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.

It’s A New Day

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A month away from school and the realization has set in that I won’t be going back. I see all the posts from my fellow school counsellors ( most in the US who are starting already) and I so hope you have a phenomenal year. Know that you are about to make a difference this year, one that you may not get to realize until many years later. It is so great when students come back to tell you two or thirty plus years later what a difference you’ve made or those students who take the time to write a beautiful note. i treasure mine. Keep yours in a space you know you can go back to. They are a  great reminder  of why you chose this amazing profession.

My goals in this new chapter are many. It’s a new day to make a difference in a new way. You can read more here about why I want to keep my blog going. I will continue to co-moderate and keep #scchat going along with Erin Mason @ecmmason and Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong. So if you are looking for a great school counsellor chat . Join us most third Wednesday’s of each month. The first one for September will be Monday, September 11th at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET co moderated by Dr. Susan Fuller. Topic to be decided. Check out #scchat in September for more information. Most chats  after that will be on the first Wed.

It is a new day!  School Counsellors across the world , I am wishing that you have the best school year ever! Be kind to yourself and go out there and make a difference.

A gigantic thank you to those who have decided to help out with our chats. If I have missed anyone please DM me and I will add you.

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason                                  Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong              Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr                                Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC                             Pennsylvania
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers                        Vienna, VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya                            Northwest ISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski                          Battle Creek ,MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski                              Metairie, LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors                          Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor                   Columbia, MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS                            Biddeford, Maine
  12. Joanne Brisebois @BriseboisJoanne                    Calgary, Alberta
  13. Bridget Helms @bridgethelms                             Northwest, Indiana
  14. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann             Calgary, Alberta

School Counselling Will Always Hold A Special Place In My Heart

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It really is hard for me to believe that I have retired from a career I not only felt passionate about, but loved deeply. Well, it wasn’t the career so much as the students I worked with that continued to make a difference for me.

School Counsellors really have a multifaceted role which can be exhilerating and exhausting. They do save lives every year. Unfortunately sometimes even though they do their best they are unable to prevent student trauma. Trauma does and will continue to occur in schools.  I want to continue to support School Counsellors so that is why I will continue to co-moderate and help faciltate a School Counsellor chat #scchat

I want to thank those people that have decided to help co – facilitate our chats next year. YOU ROCK!:

  1. Erin Mason @ecmmmason Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Erin Hordyski Luong @ehordyskiluong Calgary, Alberta
  3. Laura Ross @LRossSchCnslr Georgia
  4. Susan Fuller @EElementarySC
  5. Mrs. Powers @counselorpowers Vienna VA
  6. Tonya Romine @trominetonya NorthwestISD
  7. Terri Tchorzynski @ttchorzynski Battle Creek MI
  8. Wendy Rock @Wendarooski Metairie LA
  9. Alexa Hanna @SCE_counselors Missouri
  10. Counselor Carey @LangeCounselor Columbia MO
  11. Angela Avery @Mrs.AveryBMS Biddeford, Maine
  12. YOUR name here
  13. YOUR name here
  14. YOUR name here
  15. YOUR name here
  16. YOUR name here
  17. YOUR name here
  18. YOUR name here
  19. YOUR name here
  20. Susan Spellman Cann @sspellmancann Calgary, Alberta

Erin , Erin HL  and I would like to get at least 20 people who are willing to co-moderate at least one chat ! We will put a how to video together soon so that you will feel comfortable in leading a chat . You can always ask Erin, Erin HL or I questions at anytime. If you have any ideas for topics please let us know.

I am also interested in featuring you in a blog post . So if you are a School Counsellor and interested please let me know.

School Counselling Matters and so do you!

 

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

How do you thank someone? … You can too …

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Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. It is hard to believe three years has passed since ETMOOC. I personally have learned so much in the last three years thanks to my ETMOOC PLN and especially Alec Couros. How do you thank someone who has made such a difference ? For us in ETMOOC it was by helping to create something that will hopefully make a difference for Alec, his family as well as future educators.

According to Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy people judge you on two criteria when they first meet you .

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person?

Alec Couros  @courosa has earned the  trust and respect of so many , but especially those of us in ETMOOC and as a result we wanted to do something special for him. Thus the Mario Couros Memorial Bursary .

Please take time to read the criteria below and if you feel like you too want to thank Alec by contributing to an award that honours him and his dad who meant the world to him, then please do so. Several of us plan to work hard this year to promote and get others to contribute to this award and we hope YOU will join us.

About the award :

The Mario Couros Memorial Bursary will help newcomers to Canada in reaching their dream of being one of tomorrow’s educators by providing financial assistance to pursue their Education Degree at the University of Regina. Mario came to Canada from Greece on December 14th 1957. He lived, worked and raised his family in Saskatchewan. He wanted to make a life and a difference for his family. Mario was a volunteer, a caring supportive father, grandfather, a loving husband and an extremely hard working man. He was a great role model for his children and others as he continued to be a lifelong learner with a fabulous work ethic until his passing. This award is dedicated in his memory.

It is also a tribute to his son Dr. Alec Couros who continues his father’ s legacy by inspiring and encouraging others to pursue their educational aspirations and follow a path to life-long learning.

The bursary will make a meaningful impact by breaking down the financial barriers to higher education and encouraging outstanding academic achievement. By contributing to this bursary you will enable Education students to focus on what matters most : their education.

The goal is to raise $ 25.000 to create an endowment that will allow for a permanent bursary at the University of Regina ‘s Faculty of Education. Your contribution to the Mario Couros Memorial Bursary will live on in perpetuity in memory and honour of Mario’s legacy. 

To donate online:

  1.                    Go to http://www.uregina.ca/giving
  2.                    Click the Donate Now button on the right side
  3.                    Click the In Honour/In Memory button

Enter your donation information and click add to gift basket.

Please ensure you enter Mario Couros under the second tab and continue to payment

If you would like any assistance with contributing please contact Erin Werner at 1-306-585-5432 or erin.werner@uregina.ca .  Those from other countries may wish to do so if they have difficulty contributing.  If you need a paper copy just email her.

You too can help !  Consider letting other educators know they can contribute to this important fund. Each contribution can and will make a difference. Alec has 99.5k followers . If each person following @courosa donated $ 1.00 we would have more than we need to keep this fund alive and help young people who want to be educators.

A very special thank you to all those in ETMOOC that have volunteered to promote this fund and all those who have already committed to contributing. I am so grateful for you . Kindness flows in ETMOOC ‘ers

I look forward to many more years of connecting , growing and learning with all of you. I think my heart is bigger today because of all of you.

Have you or someone you know been impacted by @courosa or @gcouros ?  You may want to really consider contributing. This post yesterday by @gcouros on “Has twitter changed our view?”  is very thoughtful and thought provoking. Twitter has most certainly changed mine for the positive. #lifechanging #friendshipsIneverwouldhaveimagined #grateful

REMINDER:
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ! Truly think about donating, even if only a small amount and pass this on to someone who you think would contribute. TOGETHER we are better!

Please consider blogging about this award and sharing on twitter , facebook and google plus . YOU too can help to make a difference. Thanking you in advance. There truly are so many good people in the world and if you have taken time to read this blog post to the end and contribute. I know you are one of them.

Please let us know you have contributed by either DM ing me at @sspellmancann or by posting in the comments section so we can acknowledge YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

ASCA15 Conference and Connections in Phoenix

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                                      Picture taken by ASCA photographer

This was my second ASCA conference and it did not disappoint. Going to a conference when you have a PLN on twitter is a whole new experience and I’d have to say a imagemuch better one because you already know people before you get there. This makes the conference so much richer. Lasimaget year I went by by myself, but I was certainly not alone. It was a very special conference because I was going to surprise my friend Erin Mason. That memory will resonate with me for many years to come. It was a magical moment when I finally suprised her. You can check out my blog post from last year here.

Here are some of the highlights from this years conference:

  • Connecting with other School Counsellors and friends especially my roomie Bridget @bridgethelms.

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  • Celebrating the book launching and signing of my friend Carol’s @tmscounselor new book Star Bound.
  • imageThe tweetup . Seeing people F2F is fabulous!
  • Seeing my friend Ed.Jacobs . I never get tired of listening to him and @doc_schimmel present. They are amazing! If you have never checked out one of their sessions on Impact Therapy and groups you need to!image
  • Tim Schriver’s keynote was so inspirational and of course made me cry.
  • Russ Sabella’s session on Ethics and School Counselling which inspired this post Privacy An Illusion.

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  • The collaboration and fun things to come… Ideas flow at conferences.

Here are a couple of videos from the conference:

Here are two storifies: One for those at ASCA15 and one for those #notatasca thanks to Danielle Schultz.

If you haven’t been to an ASCA Conference go.Next year it is in New Orleans. Before you do connect with other School Counsellors in #SCCrowd , #scchat , #hscchat , #SCin30 and #escchat. Looking forward to seeing and connecting with you! Until then see you on twitter @sspellmancann on video in #SCin30 or in one of our monthly chats.

Want to donate to help someone be able to go to ASCA16 please donate here: Click on Jeremy’s twitter post.

A work in progress pressed publish, but will finish later …  I think maybe it is time for a real vacation…