The Heart of A Community

Our students always inspire me. I am so fortunate to work in a community that encourages creativity in all forms. The people I work with also give their heart and soul to all they do. Thanks to our wonderful Art teacher Sheila Stacey and Counsellor Erin Luong for collaborating on this fun project full of heart.

One of the innovative projects I am pleased to work on this year involves a collaboration between myself, another counselling colleague and our art teacher. BCHS Spectrum Club’s mission is to bring people together and spread a message of love and acceptance. Our aim is to educate and bring awareness to students while expanding our […]

via Heart of A Community: BCHS Students Fill Their Hearts — Erin Luong’s Reflections on Counselling, Education, Leadership and Technology

Reflections … Back to School

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I have been going to school almost every September for the past 53 years. When I reflect on that I can hardly believe it myself. This year as I focus on all the joy each day brings me, I am also going to reflect on my retirement year. The lasts …

The last time I will enter a building as a full-time educator . This awesome responsibility never eludes me. I know I can be the person who makes a difference in a child’s life. I will meet so many new students this year, many who will teach me great lessons. I look forward to that.

I also recognize that teaching and counselling takes great courage and energy.  Often after a full week I feel like the pic above and need to rejuvenate for the week ahead. Weekends are a time for self-care and reflection so that the week ahead is exciting not only for the students , but for me as well.

I also recognize that each day requires me to challenge myself to focus on the positive while acknowledging that challenges will always occur along the way. It is up to me to not sweat the small stuff. Although I will never feel the anxiety I felt my first days of teaching “don’t sweat the small stuff “, still applies as much today as it did then.

I need to take each day as it comes and enjoy the moments. I must say easier to do as I have grown as a person and as an educator over the past years. Do I still fall short ? You bet. This is a life skill that is easy to say , but not always easy to master.

This will be my last first week of school … How did you feel your first week back to school?

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!

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.

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

TED Talks and videos for School Counsellors

The following TED Talks and videos are excellent for School Counsellors:

  1. Martin Seligman The New Era of Positive Psychology

Some highlights from Seligman. Psychology should be as concerned with strength as it is with weakness and in building the best things in life as it is in repairing the worst. It should also be as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as healing pathology .

2. Shawn Anchor: The Secret To Better Work

Some highlights from Anchor. It takes 21 days 3 minutes every day to train your brain to be more positive. What are 3 things you are grateful for ? Write them down everyday. Journaling about one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it. Exercise teaches your brain that your behavior matters. Meditation allows your brain to get over the cultural ADHD that we’ve been creating by trying to do multiple tasks at once and allows our brains to focus on the task at hand. Random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness

3. The Science of Happiness – An Experiment in Gratitude

Some highlights.  Take time to tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. Do it today!

4. My Philosophy for A Happy Life Sam Berns

Some highlights from Sam. Sam had progeria. Sam lived life fully while he was living. Always have something to look forward to. Accept life when you are feeling badly. You can change the world and he did. Never miss a party.

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.

– Leo Tolstoy

5. My Last Days Meet Zach Sobiech

 

 

You don’t have to find out you are dying to start living. Most people live in the middle , but you don’t have to. What’s awesome about living in this world is that you can help . People we don’t really know can change our lives. Love makes life better.

6.  Educate The Heart 

Highlights : A child’s heart and mind are fragile. We have an enormous responsibility … we need to educate students from the heart. It can start today in our schools.

7. I renamed this to From the heart : What Real Winners Look Like.

 

Highlights: Watch and you’ll see.

If you have any great video’s you know School Counsellors should see please send them my way @sspellmancann.

 

 

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

When it comes to coping it really does matter what you have to cope with: Check out my haiku deck on coping skills here: How You Cope depends On What You Have To Cope With. Understanding how stress impacts you can help you cope. Below you will find some strategies that may help you . Use the strategies that work best for you.

ABC’s Coping Skills for Teens:

A: Attitude: Your attitude matters.

Allow yourself extra time to get up in the morning and get to places. Being 15 to 20 minutes early can reduce your stress level.

Allow 10-15 minutes a day for YOU time. Time to wind down, time to reflect, time to let go of your worries,

B: Books : A book on the topic you are trying to cope with can help. Beliefs- what you think matters. Challenge your thoughts about the topic that stresses you.: Be positive! Books can be healing!

Be a person who can say NO and not feel guilty. It is OK to say no to things that are not healthy and things you really don’t want to do. It’s also ok to give yourself a break and say no to something.

Be a person who knows how to wait, read a book online or have a book with you that you can devour while you have to wait somewhere. It not only makes the time go faster, but it is a wonderful way to pass the time.

Breathe just Breathe

Brain: Your brain is amazing. Click here to find out what you should know about your brain.

C: Caring and compassion make a difference: Helping others helps you to focus on others, not on your own problems. Volunteer with other students with special needs. You will not only feel better , you will make a difference.

Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself on a mirror with an erasable marker. Write a positive note to yourself on a card and carry it around in your wallet.

D: Decide to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Reaching out is a strength not a weekness.Your School Counsellors are there to help.

E: Express your feelings . Feelings are neither write or wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else then that needs to be changed. So write down your feelings.Tell someone how you feel. Draw your feelings in an Art journal. Find some great ideas for Art Journalling on pinterest.

Exercise is always helpful. You might only need to exercise 7 mins. each day. You can do it! Find an app that helps you exercise.

F: Focus on your strengths

Find great strategies. There are so many coping strategies. You need to find one that works. Brainstorm a list of 20 that work for YOU.

Failing Does Not Mean You Are A Failure

If YOU Have Never Failed You Have Never Lived

G: Give yourself a break. Try these brain breaks:

H: Hope . It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective.

I : Invite others to help you : Kids Help Phone, another adult, find someone who can really help you.

J: Just be yourself.

K: Kindness is always a good thing . Do a Random Acts of Kindness for someone else today.

L: Listen to music . It soothes the soul.

M: Mindfulness matters. Focus on your breath. Here are some tips for teens.

N: Naming game : 54321 .   54321 Coping Technique and I would add an extra 1 One thing you are grateful for. 543211.

O: Open your mind to new ideas strategies.

Overcome Obstacles

Check out these tips for overcoming obstacles here

P: Positive self talk matters. make sure you are speakig to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.

Q: Quite your mind. Be still!

R: Relax:

Remember there is more to you than…

S: Strategies : Sleep matters so take care of yours. Some tips here.

T: Toxic stress is not good for you. Get rid of it. Train your brain to go to a safe place. Your safe place might be a beach, a room that you like to go to. Your space is unique. Find one that works for you.

Trust: that your negative feelings will not last forever. Develop positive connections with people that heal and help not hurt and harm.

U: Understanding your coping skills matters.

V: Visualize what you want.

Virtual bubble wrap enjoy click here.

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

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

Y: YOU MATTER . Remember this always.

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

Remember:

The Smallest Good Deed is Better Than The Grandest Good Intention