Crisis Response: School Counsellors Are You Prepared?

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Handling a crisis can impact the school and the School Counsellor in ways that are unforseen. The School Counsellor often takes the lead along with administration in our schools, but may be missed in recognizing the support they need because of their uniques role in offering social emotional supports to so many.

This podcast below will help all School Counsellors in a preventative way . Thanks to Trish Hatch @hatchingresults for the excellent podcast on Putting Out The Fire: A School Counsellors Role in Times of Crisis.

Your comment,  “what’s unique about the School Counsellor is that they are involved in the crisis as well, what often happens is the School Counsellor puts their own needs aside as they take care of others.” This concept is so important for all to recognize. We are helpers and how we model handling a crisis is vital.  If we remain calm, then students and staff will see that . As a School Counsellor I know I often handled crisis with calm , but on the inside I knew I  would need support after the crisis was over. That’s why debriefing and supports are essential.

If we are the leaders in our Student Services teams, we need to monitor how our team is doing and if they have been triggered by the crisis for whatever reason. We need to step in and step up to support them. Even if that means letting them know it is ok to step back and let others handle the crisis. The School Counsellor may have worked with the student or students related to the crisis , so they may need time for themselves to process and take care of their own needs. We too as the leader may be impacted so we need to be self-aware and know when we ourselves need to step back. This is one of the many great reasons to have districts who have a district crisis team that can come into the school and assist.

We are most certainly in the uniques role of helping others , so having a supportive admin. team is essential. Fortunately for me I have had wonderful leaders who know, support and understand the role of School Counsellors.

I hope you will use this podcast as a reflective tool and a great segue to important discussions with your counselling teams.

For easy access to this podcast, click here and listen to the end. It is perfect PD all online  for School Counsellors.

At 20:00 check out Vanessa Gomez Lee where she discusses ( a crate, a file box) I’ll call it a CR Kit for SC that every School Counsellor should have .

All districts have an emergency response plan and lock down kits each unique to their district. The CR School Counsellor Kit will be different . What should be in the kit that is different from your lock down kits?

Crisis Response Materials

  • Brochures or other materials on natural responses to grief. So many other great resources here .
  • Crisis Plan
  • Important Phone numbers
  • Community Resources
  • Kleenex
  • Markers and Paper for Students to write or draw their feelings

What else do you think should be in this kit?

  • Water
  • Stress balls ????????

I would love to hear your ideas. Again thanks to all the great School Counsellors who not only take the lead in their schools , but are always willing to share and help others . Thanks #scchat!

 

Childhood Trauma School Counsellors Can Help: Change the question from what’s wrong with you to what’s happened to you and how can I help?

 

According to the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre, in 2008, there were 14,403 substantiated cases of child abuse in Alberta.*

  • 6665 Infants, Youth and Children assessed at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC to date
  • 124 New cases assessed per month at the Sheldon Kennedy CAC
  • 11690 Visits from children to our Child Space since July 2013

For updated stats go to the SKYouth Advocacy Centre.

 

I am fortunate to volunteer for the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Advocacy Centre with #youthchampionsyyc. The Youth Champion Initiative in collaboration with Youth Smart  empowers junior high and high-school students to develop their leadership capacity by taking responsibility in their school communities to promote a climate of well-being, healthy relationships and resiliency.

We know that adverse childhood experiences ACES have a long-lasting impact and there is much to do when it comes to trauma in youth.

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Today on 60 minutes Oprah Winfrey is bringing her voice to the world by discussing childhood trauma with Dr. Bruce Perry.

CBC did an amazing three-part series on childhood trauma. Thanks to @HeatherTuba for sharing.

You can listen here:

PART 1 : “Our bodies psychological armour … How do some children remember abuse ? The link between obesity and trauma. Have a listen  CBC ALL in The Family Part 1 

PART 2: Childhood trauma is increasingly being seen as a major factor in academic under-achievement. Have a listen CBC All in The Family Part 2.

PART 3: Understanding and healing  childhood trauma is essential. Have a listen to part 3 in this series CBC All in The Family Part 3.

There is much to learn when it comes to childhood trauma. My hope is that these resources will help you start a dialogue with educators and others re childhood trauma and the effects.

There is help and support in your community and School Counsellors are one of the many people who can help students with childhood trauma. It does take a village , but the relationship with a School Counsellor may be a start to changing a child’s life. What is your ACES score? What is the ACES score of some of the students you serve?  You may be the person who will make a difference in their life. Won’t you join in and help?

 

Emotional Intelligence : It Begins With Me.

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All emotions matter! What we do with those emotions matters as well. We need to help students understand that feelings are neither right nor wrong it is what we do with those feelings that truly matter.

If we want to teach students how to regulate their emotions then we too need to be able to regulate our own emotions. Modelling how we feel is important for students. If we are not afraid to admit when we are angry, frustrated or sad and we handle those emotions in an appropriate way , the students will learn how to do that as well. Being open and honest about how we feel in a respectful manner is great modelling for students and other educators.

Marc Brackett , director of Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and expert in social emotional learning  has developed an acronym RULER for emotional skills that is helpful for educators:

R recognizing emotions in yourself and others

U- understanding the causes of your emotions

L- labelling your emotions

E- expressing emotions

R- regulating emotions

Educators and School Counsellors can and do make a difference in promoting the wellbeing and emotional intelligence of students. When we put ourselves in a childs shoes we may be more compassionate to how they are feeling. What is it like to be them? Could they be experiencing a roller coaster of emotions and how does this impact them , their feelings and their learning?

Sesame Street has some great videos that explain feelings and teaches students about emotional regulation. Here is a good example:

Emotional Regulation Resources for educators  :

APPS

The Mood Meter App  cost of 1.39 cents

Calm free

Headspace free

Moodmeter overview:

Helping students with mixed emotions:

Casel educating the heart educating the mind  is an excellent website for educators.

Teaching students to have meta moments.

One of the best strategies we used when my daughter was a teenager was for her and I to agree that when we were angry with each other or when our emotions were running high we would agree to back off and give each other space and discuss things the next day. Each of us would signal the other that it was ok to discuss when we were both more level-headed. I would call these mega moments. This strategy  saved our relationship in those emotional years.

Yes , it does begin with me. Being a lifelong learner I hope to be able to fully understand emotional regulation by reading the newest research so that I can best help myself, my students and my family.

What are some of the best strategies  you use as educators, parents and School Counsellors?

Anxiety: Threat or Gift?

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A guest post by : S.Helen MacKinnon

Often I am asked the question, ” Why do so many kids today suffer from anxiety ?” There is no easy answer to this question but there are many more questions that we need to ask. In particular, “What is it that appears to be causing such an increase in child and adolescent anxiety? Is it related to social media?  Are we over pathologizing what may be normal reactions to stressful situations in our environment. According to Dr Stan Kutcher, a leading psychiatrist from Dalhousie University, “anxiety is a gift we have inherited from our ancestors to protect us from threat and to kick-start ambition; to fight it we have to face it.” In order to “face it” we need to  first of all understand what is happening and then respond to it in a manner which will allow us to maximize the outcome.

In other words we can use the anxiety or stress, to benefit us in our day-to-day functioning.  If we see it as a gift, we respond from a totally different  repertoire or mindset than if we see it as a threat. A gift is something positive, something we welcome, something that may make things easier for us, or at times may challenge us and help us grow. How can we work with our kids to help them understand and see anxiety as a gift? What are some strategies that will help them develop a different mindset?  Additionally, what part does social media play and are we, as parents, educators, and counsellors, contributing to the mindset of threat or gift? In my next guest post I will explore these very questions and discuss ways to unpack the gift of anxiety.

 

 

Being A Connected Educator Has Changed The Way I Think

Being a Connected Educator has changed the way I think about education and has helped me understand the lives of our students in a completely different way.

Nine months ago I was not a Connected Educator, but I wanted to grow professionally so I took the plunge and took a Massive Open Online Course called ETMOOC.  That changed everything.

 

I felt if I wanted to understand the world that our students live in then I too must learn what it is like. So for the last nine months I have entered into the connected online world and opened up a whole new world of learning for myself and the students I serve. Every time I am connected with others online I come away with new ideas and resources to share.

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cc by Catherine Cronin

For anyone who feels they are too old to do this, I hope I serve as an example. I started teaching in 1980 and I can still say that I LOVE what I do. Being a Connected Educator has helped me stay passionate about teaching and learning .

I believe it has helped me be a better school counsellor as now I can connect with other school counsellors #scchat #cscchat from around the world and we can learn together. As a result of being a Connected Educator I am more open and want to serve as one model for positive Digital Citizenship for our students.

Thanks to all of you who have shared your experiences, resources and optimistic attitude with me. This thanksgiving I am very grateful for you.

Canadian School Counsellors Connecting…School Counselling Today Touches Tomorrow

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photo by CRobi-Blog cc

To Touch The Soul of One Human Being Is To Walk On Holy Ground

Stephen Covey

One of our tasks as school counsellors is to help students separate themselves from outside evaluations and erroneous self- concepts, so that they may discover their own being. We need them to remember, regain, renew and strengthen what they once had as a baby, but now seems lost! By focusing on a student’s strengths we are better able to assist them.

Developing a positive relationship with students is essential and a key into their world; if we accept all students with respect and regard we will be effective in helping them.

Paraphrased from Windows to Our Children by Violet Oaklander

 

School Counsellors have an extremely important job to do. No matter what the situation is they are helping students and relationship is extremely important. It is the cornerstone of what school counsellors do. School counsellors are often privileged to have the time to sit down with a student to really understand their world and what it is they need.  Part of the school counsellor’s role is to enhance the students development both personally and academically.

School counsellors across the country have a variety of skills. In my district we have to have a teaching degree as well as a Master’s degree in counselling.

When students come to the school counsellor they know they can get assistance in a number of areas with a variety of issues.

Coordinating Comprehensive School Counselling Programs which recognize the developmental needs of students is vital to the work that a school counsellor does. They provide responsive services in minor and major crisis while also coordinating wraparound services for school/community agencies as well as service providers for education, mental health, justice, newcomers and health care.

The Guidance Council of Alberta has some great resources to provide school counsellors in Canada with a background and framework for what we do.

 Click here: http://www.guidancecouncil.ca/?page_id=29

The role of the school counsellor has changed and is evolving. Ask a school counsellor what they do and you may be surprised. Helping students is what school counsellors do. They want to make a difference in students lives so that they can better navigate the world around them.

Wanting more information about School Counsellors in Canada? The following websites are helpful:

  • Newfoundland: No website available at the present time
  • Northwest Territories: No website available at the present time
  • Nunavut:  No website available at the present time
  • Ontario School Counsellors Association: http://www.osca.ca/
  • Prince Edward Island Counselling Association:  http://www.peica.org/
  • Quebec: No website available at the present time
  • Saskatchewan School Counsellor Association: http://ssc.stf.sk.ca/ssca/ssca.html
  • Yukon Territory: No website available at the present time

The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association School Counselling Chapter keeps up on school counselling programs across Canada and promotes and supports the role of school counsellors.

http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/en/chapters/schoolcounsellors/

School Counsellors love what they do and more are beginning to connect on twitter for professional development. We also love connecting with school counsellors from all over the world. So please join us follow the hash tags:

Canadian School Counsellor Chat:  #cscchat

American School Counselors:  #scchat

You can follow me @SSpellmanCann

Note to all school counsellors everywhere. If you have a HAIKU DECK that you have created please share with me @SSpellmanCann and I will share with EVERONE as well as putting in a place for all school counsellors to use.

Here is one example:                                                

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Click here:

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/VT42oMjCFM/positive-connections-school-counselling

  • Hope you join in on creating haiku decks that students and you can use.
  • Looking forward to connecting and working together to create FREE school counselling resources that students and school counsellors across the WORLD can use  to make a difference in the lives of our students.