My 2016 ASCA Conference Experience

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I just attended {and presented at} my first ASCA National Conference, and it was AMAZING! Here is a recap of my first ASCA Conference experience.

 

 What’s in My Bag?

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Before we really get into the conference, I’m going to tell you what I brought with me {because there have been so many times I’ve had the thought, ‘I wish I had brought ______!’} I’m sharing my checklist in hopes it will help you all to also not forget things when attending a conference:

___ Sweater {Because it’s ALWAYS freezing. Am I right, or am I right?}

___ Refillable water bottle {my new obsession is my Swell bottle. It keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours. The nice thing is that it actually works that well!}

___ Notebook and pen

___ Business/Networking Cards

___ Healthy snacks

___ Tissue

 

My Favorite Breakout Sessions

I saw some pretty fantastic presentations at the conference. Here are my top 3:

  1. Build Empathy and Combat Relational Aggression in Middle School Girls

Karin Kasdin is an extremely engaging, dynamic presenter. It’s no wonder her programs for Middle School girls are so highly successful. In fact, I liked her presentation so much that I bought her book immediately after. Girls Unlimited outlines her small group curriculum to build empathy and squash relational aggression, so if you missed her presentation, you can get the book and implement her ideas!

  1. Motivational Interviewing for Secondary School Counselors

I almost didn’t go to this presentation because it was advertised for high school counselors, so I’m incredibly grateful to my friend who encouraged me to attend. Typically, when we hear of Motivational Interviewing, it’s related to addressing substance abuse issues, but Reagan North presented the techniques in a way that could easily be used with school-aged children. If you have the Motivational Interviewing book from grad school, you might want to re-read it with your students in mind.

  1. Perfectionism: What’s It Costing Our Kids?

It was really hard to narrow the sessions I loved down to my top 3, but there is no way I would leave this one off of the list. Jane Bluestein {who has also written a TON of books that I can’t wait to delve into} talked about the differences between “Pathological Perfectionism” and a “Healthy Striving for Excellence.” I’m already planning on adapting her session for a parent presentation at my school this year. Like I said, she also has books, so if you missed out, head to your local library or to Amazon 🙂

 

Presenting at ASCA

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The ultimate highlight for me this weekend was being a presenter at the conference. This was my first time speaking at a National Conference, and, as you can tell by my breakout session descriptions above, I was in great company. {I also may or may not have had a slight freak out moment after attending some of the more impressive sessions. Luckily, Aveda was in the exhibit hall giving free neck massages, so I used some good old self-care to bring those stress levels down}.

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My presentation was titled Suicide Prevention and Intervention in Middle Schools, which is a topic near and dear to my heart. I was honored to have so many of my colleagues attend my session and to see almost 100 school counselors from across the nation share in the passion I have to prevent youth suicide.

 

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If you’re interested in receiving my slides, e-mail theschoolcounselorlife@gmail.com, and I will be happy to send them your way.

 

Reflection

This is where I’m going to get a little serious, y’all. The 2016 ASCA conference not only gave me new ideas and contacts, it gave me a renewed desire to be the absolute best school counselor I can possibly be. There is something truly special about sharing knowledge with thousands of people who also share your profession, so thank you to everyone to impacted me over the course of the conference. If we are to continue growing as counselors, we need to keep learning, consulting, and collaborating, and I’m exceedingly thankful for these opportunities to do just that.


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