Semester 2 is underway and story time is overdue.
The Tale of the Cat on a Head and a Ride with a Ladybug
After a whole semester together, the students in my program and I have developed a great rapport. So what better way to nurture that rapport than with Bitmoji representations of ourselves? Just check us out and all the team building stuff we’re up to. You know, hanging out with giant ladybugs and cats on our heads type of stuff.
Semester 2 has brought me classrooms with desks that are movable. Movable desks means I can create stations. My dean joined us during a morning of role-playing different navigation scenarios. She commented afterwards that she can tell the students are comfortable with role-plays because they didn’t flinch as she came close to them. It’s true. They have become quite familiar with my hovering.
For Concurrent Disorders and Mental Health, we formed a circle with our chairs to create a more vulnerable environment. The topic that day was stigma and I wanted to create a sense of discomfort to give a small glimpse into the discomfort of stigma. I built in activities from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, such as one where we each wore a label: schizophrenic, junkie, homeless, etc. One of my favourites is one where I (lightly) slammed the door to simulate how stigma is like having a door slammed on you.
For Bell Let’s Talk, I disclosed to my students that I have OCD. I believe in the power of awareness raising days because I have first-hand experience with the courage they can instill upon you. The following day, I received an unexpected email from a student:
“I just wanted to email you to tell you how much I enjoy your class. It has also helped me figure out that [her current program] isn’t what I want to do anymore and I would like to use my experiences with mental health issues and the stigma to change into social service worker. Your class is definitely helping me realize that I want to help be the change in young peoples lives and help others. You’re a great professor and I think you’re very brave for opening up about your struggle with your own mental illness”
Stomping out Stigma
Semester 2 has also kicked off a story time series. We had our first guest speaker with lived experience of psychosis. The speaker shared intimate details of her journey. I prepped the students beforehand with an activity to simulate the experience of hearing voices.
I’ve found that students are often hesitant to ask questions to speakers sharing such intimate details of their lives. Mentimeter provided a solution to this: throughout the presentation, students had access to a link to ask questions live. When asked verbally if there were any questions, the room was silent, yet the link had about 15 virtual questions in queue. And it was impactful:
“Thank you for arranging that talk. It certainly changed my perspective. “
“…thank you for inviting such a meaningful guest speaker to class today. I found [her] talk/story had a very big impact on my learning,”
Positive Psychology Round 5!
I’ve got another awesome group of students. Last week, I tried out one of the activities in the literature – an awe-walk. A student was designated as Captain Awe and took notes of the comments he heard as we made our way through the halls, experiencing everything with a sense of curiosity and wonder. A spill on the floor turned into a map of India.
And the lovely, Laura Killam, live tweeted during her recent visit:
…and this is just the beginning, of Semester 2.