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.

What if ? … #immooc

What if

we lived in a world where there was PEACE?

we had schools filled with HOPE and LOVE?

there was no child abuse or sexual abuse ?

children did not have to live in homes affected by alcohol or drug abuse ?

we did not have children who came to school starving?

we lived in a world without violence?

there was no bullying ?

kindness was on the minds of all?

no child would die by suicide?

all students with mental health disorders recieved the supports and treatments necessary?

we had all the supports necessary to assist students with special needs?

every adult who worked in schools were passionate about what they do?

every teacher, counsellor and administrator had everything they felt they needed to meet the needs of students?

no child was left out or discriminated againgst?

all people were treated like a gift to the world?

schools had enough money to do all the innovative things they wanted to?

creativity , fun and joy abounded in our schools?

music and exercise were a part of every student and educators day?

schools were more like the most comfy inviting home you were ever in?

every student LOVED coming to school to learn?

we were all more grateful?

hugs were given freely and respectfully to those who wanted or needed them?

School Counsellors  were seen as essential in every school , at every level K-12 in our country?

schools could easily access any resources and supports they needed in an easy , timely and helpful manner?

What if some of these came to reality? What if we all educated from the heart? Innovative practices would be so much easier.

 

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.

 

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!

Lessons For A New School Counsellor … Lesson 11

Lesson 11:

Lessons 1-10 can be found  here.

Engaging the students and staff is critical when it comes to school counselling. There are many ways to engage the students whether it is one to one or in groups. At the end of every session I check in with the student to see how the session went. I will often ask something like how are you feeling about what we talked about and did in session today? What is the one thing you will use as a result of our time together? This allows me to gage if I have been helpful and if there is something I said that the student connected with.

It is also very important to develop relationships with your staff. If they feel you are helpful they will most likely refer a student to you. We are all working together to enhance the success of all students so if students see us collaborating in their best interest while always maintaining confidentiality we will best be able to help them.

Engaging Staff. Get to know your staff. Take time to have lunch with them. It is good for you to take a break and get out of your office. Assisting students can be very draining at times especially if you are addressing more serious issues, so get out of your office and make time to recharge. Self- Care is important.

What are your ideas for student and staff  engagement ? Please share below.

Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning 2013

Click here for my @haikudeck   :   CCSDL Haiku Deck

Self- Directed Learning

“The basic assumption of SDL is that from birth to death, we live lives of learning: we first learn to function, then to live well, and finally to make a difference. Maurice Gibbons

What’s going on inside the building of Bishop Carroll is not only exciting, but innovative, educational and engaging. Not only are the halls of Bishop Carroll High School buzzing, but inside the offices of several educators learning is taking place.

Bishop Carroll High School , the oldest SDL school ( over forty years)  is a part of the Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learning.

Bishop Carroll works together with other members of the coalition to improve the self-directed experience of all the learners. These schools meet together on an ongoing basis as well as convene at a yearly conference to look at ways of improving the model for students.

As a staff member in a self-directed school I have never been in a school where so much focus and dialogue on instruction takes place on a regular basis. In fact, our staff has biweekly professional development meetings to ensure that we are able to collaborate on best practices and share new ideas. Teachers are continually focusing on how they can make things better for students in a self-directed learning environment.

This past week I attended the Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learning Conference in Edmonton. While I love learning about ways to improve what we do, I so love connecting with other educators face to face.

What are conferences about for me?

Celebrating: For me the best part of CCSDL conference is the students and what they gain from attending a SDL school. I loved the opening ceremony which celebrated students. It was very moving and reminded me of why I do what I do.


Here are some great videos from some SDL schools :

No Glory without effort:

Dancing Like A Model

Re Imagine High School

Check out the great video from Thomas Haney

Bishop Carroll Over 40 years of SDL

 

Connecting with our staff as well as others: Often times I am so busy with my day I get very little time to connect with other staff members. Conferences can be a time to do just that wind down and connect. I had so much fun with the thirteen people who attended the whole conference from my school. We laughed, had fun, shared and connected. I know this experience will assist us in being better at what we do in our school. We now have some great shared experiences that we would not have otherwise.

Twitter also allows me to connect with other great educators who work in SDL schools. A special thanks to @EricDemore for tracking me down . We had a great conversation and I look forward to staying connected. Also thanks to my new SDL twitter pals @CarmenGartner and @mrs_haddad

Collaborating: I was able to share ideas with staff from other schools as well as my own. I am sending this out on a google doc so that as many as want to can contribute at a later date.

Continually Learning: I have yet to attend a conference where I am not able to take back some ideas and use them. This conference was no exception. I loved some of the ideas that came from attending Garfield_Gini-Newman.



 

Collecting Resources: one of the absolute benefits of attending a conference is the resources you get and I love this resource from twitter:

 

A gigantic thanks to St. Joe’s for their books and treats and so much fun! I know how hard it is to organize a conference and you were all amazing. Kudos to you all for the hard work and allowing us to have such a great time.