Digital Citizenship: School Counsellors Can Take The Lead

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“Nothing leaves a deeper impact on students than actually allowing students to see proper social media usage modeled daily by respected adults (parents, teachers, administrators) and by allowing students to use social media properly in the actual space” says Nikki D Robertson in her article Don’t Ban Social Media.

Digital Citizenship becomes even more important daily as students and adults figure out what matters online. As School Counsellors you can take the lead in this area. If you know how to navigate and model proper social media usage , then you will be able to assist the students you serve to do so too.

I know for me learning all the ins and outs was not easy ( and still isn’t ) , but the lessons were so important for me to learn as a seasoned School Counsellor. I am here to say we are never too old to learn and we should indeed continue to discover and educate ourselves. Every day I continue to master new ideas and believe we must start early to teach all students and all staff about digital citizenship.

Daily online, I see school administrators, counsellors , teachers and students who do not understand the basic concept of  EVERYTHING ONLINE IS PUBLIC. Even if you believe it is private … it is not. Many fall into the trap of the Illusion of Privacy.

If you’d like more articles on digital citizenship you can check out my online School Counsellor Talk weekly here.

I hope to see many more School Counsellors take the lead when it comes to this most important area in a comprehensive school counselling program plan. Won’t you join me on this learning journey?

Lessons for A New School Counsellor

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What do I believe are some important lessons for a new School Counsellor to be aware of ? These lessons will not be in order of importance, but are all lessons I feel are worthwhile for you .

Lesson #1: We can’t help everyone, but we can sure try to help the ones that come to us or are referred to us (and yes sometimes we need to go to them).

Students will often disclose very serious issues that you as School Counsellors need to address. Sometimes when you disclose to parents that their son or daughter is thinking of suicide or some other life threatening concern (the end result might be the student may never return to see you). Hopefully you have connected the student and their family to resources that can improve and indeed in some cases save their lives.

It is important for you the new school counsellor to not get discouraged if a student does not return to see you (don’t personalize it). You may have helped the students tremendously and yes indeed you may even save their life,  but they will be unaware of just how at this present time in their life. Know that students have stopped me in stores and other places years later to let me know what a difference I made. So hang in there knowing that you did what you needed to do. It would be great to help all students , but unfortunately even if you do everything correct sometimes we lose a student and this will be absoltely devastating. So make sure you always debrief and get help for yourself.

It is also important to be self-aware, so always run by big concerns with another counsellor and see if indeed there was something else you could have done or ask what if anything could you have done differently. Remind yourself that you are in a process of learning.

Consult… consult… consult… a lifelong lesson for ALL School Counsellors.

It is also OK to recognize that you are NOT a match for every student. Hopefully there are other counsellors in your school or outside agencies that you can refer your student to if this happens. I let students know that they have a choice when it comes to counsellors and they need to see the person they feel most comfortable and safe with. Hopefully, that will be you , but if that is not so that is OK too.

Lesson # 2: We need to base what we do on theoretical perspectives that are useful and helpful. Humanists like Carl Rogers and Victor Frankl have impacted me, but so too have others in the field of psychology like Albert Ellis, Irvin Yalom, Fritz Perls, Ed JacobsDavid Burns, Virginia Satir, Donald Meichenbaum, Claudia Black

and Mary Pipher to name a few. There is no one right approach. You need to discover what you believe and make sure the theories work for you and your students.

Each theorist has impacted the way I interact and help students. Along the way I have also worked with some amazing school counsellors , educators and supervisors who have also influenced me in a positive way. Thanks especially to Ed Jacobs, Diane Williams, Deana Helton , Erin Mason , and Helen MacKinnon.

Lesson #3: Find great mentors and learn from them. One of my all time favorites is Ed Jacobs. Ed is a genuinely helpful man as well as being a great therapist. I love how he interacts and works with young and old people alike and makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Check him out on YouTube here:

 

Lesson #4: There are so many people and resources you can learn from that can impact students in a positive way. I think Leo Buscaglia  has the best lessons that can be used in counselling students. I can honestly say I loved Leo . He was and still is an inspiration to me. Which brings me to an extremely important lesson … lesson #5

Lesson #5: Continually professionally develop yourself. Keep learning and learning and learning. One of my new favorite ways to do this is to connect with other school counsellors worldwide on twitter. See my past post on amazing school counsellors and what they are doing. My twitter handle is @sspellmancann. If you are not on twitter sign up TODAY! Join us in #scchat on the first Wed. of every month at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET. Post to #scchat anytime and there is always great resources there for you to access for free.

Lesson #6: Read great counselling books . A few I really like are : Impact Therapy by Ed. Jacobs, Creative Counselling Techniques by Ed. Jacobs, Group Counseling Strategies and Skills Jacobs, Masson, Harvill, Letters To A Young Therapist Mary Pipher, The Gift of Therapy  Irvin Yalom, and Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

As I think about the lessons I believe a new counsellor should be thinking about I realize that there are some practical considerations that a new counsellor might want to implement. Here are a few:

What are some basics that could be helpful to you as a new school counsellor? 

  • Write an introduction letter to parents letting them know who you are and what you do and post it on the school counselling and school website. (If  by chance your school does not have a website design a letter introducing yourself and put it in the school newsletter ( put it in the newsletter anyway.Tweet this out to students on the school twitter account and post it to the school Facebook account.
  • If you engage on social media please remember that NOTHING is PRIVATE ( even if you think it is ).  Digital citizenship is a lesson we all need to learn.
  • Introduce yourself to as many teachers as you possibly can. In a large school, this will take time.
  • Plan to meet with your administration team at THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR and least once a month. Celebrate what you do and how you are doing. Discuss what the expectations are of a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan and how you can work together to accomplish this.
  • Counsellors and admin should be joint leaders in any school.
  • Show initiative. Everyone in a school will benefit. If you have some great ideas don’t be afraid to share or try out your ideas.
  • Discuss limits of confidentiality with every student. You might want to put a poster of the limits on your office wall.
  • Visually make your office a space students want to be in.
  • Develop a monthly calendar of things to do and check off when you complete them.
  • Have a plan when meeting new students.  It is helpful to get a cell phone number so that you can follow-up.
  • It might be helpful to keep a notebook of all the things you need to know especially if you are in a new school or counselling a new age group.
  • You will want to find a simple and easy way to curate information. I use livebinders and pinterest. They can be extremely helpful tools for new counsellors as well as those that have been around for a while.
  • You need to be a positive PR person for the school counseling program , so find many ways to connect with students. Brainstorm with your colleagues ways to make connections with students so that they know who you are and what you do.
  • Connect with parents. Let them know through parent council or other means what you do.
  • Ask for help. You are not expected to know everything. Utilize the professionals inside and outside of your building for support.
  • Learn as you go about the many community resources that are available and put them in a binder or livebinder.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your innovative or creative ideas with your counselling team ( if you have one). They and you will benefit!
  • BALANCE we all benefit from taking care of ourselves. Don’t burn yourself out in the first year. Practice self-care.
  • You have a big learning curve. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.

I am adding one of my live binders called school counsellor resources. Please as in all my livebinders  take what you like and leave the rest.

For all of you who are new to school counselling have a wonderful experience and know that what you do absolutely matters.

My next Lessons for a new School Counsellor will be posted soon.

Welcome to the best profession in the world School Counselling.

Love Leadership and School Counselling

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YOU are a leader ! What you say and do does matter .Technology can assist you in being an amazing leader who reaches the whole school population.

Technology is also a very important part of students lives today and will be even more prevalent in the future. School Counsellors can find a way to incorporate exciting new practices into their School Counselling programs. These changes can inspire not only your students , but they can help and inspire YOU the School Counsellor as well.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation on LOVE LEADERSHIP and SCHOOL COUNSELLING for the ATA Council for School Counsellors Conference. This blog is written just for you so you can look back and enjoy the resources , but I know if you were an attendee this all makes much more sense to you and you got a few freebies besides. Thanks for being there. I appreciate you giving of your valuable time.

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If I can learn to use technology as a seasoned School Counsellor, you can too.  I love technology and think it is essential to present and future School Counsellors. Why? Because it allows us to connect with students in their space as well as allows us an opportunity to connect to the whole school population. Of course there will always be a place and a space for meeting and connecting with students individually, but it is also extremely important to reach as many students as possible and that can be done through the use of technology.

Technology also allows us to develop a PLN with people from all around the world. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to connect with not only School Counsellors who are passionate, but also with other educators who use technology to assist them in improving and reflecting on what it is they do for students. Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason my friend is an amazing leader when it comes to School Counsellors utilizing and creating ideas with technology and you were lucky enough to connect with her at this conference. Check out her SCOPE page if you haven’t already.I am so happy she is at this conference.

So, conference participants enjoy.  Meeting , connecting , sharing and helping you is what I hope to do to pay it forward for all that has been given to me. The rest of this blog will be about the resources I think you as School Counsellors can use to make a difference.

#1 is Twitter so I encourage you to get an account today. It will transform your life and the life of your future students if used properly. Twitter is where it all began for me and then ETMOOC changed the way I offered parts of my School Counselling program. A special thanks to Alec Couros @courosa Ed tech professor extraordinaire and social media expert at the University of Regina. You will want to follow him and his brother George @gcouros a leader and fabulous administrator on twitter.

Advantages of twitter:

  • It allows for opportunities to connect, collaborate, share and learn from and with people from all over the world.
  • I have used Twitter and Google docs to collaborate with other School Counsellors and educators who have wanted to contribute to Mental Health in High School as well as many other projects.
  • Using the hashtags #SCCrowd and #scchat as well as some other great chats allows us to connect with School Counselling professionals who are more than willing to help us as we continue to work with and make a difference for students.
    School Counsellor chat schedule
  • The instant anytime access allows me to get information or resources that I can utilize in an open manner which not only helps me , but may help others.
  • It also allows us a voice for reaching out to others to let them know that what we do matters.

Check out this post by University of Regina President Vianne Timmons saying School Counsellors Change and Save Lives click here.

This post has had thousands of  people who have seen it. Social media can reach people quickly.

  • Twitter allows you as a School Counsellor to share and help other School Counsellors, School Counselling students and educators.
  • If you want to learn more about School Counsellors observe their twitter accounts. Please follow them using the hashtags you saw above #scchat #sccrowd and #escchat . You’ll get a good sense of how you too can be a positive digital citizen and model this for your future students.

Ask for help. Other School Counsellors and educators are always willing to help you. If you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to ask.

One of the best ways you can find the best tech tools to use as a School Counsellor is to check out SCOPE School Counselor Online Professional Exchange. Spend some time there. It will be worth your time and effort.

#2 Haiku Deck As a School Counsellor you will have to give presentations or you may wish to share ideas or messages with students that you think are important. Haiku Deck @haikudeck is my number one go to app. It has a creative commons license built within the app that allows a visual experience that is like none other.
The power of social media to touch others is absolutely amazing. This simple @haikudeck on Who Matters? has had over 80,000 views . One never knows the impact a simple gesture can have online and off.

#3 Livebinders I love to use livebinders to organize and share useful School Counselling information. At Bishop Carroll High School we use livebinders to share large amounts of important information with students in a single space.

Here are two of our livebinders co-created by our School Counselling team Erin Luong @ehordyskiluong , Peter Damen and I :

Post Secondary Planning here
This Personal Wellness livebinder here

#4 Smore

There are so many benefits for using smores. Check out my smore with resources on LEADERSHIP here.

#5 iMovie / YouTube I use iMovie more and more to present to students information that I think will be helpful to them. Dean Shareski , a Canadian educator said once and it has stayed with me video trumps text, so I try to use video as much as possible to create information students can relate to and then upload the iMovie to YouTube. I do this all on my iPhone which makes things very easy for me.

 

 

#6 Blogs

Blogs are a great tool to create, connect and learn from others. For me creating blogs still requires a great deal of effort as I am still learning, but today’s example is a great way of sharing information with others from far away. I started my blog in May of 2013. It has had over 15,000 views from over 105 countries.

SCOPE blog
Check out the blog roll of School Counselors.
#7 Google docs are an amazing way to collaborate. I collaborate with our students on our Wellness committee and our Who’s Frank? team.

#8 Pinterest is a fabulous way to collate information and gather information for future use. I love the visual aspect of pinterest.Pinterest does indeed inspire creativity . I have used it for many things including creating School Counselling bulletin boards as well as for ideas for presentations.

#9 Google hangouts

Again, yet another great way to connect with School Counsellors and educators from across the world.

The Future of School Counselling Google Hangout

The Future of School Counselling

You can see that I use multiple tools in multiple ways to help me do a variety of things that help not only School Counsellors , but students as well. Three years ago I did not know how to do any of this so … if I can you can too.

Be the leader you HOPE others will BE.

A Simple Thank You … is enough #IMMOOC

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My biggest lesson this week is what a simple thank you can do to turn your day and your mindset around. I rarely have one of those days and this week I did. I did let my administrator know (at least some of what was going on) and he did one of the best things a true leader can do . He simply thanked me for all the work I do with students . He let me know he was there for me and glad I was there for students and yes it made a difference.

I felt heard and valued. It turned my mindset around.  It freed me from the negativity I was feeling and was such a great role model for me. As a leader I forget that my staff needs a simple thank you too. I really try to remember to do that often through a note or a comment, but sometimes I forget to make the time to do what is so important. So I sent each person I work with closely with a little personal note this weekend and next week I will try to finish by sending all those who help me by giving them a note.

I was extremely honored to recieve an award last week from the University of Calgary Counselling Psychology Program.  Ph. D students I had previously supervised took the time and effort in their busy schedules to recommend me for an excellence in practicum supervision award . It was their BIG thank you and I am truly, truly grateful. They took the time to write such beautiful words and say thank you in a big way. Taking the time to thank people is truly a gift that you can give others. You have asked me to display it proudly and so I will.

However, this week that simple thank you helped to change my mindset and I believe will impact what I do next week and in the future with others.

Be on the look out for my thank you to IMMOOC.

Who will you send a simple thank you to … this week?

Relationships Relationships Relationships … Great Leaders Matter

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Having worked in schools for 36 years I absolutely recognize the importance of a great leader. I am grateful to have worked with so many.

Fortunately for me I get to work with an outstanding leader everyday. He is forward thinking, innovative, positive , intelligent , has great sense of humour , cares deeply about students and staff , is extremely supportive of School Counsellors and most importantly kind. He makes a difference. Thanks @neilof12.

On this Canadian thanksgiving day , I think it is very important to tell the people who you care about and are grateful for that you do. Too often people think it , but don’t say it. I try to say it as often as I can because I recognize life is precious.

I make a point of telling those that have impacted me that they have including my students.

As a leader myself , I make every effort to be the kind of leader I want others to be. I gave my principal  The Innovator’s Mindset when it came out knowing that he was already an innovator, but also knowing like me he too is a lifelong learner.

Today most importantly I am grateful for my husband and children who have had the biggest and most positive impact on my life. Because of them I can be the kind of educator,   leader and person I want to be.

I am so… so…  so grateful for the wonderful friendships that I have in my life. They have and still do enrich and transform my life.

I am grateful for #immooc and @gcouros for having the insights and passion to make a difference in students and educators lives including mine. Thanks to all those in #immooc who have connected and shared with me. I am grateful. I believe very strongly when we are excited about learning we pass that on to all those around us and can make a real difference in the life of a child. Isn’t that why we chose this profession?  Yes, George relationships do matter … they are absolutely everything.

 

Letting Go

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Letting go while still feeling extraordinarily passionate isn’t easy, it is a process. I need to take my own advice and trust the process. This year will be a year of reflection and change. I am retiring in June , but still absolutely love what I do.

I am embarking on another powerful , innovative journey in #immooc with people from all around the world. I know already I will be changed because of it. ETMOOC and the people in it profoundly changed me. I believe I am a much better educator and person because of the people who influenced my thinking and my skill level. It is hard to put into words all the amazing things I learned , but trust me I am transformed.

Today I changed the name of my blog, not as easy as some people might think, but in doing so I have let go of some things to be ready and open to new challenges and experiences.

IMMOOC I look forward to all the possibilities ahead and learning new things that will affect the way I assist students in their journey this school year. What are you prepared to let go of in order to create , make or do something even better?

Innovator’s Mindset MOOC …People Across The World Learning Together To Make A Difference For Students

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What I plan on doing for the next six weeks is starting the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC. You too might want to consider doing so.  I am soooo excited to be surrounded by people who love what they do and want to make what they do for and with students even better. George Couros  will be leading the way and I will be so happy to learn from and with all the people in this MOOC.

I love learning and I know our students are in great hands when I see so many educators interested in this topic. Educators  who are taking time out of their lives to learn, knowing that in the end it will impact students across the world in a positive way. How fabulous is that?