Thursday, June 20, 2013

Double Take: What Are You Going to be Next Year?

You  probably remember that I asked my fifth grade students during their middle school transition lessons what they wanted to be next year. I think it's that time of year where I, and all educators, need to ask ourselves that same question. I went through a lot of changes this year starting in a new county and a new school.  I was hired seven days before school started so I didn't have the luxury of taking a lot of time to plan my counseling space or reflect on data that would help me shape my school counseling program.  This year will be different.  I know my co-workers.  I know my administration and the students.  I know the school culture and how I need to go about delivering my school counseling program.  So, I'm thinking, "What do I want to be next year?"

I have some data to help me answer this question so that I can focus on specific objectives Day One of next year. Some of my data came from an end of the year survey I gave to my colleagues the last week of school.  I used Google Docs and created a nine question form that covered individual counseling, small group counseling, classroom guidance, and some schoolwide programs (see below to get a sense of what I asked).  Then, I emailed it to the staff as a form so they didn't even have to click on any links or open other windows.  The results provided some really positive perception data, which I can format into charts and graphs and use for planning purposes, as well as share with my administration.

I also went through attendance data and behavior data that I had been gathering all year so I would have some concrete baseline data for interventions next year. 

Now, I love my summer so I won't be burning the midnight oil on school stuff all the time.  However, there are some fun things (and some more boring things) I can't wait to finally have time to piddle with.  It doesn't feel like work when I am on my porch with fun snacks, enjoying the weather, and can really think about some of the new ideas I want to try.  So, here is a list of what I'll be writing about this summer:

                              Top 5 List of Summer 2013

1.  Decorating my office....Yay!  I already have some fun inspiration from Pinterest of projects I want to make for my office, and I kind of started during a little during workdays. I want to hear your ideas, too!
2.  Working on grants-  I have been only mildly successful in earning grants for some of the projects I want to try at school. So, I am going to give it a shot over summer and step up my game!
3.  Researching books-  Student book clubs are a huge love of mine, and I have some reading to do to find new material  for next year.
4.  Guidance Essential Standards- I am going to work hard to organize the essential standards into a matrix that works for my classroom guidance schedule.  If you know of something like this that already exists, please share! I certainly don't need to re-invent the wheel.
5.  Business connections-  I want to establish some community partnerships in my NEW community now that I have gotten my bearings this year. I was able to have community support in so many of my interventions at my previous school, and it's time to get to work building new connections for character bag goodies, speakers, certificates, etc.

So, it looks like I will be busy but IN A GOOD WAY, AT MY OWN LEISURE, and that reminds me of this cute card. Love that website!   Happy Counseling  ~  Angela

Monday, June 3, 2013

What Are YOU going to be next year?

What Are YOU going to be next year?  That is the way I am starting my middle school transition lessons this week as I furiously try to see all of my fifth grade students before we end school on Friday.  I will admit, being in charge of testing this year has truly cut into the meaningful "transition to middle school" groups, lessons, and individual conferencing that I used to be able to do with my  fifth graders. However, that is my reality, and I am not going to let my fifth graders graduate without having some discussion about middle school next year.

I am going into each fifth grade classroom for an hour lesson this week.  When I ask them what they are going to be next year, there are lots of things I am referencing. For fun, we are going to match the different mascots to the feeder middle schools my students attend on a Smartboard lesson I have prepared.  Most of them are going to be RAMS next year, as they make their way to the middle school next door. Some will be Eagles or Mustangs.  However, I also want to focus on what they are going to be in terms of their reputations and the types of students and friends they want to be in middle school.   I also want to impart some practical information like how to open combination locks and how they can make sure they get to class on time so they will be prepared.

I plan on showing the following YouTube video "How to Open A Combination Lock" to the whole class.  It is a short visual that will help all the students before we practice locks later in the lesson.
Next, students will divide up among three different Middle School Stations, spending 10-15 minutes at each one as we rotate through all the stations.

Station #1

Combination  Locks:  Students will have a chance to practice opening combination locks with adult assistance (ME!) in a small group.  I bought 9 of these basic combination locks from Walmart that were sold in packs of three.

Station #2

School Map/Survey:  I am doing a couple activities at this center because I need to use computers and there are not 9 computers in my fifth grade classrooms.  Students will alternate between going to a computer and answering survey questions on a Google Form that I made and doing a school map activity.  The Google Form is pretty straightforward (see the live form to the right).  My purpose is to get them thinking about some of their feelings about middle school so we can have discussion about steps they can take over summer to minimize nervous feelings and maximize excitement.  As students complete their surveys, they will return to the station and complete a school map activity with my co-counselor.

One of my lovely feeder middle schools gave me an electronic copy of their school map, as well as all the schedule information I would need to take my fifth graders through a typical day in sixth grade.  Each of my fifth graders will get a paper copy of the school map, and we will let them draw their route through the school as they change classes, go to lunch, attend specials, and dismiss.  Experience has taught me that two of the top fears fifth graders have are getting lost in school or being late when they switch classes. It seems to really help them relax when they see that three minutes really is enough time to go to the classroom next door when they have to move to second period. 

Station #3

My final station focuses on what students want to be in terms of their reputation and friendships.  I modified a Friendship Rating Scale that comes from the book Salvaging Sistehood, a wonderful resource I have used for years written by a fantastic Wake County counselor, Julia V. Taylor. The students rank the traits #1 to #15 that are most and least important to them in choosing friends.  Then, they reflect on if they want to change anything about the way they choose friends in middle school.  It is a great conversation starter in terms of what is really important in a friend and the material things that don't matter.

After all three of my rotations are complete, we will come back together as a whole class and give the highlights of each station.  I plan to show the electronic copy of the school map on the Smartboard to discuss any difficulties or suggestions students have for getting around.  We will also look at the Google survey results to see what students are most excited about and nervous about for next year, as well as the top traits students want in their friends. 

I can't wait to see how the kids like the lessons and am excited to try my kiddos these last few days.  Happy Counseling!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...