What Do You Think School Is For?

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As I reflect on Seth Godin’s blog today I am thinking about all the educators and what they are doing each and every day as they start a new school year.

Seth reminds us

  1. that digital learning is a revolution that can transform people faster and with more impact
  2. to play as if it matters
  3. that dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy

Check the rest of his talk out  here.

What do you think school is for and how will you make it better for students?

Ken Robinson always makes us think and I hope he does you too. Both Seth and Ken challenge us to move away from compliance and conforming to celebrating students learning. No learning … no education going on says Ken Robinson. So how do educators best go about helping students learn?

Ken reminds us

  1. that human beings are naturally different and diverse
  2. to light the spark of curiosity
  3. to awaken and empower a culture of creativity
  4. to individualize teaching and learning

Listen to the rest of his talk here:

What do you think school is for?

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.

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

School Counsellor With An Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC

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Why do I keep learning? I think this sums it up.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” “When the mind is allowed to relax, inspiration often follows… If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.” Phil Jackson
The Innovator’s Mindset :  Empowering Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros is an excellent book for School Counsellors to begin the dialogue of Innovation. Do you have an innovator’s mindset?

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“When you are networked great ideas find you not the other way around”

George Couros

This quote is so true . I have been so fortunate to have great ideas and great people find me. Thanks to all of you.

So many amazing School Counsellors that I have met on twitter definitely have an Innovator’s mindset. I believe an innovator’s mindset continues to thrive, learn, reflect and seek out ways to make a difference.

As a School Counsellor with an Innovator’s Mindset Do you?

  • Start from The Heart
  • Keep Students At The Centre
  • Make Sure You are Helpful
  • Model What You Hope For
  • Utilize the 5 C’s
  • Build Relationships

START FROM THE HEART

In order for a School Counsellor to have an innovator’s mindset we must always begin to speak and listen from our heart to the heart of a child.img_2791

We want the young people that we serve to have the skills to cope effectively with life. They will know pretty quickly if we are genuine and start from our heart.

Starting from the heart involves active listening, compassion, trusting , caring and so much more. Sometimes our students need help, other times they just need the encouragement or support to find new ways to look at the world. Starting from the heart will make a difference.

When you start from the heart you will ask yourself :

  • What are my students strengths?
  • What are my students passionate about?
  • What can I do to help my students ?
  • Do my students have any projects or ideas they might need help executing?
  • What can I do as a School Counsellor that will help students be more successful?
  • How can I assist students in graduating?
  • What can I do differently today, this week, this month, this year to help the students in our school ?
  • How can I collaborate with others so that it benefits students and assist me to learn and grow?

KEEP STUDENTS AT THE CENTER

Passionate School Counsellors who keep students at the center of all they do can have a huge impact in their school communities.  As School Counsellors you know the reason you work with students is to be their advocate.img_2792 Everything you say or do should always keep this in mind. Whatever you do on-line or off innovative School Counsellors should make sure they remain focused on what is best for their students.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I keep my students needs a priority?
  • What is it I need to do that will make a difference for this students at this moment?
  • How is what I am doing by being innovative going to help students or other School Counsellors ( helping other School Counsellors or educators is helping students)

BE HELPFUL

No matter what school counsellors do with and for students on-line and off they should always remember to be helpful.   Being innovative means school counsellors will be able to not only help the students in their offices , but will find ways to assist all students in their buildings. img_2793

School Counsellors could also impact those beyond the walls of their own schools and potentially see the world as their community.  Helping other school counsellors and educators from across the globe helps students worldwide! How exciting and innovative is that?

Ask yourself?

  • How can I be most helpful for this student today and in the future?
  • How can being innovative help the students and staff in my school?
  • How can I help other school counsellors and educators worldwide?

MODEL WHAT YOU HOPE FOR  digital citizenship

If you want students to be good digital citizens then you too must become excellent role models.img_2794 This is vital if school counselors are to really help students into the future. Being innovative means acting on this today. Everything you post should be helpful, ethical and model what it is you hope students will do.

Ask yourself:

  • How can I become a digital citizen?
  • What skills do I need to assist me on this journey?
  • How do I connect with other school counsellors and leaders who are already great digital citizens?
  • How can I pass on to students what I learn?

The 5 C’s Connect Confidentiality Collaborate Create Celebrate

Connect

As school counsellors you know how important a working alliance is to making a difference. Connecting with students is essential to being and modelling an innovator’s mindset. Connecting with other school counsellors online and off can affect everything you do to develop your Comprehensive School Counselling Program Plan. Connecting allows you to reflect on the work of others as well as reflect on your own practices. There are so many ways to connect.  One of the most innovative people I have connected online with is Erin Mason @ecmmason . Thank you for all you do and if you haven’t connected with her and SCOPE please do. Here are a few examples of other ways to connect :

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  • district meetings
  • Twitter (#scchat #sccrowd)
  • google hangouts
  • blogs
  • vlogs
  • facebook
  • Blab
  • Voxer
  • local leadership councils
  • writing articles
  • mentorship
  • supervising student counsellors ( a great way to give back )

Ask yourself? What are some innovative ways I can connect with other educators?

Confidentiality is essential for anyone with a school counsellor innovator’s mindset . If you are sharing on-line and want to learn with and from others you must remember to keep this at the forefront of everything you post.

Innovators know that with new technologies developing all the time it is vital to always get permission when sharing all the great things students do. It’s great to share what your prevention teams are doing , but always make sure students have signed their media consent forms. Always keep in mind when posting online that you should never breach confidentiality. When discussing cases (if you do so when connecting with other school counsellors on any social media space) never give out any identifying information in any way.

Collaborate To come up with some of the best ideas of what works for students collaboration is key.  Together school counsellors are better. Students benefit when we put our minds together to help them. Often when schools work together to assist students they come up with better ways to help them. Thank you Erin Luong  @ehordyskiluong for collaborating with me on this post! You are an amazing school counsellor with an innovator’s mindset.

Create School Counsellors now more than ever are finding ways to create to meet the needs of all the students in their schools. Collaboration assists school counsellors in the creative process. Whether you are creating a YouTube video to introduce yourself to share with your school community or creating something  you can use in classroom lessons. You know school counsellors with an innovative mindset create something that matters.

Celebrate  not only should school counsellors celebrate what is happening within their schools , but should recognize that sharing and celebrating what they do through social media can lead to new ways of practicing . There are many positive , helpful ways to share and celebrate what you do as a school counsellor that will assist others.

Ask yourself: How do I celebrate the work of my students, my colleagues and other school counsellors from across the world?

Build Relationships

  • Are you truly a relationship builder?

RELATIONSHIP Builders who unleash talent= School Counsellors With An Innovator’s Mindset

  • How do you unleash the talent of those around you?
  • How do you create and environment where risks are encouraged ?
  • How do you share the great work and strengths of others?

Twitter allows School Counsellors to share the great things that students and staff in your schools are doing. Twitter is truly an amazing tool to celebrate and highlight the wonderful works and lives of others. Participating in a MOOC can also have that impact.

Innovation … there is so much more to learn. Wish I had the eloquent words to thank you George Couros for  your leadership and your amazing voice. I so appreciate you for writing and sharing The Innovator’s Mindset . It is truly a gift to so many educators from around the world including me. I don’t read many books twice, but yours was worth it to reflect and go deeper.

Thank you George and Katie for creating such a powerful MOOC for not only school counsellors to enjoy , but for so many other inspirational people from across the world to learn from.

Thank you to all those in #IMMOOC you are amazing and so open to sharing and learning along with me.  A special thanks to Emily Clare @eclare_ahs for connecting with me and leading the voxer group. For the fabulous Sheri Edwards who is always inspirational so many thank you’s . To all those who shared their vlogs or blogs or tweets. I am very grateful!

I could not say it any better than Sheila Vick . You should follow her on twitter @sheila_vick. read what she had to say below:

When I reflect on why it has been so great, or what has made it so great, I realize the following:

We have been given a voice in the group.
We have had a lot of choice throughout the mooc.
We have been given autonomy throughout the mooc.
We have networked far and wide and through a variety of platforms.
We have built trust within the group which has provided a sense of psychological safety and has encouraged us to share stories and our beliefs.
We have been encouraged and empowered.
We have taken risks and stepped outside of our comfort zones.
There has been dialogue and competitive collaboration.
There has been so much reflection.
The enthusiasm and energy of the group has been contagious.
We have been encouraged to start where we are at.
We have shared the experience with many learning leaders.
We have been able to feel successful and therefore build confidence and competence.
The group has been full of fountains (no drains).
There has been a sense of empathy within the group.
We have been problem-finders and problem-solvers together.
We have created, created, created!
… and last but not least, like George, we are a group of Educators AND learners by passion.

If we can provide the above for our school counsellors, teachers and students, they can people with an innovative mindset too!

Won’t you join me in becoming a School Counsellor, educator , leader with an Innovator’s Mindset? I look forward to us collaborating. I love having a beginners mind don’t you? Find out more about IMMOOC here.

*Although not ready for this week throughout this MOOC I have been inspired to create a podcast . I will create one …any #IMMOOC ers want to help me?

To end with I’d like to CELEBRATE  a couple of people:

#1 the amazing Erin Mason a true School Counsellor Educator with an Innovator ‘s Mindset … Video #1 below.

#2 My Principal Neil O’Flaherty @neilof12 a true Innovator and the lead learner in the second Video below Bishop Carroll a Self Directed High School In Calgary Alberta. A leader who encourages and supports any and all innovation . I am so fortunate to work alongside you.

#3 Canadian School Counsellors with an Innovator’s Mindset  ( too many to mention ). Although many of you are at the beginning stages of twitter I look forward to reading and celebrating all the amazing work you do every day!

#4 YOU thanks for reading along ( if you have read this far) I appreciate you joining me on this #IMMOOC journey.

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.

 

Reality #IMMOOC

I love #IMMOOC and all the learning and connections in it, but keeping up isn’t easy in a MOOC and it is not supposed to be. The reality of everyday life kicks in. School gets busy, family responsibilities and life gets busy especially in the fall. We are all back to reality.

The nice thing about a MOOC is you can take what you like , do what you like , connect with people that you like ,when you like, how you like.

There are no failures!!!! Learning for the sake of learning is your option … without guilt.

I am grateful that I can particpate on voxer because it suits me to check in anytime from anywhere.

I also like that I can choose when to respond and where to respond and that I don’t have to do it all ( although I am tempted to want to ). So step into the reality and enjoy the learning along the way. If you learn 1 new thing or 100 new things it does not matter. Enjoy the process.

My goals:

  • Connect and share on voxer .
  • Read at least two blog posts and make comments.
  • Join in the live sessions as much as possible.
  • Blog once a week.
  • Put into practice somethings I have learned at work.
  • Follow the twitter and facebook feeds and learn from the posts.

Thanks to all for sharing . I especially love the live posting on twitter. Voxer peeps you rock , love all the learning. Amazing job Emily Clare @EClare_AHS for organizing and keeping the learning going.

Reality : No matter how much or how little you do in #IMMOOC  … YOU MATTER … YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE . You are taking the time out of your life as an educator and person to learn and help others knowing in the end that you will help students … How great is that?

For any of you who are School Counsellors , I know that this week you may have saved a students life that is your reality … so thanks just in case no one has noticed .

Enjoy your reality …

Tools Can Help … Legend

Sometimes tools can help us. Thanks to @dogtrax Kevin Hodgson in #IMMOOC , I discovered a new tool called Legend. It is possible that you may like it too.  I hope you can use it to assist you as you learn or share ideas or thoughts in this MOOC. You may wish to use it in one of your blog posts. However you use it whether with students , staff, friends, or colleagues, enjoy … it’s easy and fun to use. You can check out how I used it today below.