Digital Citizenship: School Counsellors Can Take The Lead

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“Nothing leaves a deeper impact on students than actually allowing students to see proper social media usage modeled daily by respected adults (parents, teachers, administrators) and by allowing students to use social media properly in the actual space” says Nikki D Robertson in her article Don’t Ban Social Media.

Digital Citizenship becomes even more important daily as students and adults figure out what matters online. As School Counsellors you can take the lead in this area. If you know how to navigate and model proper social media usage , then you will be able to assist the students you serve to do so too.

I know for me learning all the ins and outs was not easy ( and still isn’t ) , but the lessons were so important for me to learn as a seasoned School Counsellor. I am here to say we are never too old to learn and we should indeed continue to discover and educate ourselves. Every day I continue to master new ideas and believe we must start early to teach all students and all staff about digital citizenship.

Daily online, I see school administrators, counsellors , teachers and students who do not understand the basic concept of  EVERYTHING ONLINE IS PUBLIC. Even if you believe it is private … it is not. Many fall into the trap of the Illusion of Privacy.

If you’d like more articles on digital citizenship you can check out my online School Counsellor Talk weekly here.

I hope to see many more School Counsellors take the lead when it comes to this most important area in a comprehensive school counselling program plan. Won’t you join me on this learning journey?

Words Can Change The Way We Perceive Others and Ourselves

Words really do matter. I am in the process of developing an online presentation for adults on mental health and wellness so that they may assist students in their post – secondary programs. As I think about what I will say I recognize that my words matter. What I say could potentially influence educators. What they say to their students could potentially transform what happens for the students and their families. Mental health literacy matters,  stigma matters , words matter.

Sometimes I hear people use words way too loosely when describing someone with a mental illness or someone who has special needs or challenges. They may say so and so is an ADHD kid or so and so is bipolar, an alcoholic etc.  It matters to me when I hear words used inappropriately as I believe strongly that we are people first ( the labels used like ADHD are only a very small way of telling us something about someone). We are so much more. Who we truly are cannot or should not be described in a few words.

So the next time you find yourself using the label first STOP and THINK about the power of your words. Jack or Jill may have a million attributes that are positive and when you use one word to define them you are missing such huge pieces of who they truly are. So eliminate so and so is a developmentally delayed child etc. and say their name and the many wonderful things about them. When you do this you start to perceive them differently. You also begin to treat each human being , each child in your care with so much more dignity and respect.

Words really do matter

Words can bring about acceptance

Words can change our brains

Words can hurt or heal

Words can hold back or help

Words can break hearts or touch hearts

Words can build others up or tear them down

Words allow people to tell their stories

Words give people their voices

Words can challenge us to be resilient

Words can give us the strength to carry on … to give us HOPE

Words can ruin someone’s day or make someone’s day

Words have the power to change others and change ourselves

What words will you use when speaking about and to your students today?

Mental Health Literacy Training

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This week I was extremely fortunate to be Certified as a Trainer for the Mental Health Literacy Program facilitated by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Stan Kutcher

I was excited to be able to participate, as I have known about Dr. Kutcher’s work for a while. I am happy to say all four days were absolutely worth it. I left feeling I had learned many things that will assist me in my professional work and as a result impact the lives of the students we serve in our school community. I also loved his dry wit which absolutely kept me engaged during the process.

The training has fabulous resources for school counsellors, educators and mental health workers to utilize. This program is one of the best I have seen in a long time. It is rich in content, research, and resources.

When it comes to mental health we want students to:

CONNECT

  • With someone they trust like their teacher advisor , teacher, coach or other significant adult in the school who can then assist them in connecting …

CONNECTING

  • With their school counsellor who can assist them in connecting with their doctor, health care provider and or parents to assist them with their mental health concerns

One of important things that  Dr. Stan Kutcher discussed during the four days is the difference between:

  • Mental Health Distress (one example lose your keys)
  • Mental Health Problem (one example a parent dies)
  • Mental Health Disorder/Illness (one example clinical depression)

Too often we do not normalize what young people are feeling. It is normal to feel sad after a break up, but that does not mean the student is in a clinical depression. We need to teach our young people the difference between distress, problem and disorder and the Mental Health Curriculum Guide  does just that. It teaches students and educators the Mental Health Literacy that they need in today’s world based on present day research on the brain.

If you want to learn more you can take a quiz here to get you started…

Below I will share a few of the fantastic resources available. You may want to book a training in your area if you do contact @TMentalHealth

Digital storytelling:

Panic Disorder:

Coping with suicidal thoughts:

http://teenmentalhealth.org/resources/entries/coping-with-suicidal-thoughts/

Depression:

I really hope educators from around the globe will consider this fantastic program as part of any initiative that will benefit every student and family in their school and community.

There Are So Many Amazing School Counsellors Doing So Many Fabulous Things

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CC photo by Yanngarphoto.wordpress.com

School Counselling is so important in every school. It is an essential service that is often not paid enough attention to sadly. What I absolutely know is that school counsellors save lives every day in the world. Some might not think that to be true, but I know that when school counsellors are working with students who are at risk they make a difference. What they do in their offices is preventative work and may go unnoticed because school counsellors can’t tell you what happened because of confidentiality.They might have just saved the life of a child who otherwise would not be around to tell their story.

Social media is also assisting students and school counsellors in a positive way. The work of Dr. Erin Mason @ecmmason, who created SCOPE is helping school counsellors every day in every way .  Dr. Erin Mason from SCOPE is fantastic. School Counsellors in Canada and the especially the US are on board with new developments in school counselling and are connecting to even make things better for students everywhere.

Danielle Schultz @sch_counselor ,the founder of School Counselor Blog is also a leader in the field. You can often find her leading #scchat or sharing great information on her blog.

Speaking of #scchat, it always amazes me that when educational chats are listed usually school counsellor chats are not posted. I know that will change as school counsellors become even more active in many spaces on social media.

Below I am going to list some of the great leaders in school counselling and if I miss anyone I appologize as I KNOW you are doing amazing work with students.

  • Erin Luong @eHordyskiLuong (Alberta,Canada)
  • Julia V. Taylor @juliavtayor (Richmond, VA,US)
  • Kaudri Auvaart @Kadriblaster (Australia)
  • Michelle Brown @Michelle0102197 (Canada)
  • Tamica Collard @TamicaCollard (Texas,US)
  • Chris Polley @Teaching_Intl (Shanghai, China)
  • Trent Langdon @TrentLangdonNL (Newfoundland, Canada)
  • Darrell Sampson @CnslrDarrell (Arlington Virginia,US)
  • Brian Zink @Brian_Zink  (Guadalajara, Mexico)
  • Rebecca Lallier SchCounselingByHeart (Vermont, US)
  • Jeremy Goldman @MRJGoldman (Lutherville Maryland,US)
  • ABurston @jyjcounselor  (US)
  • Rick Scheibner @rick_scheibner (Hermiston Oregon, US)
  • Marci Newman ARHSCounselor (UT,US)
  • Amy Sather @AmySatherBlair (Blair Nebraska, US)
  • Jeannine Jervis @CounselorELEM (Indiana,US)
  • Susan Langan @csfml (Cedar Falls Iowa, US)
  • Carol Miller @tmscounselor (US)
  • Randi Rosenberg  @RandiCounsels (Northern Virginia,US)
  • SchCnslrsRock @SchCnslrsRock (US)
  • Fanciene Sabens @FSabens (US)
  • Marty Stevens@martylstevens (Shiremanstown, PA) who writes the Gratitude Journal
  • Jeff Ream @CounselingGeek (US)

This list would not be complete without the work of a fantastic  school counsellor advocate Russell Sabella @rsabella who is a Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University ,  or Carli Segal @carlicounsels and Dr. Kevin Kelly @EmmausKevinK who are leading #sbmhchat School Based Mental Health Chat another excellent chat related to school counselling.

If you are a school counsellor from another part of the world please connect with us on twitter as we have so much to share and we can help each other grow professionally. It is an amazing opportunity for us to learn together. Please put that you are a school counsellor in your descriptor and if you feel comfortable please put where you are from.

TOP SCHOOL COUNSELLOR CHATS 

For more information about #SCCHAT (School Counselor Twitter Chats, montly school counsellor chats on Twitter, visit http://bit.ly/scchat-info.  #SCCHAT Tweet Up!

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#sbmhchat

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I would so love to see more Canadian School Counsellors #cscchat to be active on twitter and I will do my best to encourage other educators to encourage their school counsellors to join. We are entering into a new way of connecting with each other that will only benefit our students and the educational systems even more.

Please click below to view the Haiku Deck on School Counselling:

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/wlK5Q1ceFG/why-school-counselling . Please feel free to edit and share.

There Are So Many Ways To Contribute

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It is more than a week ago that schools were cancelled because of flooding in Calgary. Calgary would be in a state of emergency  for many more days to come.

It is one of those days when you will never forget where you were and what you were doing. I was staying at my friend’s house and then off to our Bishop Carroll graduation ceremonies with my grade 12 students .We were celebrating their accomplishments and yet mindful of the devastation all around us, but not completely aware of  just how Albertans would be impacted.

I knew that Calgarians would make a difference, but little did I know how amazing the role modelling would be for our students. Our students would have definitely risen to the challenge fundraising amongst other things, but it was the end of the school year. That will come in September, as I know our city will still need help then. Within the first day I received a tweet from the YMCA that one of our students was already helping … no surprise.

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During the next week I would begin to see how much the city was impacted. I felt powerless in the beginning not knowing how I could help.

I recognized that I could give money to the Red Cross , that was easy. I could register with #yychelps, but not sure if I could do the heavy work.

Then came an email from our chief superintendant, Gary Strother, asking for volunteers to help with the cleanup efforts. I don’t usually look at my e-mail after school year ends, but this year I am more connected to my computer than ever before ,so I took it as a sign that I needed to act.

For two days I was up at 4 a.m. and to work by 5:15 because of the coordinating efforts of one of the organizers Ralph Strother along with some amazing people from  Whissell Construction .

Being in the middle of a neighbourhood at East Elbow Park made everything real. I just kept imagining if this was my home and my family, how I would feel and how appreciative of the help I would be.  I know the homeowners did, by the signs and the overwhelming thank you’s and gratitude that was displayed.

As Ralph Strother says, ”it was a huge step forward from unfathomable loss to rebuilding towards recovery… everyone worked shoulder to shoulder responding with no request too small and or seemingly too big dismantling garages, structures and even roofs, carefully, skillfully and even moving all the debris.”

Whissell construction donated dump trucks, front-end loaders, skidsters, trucks, barricades tools and amazing people who worked tirelessly to coordinate our efforts. It was amazing to see all the work being done around me. I am grateful for the small part that I would play to help out.

I have to admit it was hard work. It was back breaking work that some people do everyday (obviously something I am not cut out for on a daily basis) kudos to them, but for now they were adding to their week by volunteering. It made me very happy to be a part of it.

Ways I watched people help:

  • Driving the bus to get volunteers in and out of communities
  • Baking food for families and volunteers
  • First Aid responders
  • Organizing small clean up jobs for younger people
  • Lemonade stands
  • Raking, shoveling, hauling, demolishing, lifting, cleaning

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The list goes on…

There are so many ways people can contribute . Many people cannot contribute physically, but it is just as valuable to contribute in any way you can … JUST CONTRIBUTE.  We need to be grateful for what we have and what we can do, not to feel guilty for what we can’t do. All that we do matters and for today I am so grateful to live in a city of helpers. I do not have to look for them. They are everywhere.

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Click here :

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/U1DekWUNVC/calgary-floods-2013 

and then click on the pictures to move to the next picture in the haiku deck:

Thanks to all my fellow @CCSD_edu  colleagues especially Andrew who helped out and a special thanks to Gary and Ralph for making this happen.

Here are some resources from Alberta Health Services that you may wish to check out: Flood updates and resources…

Alberta Government’s pamphlet Support for Albertan’s Affected by Flood:   http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/Advisories/ne-pha-ahs-support.pdf

Dr. Michael Trew’s Blog (Alberta’s Chief Mental Health Officer):  http://blogs.albertahealthservices.ca/floodcope/

 Mental Health

 

The Tough Topics in Education … Suicide

This week in #openspokes we were asked to tackle the tough topics and I decided to tackle the topic of suicide which is NOT easy.

School Counsellors often have to assist students with the grief process. Over the years I have seen students who have lost parents, siblings, friends, classmates and family members some due to a completed suicide which is the most tragic of all.

Below listen to a young man’s story that begins to tell the story of the impact on family and friends. I am not sure that there are any words to descibe the impact that this tragedy truly has,but his words I am hopeful will help other students.

As school counsellors our role is to be helpful in anyway that we can by infusing HOPE in as many ways as possible.

When a school experiences the loss of a student everyone feels the loss as expressed here by a note left to a student who died.

Dear_____,

Even though we haven’t formally met, I look at your spot in English class and I am deeply saddened that you are not here with us…

It is never easy seeing a student in deep pain especially if the loss was tragic or sudden. Often times school counsellors need to ensure that they have dealt with their own issues surrounding grief so that they can best help others. School Counsellors need to be aware of vicarious trauma or counsellor burnout when assisting students who have experienced traumatic events.

Here are my livebinders on Suicide Prevention and HOPE:

Suicide Prevention and HOPE

Mental Health resources

I know school counsellors save lives everyday and I want to thank you for the important work you do that no one else sees. I know because I have been a school counsellor for a long time. So keep doing what you are doing even though it can be extremely difficult at times.

There are students who you will make a difference for… of that I am sure! Take care of yourself so that you can continue to help others.

Sharing: Unlocking the Key to My Filing Cabinet and Keeping it Open … HOPE

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This blog is the beginning of me keeping my filing cabinet open. I have many resources I have wanted to share with school counsellors,but did not realize I could do it. This blog is how and the time is now thanks to the fantastic open sharing in ETMOOC and especially because of Alec Couros. The process stated with me being referred to Alec’s work by Vianne Timmons, so I went to his workshop and got going on twitter. So began the best PD ever. I have been following the fantastic work of Dr. Erin Mason and other school counsellors in the United States and beyond, but I was still not ready to jump into a blog. Fears got in the way. I have been fortunate to have many, many great dialogues with Erin Luong which also helped with my decision making. ETMOOC was the final push and as a result I believe I will share, share, share and in an OPEN EDUCATOR way. I have so much more to learn and as I do this I am very GRATEFUL for all of ETMOOC participants who have inspired me to share openly.

My first THEME HOPE.. I hope school counsellors can use some of the ideas and materials. Take what you like REMIX ( a term I now really understand because of ETMOOC ) and leave the rest.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible” Christopher Reeve

HOPE is essential when it comes to school counselling. School Counsellors can take a leadership role when it comes to instilling hope in students. Listen to Derek’s story of not giving up which demonstrates the power of HOPE. We know that if students are resilient they are better able to self- regulate and that means they can cope more effectively. According to Barbara Frederickson a psychological researcher at the University of North Carolina, “a positive mood makes people more resilient physically”.  Resiliency and hope definitely go hand in hand.

Shane Lopez, psychologist and author of Making Hope Happen helps us understand more about hope and the steps needed to help students be more hopeful. www.Hopemonger.com

We want students to never give up and if we can access resources to help us do this we will make a difference and possibly save a life.

How can we spread hope throughout the school in a digital way?

  • We can post videos like Derek’s story on our counselling website.
  • We can tweet out to stories of hope on twitter.
  • We can post stories of hope on our school Facebook site as well as our school website.
  • We can embed Hope themes and pictures into our curriculum guides

Hope is an Open Heart a book by Lauren Thompson can be used with younger students to discuss losses and the overcoming of hardship.

Students could be encouraged to:

  • Make videos of HOPE
  • Create Art pieces around the theme of HOPE
  • Make @haikudecks on iPad with a HOPE theme
  • Design hopeful songs or music
  • Find people who inspire HOPE and write about them
  • Brainstorm ways to inspire hope in others
  • Make bulletin boards on themes of HOPE and Suicide Prevention
  • For younger students they could make trading cards the size of hockey cards and design cards of HOPE that they can trade with others
  • Performing Random Acts of Kindness can inspire hope as well.

RESOURCES:

  1. At http://www.helpothers.org/ you can find smile cards which you can download and hand out.
  2. Who I am Makes a Difference ribbons can be ordered at www.blueribbons.org. These ribbons are great to use in a Celebration of HOPE assembly or as a beginning of the year activity.
  3. Some great books for school counsellors are called :The Power To Prevent Suicide  A Guide To Helping teens by Richard E Nelson, A Parent’s Guide for Suicidal and Depressed Teens by Kate Williams Beyond the Blues a workbook to help teens overcome depression by Lisa M Schab
  4.  At http://www.values.com/ you can make your own bulletin boards or make them and post for all kids to see.
  5. At pinterest you can see some ideas for HOPE on this board http://pinterest.com/susansc/hope-theme/
  6. Search institute has done extensive research on what adolescents need to be resilient. They have great resources. Go to http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

As a school counsellor incorporating a suicide prevention theme with the theme of hope just makes sense. Running suicide prevention workshops for your students at the beginning of the school year is also very valueable.

Look Listen and Link is a video which could be very helpful for Suicide Prevention for teens. You can find it on Youtube. Here is another message of hope.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention has fantastic resources for school counsellors. www.suicideinfo.ca

  1. A great book for students is When Nothing Matters Anymore by Bev Cobain

At the APP store students can access a digital blue ribbon that they can share with others sending positive messages to anyone they feel makes a difference. You can find a link to the blue ribbon in my livebinder.

Finally you can access my livebinder on HOPE for more ideas.

These are but a few ideas. Please share yours so we can help students everywhere.

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=425596

This blog post will be a work in progress and as I continue to learn. I will share more and more.