Reflections of a School Counsellor

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It’s summer time and I know I should be resting and believe me I do ! I have so much inside of me that I want to share that it is sometimes hard to know where to begin, but for today I’ll share what has been on my mind. I have been following ASCA’s twitter #ASCA16  feed over the past few days as I was unable to go this year. A couple of reflections come to mind.

  1. Gratitude … Collaborating with others has brought the passion of what I love to do to the forefront. I am so grateful that I connected to @ecmmmason and #scchat only a few short years ago . Yes, #scchat was the first School Counsellor hashtag I followed and it has changed everything . Thank you Danielle Schultz and Erin Mason.  I got and still get so much inspiration from seeing and getting help from all those who posted to the hashtag. I know that is why I am so passionate about others joining in with us as we collaborate this fall on a joint venture. See more here School Counsellors Collaborating as Leaders Worldwide. I care about the future of School Counsellors and School Counselling. I want to give back and so I continue to engage with others who are as passionate as I am.
  2. Refirement not retirement.Yes, I am retiring next year, but I want to go out making it my best year ever. I still really love what I do. I am retiring because it is time to. Time to refocus and engage my energies in other directions, but for now I will stay focused on the present and possibilities.   I am very excited about all the new ventures I will be taking on next school year.

September

  • George Couros MOOC . You may want to join us.

  • Supervise and mentor a new School Counsellor ( I have been doing this for years ). My way to give back while continuing to learn.

October

  • Start a Ted X Youth Club with my fabulous colleague Amy Webster @AmyNoraWebster . We look forward to the many wonderful things our students will create.
  • Working with Empowering Minds  EMLeadership and the most fabulous Cleopatra to create Leadership opportunities for students.
  • Continue to work and create ideas with Connex support.

Sept. to June

  • Continue to work with students to develop ideas around  anti. bullying #whosfrankyyc #carrollculture . Click here  for more information.
  • Continue to refine and work on our book Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind : High School Students Creating Change  Would love to find a publisher . Anyone interested? 

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  • Once a month do a therapeutic Art workshop . Themes to be decided.

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  • Have our second Grad Walk . It was so much fun!

 

Really there are so many possibilities. This is an amazing time in education and these are but a few things I plan on doing in my retirement 2016-2017 school year. Over the summer you may want to consider giving to the Mario Couros Bursary . It is because of the gratitude we in #etmooc feel and it will help a future educator!

To all of you who take the time to read my blog may your summer be filled with  gratitude, ideas and opportunities as well as time to enjoy your family and friends. Rest,relax and rejuvenate! I plan to . Hitting the beach very soon!

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.

 

Colour Your Way To A Healthy Mind High School Students Creating Change

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“Be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.” … “Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity.” – Parker Palmer

Our students are passionate when it comes to mental health and wellness. They continue to work diligently when it comes to mental health and anti.stigma spreading messages of hope. All year they have continuued to do things that make a difference. Finally due to the generosity of Gary Nissen and Empowering minds … Connex we were  able to produce this lovely colouring book for all to enjoy! Every year partial proceeds will go to a different chaity, but this year students chose the Children’s Hospital mental health unit.

Thanks so much to all those who collaborated with the wellness team to make this a very special project. Our photography , spectrum and who’s frank clubs. All know the importance of reducing stigma. raising awareness and improving overall wellness. We hope you have fun , relax and enjoy this students led project that is meant to touch your heart and make a difference. So let go, de-stress be as creative as you want . We hope you will be inspired to design your own colouring page while thinking about the messages that matter from our students.

A Year of Music

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Wow! Last night I not only got to watch amazing performances by young people, I got to be a part of the excitement. In September I jumped into another opportunity to grow, to learn and to have fun. I have had experiences that will remain with me forever thanks to Youth Singers Calgary. Never in my wildess imagination would I say I would be performing at the Jubilee in Calgary at my age. Of course i should know to never say never. One never knows the fabulous experiences you can have at any age #nevertooold . I really can say all of the new , jump out of my box experiences I have been having lead back to #ETMOOC  and all the supportive people who encouraged risk taking and that it is ok to to fail. Failure is seen as a way to learn, not like real failure to me which is giving up, never trying!

If you haven’t heard of #secondchants, now is the time. We get to work with outstanding musicians, choral directors, wardrobe  and choreorgraphers who are talented and funny.

I am so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful celebration of dedication and passion for music.

Thinking about Youth Singers great choice! If you are of a certain age like me join us on the 28th to see what it’s all about. I have always loved music , but this year of music has given me a chance to have experiences like never before.

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Love Learning and Leadership

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“Be passionate, fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you.” … “Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity.” – Parker Palmer

What has love got to do with it?  EVERYTHING

As educators it is so important that students know and see that we love our jobs. I use the term job loosely as I know many of us see our career as a calling. At #edcampyyc I got to share the love and passion I have for what I have done every school year for the past thirty six years. I am so grateful to be presenting at #edcampyyc and I also use the term presenting loosely because edcamps are different and make PD so much different and I think better than it has ever been . Edcamps are about choice … eliciting the best kind of leadership. Shared leadership where everyone in the room gets to have a voice and so today I am thankful that I got to learn along with you.

3 years ago in March I became a digital leader. I made a choice to jump into Edtech because of #etmooc and it transformed the way I learn as well as the way I assist students

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The culture of a school moves when you do! I believe it is never too late to be a leader and especially a digital leader.  Don’t wait to be asked to be a leader ACT AS IF you already are and it will impact everything you do.  All of us can make a difference online and off . When you take on a leadership role, sometimes  fear gets in the way and if it does I say jump right in like I did in ETMOOC and your fears will subside. Educators are very supportive especially online when they are helping others learn. I am extremely grateful to all those who help me online every day to grow and learn.

Presence

Your presence on line is important. If students see you being a good digital citizen or being a good citizen period the they too will model what they see. They will learn how to share appropriately and  by you developing your online presence you will recognize how creating a digital footprint takes time and collaboration on many levels.

Purpose

Because we want to be good digital leaders we look at what our students need. Having a purpose where we want to impact every student in our whole school through the use of technology drives how we help our students . We research what will be most helpful and curate and or create resources that will help them.

At our school we continue to look at what will be most helpful in our Student services department . We want to reach the whole school so here are a few resouces we have collaborated on to assist students. Here are a few of our favourites we love using to disseminate information, livebinders and smores.

Check out our Post Secondary and Personal Wellness Livebinders here:

Post Secondary Planning

Personal Wellness

If you have never been to an edcamp then jump in the next time one is offered in your area. Below you can view the Haiku Deck that I used to get the conversation going. Everyone in your school can be a leader from the caretaker , to the secretary , to the aide that supports a student with special needs . I agree with Eric Sheninger  Titles Don’t Make Leaders . Look for the leaders and celebrate them often!

The students are definitely why we do what we do . Thanks #edcampyyc for connecting educators and letting them lead with their feet , by choosing sessions that were important to them. Check out the #edcampyyc hashtag for more inspiration. So many great sessions with amazing educators who are passionate leaders who love what they do. Please share why you love what you do because together we are definitely better!

If you decide to pay it forward consider contributing to the Mario Couros Bursary , a great way to help another future educator as well as a way to honour those who give so much to education worldwide.

What Should A Networked School Counsellor Post on Twitter ?

 

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School Counsellors Education Leaders Follow us on Twitter  #SCCrowd and #scchat 

As School Counsellors who are educational leaders on twitter, we should first and foremost be professional. Everything on-line is public. Act as if it always is even if your privacy settings give you the illusion that it is private.

Click here to see my haiku deck The Illusion of Privacy

Twitter:

  1. This is a place and a space to connect with other educators and School Counsellors from across the world. It is a place that you can learn from others by growing your Personal Learning Network (PLN).
  2. It is also a place where you can eventually collaborate with others making a difference in your school and in your community.
  3. Share your resources!!! This is a place to share some of the great resources that you or others create, but also a place to get amazing resources that can impact the way you help your students.
  4. Follow and share blog posts of those people you respect.
  5. Twitter is an amazing space to share the wisdom of others. You can post or create your own quotes.
  6. Celebrate others. I think we should consider celebrating colleagues on a regular basis. There are so many people who surround us that are doing amazing things and all too often are not recognized for the fabulous things they do and the positive impact they have on others. So celebrate others today … celebrate them often.
  7. Thank those that help you.
  8. Retweet inspiring ideas.
  9. Live and let live. You aren’t going to agree with everything and everyone, but you can be the kind of leader you want to be. Find great leaders, and follow them.
  10. Help others get started on twitter. You recognize how much it has helped you . So pay it forward.

TO DO ON TWITTER:

  • Always be appropriate and professional and use common sense in what you share.
  • Surround yourself with positive people just like you do in real life.
  • Relationships are key on twitter , use the reply( @____ the name of the person)  to have discussions , ask questions and share ideas and resources with others.
  • Be a positive leader. In order to teach students to be good citizens ( digitalcitizens we need to model that every day) .
  • Listen and learn from the great educators and people around the world.
  • Act as if everything you say is heard by every student and family you have ever taught or worked with.
  • Be real , be yourself.
  • You can develop great friendships on twitter. Like in real life, use all the skills you have to meet people who enrich and enhance your life.
  • Think about the kind of legacy you want to leave.

NOT TO DO ON TWITTER

  • Never ever share confidential information , even if it looks disguised.
  • Never ever talk about others in a negative way.
  • Never say or do anything that goes against who you truly are.

If you are new to twitter check out this check list .

Thanks to @gcouros yet again for the inspiration. As George says don’t use profanity. You would not use it in the classroom, so don’t use it online. A lot of what I have said can be applied to Facebook as well. So think before you post applies to all of us who use social media. Social media should be used to learn, share and grow as well as a way to have a positive impact on the world. I look forward to reading your tweets.

There Is An Artist In All Of Us

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Five years ago I did not paint and now thanks to great friends and my experiences in ETMOOC  , I have more confidence and find it one of the most rewarding , therapeutic experiences that I can imagine. I take mini courses and I watch lots of youtube videos to get tips. It is so much fun.

I have keratoconus a progressive eye disease, ( I was diagnosed later in life ) so I think partly that diagnosis has driven me to create visually in case my vision ever gets really poor. Painting is therapeutic and healing for me. I have played sports all my life and I absolutely love to read,  both which can bring me flow , but nothing brings me the kind of flow that painting does.

Painting brings me flow the kind of flow that was discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  Fifteen hours can feel like five minutes for me. I love that it brings me joy and that I am completely absorbed in the process. It is fun and easy and yes I think anyone  can benefit from art and painting.  If I can you can too.

 

I plan on using the painting that I did above,  thanks to the online instructions from theArtSherpa ( see below) with our students. Art and Counselling definitely go together . Paintings tell stories often times with hidden messages.

Process for students:

Today we are going to embark on a journey of letting go of any negativity and go with the flow. For the next two hours you are not allowed to say to yourself I can’t . If you hear yourself speaking those words take your note pad and write I can … I will.

So let’s begin this process by being mindful and breathing. Lead students through a short mindfulness process to begin. Let them know that they are going to create a special painting today and that there are no mistakes. They can create their trees and painting anyway they like even if it is different from the paining they see. Like mine birch trees do not produce multi coloured leaves , but I did just because I wanted to visually and I  love the effect.  This seminar is about being yourself and letting go.

If they would like to follow the step by step instructions here they are:

  1. Write messages of hope and their dreams for their future in pencil on their canvas.
  2. Ask students if anyone would like to share their hopes and dreams with others.
  3. The size of canvas it up to the student. Have students bring the size of canvas they want to work on.
  4. Divide your canvas into six equal sections. They don’t have to be exact and you don’t have to measure them. Tell students they can estimate.  So begin by saying Today we are going to create . We are going to start by painting a rainbow with trees, you can use any method you like to paint your colors on your canvas. I used upwards stokes, but really any would work. Start with red, orange , yellow, greens,  blue and purple.
  5. Guide students through the process being as creative as you like in explaining what they can do next. Constantly remind them it is ok to make mistakes ( really there are no mistakes, but they may perceive them as such). Remind them that their perceived mistakes lead to more creativity and it is ok to be as creative as they wish going with the flow and what their heart wants to paint.
  6. Trees can be very symbolic and you can discuss this with students.Trees are strong and unique just like each of them. Birch trees can mean new beginnings. You can discuss with students what they believe their trees mean for them. I chose nine trees, but they can choose any number that means something to them. I also chose to add flowers and really birch trees have no colorful flowers, but I like the effect. The lovely thing when you create art just for the sake of it is that there is no right or wrong . There are no mistakes. It just is … creative , how wonderful and freeing.
  7. The rest of the directions are below in the video. You can watch and create your own instructions.
  8. Most importantly have fun and trust the process.

Check out the video below for detailed instructions:

If you decide to do this process with your students , please share your creative ideas with me @sspellmancann.

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life

Pablo Paccasso