Here is the latest edition of our newsletter with trauma in the classroom, end of year support, prep for next year, and more!
A peek inside. Read a few of the articles below, or download the PDF to see the full newsletter!
Take Space For You
I love self care. I write about it, I talk about it, I practice it, I teach it.
I don’t believe that self-care selfish.
I don’t believe that you should be made to feel guilty for taking care of yourself.
I do believe that when you take care of yourself and meet your own needs first, you are so much better able to meet the needs of others.
I also believe that self-care is not a cure all and it is not the quick-fix answer to everyone’s stress.
I believe that you have to have an understanding of truly what your needs are before you can even attempt to meet them. Even further, if you are able to find activities that reset and recharge you, they may not be meeting your exact needs. They might work for the moment, but are they long term? So this space I am asking you to take for yourself is of course to engage in self-care, do the things you love, do what makes you feel whole, but take it a step further. Discover what needs are being met by completing these activities and what needs you have that aren’t being met. Take the space, take a breather, get to know yourself more and find out if in fact you are meeting your needs and which activities will consistently work!
End The Year Strong
For those of you who still have time left in the school year, here are a few things you can do to finish off strong! Have an award ceremony, whether this is online or in person and create fun and positive awards to hand out to your students. You can create a wordle for your students or classrooms using words to describe them and the happy memories of this school year. You can play some cooperative games as well. This can take place online having students take turns. Playing games such as charades, Jeopardy, or Kahoot are always fun and engaging. If you have a whiteboard app, you can have the students draw a picture or create a collage that represents the school year and their favorite memories. You can give your students gifts to say happy summer, which could include a summer bingo game, or some E-cards you can make and email to them. Another idea is to create a goodbye video message with some positive notes, some tips for the summer, and what they can do if they need support when school is out. If done in video format, students can replay it to listen to your kind words if they need some encouragement, or they can find information about how to get help if they need it during the summer.
Trauma in The Classroom
The one place that is always important to start with when having trauma sensitive classrooms, is with ourselves. With the teacher, with the counselor, with the person who is working with the students. Occasionally, we know who may have experienced trauma, but quite often, we just don't know. As goes for most humans, we just can't know all of the background, or the ends and outs of the trauma or the situations that they are currently dealing with or that they have dealt with in the past. This is where to start, with yourself and understanding your own trauma, your own triggers, and the things that could cause your interactions to create uncomfortable, or even harmful environments for students who have experienced trauma.
The ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) quiz is a tool to help understand the likelihood of someone having challenges in life, due to traumatic situations that they have experienced as children.
There are many places online to take the quiz and understand your own ACEs score. This is a really good way to reflect on the adverse childhood experiences that maybe you yourself had encountered.
What this reflection will do, is help you to have a better understanding of what you’ve gone through as a child, and it will help you to take a step back and think about what could be happening for your students.
Now, if you haven’t had any trauma or any adverse childhood experiences this does not mean that you can’t support students who have or who are dealing with trauma currently, it just may mean that you have to put on those empathy pants a little tighter.
Sometimes we get so focused in the day-to-day goals and tasks that we need to complete that we forget about the fact that our students are people. They have troubles and they have struggles and they’re not just little robots that take in our information compute it, remember it, and spit it back out. They have real lives, and real things going on in their lives, and we need to be able to recognize that and support them through it, while also teaching and trying to stay on top of tasks and trying to manage the rest of the room. No big right!? But here is the deal, once students know that you are safe, and that you are consistent, and that you actually care, the rest of the stuff, falls into place.
Setting Yourself up For Next Year
Oh yes, end of year fun! Students picking classes for next year, transcript audits, making sure that those who are supposed to graduate next year are good to go! When everything looks beautiful and done, then it’s summer and we have time to recoup, refocus, and sometimes, just sometimes, get some prep done for fall!
I know for me, every time I had summer break, I was very confused. What do I do? I know that some School Counselors work during the summer. But for those School Counselors who are off, as I was my first few years, I was determined to get everything prepped for the next year. 'I’m going to create my own lessons from day one until the last day of school.' 'I’m going to plan and set up groups and individual sessions.' 'I’m going to memorize student's names with their pictures and have flashcards.' I had all of these amazing grand ideas for how I will spend my summer, and usually did none of them.
Here’s my recommendation for counselors who are heading into summer and hoping to have some prep done. Take care of yourself. If this year taught us anything, it’s that we can’t be prepped for everything, so save yourself some heartache.
If you’re feeling a little frisky there are a couple of things that you can complete this summer that will help with the transition back to school as it really does seem that summer flies by.
Set up your Meet the Counselor Lesson. Whether you are doing this in person or online, create a PowerPoint, video, slideshow, whatever format you prefer, social media (check out the introduction reel on our instagram page @virtual_school_counseling for an example).
You have a chance to be creative now with your delivery, so introduce yourself while you’re on vacation this summer. Show yourself on a hike and say, 'Hey students, I am currently on a hike in such and such park and I’m so excited to meet you this year!' Whatever you want to do to make it fun and show your personality!
Don't worry about prepping lessons, and activities, members of VSC are covered for the entire school year! Just focus on yourself, your needs and recovering from not only an overly stressful school year, but also an overly stressful year in life in general!
Wow the 2020-2021 school year was a doozy! I truly feel for all School Counselors, teachers, students, parents, administrators, staff, everyone in a school family who had experienced the year that was this. I just wanted to leave this newsletter off by saying that the impact that you are making, the difference that you are making in a child’s life, in their family's lives, and in your coworkers lives, is truly remarkable! You may never know what you did. What words you said that clicked. What action you took that was seen, when you thought no one was watching. How you advocated and stood up for those who you support. You may never know how these things will show up for someone, but just know that they will! Sometimes you get thank you notes, or phone calls. Sometimes you will get people coming up to you and saying how they will never forget you. Saying that they didn't think that they could’ve made it through the school year without your help. There are lots, and a lot more than you even know, that won’t ever say it, but that felt it.
Your presence, your energy, your light, and your love are far reaching even to some of the darkest corners.
Download the PDF to read more from this VSC Newsletter!