In This Issue:
A Message from the Executive Director – Path to Highest Level of Effectiveness
Carolyn Stone – Counselor Legal and Ethical Training Opportunities
A Message from the WSCA Board – Student Anxiety
Feature Article – Anxious Behaviors – How to help students and parents
Educator Credit Union – Annual Student Scholarship Information
Legislative Update – Afternoon on the Hill
WSCA Keynote – Dr. Raj, Improve Resilience, Adaptability, and Fearlessness
ASCA Model Training Opportunities at Conference
WSCPAR – Program Of Promise Award Winners
Counselink – Student Anxiety
National School Counselor Week – Resources & Webinar
WSCA Volunteers Needed
A Message from the WSCA Executive Director
Strengthening your Practice
Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director
I have the honor of traveling Wisconsin and working with counselors from a wide variety of districts, schools and communities. The common theme is that counselors are doing amazing work supporting their students and want to continue to improve their programs and skills based on the unique needs of their student population. So where do you look to improve your practice? Of course, “google” or asking someone on social media is the answer that our students would give us! As we know from the digital literacy we teach students, there needs to be due diligence in finding information online, especially when it comes to the sensitive work we do with students and families. What do our professional guidelines tell us about strengthening our knowledge and skills?
The WSCA Board of Directors has set the following top priority for WSCA members: “Conditions exist so the Wisconsin School Counselors will practice with the highest level of effectiveness.”
WSCA looks to the following documents to guide counselors to practice with the highest level of effectiveness: ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors, ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies and the ASCA National Model. I would highly recommend that counselors take the time to review these documents, they have all been updated over the past few years and have critical information on the work counselors do in schools.
WSCA is also very excited to have Carolyn Stone, the NATIONAL expert on school counseling legal and ethical issues presenting preconference and conference sectionals this year. This area particularly has lots of varying interpretations of what counselors think the legal and ethical obligations are. If a counselor is called into court many times they are asked if they are a member of a professional association to acknowledge that you follow the ethical guidelines and best practice models. If asked by the court to share why you made a decision, giving the answer that you are a member of a facebook group that said this is best practice may not be seen as meeting the court’s standard of professional consultation or ongoing professional development.
Join WSCA this year at conference to meet the following ASCA Ethical Standard for School Counselors:
B. Responsibilities To Parents/Guardians, School And Self
B.1. Responsibilities to Parents/Guardians
B.2. Responsibilities to the School
B.3. Responsibilities to Self
b. Maintain membership in school counselor professional organizations to stay up to date on current research and to maintain professional competence in current school counseling issues and topics. School counselors maintain competence in their skills by utilizing current interventions and best practices.
e. Engage in professional development and personal growth throughout their careers. Professional development includes attendance at state and national conferences and reading journal articles. School counselors regularly attend training on school counselors’ current legal and ethical responsibilities.
The short answer to strengthing your practice is to belong to your school counselor association and have an ongoing professional development plan not just on supporting the academic, social/emotional and career development of your students but also continually updating and reviewing your knowledge of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors, ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies and the ASCA National Model.
We are looking forward to being a part of your professional development plan next month at conference!
A Message from the WSCA Board of Directors
Laura Multer, School Counselor
Elementary & Middle School, Kohler Public Schools
At some point, anxiety affects ⅓ of children and adolescents, yet the majority never get help. Anxiety diagnoses are on the rise, although it is not always clear if this is due to our increasingly stressful world or youth being more willing to ask for help or increasing recognition of the condition by parents and health care providers. School Counselors are in a unique position to make a real difference in the lives of young people who experience anxiety that negatively impacts their ability to function.
First of all, School Counselors provide universal instruction via social emotional learning lessons that can assist all students in understanding anxiety and how to manage this uncomfortable emotion. Not all children understand that anxiety is a healthy and normal reaction when we are presented with something dangerous. It is what allows our “fight or flight” response to kick in and makes us primed for action. Anxiety becomes a problem, or can rise to the level of a disorder, when the anxiety response becomes out-of-proportion with an event or experience that happens every day or to something that most manage easily. If students are taught emotional regulation skills and mindfulness practices they learn not only to recognize the physiology of anxiety, but also, how to return their body and mind to a calm state.
In our role as consultants, we can educate parents and other school staff about anxiety and it’s many forms such as school refusal, separation anxiety, communication apprehension, selective mutism, social anxiety, specific phobia and panic disorder. We can also teach adults how they can appropriately support young people who experience anxiety. Many well-meaning adults can engage in reactions and behavior, such as providing reassurance or allowing kids to avoid situations, that can actually result in increased student anxiety. School Counselors can guide other adults on how to coach young people through anxious episodes or challenging situations.
Unfortunately, anxiety is often mistaken for difficulties such as ADHD, learning disorders, autism or depression, other health conditions or even just shyness and, as a result, many students do not receive treatment until their anxiety disorder is well established. As School Counselors, we are in a position to identify the early signs of anxiety and to provide early intervention. This may include providing support to students via small groups or even individual counseling sessions. Teaching students about the disorder and providing opportunities for students to face their fears in a safe setting, while using strategies such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation allows students to regain a sense of control. When a student requires more than the short-term counseling support we can offer as School Counselors, we can refer students and their families to mental health providers within our communities and assist with coordination of care.
Untreated anxiety disorders put students at risk for developing depression, failing in school, substance use and abuse and overall difficulties with the transition to adulthood. As leaders in our schools, we can advocate for universal mental health and emotional regulation instruction for all students. We can lead efforts to teach parents and fellow educators. These efforts can make a huge difference for so many of our students. To learn more about anxiety, I highly recommend reviewing Understanding Anxiety in Children and Teens Summary or the full report by Child Mind Institute at www.childmind.org/2018report . Together we can help build resilient children who will become healthy, contributing members of our communities.
Anxious Behaviors – How to Help Students and Parents
By: Aria Krieser, School Counselor, Hudson Prairie Elementary School, Hudson, WI
As we know and experience daily, students with anxiety or anxious behaviors seem to be on the rise, as well as parents that are anxious about their child’s anxiety. For the elementary counselors in Hudson School District there are a few things we have systematized and provide for students and parents to help support with anxious behaviors.
In all of our elementary schools in Hudson, we provide a “Calm Corner” in every classroom. A calm corner provides the students a safe place to go when they are feeling any emotion that hinders them from learning and also provides appropriate tools to help their bodies and brains. Teachers and staff are taught what calm corners are used for, how to teach their students about appropriate use, and students are given a chance to practice using the space. Some ideas for a calm corner include: have your calm corner in a space where students can still listen and hear what is being taught, have the space be inviting and calm, have a “kit” that includes tools such as fidgets, stress balls, liquid timer, weighted lap pad, putty, glitter bottles, breathing strategies, coloring pads and colored pencils, etc. depending on the age of the students you teach, and it’s okay to take things out throughout the year depending on appropriate use. Don’t forget to teach and reteach the use of the space, and that it’s for all students and not used as a punishment. There are also many schools that have added calming rooms to their schools with great success.
We also teach students about their brains and “lid flipping” using Dan Siegel’s hand model. This is important for students to understand what is happening inside their bodies and brains and then steps to take to co-regulate or self-regulate. Many of our elementary schools teach “Zones of Regulation” to all students to practice and learn what tools they need for their own toolbox of regulation. It provides a common language for staff and students to communicate how they are feeling or what “zone” they are in.
We have school-wide implementation of mindfulness in our Life Skills classes, as well as providing training and resources to our teachers to implement daily in their classrooms. Many teachers use “Calm Classroom” “MindYeti” or “HeadSpace” with their students and have found their students more ready to learn the next subject after using mindfulness practices.
For our “Tier 2” students who may need another layer of support for anxious behaviors we do small group counseling using resources such as “Worry Warriors” by Counselor Keri, “What To Do When You Worry Too Much” by Dawn Huebner, “Superflex” by Stephanie Madrigal, and “Helping Young People Learn Self-Regulation” by Brad Chapin, just to name a few resources. We also use the Tier 2 PBIS strategy Check In Check Out for students to help them connect to another staff member in the building and give them positive feedback and encouragement. The school counselors work individually with a few students to coach and teach them about their triggers, what it feels like for them, and strategies to cope.
For staff we have started the journey of Compassion Resilience training and implementation through Trauma Sensitive Schools. This training supports them with managing their stress and creating a culture of trust and vulnerability which, in turn, helps them model appropriate ways to cope for their students.
Parents/guardians need tools for their toolbox of parenting students with anxious behaviors and anxiety, and we can be a great resource to help support them. Many times, parents/guardians are anxious about their child’s anxiety and then project that onto the situation, which, in turn, without them intending to, makes it worse for their child to cope. There are ways to communicate strategies and resources with parents, such as through newsletters or communication to all parents, direct communication, or even a book club with parents using research-based books on the topic of anxiety.
At a few schools in our district the counselors have facilitated face-to-face book clubs, and also online blogger type book clubs with parents who choose to participate. We have found that using the book “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents” by Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons is well-received and gives parents strategies and language to use with their child. Another child-friendly book by the same authors is “Playing with Anxiety: Casey’s Guide for Teens and Kids” that the parent(s) and child can read together. There are many other books, apps, and websites to share with parents as needed. It’s also important to know when it’s time to talk with parents about outside resources and support.
Other important questions to consider:
Does your school district have co-located counseling? Does your school district have any mental health support or grants to get resources? Does your school district have an inclusive area counseling/psychologist list to provide to parents?
Remember, anxiety is treatable and manageable with the right things in place, and it truly “takes a village”. Take it step by step, figure out your most needed population and start with one thing to implement or systemize in regards to anxiety or anxious behaviors.
Click here for a list of resources for anxiety/anxious behaviors to look into for your students, staff, and parents/guardians.
Three Reasons to Participate in WSCA’s Afternoon On the Hill
By: Karolyn Taylor, Scholarship Coordinator, College & Career Readiness, Milwaukee Public Schools & WSCA Government Relations Committee Member
ACT 10 was a game charger for many educators across Wisconsin. For me, it is when I really understood how legislative policies and actions had a direct influence on my everyday life. Let’s be real. ACT 10 changed my paycheck, my work conditions, and how I advocated for my students. The political became the personal. Fast forward nearly a decade later, I am actively involved in community-based advocacy work and believe that it has positively impacted my community.
ASCA’s position is that every school counselor should be a leader (ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies M6). Advocacy and leadership often go hand and hand (ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies B-PF). As school counselors, we may have concerns. We can turn these concerns into actions by working with colleagues and administrators in our buildings to affect change. We might even attend a school board meeting to advocate for the elimination of a policy that negatively impacts underserved and at-risk students. Participating in WSCA’s Afternoon on the Hill is a natural progress to your advocacy. Below are three reasons to join us on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 WSCA’s Afternoon on the Hill…
Three Reasons to Participate in WSCA’s Afternoon on the Hill
- Connect: WSCA’s Afternoon on the Hill is a great way to connect with other school counselors from across the state that are interested in advocacy work. We will have an opportunity to share ideas, concerns, and ways to engage in our local, state, and federal political process.
- Develop Your Advocacy Skills: As a participant, you will take part in advocacy training. Advocacy training will give you the tools and confidence to tell your story, find your voice, and make a policy request. Our professional development will review how to engage with an elected official in a positive impactful way. You will learn the do’s and don’ts of effective legislative meetings and how follow-up on your request.
- Meet Your Representative: Meeting with your legislative is a way to state your position on a current policy or educate your member about a concern. You will be able to share your position with your member and make a request. Many members welcome visits from constituents and organizations because this can help the official better understand and support their communities. This meeting can be a win-win for school counseling and your legislator.
I know that professional school counselors have a unique voice in education. Joining us for Afternoon on the Hill will provide you with space to advocate for the school counseling profession and the needs of your community.
Need more information?
Sign-in to participate in WSCA’s Afternoon on the Hill
Ask question and/or join the WSCA’s Governmental Relations Committee
Learn more from ASCA Legislative Affairs Site
The WSCA conference is offering many sectionals on comprehensive school counseling program implementation from ASCA 101 to advanced practice school counseling programs ready to apply for RAMP (Recognized ASCA Model Program).
We can’t wait to see you in February!