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 … Continue reading
I have the best job in the whole world. This afternoon I was able to I support my students in sharing their passion for social justice . Our BCHS Youth Champions in partnership the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Center developed the following PSA inorder to promote the power of a positive community.
While brainstorming our ideas, the group focused on the concept that people build confidence when they feel supported by others.
A big thank you to the BCHS Red Cards jazz ensemble who volunteered to perform for our skit. Ms Hedley and the drama department for letting us borrow the theater. Mr. Vizina for allowing us to access the Mac lab for editing. Our amazing school communities such: as the Mental Wellness team, Anime Club, Who’s Frank team, Youth Champions, Youth Volunteer Corps, and Spectrum for allowing us to use their photos. Our admin team, including our very own pink Elephant (aka principal) Mr. O’ Flaherty.
Today was Bishop Carroll’s second annual Career Speed Dating Event. An opportunity where we invite Bishop Carroll Alumni, Parents and Students to come together and have a discussion about the many pathways and ways we earn a living in todays society.
This session involved two parts:
- First students were seated in a circle with the adults around the outside facing them. The pair was given 5 minutes to discuss their career and the pathway to get there. Then we had a one minute break for the adult to rotate clockwise to a new seat and a new pairing occurred. We allowed students an opportunity to meet with 10 different adults.
- Second, the adults in the room moved to the edge of the gym to stand under their career labels. Students were then encouraged to go up and speak with anyone who had the specific career that they were interested in.
The reason that both parts were important to the process was that it not only opened the students eyes open to the possibilities but also validated their personal interests.
Based on feedback from our amazing parents, the adults also enjoyed our day.
This past Tuesday we offered our 3rd annual Mental Health Symposium. It was held during the morning and brought over 100 students, staff, and guests together to discuss why mental health is so important, especially during our high school years.
Mental illness is often stigmatized, making individuals who are struggling feel reluctant or embarrassed to share their stories with others. A consistent message that our guests shared with our students was “You are not alone”.
Brett Rothery and members of the Mental Wellness Team.
“Mental Illness is NOT a death sentence” – Claire Hickie U of C Student
Empathy is about sitting with someone and just being
“Love me in the middle of my mess”. – Taunya – psychologist
Students also had opportunities throughout the morning to share their messages of love, hope, and thoughts on the importance of diversity.
One of the activites which our Mental Wellness Committe had asked me to facilitate during our morning together is called Snowballs of Advice, one of the most popular activities from last years symposium
Once again our students have proven that not only do they come into our classrooms with a variety of challenges, beyond simple academics. They have also proven that they are compassionate and can provide their peers with fabulous support and advice.
How do you share the importance of mental health and wellness with others. I look forward to hearing about your ideas.
Image- Journal Cover Christmas 2015
It’s been almost a year since I wrote my first blog post introducing the Bishop Carroll “WE DON’T SAY” campaign. Since then I am proud to say that both the Spectrum Club and hashtag #CarrollCulture have both taken off.
A few of the highlights of the following year included:
MAY 2015 – Encouragement during Testing
JUNE 2015 – Radom Acts of Carroll: Remind Account used to Share Daily Inspiration
OCT 2015- Spectrum, Who’s Frank and the Mental Wellness Teams Collaborated during the Healthy Active School Symposium.
NOV 2015- Spectrum Friendship Bracelet Bee
DEC 2015- BCHS Fair Trade Fair-Spectrum Button Campaign Earned $275 for Syrian Women-
FEB 2016- WE DON’T SAY 2.0
The original We Don’t Say Campaign was extremely popular in the Calgary Catholic School District and beyond. Our original posters were picked up by Duke University (the originators of the campaign) and shared on their facebook page. We have also had approximately 10 others school in the area approach us about running their own campaigns.
This year we wanted the campaign to continue to promote inclusivity. Therefore the Spectrum Club asked the Who’s Frank (antibullying team) and our Mental Wellness Teams to help us come up with common derogatory phrases that we have heard.
We then put an “all call” out to our student population and had students select the phrases they would like to model for.
The end result:
A fabulous product which can be shared on the net, in poster form and as part of the Bishop Carroll Colouring Book which 0ur student body is also in the process of producing.
So now for what you have been waiting for….
And Remember Your Language Matters.
School, this year, ended for me on June 26th. However, I was up bright and early on the morning of June 27th excited to be heading for Phoenix and the American School Counseling Association’s National Conference: Spice Up Your School Counseling Program #ASCA15.
This was the first time in my eleven years of school counselling that I attended a conference specifically targeted for Professional School Counsellors. In addition I was excited to meet-up, for the first time face to face, with many of the amazing members of my PLN. People who I had gotten to know online over the last two years through my ePD including #SCin30, #sccrowd and #scchat.
ASCA15, was very moving for me. It was a time to connect with others who could understand my passion for youth and my commitment to instilling hope. While many sessions were very good, I experienced a few “AHA” moments throughout the conference which will positively influence my counselling programs in the future. I would love to share these treasures with you too.
AHA 1 Stealth Mental Health – Be wherever you’re needed
During the Red Cross Training: Foundations of Disaster Mental Health workshop, there was a fantastic co-presenter (I’m sorry I don’t remember her name) who had a fabulous sense of humour. She was a social worker with over 30 years of experience in supporting crisis situations. She reminded us that the most important thing to do when encouraging resiliency, is to read your audience and create an environment where they can feel safe and secure. Language matters: if play therapy sounds threatening, create a “playroom“. Call people survivors and not victims. She also reminded us that sometimes supporting mental health can be as simple as providing tissues and water.
AHA 2- It takes a team to build a dream.
Lajvardi’s inspirational speech encouraged all of us to embrace diversity and create meaningful relationships because you never know where the next great student will come from. He explained that every student on his team from the special education student to the academically gifted was able to contribute. His special education students were able to provided NEW ideas and outside of the box thinking, which the more academic students were then able to put into practice. This created an innovative working team which was able to achieve more than was ever thought possible.
AHA 3 – Making an Impact with group counselling.
Ed Jacobs and Christine Schimmel provided an amazing afternoon on Impact Therapy. The primary message being that groups should be directed with a purpose.
Ed and Christine believe that the brain remembers novelty and therefore props can be useful tools in a counselling session. Some of my favorite demos included:
Pop = cloudy thinking Water= clear thinking; even if you are shaken clear thinkers don’t explode
The Bill Part 1 Hold up a bill – how much is this worth? Scrunch it up step on it it’s still worth the same amount – you’re worth it.
The Bill Part 2
Hold a bill folded thin…, is it worth more if its thinner? Hmmm Impacted image used from financialpostcom
Aha 4- Wii can be a powerful tool in a counsellors office
My previous experience had taught me that sometimes the best conversations with kids don’t happen when we are sitting directly across from each other, but while we are engaged in other activities. Christina Welch’s session provided many examples of how to incorporate video games as school counselling tools.
Some of the suggestions I might try myself include:
Mii development on the Wii How is it like you? How is it different? Use your Mii to practice making friends
Create a bookcraft– Minecraft work based on books
Minecraft build your dream university
Aha 5 – Inclusion does not just benefit students with special needs: It benefits all students
Learning through inclusive communities.
Dr Tim Shriver is not just the embassador for Special Olympics, but he also focuses on the role of Social Intelligence through his book Fully Alive. His anecdotes were inspirational and he topped it off by teaching us a WE ARE ABLE dance performed by the Unified Sports Team from Kellis High School.
As I move forward in my journey as a school counsellor I will continue to watch for more AHA moments. I love learning from others, so feel free to share you’re own AHA’s with me too.
Technology can be used to enhance your school counselling program.
I would love to hear about how you have incorporated technology into your own counselling practice.
One aspect of my job as a high school counsellor is to help my students reflect on what they may want to do after high school. I personally remember feeling very apprehensive as a student about which jobs were out there and how people actually found their careers.
The world is full of possibility. One of the ways that we at Bishop Carroll, have attempted to share these opportunities with our students was by inviting our parents and alumni to an event we called CAREER SPEED DATING. The event was a success and we are hoping to make it an annual tradition at Bishop Carroll.
Check out the following video create by @Sspellmancann
What do you think about this event? How do you promote Career Exploration at your own school? All suggestions and ideas are welcome
I have the honor and the privledge of working at Bishop Carroll, one of the most fantastic schools in the city. We have a reputation for being one of the most welcoming high school communities. One of the ways we foster this sense of community is through relationship and team building opportunities.
This past week we offered a SPIRIT WEEK for our students. Each day was filled with opportunities for students to interact and have fun.
Monday- Casey the our mascot was around the building. We also hosted an In -province Post Secondary fair in the afternoon.
Tuesday- Carroll Apparel Day. Students were encouraged to wear this years school shirts. We also had a school opening mass.
Wednesday– Clubs Day- Over the lunch hour students were invited to the gym to check out displays from our over 22 clubs. I am pleased to be one of the teacher sponsors for the anime club this year, and was proud to watch my team sign up over 30 new members.
Thursday- We had a fall sport pep rally. After school students who wanted to attend the football game were able to gather before the game to create a cheering section.
Friday- Carroll Carnival. For the last two hours of the day students were able to participate in a variety of sports and amusement activities.
This week provided many opportunites for chats, laughs, smiles and general enjoyment. I feel that it has a fantastic impact on the school moral and cohesiveness.
How do other school build a sense of community in their buildings? I look forward to learning from you and reading your responses.