Sunday, June 9, 2013

#ESCChat #8 School Counselor + Principal Relationship 6/6/13

This week's #escchat was moderated by Tamica Collard (@TamicaCollard) and the topic was School Counselor + Principal Relationship. The American School Counseling Association has been researching and emphasizing the importance of this relationship over the past few years, so it was a very important topic to discuss! As always, here is the chat transcript and the summary is below.

Q1: Why is it important for the Principal/Counselor to have a good working relationship?
  • Student SUCCESS! Both want to see students succeed. When working together we have a better chance at making a difference.
  • If Principal, teachers and counselors have a collaborative relationship with the same vision things go well.
  • Fortunate to have that shared vision with my principals and it often eliminates the need to over communicate.

Q2: What does an effective Principal/Counselor Relationship look like?

  • A collaborative relationship that is built on mutual trust & respect that creates a shared vision impacting student success.
  • Respect, trust, goes without saying. A pleasure to go into work.
  • Important elements in the P/SC Relationship are effective communication, collaboration, respect and shared vision.
  • If you are following best practices and know their vision it is a piece of cake. Recipe for school and student success.
  • Trust. They don't check up on you every minute. In a poor relationship, I find that happens.
  • Regular staff development helps. If I know their vision I tweak mine to fit.
Q3: What are some barriers to a successful Principal/Counselor Relationship?
  • Time to collaborate & communicate. Not a clear understanding of each others' role.
  • Not taking time to meet. Assuming things. Lack of clear school vision.
  • All our grade levels have regular meetings with admin, but often the counseling team meetings can get lost in the mix.
Q4: How can school counselors help principals to better understand their role?
  • I think it helps that we have PowerSchool to document things. I put discipline things in and they can see what I did/vice versa.
  • When they don't have time to listen..... bad things can happen.
  • Having close and regular communication with principals is very helpful. We can then mesh our goals and building goals as well
Q5: Where are some areas of job responsiblity where Principal & School Counselor may overlap?
  • Discipline when they are out, leadership. Setting the tone with kids.
  • Situations related to discipline, our roles can get mixed up.
  • I agree, we are often seen as next in line when they are out which can cloud our role.
  • Counselor working as disciplinarian is not my ideal but the team must work together
Q6: What personality/professional traits do school counselors hope for in their principal?
  • Student focused! 
  • A good principal has a strong consistent vision, is a leader, listens, is visible, models, gives feedback and trust. 
  • Clear vision and ability to inspire others to meet that vision. Communication. Consistency. Empathy.
  • Strong leader who can let you just do it. Understanding and encourager. POSITIVE ATTITUDE.
  • Listening is such a hard skill to learn but so valuable.
  • Mutual listening, collaborating and having shared goals for kids is a great relationship to have.
Q7: What personality/professional traits do principals hope for in their counselor?
  • I think this really depends on how principals view the counselor's role.
  • Initiative, good communication skills, flexibility.
  • Strong leader/collaborate with staff, a presence in the school, visionary.
  • Someone who can engage varied audiences - kids, parents, teachers, community. Innovative. Patient. Problem solver.
  • Empathy and inspiring... 
  • A good counselor loves kids, is a reflective listener, is empathetic, consistent, and develops individual and building goals.
Q8: What can we do to improve the Principal/School Counselor Relationship?
  • Listening as a part of communication. Some people have a difficult time with this. It takes practice.
  • Trust, communication, shared vision, mutual support, positive environment.
  • Set a regularly scheduled time to collaborate.
  • Brainstorm and collaborate as much as possible. Attend PD together.
  • It all starts with communication & trust as the foundation of a relationship. Build a shared vision & collaboration from there.
  • Results. Use data to show your value. That's been a challenge for me but its one of my goals for next year.
  • Humor. Willingness to not take everything so seriously and just band together sometimes.
Q9: How can Principals & School Counselors formally/informally measure the impact of their teamwork? 
  • Can it be measured?? You can see and feel it in the school environment. Maybe by result of shared goals.
Do you have input to share? Comment here or join the conversation on Twitter at #escchat! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

#ESCchat #7 Self Care 5-30-13

Ah, it's that time of the school year: Burnout season! This is why it was appropriate to host an #escchat focusing on the importance of self care. Our chat participants were able to brainstorm answers to a variety of self care and burnout related questions. The complete chat transcript can be found here, and a summary of the Qs and As are below. 

==>Q1: How would you define both “self care” and “burnout”?

  • Self care is time you take for yourself and your family away from everyday stress. It's about creating appropriate boundaries.
  • burnout = exhaustion, hopelessness, self-care is preventative
  • Self-care is meant to prevent burnout! Can't forget Self Care is a medical term-- keeping mentally healthy.
  • Self-care: balancing work, life & making time for taking care of self. Burnout: lack of desire to grow, overwhelmed w/ situation.
  • Burnout would be the opposite of self-care, letting the stress catch up with you, overwhelm you and wear you down.
  • When we burn out, we become ineffective counselors. However in our field there is a fine line. Self care prevents us from burn out.
==>Q2: What are some (physical, mental, etc) symptoms that you are approaching burnout & need to practice self care?
  • Tired, achy, cranky.
  • Not enjoying your job like you used to, or collaborate with others, learn new things. Checking-out. Time to intervene!
  • Exhaustion, headache, lack of sleep.
  • grinding my teeth or being sad about having to see a kid--I love seeing kids, so when I don't, it's self care time! 
  • I figure it out from feedback from others. This week colleagues have noted "you're not as chipper as usual!"
  • I get headaches too, and can't sleep due to anxiety. Our bodies are aware of burnout before our brains sometimes.
  • That moment when you wake up 10x a night counseling kids in your sleep...
==>Q3? If we are in “burnout” mode, what is the potential impact on our students?
  • If we can't focus well, can't be grounded, it will take it's toll with the kids; we need self-care & should prescribe it for others.
  • They can recognize our moods and will steer clear of us. We become 1 more adult to give them grief.
  • Sometimes we are kids only advocates in certain situations..if we burn out, who do they have left?
  • When I was feeling "exhausted" last week, I found I was getting annoyed with one of my kids I see all the time.  It is not good for our kids when we feel this way. Despite our intentions we do not give it our all when we feel that way.
  • Sometimes our body language communicates our feelings to the kids, even when we put on a brave happy face.
  • Very true, and when we're burnt out it feels like we're working harder but we're accomplishing less!
  • I am someone who wears her feelings and thoughts all over her face. I realized I have to be conscious of this.
  • We would give the same advice to our kids; how are they going to get through school not taking care of themselves?
  • Our kids lose when we are burnt out. They don't get what they deserve.
  •  In "7 Habits of Happy Kids" Habit 7 is "Balance Feels Best" all about self care! 
==>Q4: What are some professional (work-related) reasons we may approach or reach burnout?
  • On my end, it's 140 evaluations a year. Way to many, which takes me a way from a more traditional psychologist role.
  • When we are asked to do things that go against our core beliefs.
  •  Lack of support & a non-collaborative environment. 
  • Too many non counselor duties, parents/administrators/teachers not supporting us, long hours and no time for self.
  • The pop. I serve is very high need. Which means I am ask to do a lot and we wear many different hats.
  • I find when I'm pulled away from direct counseling w kids I feel burnout. And getting tangled in minutiae. Ugh!
  • A lack of support is a key factor as well. WIthout a supportive environment, it makes it much more difficult in schools. 
  • So sad how many of us automatically think "lack of support" when we're THERE to support all!
  • When I worked in an emotional support program, vicarious trauma was a huge cause of my burnout.
  • Ratio of students to counselors or students to psychologist is way too high. The case load is challenging. 
  • We sometimes have to deliver info to parents that is hard to hear.
==>Q5: Related: WHEN might you require more self care than others (time of year, events, etc)?
  • College counseling in fall, scheduling all spring, testing in between...and then if you have time you can see kids!
  • My busy time is summer. I know I need to watch my pacing and plan for leave.
  • March seems to be toughest time of yr. High stress and bad weather here. It is predictable:)
  • I need the most self-care and feel the most stress right about now, April through June. Busiest time of year for the psych!
  • I'll need self care in mid fall and mid spring. It gets tedious.
  • March is extra stressful because of state testing. Also the home stretch right now is tough to get through.
  • Hard not to feel the pressure to get everything wrapped up this time of year.
==>Q6: Here’s the fun question: What activities do you engage in to practice self care?
  • I run every morning before work. I start the day refreshed.
  • Fortunate here to have a close group of sch counselors that meet regularly w'in our county. Chatting with them helps!
  • I also took up the ukulele for fun. Gotta have fun!
  • Our school has a community choir that sings every Thurs morning before school. Singing is so relaxing!
  • Walking, reading, getting out of town, beaches, recently knit a hat, and making sure I have time to cook dinner @ least 3x week
  • Playing guitar, banjo.
  • I also try to practice meditation, time away from work with family, and travel when we can. 
  • Just went bass fishing this weekend...sunshine always helps!
  • I also began painting! Super relaxing. Local pottery shop offers BYOB Painting classes.. haven't been yet but sounds fun!
  • Thank goodness for my ROCKIN' PLN!
  • I love blogging and connecting w/others!
  • I tend to go back to school for my down time. Night classes are my nights out. Lol 
  • Surfing educational blogs and such. Can't stop learning!
  • I run and exercise. And playing with my 2 yr old can be great self care.
==>Q7: Given that we work with school climate, is it our job to support colleagues experiencing burnout? If so, how?
  • I believe so. I have become a sounding board for some colleagues. It will help them be more effective teachers. 
  • I try to build fun into meetings. We had a Preakness theme meeting last year and raced wind up toys. 
  • Most SCs I know avoid that role to avoid dual roles, but I know some that teach stress prevention at the beginning of year. 
  • I view supporting colleagues/climate as a huge part of my job. It should take some portion of everyday. Directly helps kids too.
  • I have mixed feelings on this. Can be helpful, can be toxic, depending on relationship with colleague! 
  • Being sensitive to colleagues and lending a hand when needed. Collaboration on projects.
  • I think we play a part in it, but we must be careful to not get too consumed with it. Students come first! 
  • I dont know if it is on our duty list but I feel the need 2help support staff. 
  • If they are not there mentally our students miss out.
  • My old school used to have Wellness Days on half days. Cooking classes and other fun things to boost morale.
  • We do a wellness conference in the summer. Combination prof PD with self care.
  • Pointing out the progress that HAS been made. Celebrating each success validates our effort throughout the year. 
  •  We're also a great stepping stone to help teachers get resources outside of school to help with their stress/burnout.
  • One of my principals had a bean bag championship in the teachers lounge - complete with leader boards! Tons of FUN!!!
  • Making a smile file! Put little moments that made you smile into a file or doc to open up when you're feeling blue.
==>Q8 (last one): Are there ways to work self care into our WORK routine?
  • That's why I need to run in the mornings.
  • I don't know, except to make sure you find the right environment where you can operate effectively and feel valued.
  • Next year I'm going to try to take a lunch break. Even if its 10 minutes to eat and relax. I'll let you know how that goes.
  • Take the time to eat lunch. Even if its only 10min, it's a small break, and you get fed so you aren't cranky.
  • Slow down. Remember that someone's lack of planning is not your emergency.
  • I've used "Kid Yoga" with a K class.. I wonder if I can incorporate 10 minute "kid yoga" mornings every day alternating classes?
  • Had an admin who insisted on lunch w'out work EVERYday. I take a break to nourish myself in quiet each day. Feed body and soul.
  • I am valued by my administration and staff which REALLY helps with the stress.
  • I love games and color coding things (nerdy!), but I can use those things with students. It serves as self care AND counseling.
  • I find peace in reflecting and planning. I also like making new activities for my kids. Keeps me engaged.
  • If I'm feeling burnout coming on I take a walk outside for 10-15 min.
  • Reflecting is a key component of the job too. Reflecting on successes, and how to rework difficult situations.
  • Listening to music while doing paperwork is also helpful!
  • I keep small containers of playdoh in my desk. Nice to tug at something instead of being tugged at.
Have something to add to our discussion? Leave a comment here or tweet it using the #escchat hashtag!