Summerside guidance counselor takes dedication to the job to a whole new level when it comes to ensuring that her students feel satisfied.
Jo Cullen, of Athena Consolidated, started creating videos about positive self-talk, mindfulness, and flexible thinking during the first COVID-19 pandemic shutdown in 2020.
“We didn’t have a lot of protocol at that point to communicate with students and how we could communicate with families,” Colin said.
“So I came up with the idea that I would just make a daily video and post it on our school Facebook page, our school website, and on YouTube, and the kids would have access to some social and emotional learning materials.”
Recently, Coleen has been posting videos on her YouTube profile.
She said her videos have reached beyond the borders of Prince Edward Island and have helped more than school children.
“During the previous lockdown I had people in Alberta who were using them in group homes,” Colin said. “I’ve been getting emails saying they find them very helpful there.”
“It’s good to know that what you do makes a difference, and that you can help people feel some sense of strength when we’re at a highly unpredictable time.”
Cullen said children have more anxiety now than they did at the start of the pandemic, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the county.
“I think there’s more anxiety this time around because PEI is seeing a rise in cases that we haven’t seen in the past. We’ve been kind of preparing all this time but not seeing all the actual things that kids were afraid of.”
Most also suffer from epidemiological fatigue, and fatigue from epidemiological limitations – although Colin said much of this comes from watching frustrated parents.
“[Kids] Taking their cues from adults verbally and nonverbally, they pick up on our cues.”
Focus on what we control
Her advice for overcoming the pandemic and its limitations is to focus on what we can control.
“For example, we don’t have control over the numbers Dr. Morrison will release every day, but the things we do control are whether we wear our masks, wash our hands, and get vaccinated,” Colin said.
Stressing over things we can’t control, she said, “causes more anxiety.”
Here are tips from some of Colleen’s videos for kids from kindergarten to eighth grade:
- Take breaks.
- Playing sports.
- go out.
- Get rid of negative self-talk.
- Practice vigilance.
- Do a daily self-examination.
Colin said it’s important for kids to get outside and play while they’re learning online.
“Children learn best through play, this is their time, and nature definitely resets us and helps us tune in to our nervous system. This helps us feel safe and calm.”
In general, she said, taking a break is the most important.
“The best advice I can give is to give yourself a break, and focus on what you can do, not what you cannot do,” Colin said.
“And then the better chances we’ll have to really thrive than just survive, by closing the school.”