Friday, October 25, 2013

Positive Thinking Bulletin Board

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a Perseverance lesson I presented to my fifth graders.  We worked on using positive thoughts or "Recycled Thoughts" as we call them in order to overcome obstacles that may come up during the school year:  difficult tests, new objectives, friendship situations, changing classes, etc.

My students brainstormed creative head images to show what they would be thinking this year to reach their goals. I wanted to share them with the student body so I created a bulletin board for all to enjoy.  I continued the bobblehead theme that my co-counselor and I started at the beginning of the year; the students are really getting a kick out of it! You'll also notice that I included some of the objectives that were covered in this particular lesson. I'm making a concerted effort to post my objectives more often so students, staff, and families can connect my lessons to the Guidance Essential Standards and ASCA National Model objectives. This lesson included more of the ASCA objectives, but I usually list a combination of the two.

Happy Counseling!  ~Angela

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Visibility: Part II

Do your staff members know what you do at school? Are they aware of the value you bring to students, parents, other staff members, administration, and the community as a whole?  Advocacy is an important word that school counselors use when we are talking about students.  We want to advocate for students who may not be having their voices heard so they can be successful at school.  However, we also need to advocate for ourselves as professional school counselors. 

Our job is often measured in changes that may go unnoticed by others during the fast-paced, high stress weeks of school (surely that's not just my school ;o)  ); the child who can finally walk down the hallway to class instead of crying and fighting to stay in the car every morning because they know you will be there to help them, the student who doesn't mind taking Accelerated Math tests anymore because you worked with her on positive thoughts and anxiety, and the student who went from four negative reports home a week to zero because you worked on and kept practicing specific behaviors for the classroom.  These are all great improvements, but we have to do more.  Here are some examples:

1.  Morning Show/Newsletter/Website/Parent Letters: I am certain that most  school counselors have websites and may send home updates about what they are doing at school.  If not, it is a great way to inform parents of the lessons, programs, groups, etc. that you are offering at school. I used to have a Weebly website, which I loved, until I moved to a new county that didn't allow it. Now, I just use the template that is required and don't get to have as many of the bells and whistles on my site. However, I am lucky to be included in the "Specialist" (music, PE, art,  etc.) quarterly newsletter that is sent home to all students. I write up my articles about what I am doing and make sure to include my website link so parents can access additional information.

 Also, I LOVE going on the Morning Show at our school to talk about events that are going on.  My media specialist is great about fitting me in whenever I want.  I even made this GoAnimate cartoon to share during the Morning  Show at the beginning of the year, although I am still waiting for the correct cord to make it technically possible to show it to ALL students (some have seen it in groups with me).   Check it out:
School Counselor Intro by apoovey on GoAnimate

2. Staff Meetings:  Each year I request to be put on the agenda at an opening staff meeting so I can share my plans for the year.  I include any new information that has been passed down from the county  level, an overview of my annual plan for the year, and my specific action plans based on data.  I use PREZI because it is perfect for my goal of just focusing on the "big picture" information while I verbally share the details, and it is much more engaging to watch.  Here are some examples of information I include.

I love the ASCA National Model so I want my staff to have at least heard of this framework. I also reintroduced the Guidance Essential Standards to them this year after mentioning it at another staff meeting last year.

Here are my action plans for the year written in a very general way.  I focus on one specific plan for each of the ASCA domains (academic, personal/social, and career), and then I always include a plan addressing attendance. If kids aren't at school, how can they be successful?!

The annual plan information gives an overview of how I will be interacting with them during the year:  classroom guidance, small groups, schoolwide programs, and monthly activities that will involve them.

3.  School Advisory Council:  I haven't always had a school advisory council, but I think it is a good way to get feedback and publicize your program. The people included are my fantastic co-counselor,  a 3-5 teacher who is also a parent, an administrator who is also a parent, a specialist, and a K-2 teacher. I am also on the School Improvement Team, which allows me to share a lot of information about what I am doing, but I like that the advisory council's sole focus is the school counseling program.

Whatever strategies you use, make sure to let people know that your job as a school counselor is essential to the students, staff, and families you work with each day.   Happy Counseling!  ~Angela

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Body Basics: Setting the Tone

I love seeing how educators start their lessons.  Each school counselor, teacher, specialist, etc. has his or her own unique way of setting the tone for a lesson and getting kids hooked right from the start.  I wanted to share the way that I have started my lessons for the past nine years. My students all know Mrs. Groovy Poovey's "Body Basics" and it sure helps with classroom management when students K-5 consistently know my expectations during each lesson.  My son helped me act it out, and he knows it well since he is also a student at my school.

What I didn't show is that I will say "Body Basics" during a lesson if students get wiggly or too loud and need to be reminded of how they should be listening and working. If students do a GREAT job, and I don't have to say "Body Basics" during the lesson, we do a "Silent Cheer" at the end to celebrate. It is really silly, but my K-2 students love it. My third and fourth graders do a "Silent Raise the Roof".  I typically don't use it with fifth graders unless I am just giving them a general reminder to remember body basics. So, there you have it!  Happy Counseling!  Angela

Monday, October 7, 2013

Candy: Works Every Time!

Here is a summary of the Perseverance I presented to my older kiddos!

Fourth and Fifth Grades

We started with the same pre-test survey in fourth and fifth grades that I had used in the lower grades, although we added another answer choice to match the older students' higher developmental level.  Then, the fun began!  I chose four students to sample Warheads in front of the class.  They all tasted them at the same time, and I immediately  got one word from each student that described how it tasted.  It was pretty entertaining to see the looks of disgust on their faces and hear "terrible", "sour", "awful" as their adjectives.  Then, I asked them for another word after approximately two minutes.  They shared words like "delicious", "scrumptious", and "good".  We brought this icebreaker back to Perseverance and continuing to try even if something is "terrible" initially.

Then, I introduced the choices we can make with our thoughts when faced with a difficult situation.  I acted out a "trashy" thought and a "recycled thought" (my version of positive thoughts).  The students got a chance to check their understanding of these thoughts with the Kooshball game on our Smartboard (on TPT here).  This game always brings out a lot of student volunteers!  Each time they threw the kooshball (softly) at the Smartboard, a new thought would pop up and the students would decide if it was "trashy" or "recycled". Our final work product to encourage application of their learning was a "What's in Your Head?" sheet that I adapted from Pinterest.  Students drew images of their Smart Goals for the year (see post here) and then surrounded them with recycled thoughts they would use to encourage Perseverance.  They did a really great job, and I am going to use them on a bulletin board, which I will share with you in the next couple of weeks.   
Happy Counseling! Angela

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