August 22, 2011

ASCA National Conference 2011...Perk Up Your Program!

The famous market! 


This year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the 2011 National School Counseling Conference in the lovely Seattle, Washington. On my very, very, very long flight home, (A Layover in Phoenix just to get to Milwaukee? I don't get it sometimes but whatever) I decided to write an article about all that I learned and absorbed during my time at the conference. I thought I would share it here with all of you. Enjoy!

"8 Things I Learned to "Perk Up" My Program ... When I Have One."
~One graduate students perspective on the 2011 ASCA National Conference.

2011 has brought a lot of firsts for me. Being done with my first year of graduate school, my first internship, my first time traveling totally alone, and my first school counseling conference, the ASCA National Conference. 
I learned so much at the ASCA National Conference from now on called Seattle 2011. Some revelations were personal while others were professional. I would like to share the top 8 things with you all.

  1. I actually can enjoy traveling by myself. This was the first time I have ever traveled completely alone. I was more than a little bit nervous. I found as the conference progressed that I was actually enjoying being by myself. There was no one holding me back which was nice because I also like to be early to things. I even enjoyed having dinner by myself at a nice restaurant. It felt a bit weird at first but by the time my food came to the table, I was totally comfortable.
  2. Students stay connected to counselors not because of what or how we are doing things but why. We work with our kids because we care and we want to see them succeed. I don't think any of us would be counselors (in training...) if that wasn't the case. When I get my own school, I am going to put up a sign that says "Why" so that I always remember why I am there. Sometimes we can get so caught up in what we are doing or how we are going to do it. Remembering why I am there will help keep me grounded.
  3. You may think that just because I have a macbook, iPhone, and I grew up with technology that I am savvy. Well guess what, that's not the case. I learned about so many cool technologies that I can use as a school counselor. There is a new one called iTunes U which is seriously worth your time to check out. Thanks Dr. Joy Burnham for keying me into it. Also timetracker and ezanalyze are very useful and time saving tools for counselors but also for other professionals. We can always use things that help us better manage our time with our jobs often entailing so much. Those are also free, which is great as all of you well know! Who doesn't like free stuff?? I can tell you I was having a blast in the exhibit hall with all the "swag" I took away!
  4. There isn't, in my opinion, enough talk about LGBTQQA youth. For those of you not in the know, that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, and ally youth. I was glad I was able to sit in on a session that talked about just that. What I will take away the most from the session by Lisa Koenecke and Joni Downs was that no matter what a student's sexual orientation is or what our personal bias may be, it is always important to stress with these kids what a healthy relationship looks like. This is a topic that can transcend sexual orientation into something that every teen should be talking about.
  5. I was told by one of the counselors at the conference that what happens at the conference, stays at the conference. What are we in Vegas here? Apparently counselors need to cut loose just as much as the next professional. Who knew right? But in all honestly, I had to laugh when I heard this because I knew that I wanted to take back everything that I was learning, seeing, hearing, and experiencing to my fellow classmates so that they could reap the benefits of the conference that I did while I was there. As for what happens at the conference, staying at the conference, I guess everyone will just have to come to the conference to find out! ;-)
  6. I know that I have experienced this over and over again throughout my time in school, which I recently counted to be 20 years (K-Graduate School)!!! Often the learning a student does happens outside the classroom and can be more beneficial that the learning that happens inside the classroom. No offense to teachers, because I have the utmost respect and admiration for them, but children learn so much better when they can have time to explore their environment. I remember the things that I learned on field trips and other outside activities than I do in my classroom. Even now being in graduate school, I felt I learned more from this conference than I did in some of my classes the last two semesters. We as counselors can deliver information to students in a hands on way so that they do absorb the information. If we go into their classroom and talk at them, they probably wont remember a thing we said. I don't know about you, but I want the kids I work with to remember the things I am trying to teach them.
  7. How much do you know about Hip Hop? I can tell you that I know a whole lot more now than I did before Seattle 2011! If you EVER want to know more about the hip hop world, you should check out XXL and The Source. They will be a lot of the research you are looking for. My brother, who is a senior in high school, always tells me I have my own "era". I am not that much older than the kids that I will be counseling, but if my brother looks at me like I have my own era, then I am sure the kids will too. Its all too important for us to be able to connect with our students. They will take notice if you know a little about a little. Even if you know an artist to a particular song, something in pop culture or a new type of technology, they will take notice in that. Even if they don't catch it right away, they will think about it later on. As counselors, we can never go wrong with showing interest in a kids world. It shows them that we care about them. It can also help us learn more so that we can understand them better. If the students really know how much we care, they will be more willing to come to us whenever they have a problem. I have full faith in that!
  8. The final thing that I learned at Seattle 2011 is to always keep in mind What, So What, Now What? I think that this is a great pattern in order to assess a situation in a quick easy way. We can think about what is the situation that we have at hand, why is this a problem, and what can we do about it. It really takes into account what I learned in classes about making sure you get all of the story from the student so you can accurately assess what is going on and then try to come up with a solution. If you come up with a solution too quickly, you lose site of the so what! It is a good way to sum up basic counseling of students in any situation. 
As counselors, I hope that we can all "take action together today to work on the challenge of making school counseling comprehensive in all our schools." I know that because of Seattle 2011, I am going to strive to be the best school counselor that I can be and try to make whatever program that I end up in, a program that is completely comprehensive. Why you ask? For the students, to make them the best people that they can be!

Did you go to the conference? What did you learn? What was your favorite session? I want to hear from you! Have a great evening!


To Tweet or Not to Tweet...

...That is the question! Ever since Twitter started, I have been adamantly opposed to even signing up for it. Like with Facebook, I feel that I will get drawn in. You hear so many horror stories of people saying things on Twitter that they should not have and things can get out of control.

Lately, however, I have been hearing about more and more professionals in the teaching and school counseling fields that have been using Twitter. Messages about classes, scores for marching band competitions, and what are called "twitter chats". These intrigue me because I feel that I could benefit from hearing important advice from other school counselors. At the same time, I am not sure if it is a smart thing to do.

I am curious what other counselors think about this. Is it a worthwhile thing to sign up for? Are there other options for ways to communicate with other professionals? What are your ideas? How do you use twitter?

Can't wait to hear your answers!

August 20, 2011

Oh How I Love Massages!

So I went with my best friend to have a spa day in Kohler. Let me just plug here and say the Kohler Waters Spa at the American Club was amazing. The staff was phenomenal and it was such a relaxing atmosphere. All the stress I had built up from working summer camp is all gone. At least until I start internship next week :-) It wasn't a cheap spa to go to but it was totally worth the money.

Okay now that I have added my shameless plug, lets chat about self-care. Ever since undergrad, I have found that doing stuff for myself is really important. When I get stressed and tired, I get crabby. No one wants to be around me when I get like that. It used to be that I could just read a really good free read book and that would do the trick. But I have found that lately that just doesn't rejuvenate me quite like it used to. It is becoming ever more evident through classes and all the work that I am throwing myself into that self-care is truly important. I carry my stress in my shoulders and when it feels like they are up to my ears, then I know I need to do something. Going to a spa, getting a massage, or getting my nails done, really does help me relax. I can spend a few hours not thinking about the things that I have yet to do or the crazy things that have been happening.

I think its so very important to find a way for everyone to relieve their stress. Having too much stress can be detrimental to your health. I was reading an article in a magazine today that said even missing 1 hour of sleep a night can be awful for your health. You can "catch up" on the weekend but after a while it can really start taking a toll on your health. So much so you can have high blood pressure amongst other issues. So part of self-care that I struggle with is making sure that I get a good night's rest. Sometimes there is just so much to do but I know that if I don't get sleep, my day will not go as I want it to. Some people say that they can run on five hours of sleep, I bet that cant be true. I need at least seven in order to function somewhat okay. Eight is even better!

I want to hear from you! What are your favorite things to do for self-care? When you are really stressed as a school counselor, what do you do? Who do you go to when you just need to talk it out?

That's all for tonight. I am going back to watching the women's U.S. gymnastics championships. Wish I could be as fit as these ladies! Goodnight all.


August 18, 2011

A Brand New Blog

Hi to all of you, any of you, that are reading this! I decided that I would start a blog in order to get out my trials and tribulations about being a school counseling student in hopes that other people, students or practicing school counselors will chime in!

I am going into my second year at graduate school and now is the time where we start internships. Yes that's right, I leave my summer camp job tomorrow and start internship on Tuesday! Not much of a break. I am starting out at the high school level for my first 200 hours. I am really excited but a little nervous because I have yet to work with high school students from a counseling perspective. It should be a wild ride.

Over the next couple of weeks, months, and year, I will be writing about all my trials and triumphs during school and in my internship. Please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think. I can use all the advice I can get. I am sure I will post many a question over the course of this blog!

Goodnight all,