In This Issue:
A Message from the WSCA Exec. Dir.
A Message from the WSCA Board
Feature Article: Time to Recharge
Stress & Self Care Resources
Legislative Update – Building the People’s Budget
Conf Keynote – Kevin Fleming Video
Conference Sectionals Released!
WI Technical College Survey
ASCA National Model Helpful Tips
ASCA Model Training – Registration Open
Upcoming Events and Committee Updates
Tell Us Your Story
I am not sure about the rest of the education world, but the month of November just disappeared with a blink of an eye for me personally this year. Time seems to continue to bolt at a lightning pace and with the upcoming holidays rapidly approaching I am reflecting on how to slow my world down to fully appreciate it.
The current buzzwords in our field are about self-care, compassion fatigue, work life balance, putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, etc. Sometimes this seems like one more thing that we are supposed to add to our already too long list of things that need to get done on top after helping students and families in crisis. How is this even possible when there were days when I worked in a school and didn’t even have a chance to go to the restroom?
The theme of WSCAlink is about self-care this month and it has made me pause and wonder who is setting this pace? Is this a personal expectation that I imposed on myself trying to do too much with the finite time in any given day? I do not recall any counselor ever having crossed everything off their to do list, we are sure good at adding more to it though. Is it a cultural norm in education or in the school counseling field that we have so many responsibilities that we do feel like it is possible to take time for ourselves and life outside of school?
I learned about the theory of Kaizen from the Student Success Skills curriculum. Kaizen is the process of having students make super small little changes in their lives and practice them on daily basis. When we set goals that are too big, we become overwhelmed and our chances of achieving them greatly diminish. Using the Kaizen small steps to change means committing to a small goal you know you can practice and achieve every day. With a focus on consistent improvements in your life, every day, no matter how small the step you take to be a better you than you were yesterday.
I would encourage all counselors looking to slow their world down to consider using the Kaizen model. Join me this year in taking small steps on a daily basis. If you are looking for some inspiration on small steps, Psychology Today has a great blog post on ten ideas that may have one small step for you to take today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skinny-revisited/201805/self-care-101 .
Maybe one of my Kaizen steps for today will be to put away the unused yoga mat I bought last December. My reframe will be what small step can I do today and commit to do every day through the end of the month. Leaving the mat sit in the corner for a year has not inspired me to start lessons, yet.
Applying to be on the WSCA Board of Directors was an easy decision. I am privileged to collaborate frequently with the impressive School Counselors within my building and within my district, and being on the Board offered a chance to collaborate further with professionals who believe in the power and leadership of this occupation. I am grateful everyday for the opportunities we get to serve students, staff, and families within our educational system, and I wanted to do more to support the WSCA mission.
Being on the Board has also become a pleasantly unexpected time for self-care, which is a good theme to visit in December! December is the month that (for me at least!) the honeymoon period that comes with the start of the year begins to end, and the emotional burden attached to our role starts to get heavier. This year, the board is focusing on connecting to our members and highlighting the leadership and advocacy work that members do; however, it is tempting to focus on what our profession on the whole is doing for others and not enough on what we are doing for ourselves and each other to keep us well.
Depending on the research, 30-66% of School Counselors report high levels of emotional exhaustion and burnout. The ASCA Ethical Standards also includes a mandate for self-care in requiring that School Counselors address physical or mental health needs that may impact their ability to meet student and staff need. In this way, it is important that as members who are both leaders and advocates in schools and communities, that we highlight the ways in which you are leaders and advocates for self-care and wellness.
For me, being on the Board is self-care. It is energizing. It “re-fills my bucket” (a phrase all elementary counselors will understand!). When issues with individual students, teachers, or families arise and become overwhelming, it is refreshing and rejuvenating to meet with the inspiring members of the WSCA organization and become grounded once again in the foundational work of School Counselors as a whole. Board meetings give me a chance to step back and remind myself why I entered this profession. In conclusion, this is an ask for members to continue being leaders, not just in giving to others, but also in giving to themselves, and to share your voice with WSCA on how the organization can support a culture of wellness!
Time to Recharge…
Looking back, it has been a few years since I allowed myself the time to take off a couple of days from my counseling position and attend the Wisconsin School Counselors Association Conference. My position was cut and I moved to a new district and a new counseling position and needed all the time I had to acclimate myself to the new job. This year I am finally back 100% in the elementary school. I have had many new things added to my laundry list of things to take on in my counseling role and I don’t see the list getting any shorter. This year, I finally asked for the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite conferences, WSCA. I was very happy with my decision.
Even in route, I was excited to connect. There is something to say about going to a conference that is full of people who all share your occupation and understand your drive and dedication to the profession. The keynotes, sectionals, and networking recharge me and pump me up full of new found energy. This year was no exception. There is always a few topics that seem to be all the buzz offering new and exciting information.
For me, I was very interested in attending sectionals that had to do with the counselor’s role in PBIS. A new hat that I wear is that of the PBIS internal coach. The first year of this process can be a little daunting. I feel as if we take a few steps forward only to come together as a team and re-evaluate and take a couple steps back. Some of the sectionals that I attended such as “Building a Community of Upstanders and “The School Counselor and The Principal Team” offered great information to establish more of a common language school wide and to clearly define your role as a counselor. There was a wealth of materials that was offered in the sectionals and the opportunity to purchase what you needed in the exhibits. I was grateful that the handouts and links for the various speakers were at my fingertips when I returned to my school and tried to recall all that I was excited to learn.
I was very interested in the sectional on the Zones of Regulations because we are thinking of starting it by grade levels next year. As the sectional unfolded I felt like the concept of Zones seems simple enough for all grade levels to understand and the presenter offered simple lessons that build upon the concept at each grade level. I felt like I was able to come back to my school and offer more insight to our “under construction” program having been able to attend this conference.
This conference offered me new resources, new and creative ways of handling old issues, thoughtful and approachable presenters willing to help, and plenty of opportunities to connect and network with my peers. I can’t wait for next year!
Share this video with staff and families on career development!