Sunday, July 9, 2017

ASCA 2017: DAY 1!

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) holds their annual conference each summer.  I have the privilege of attending the conference this summer as part of my duties as the ISCA (Iowa School Counselor Association) Immediate Past President.  I want to share what has been going on since I have arrived.
July 6-7 was LDI (Leadership Development Institute) which is for the state association leaders.  This is a time for learning how we can best lead our states' association.  We also get to help set policy for ASCA which is really exciting to be a part of.  The part I love the most is networking with counselors from other parts of our country.  It is interesting to find out what issues and challenges they are experiencing.  It also gives our own Iowa leaders time to collaborate on what we need to bring back for our ISCA board and members.  This was my final year for LDI as I roll into the past president position and I have to say I have learned A LOT!!!!

Now....on to conference!
Day 1:
It was announced at our opening session that this is the largest conference ever with over 3200 counselors representing all 50 states, DC and about 20 different countries!
Here I am getting Capt. Kelly's autograph in the books I purchased.
Our keynote speaker on our first day was Capt. Mark Kelly who has completed 4 missions as a NASA astronaut to the space station.  He shared an incredible story about his life and how he pursued his career in space exploration.  He also shared the story of his wife, Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, being a victim of a shooting which changed her life and how not giving up and being committed to work hard has been a life changer for them.  Incredible story to hear!  I purchased both of their books---have read Capt. Kelly's which is a childrens book and can't wait to read Gabby Giffords.  (Stay tuned for book reviews on both of these!)

The first session I attended was called "Me, My Selfie and I".  If you aren't sure what a selfie is, then you have either been living under a rock or haven't been reading the new entries in the dictionary the last few years!  Amanda Winburn and Amy King both of the University of Mississippi, discussed various aspects of selfies.  I'm sure I have questioned why people take so many selfies many times.  AND, yes, I have taken a few of my own.  They explained how using selfies with students can serve as a tool to help increase facial emotion recognition.  Very important skill for our kiddos to learn as they relate to others.  I talk about this to kids in school when they tell me about situations of misunderstandings with another student.  Selfies could also use a selfie to identify how they express emotion with their facial expressions.  What kinds of messages do we send to others with our faces? 
They also pointed out potential  benefits of using selfies:
1) Increase self-awareness
2) Increase in recognizing emotions
3) Help students portray a version of themselves
4) Can help a student better understand they are part of something when done in a group activity
5) Better understand motivations behind images
6) Boost self-esteem
 Great session and can't wait to use some of the techniques presented!

The next session I went to was "School Counseling Group Interventions for Students with Anxiety and/or Depression", presented by Carey Dimmitt from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
One of the interventions included using a resource called "Coping Cat".  I was especially interested in part of this resource which identified an acronym FEAR
Feeling frightened---recognizing physiological signs of anxiety
Expecting bad things to happen--identifying anxious thoughts or cognitions
Attitudes and Actions that can help--coping strategies
Results and Rewards--contingency management
Also used was homework which includes STIC (Show That I Can) tasks.
This method showed results of a decrease in anxiety symptoms for up to 7 years in a significant number of the subjects who took part in the research.  I'm looking forward to checking out this resource.  I really found this session helpful because I am seeing a rise in the number of students we see with anxiety issues.  No wonder this session was filled and had standing room only when we got started!

The only thing left for this day was a dropping my entry in for the rebuilt car that Wyotech is GIVING AWAY this year to one lucky counselor!  Okay, so last year I decided to play a trick on some of my Iowa colleagues and told them I had won the car!  The Wyotech guys at their booth went right along with my little prank and a bunch of my friends fell for it!  Loved it!!!   The funny thing is the group running the Wyotech booth this year remembered me!  They do agree that if (I mean, when) I win the car this year, that it will make a great story for ASCA.  Below you will see me with the Wyotech car!  (Which I hope will be in my name on the last day of the conference!)
Here I am getting a feel for the Mazda!