCMOOC- some final thoughts

sspellmancann:

I love Erin’s reflections and how she expresses her thoughts in a fun way about digital citizenship.

Originally posted on Erin Luong's Reflections on Counselling, Education, Leadership and Technology:

Participation in the #DCMOOC community has enlightened my views of the impact of the internet on myself, my students and our society.

I would like to say thank you to:

View original 10 more words

Lessons For a New School Counsellor: Year end post

Originally, I planned to share this post with Marc. In reflection, I think this post should stand alone.

counselling'

Reflecting on my first year of counselling makes my successes, struggles, observations and learning apparent, showing how I have changed professionally and personally.  In many ways, it appears that my experience in my first year of counselling mirrors my experience in my entire Master’s program.

My studies taught me about models and theories of counselling.  In my first year I have worked to apply my eclectic approach centred upon Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT).  I have learned the strengths and limitations of SFBT, how to apply its approaches and techniques effectively, and in what contexts it is appropriate.  I have applied elements of REBT, CBT, Narrative Therapy and other theories as I have built my knowledge and skill base.  I realize that I need to increase my knowledge and skills in a variety of therapeutic models through further professional development.

My studies taught me about the ethics of counselling.  In my first year I have been exposed to a number of ethical issues and questions as I have considered issues of boundaries, self-care, confidentiality, and proper conduct.  I have learned through my own work, the experience of others, and consultation what potential concerns can arise and how to work through the decision making process.  I have had my own conceptions challenged, and have had to learn how to balance the rights of parents, students, my employer and myself.

My studies taught me how to work with a client to create a positive working alliance and how to develop an effective intervention plan.  My first year has been a tremendous learning experience, as I have played ‘guess and test’ with different approaches and techniques.  I have learned how to conduct myself in a way that creates a positive relationship with a client, while still remaining true to my personality and principles.  I have learned the value of a conceptual plan, as I struggled in some sessions to adjust to new information or move forward in a deliberate manner.  Videotaping my sessions has provided me with tremendous opportunity for growth, as I have observed and reflected upon my demeanor, approach, and delivery.  I have surprised myself, as I begin to feel that I could actually ‘do this’.

I came into my first year very aware of my naïveté.  I battled ‘imposter syndrome’, worrying that clients or colleagues would question my abilities as much as I did.  I wondered if I would be able to handle all the potential scenarios placed before me.  Even at the end of my first year, I am aware of my inexperience and the potential struggles of a novice counsellor.  However, I have learned so much and come so far that I believe I am well-equipped to begin my journey as a counsellor.  Personally, I have been surprised by what I have learned from clients, how my experience has impacted me, and how I have been able to manage emotionally.  I have seen the value of self-care, boundaries, and realistic expectations.  I believe that my experience has made me a more reflective person, a better listener, and more aware of the perspectives of others.  Professionally, I believe I have made the right career choice.  I plan to work in schools, helping students with their academic and personal needs.  I have learned how to work with other professionals, how to communicate with parents and clients, and what my role as a counsellor entails.  I am both overwhelmed and excited by the amount of growth I have ahead of me; through experience, reflection and professional development, I plan to keep learning and developing.

If I could give any advice to a new counsellor facing the first year of their new career, it would be this: You have chosen a profession with a steep learning curve, a variety of potential presenting issues, the emotional impacts of others, and tremendous demands of your time, energy and patience.  You will be frustrated and challenged, misunderstood and exhausted.  So relax and enjoy it.  You’re much better at it than you think you are, there are many resources and supports out there for you, and the job is incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.  You’re making a bigger difference than you realize.  Isn’t that what we want?

Marc Osenton

My final thoughts : I have been fortunate to work alongside such a *fabulous new school counsellor. Fly on your own  Marc ( well sort of ) but remember to always consult, consult, consult, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate, continue to tweet and continue to make a difference.

You most certainly did this year.

Please follow Marc on twitter @charlieosenton

I look forward to Marc’s School Counselling blog as school counselors know reflection is always a good practice.

Living Aware … Living Informed … Living Empowered

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Alec presenting

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health and wellness since our mental health symposium facilitated by Alec Couros. Thinking about and discussing mental health is so important. This day was a culmination of five months of meeting with students and staff to discuss what we would like to do. I’ll share more about that later. Check here for some more information on our symposium. Our teachers , counsellors,  students and Alec worked very hard to share with the whole school the importance of mental health.

 Thanks to Kevin , my twitter friend I noticed this tweet:

There are so many things in the article that resonate with me and things I believe high school students , teachers and staff need to know about mental health.

1. Stigma matters: We need to teach students how to pay attention to facts not myths when it comes to mental health

2. Media can either lift up or tear down our understanding of mental health. That’s why we held a mental health symposium and tied it to social media and digital citizenship.

Our students were empowered to use social media to develop mental health literacy skills and to break through some of the stigma around mental health.

3. We need students to understand the difference between a mental health problem, mental health distress and a mental health disorder. Thanks to Stan Kutcher’s materials  students can explore and discover the differences. Let’s begin to STOP over pathologizing.

4. We must continue to dialogue about this important issue.

 

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By having elementary students involved in this symposium , they could see that our students were modelling that mental health and wellness is important.  Digital Citizenship was experienced and shared.

We know students find most of their mental health information on line,  so we need to assist students in finding valuable information that will help them. Mental Health Literacy and Digital Literacy are extremely important. We want students to understand both.

Thanks to #DCMOOC I can tie these two literacies together even more.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW: According to media smarts Matthew Johnson:

  • If there is a rule in the home about respecting others online students will more than likely engage in positive online behaviour.
  • Focus should be on ethics , rather than scare tactics.
  • We can encourage empathy. We need to understand that online we are often missing cues that help us feel empathy . We fall into empathy traps online where we are missing the facial cues, tone of voice , body language etc … Students need to understand this.
  • Don’t be a bystander … be an upstander .
  • ” Many problematic behaviours-bullying, sexting, plagiarism etc. are less common than students think” Knowing this will help the rates drop.
  • To be a citizen means students need to understand and exercise their rights.
  • Let’s help students be involved in civic debates on and off line. We need them to have the skills to be able to do this.
  • Give students opportunities to contribute positively online by not blocking sites that can help them.
  • They need to know how to interact positively in gaming communities. As a member of a community they can change how a community behaves. They can be empowered to act in a pro-active way.
  • Students need privacy policies explained to them. I would guess that many teachers need these explained too.
  • Young people need to know that they have rights to freedom of discrimination, they have the right to be free. Girls often have different experiences on line. Boys and girls have the rights to be free from harassment. Students have a right to be heard. Students need a chance to present their works to authentic audiences. Students have a right to education. Most importantly an education that uses digital technology to explore and understand their world.
  • Students need to know … it is OK to make mistakes.

Thanks so much to Matthew for sharing his expertise.

I believe students when on line and off line need to be good citizens which will in turn affect their positive mental health and well being. Let’s continue the dialogue.

Lesson #20 Reflecting On I Want To Be A Good Digital Citizen

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Week 2 of #DCMOOC and I find myself thinking about digital citizenship in everything I do. Isn’t that what we want students to do? Isn’t that what I want to do … think before I post, learn to be a good digital citizen. I want to become the best citizen I can. I strive to do that daily and as I reflect , I think about the many times I have made mistakes in life and try to remember that I am still learning even today. I recognize that it took me a lifetime to become the person I am today and I will continue to make mistakes online and off. Trying to merge my two identities online and off , being authentic and true to who I really am isn’t always easy.

Reflecting brings to light what I want students to do which is to focus on their strengths. I attempt to do that online and off, but at times I fall short. Reflecting makes me aware of what I need to do to change and taking this course helps me bring to light what it is that I want to do differently.

Each year I think about new ways to share my learning on line  so that it will benefit students. I want to model and teach citizenship to our students . By reflecting on others posts, sharing in blackboard collaborate , following the hashtag #DCMOOC and reading in the G + community I am often enlightened as to resources that I can use with our students. I really like what Deborah had to say about #W2Q2 “I find the best analogy to share with my students is that everything they post online should be something they are willing to share on the morning announcements at school.“Thanks Deb, I think I will start sharing that with students.

One thing I will do differently is start my day with something I can share with students on digital citizenship twice a week on the school twitter account. I will commit to this next year.

I want to thank Deborah McCallum for this flipboard. It made me think about fixing up one I had already started . I will share it later. Taking this MOOC has made me revisit some of the resources I use and try to improve them so that I can then use them with students and share with those in #DCMOOC. As a result I have made a few more flipboards to share with School Counsellors and thanks to @suewaters I can now fix my flipboards to make them better.

Thanks to @courosa for always sharing such great resources and here are some more resources.

 

Lesson #19 I Want To Be A Good Digital Citizen: #DCMOOC

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I want to teach our students at BCHS to be good Digital Citizens

I want to teach our students at BCHS to be good Digital Citizens

Digital Citizenship Lessons

DCMOOC should I shouldn’t I ? This time of year can be so hectic with so many things going on , but I really could not pass up the opportunity to learn along with so many great educators who care about Digital Citizenship. Of course knowing that Alec Couros was going to lead the MOOC made my decision much easier as he is a phenomenal leader. School Counsellors need to model good digital citizenship and I want to continue to learn when it comes to this area.

This is my third MOOC, my second cMOOC and I am glad I decided to keep growing and learning along with you all. My first MOOC was ETMOOC and I was so scared to dive into that MOOC that I joined in on the last day. I believe it changed my life personally and professionally. I no longer have as many fears. I continued painting and feeling free to do so because of all the supportive ETMOOC’ ers. I feel I was released from my fears of I can’t to I can.

  • I am a better school counsellor because of ETMOOC, I now integrate Digital Citizenship and technology in all I do.
  • I am connected to so many fabulous people that I have met on line. I never realized you could make such great friends through  #ETMOOC, #SCCrowd and #scchat.
  • I have learned so many skills that I know I would not have had, had it not been for my involvement in ETMOOC. I blog , vlog tweet , make videos,

google hangout, use google doc’s , use technology to collaborate with people and school counsellors from across the world and so much more.

  • I believe I am a better person more willing to be open and share.

My second MOOC was an edxMOOC called Justice by Michael Sandel. A great orator and an interesting course (and I did like it a lot), but I must admit I learned way more from my cMOOC about life and learning. My bias is all MOOC’s should be run like a cMOOC.

I am very passionate about Digital Citizenship as a school counsellor, parent and person who is living in a digital world. I believe if I am to assist students in a digital world I need to know what they are doing and how they do it, thus my interest in everything digital.

If I want students to be good digital citizens I need role model being a good Digital Citizen, one who does not have fears of making mistakes.

I look forward to this journey with you , knowing that the process will be easier this time around, but the learning will continue and be as exhilarating and exciting! Thanks to every person who has been willing to share and help me on this journey.

I want to make a difference . What about you?

Making A Difference click here to see this Haiku Deck

 

Yes George, School Counsellors Do Have A Hashtag

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Thanks to @hatcherelli I saw this post today and it got me to thinking about the many times I have seen this kind of post! There has been hashtags for school counsellors for a very long time, but many are not aware of them.

The longest standing hashtag for school counsellors is #scchat, a great place for school counsellors to gather. Thanks to @ecmmason and @sch_counselor this is a great place to share and learn.

After our time in ETMOOC  @EHordyskiLuong and I tried to get Canadian School Counsellors to join in using the hashtag #CSCchat. We know you are out there school counsellors and we still want you to join in using all the school counsellor hashtags. It is the best PD ever . Don’t miss out!

What is #SCCROWD?  This year @rawolfson started #SCCrowd a different kind of chat that school counsellors from across the world can join in . Check out this SCCrowd website to find out more.

So yes George , administrators, school counsellors, educators and anyone who wants to connect with school counsellors from across the world  there are hashtags  and we welcome you to use them anytime. Collaborating with administrators is so important and that is why I often use the hashtag #edchat . Using the hashtag #cdnedchat  is another great way I  connect with educators from Canada. So please join in and use the school counsellor hashtags listed here.

#SCChat  School Counsellor Chat

#CSCCHAT Canadian School Counsellor Chat

#SCCROWD A Worldwide international School Counsellor Chat

#ESCCHAT Elementary School Counsellor Chat

#HSCCHAT High School Counsellor Chat

#IntlSC for International School Counsellors  thanks to Scott Langston

Everyone please feel free to join us anytime in a chat. We’d love to see you there. Thanks Derek Hatch and George Couros for giving me something to blog about today . Would love to see you jump in anytime using the #SCCrowd or other school counsellor hashtags . Seeing as you are Canadians why not use #CSCchat? This way we can demonstrate positive digital leadership and citizenship by working together . Thanks to #ETMOOC and now #DCMOOC for making me constantly think about digital citizenship and how it relates to school counselling.

More Than Better Students … Better People… Isn’t That What All Educators Want?

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Found this tweet from George Couros and think this is a great way to connect with elders in the worldwide community. We already connect F2F, but I believe this is another way to make positive connections.

Isn’t this the kind of students and relationships we want students to have ? Never mind all the wonderful educational benefits this kind of connection has the ability to elicit.

BCHS Italy 2014 Connecting with Students and Staff in a Whole Different Way

Haiku Deck of Italy 2014

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Who would of thought that going on a school trip with ninety-four students and ten chaperones to Italy would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime? These pictures pretty much sum up the amazing adventure we were about to go on starting April 11 . Every detail was planned and coordinated by our outstanding music teachers at BCHS. I knew they were amazing before this trip, but I gained a new respect for them after this outstanding experience that would last ten extraordinary days.

Here is just a snippet of the 10 wonderful days of music:

FACTS:

Destination Calgary airport.

Group 1 departing for Amsterdam on route to Venice.

Group 2 departing for Toronto on route to Venice

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Our students performing for unsuspecting audience in Amsterdam airport joined by two unknown travellers much to the delight of  travellers
  • Landing in Venice tired but excited Saturday, APRIL 12TH, 2014AT 6.P.M. arriving at our hotel Hotel Villa Florita

Sunday, April 13th Venice, Italy DAY TWO

Our days would often begin early,so that we could fit in as much as possible for our students.

FACTS:

Day starts at 6 a.m. Arriving at Tronchetto Parking lot to transfer by boat to San Marco Area.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Gondola ride
  • Mask making workshop and painting masks ( a lot of fun had by all even the chaperones made masks )

Monday, April 14th Venice DAY THREE

FACTS:

Day begins at 7 a.m. arrive back at hotel after 11:00 p.m.

Each night we debrief with students and each other ending with a prayer

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • St. Mark’s Basilica tour
  • Visit San Vidal Church
  • Pizza Supper where we met up with a choir from South Africa singing together in a moving moment that brought tears to many eyes  as the two choirs spontaneously joined in to sing for each other and then join in together to sing shosholoza
  • Concert Interpreti Veneziani program Vivaldi/Bach/Hasse

 

Tuesday, April 15th  Cremona DAY FOUR

FACTS:

Day begins at 6 a.m. for a two and a half hour bus ride to the Cremona

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A visit to Museo Stradivariano
  • Students perform in courtyard of Museo Ala Ponzone  facts ( first official concert of the tour and it was delightful)
  • Modena Balsamic Vinegar factory tour ,very tasty and what a beautiful location (got to bring back many gifts for families and friends)
  • Arrive at our hotel in Bologna ( Grand Hotel Bologna) another beautiful little town

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16th Bologna, Italy DAY FIVE

FACTS:

6:30 a.m. start

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Walking tour through beautiful city . So many beautiful churches and squares in all these spots
  • Lunch where we attend a great cooking school and make pasta Vecchia Scuola Bolognese (the lunch they made for us was amazing,but we had so much fun making linguini together in groups. The students sang to the owners and helpers to thank them for such a delightful afternoon.
  • Arrive at Grand Hotel Bologna E del Congress

Thursday, April 17th Florence and Assisi DAY SIX

FACTS: start 6:30 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Friday, April 18th Assisi  DAY SEVEN

FACTS: start a little later this morning

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Visit the Basilica in Santa Maria Degli Angeli
  • Held our own liturgy for Good Friday which was also amazing. The organ playing  done by our student . The horn playing by our choir teachers husband and the beautiful readings and prayers done by students and staff made this one of my favourite memories of the trip.
  • Stayed at Hotel Casa Leonori
  • A talent show by students and chaperones ( loads of laughs and fun )

Saturday, April 19th ROME

FACTS: start 6:00 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tour of St. Peters Basilica, Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel
  • Walking tour of Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps
  • Dinner at Papa Rex with opera singing and an accordion player and a nice meal
  • This by far was the most hectic day keeping track of all our students in such large crowds

Sunday, April 20th Easter Sunday in the Vatican Pope Francis 

FACTS: Early start so we could arrive in the square by 7:30 a.m.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Just being at the Vatican on Easter Sunday
  • Listening to the message in many languages
  • Having this fantastic experience with so many wonderful students and staff

There is absolutely no way to really tell you how appreciative I am to be able to have spent the ten days together with students and colleagues.  The organization was exemplary. The students were unbelievably well behaved and represented themselves and the school exceptionally well. My most favorite part was being able to connect with students on a different level and be exposed to their wonderful talents. Now when I see them in the hall we can smile and talk with each other. We have a shared experience and memories that will last a lifetime. I absolutely loved all the music as I believe music can heal the body,mind and spirit. I am extremely grateful for this experience as it helped me connect as a school counsellor with students in a way I would never have been able to previously. The trip was a mental health break which I will treasure forever.