Monday, December 28, 2015

Are you RECHARGING??!!

AAHHHH.....winter break! In my case it is Christmas break, but no matter what holiday, if any, you celebrate, I think we can safely say it is truly "the most wonderful time of the year." I took this silly pic below and posted it to Facebook the last day of school (tongue in cheek), but it pretty much captures the excitement I felt at having 16 days off of school.  

I haven't even thought about school the last 7 days, which has been wonderfully refreshing, and I hope you have also had time to recharge, relax, enjoy the ones you love, and put a little sparkle back in your step during this vacation.  Last year, I closed out 2014 with this post, a look back at my top accomplishments and moments of 2014.  I loved reminding myself of the good I had done for myself, my school and students throughout the year. I could do the same this year:  achieving RAMP designation, giving my second ASCA presentation in Phoenix, surviving a huge move to a new home, school system, and way of life; however, I'm more interested in looking forward this year.

                                          Quote from Oprah Winfrey, Image found at

I recently read this blog post at The Sunday Chapter, and it really resonated with me.  We talk to our students all the time about ways they can change their thoughts or change their feelings when faced with challenges.  I have my groups role-play calm-down strategies and positive self talk all the time, but do we have our list ready when things are starting to go downhill for us? We may not need 25.  In fact, I think my "go to" 10 below are plenty to get me back on track. No matter how many you have, the important fact is that you have them written down, tucked in your mirror or wallet, taped to your computer screen, or whatever visual reminder you need to actually use them.  

Burnout is one of the top concerns for the school counseling profession. Those of us in our first, second, and third decades of the profession know this is a legitimate concern, and my goal for 2016 is to take more moments to pause (and use the bathroom..ha!), cut myself some slack, and enjoy each day.  Life is short. So, here are my TOP 10 instant mood lifters.....what are yours?!  ***Be sure to include at least a few activities you can do at work.

1.  Spend time with family
2.  Run (Still not sure about this one, read this post)
3.  Arts and crafts. Usually I do these with my daughter but have you noticed the adult coloring craze?! I love this book.
4.  Curl up with a book (or even club + wine = magic)
*5.  Pray or meditate...whatever your perogative. I do both.
6.  Call a friend or family member.  Don't text. Don't Snapchat. Physically pick up the phone and connect with a loved one for at least 20 minutes.
7.  Plan something fun on your calendar.  There is nothing like having something fun to look forward to that instantly brightens your mood. It can be planning to try a new restaurant, go to a movie, get away for the weekend....anything!
8.  Snuggle with one of my kiddos (a partner, dog, or other animal would work too!)
*9.  Listen to a TED talk.  There is nothing like perspective to make you feel better, and these are so short you can listen to them while getting ready in the morning, driving to work, or eating lunch.
*10. Breathe. It is simple but true. Taking deep breaths relaxes my body and helps clear my head. I have learned all too often that a stressed brain cannot make good choices, and I try to practice this one often.  

So, school counselor friends, may 2016 be your best year yet.  Enjoy each day and Happy Counseling!
~ Angela

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Career & College Wrap Up!

My final weeks of December are winding down and Career & College months will be coming to a close.  It won't be the end of career and college talk, though; Career Cafes with my fifth graders will be in full force through April. In the meantime, I wanted to round out my career posts with an updated version of one of my favorite lessons that connects what students are learning at school each day to future careers.  I have written about the lesson before here, but I now have a pulled together resource, "Career Connections: School Subjects to Careers", for my readers. Check it out at my TPT Life on the Fly Store! The best part is that it is only $1 through Friday evening as part of my DOLLAR DAYS December promotion!

For this lesson, third grade students worked together in teams with Chromebooks to research jobs matching their assigned subjects on this awesome KIDS SEARCH portion of the VA Career View website.  Each student was instructed to choose the job they liked best within the subject category, research the job, write the name of the job on their subject sheet, and draw a picture clue so others could get an idea of what the job does. Examples of the student work product are below....

The pre-selected jobs and kid friendly research describing the job makes this activity entirely possible in a 45-minute time block, unlike a lot of other research projects.  It is a great activity for third, fourth, and fifth grade students.Check out this bulletin board I made highlighting student work from this career lesson and others.

I  also wanted to brag on the staff at my school who did an excellent job in our first ever college door decorating contest.  All of the doors were fantastic and a few examples are shown below (the NC State one was our first place winner!). Creative and college focused....#priceless!

Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks & Giving

                                                        *Image from

Just a quick post to give Thanks and celebrate some giving.  As I think about the things I am thankful for, my family, their good health, and my job quickly spring to mind.  This year has been a year of change, but I am learning and growing, and my family has never been happier. #worthit

Now, for the giving.  I was fortunate to be a delegate for my school counseling region at the NC School Counselor's Conference a couple of weeks ago. Remember my post?! It was a great opportunity to connect with other school counselors and school counselor educators across the state. 
I am especially grateful to Dr. Meghan Walter, UNC Chapel Hill school counselor educator, for sharing this awesome PowToon video that her graduate students made about the role of the school counselor.  Thanks to Breanna Herring, Briana Woody, Ashley Bennetone, Michaela Avila, Judith Smith, and Simone Diggs for creating this great resource.  My co-counselor and I used it last week at a brown bag lunch for parents at my school.  It was perfect! If you are looking for a resource to share with administrators, parents, or other school counselors, check it out!  

Enjoy another Dollar Days at Life on the Fly School Counselor TPT store through Friday items are just $1. Also, stay tuned for a TPT sale on November 30th and December 1st. TPT will be bringing smiles to lots of educators! #TpTCyberSmile

Happy Counseling & Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Angela

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DOLLAR DAYS: College & Career

It is Throwback Thursday (and my first TPT DOLLAR DAYS so read all the way to the bottom!) you remember this picture from last year?!  I celebrated Career Dress Up Day as a NASCAR racer and greeted students during arrival with my "Welcome Race Fans" banner.  For those who have followed my blog for awhile, you know that I LOVE the career domain and always promote college & careers schoolwide with morning show announcements, classroom lessons, bulletin boards, and spirit days.  This year, my co-counselor and I are actually extending Career & College month with events in November AND December.  I recently made a flyer for the staff to give an overview of our career and college events and started publicizing colleges and careers on bulletin boards around the school (the college pennant bulletin board below is my MOST popular pin on Pinterest EVERY WEEK!).  

I am asking staff and students to bring in college pennants or other swag for schools they want me to highlight on the morning show. I am also including a "College of the Week" (or every other week) on my bulletin board (see below). 

I love involving staff in the college and career fun! Each Thursday in November and December staff members are invited to wear college spirit wear to school.  Many staff members have also completed career trivia forms (see example below) for the career trivia bulletin board. It is more of a makeshift bulletin board because I wanted to place it in a high visibility area outside of the cafeteria where there is no actual board, but it meets the need! I plan to start asking trivia questions on the morning show next week and continue until winter break.  I think students will love hearing about what their teachers wanted to be when they were in elementary school and what their favorite subjects were as kids. It helps humanize them (we don't sleep at school!). I did put pictures in the corner to highlight their answers so younger students can scan for clues rather than having to read everything. 

Finally, I am ultra excited about the college door decorating contest and can't wait to see what my new colleagues create for the judging on Friday.  It's neat to see which students get involved, who has a lot of school spirit for their alma mater, and what type of facts they include about their school. I am learning a lot!  Pictures to come of their super creative designs.....

If you want to get started with some school-wide college and career fun, check out my new TPT resource with a few things to get you started! Staff career trivia sheets, door decorating contest resources, and bulletin board signs will give you the motivation you need to make DECEMBER or JANUARY your College & Career Month!
Each Thursday in November and December I will be celebrating DOLLAR DAYS in my TPT store as part of my throwback to cheaper times. This resource, along with others, will be reduced to $1 for 24 hours so get them while you can!  By Friday afternoon, we will be back to 2015 prices! :)

Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NCSCA: It's Kick-off Time!

It is NCSCA favorite time of the year!   A chance to recharge, reconnect with former colleagues, and refocus on what I love about being a school counselor.  Today I was privileged to represent my Southwest Region as a delegate for the NCSCA delegate assembly.  I met some amazing school counselors in neighborhood counties (shout out to Ashley, Rachel, Renva, and Tim).

We focused on major issues facing school counselors,  ways we can advance our profession, and learned more about  how we can be integrated into the state organization...hello NCSCA speed dating (our way to learn about state committees)!
All in all, the experience solidified my belief that North Carolina has THE best professional school counseling organization in the country with vision, enthusiasm, and dedication to spare. Tomorrow the real conference kicks off, and I couldn't be prouder to be a #GAMECHANGER  presenting on one of my passions, student book clubs.  To celebrate, I am posting  a NEW boys' leadership book club activity pack that I have just started with two fifth grade groups. 
 I am using the book Middle School Rules by Brian Urlacher, former Chicago Bears' lineman, MVP, and pro-bowl player to help facilitate the topics of leadership, character, and good behavior choices with my students.  I am so excited to be incorporating football analogies into our conversations like a calm down scoreboard,  touchdown goal tracker, fumble cards, and touchdown vs. turnover thoughts.

If you are at NCSCA and want to learn more about book clubs, come by and see me tomorrow at the 10:50 session.  There will be giveaways and lots of information to share.  To my readers in other places, you can access my handout here and email me at if you have any questions.  It is sure to be a lot of fun.....let's get this game started!
Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Thursday, November 5, 2015

October Wrap Up!

Here's a follow up to my bullying prevention post.  I was asked about the bullying card scavenger hunt and wanted to share a few pics of what that looked like. It rained A LOT the week I planned to hide the cards for the students so we could only do it a couple of days. However, I laminated blue "NO Bullying" cards and taped them around the three playgrounds at our school.  Students were able to turn them in to the media center after they were found, and I gave "No Bullying"  bracelets or "Bucket Filler" spirit sticks as a prize.


I was also pleased with the response of poems, songs, cartoons, and pictures I got from students for original "No Bullying" works. My bulletin board went from this:
 TO THIS (and I still have more to hang)!!!

The Leadership  Club at my school even created these fantastic anti-bullying posters and posted them in our main hallway. I LOVE them!

Now, we can just follow the yellow brick road to November with College & Career Month and fun lessons like Rockin' in my Career Shoes, A Hat for Ivan, Life on a Budget, and many more! Enjoy some pics of "Book Character Day" Wizard of Oz style at my school with my awesome Harry Potter and admin staff.  What a fun day!!!

Happy Counseling! ~ Angela AKA "Glinda"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

No Bullies Allowed!

It is October and time for bullying prevention awareness activities in schools everywhere! Should October be the only time we talk about bullying prevention?! NO! But, is it a great time to teach students how to handle bullying and prepare them for the potential threat of bullying?! Of course!  At our school, my co-counselor and I created a schedule of events for the month.  We sent out a memo to parents and staff at the end of September so they could gear up for the  upcoming bullying prevention activities.

We chose to wear blue and STOMP out bullying on October 5th as part of the national recognition day. Then, we held our spirit week October 12th-16th.  Check out our daily themes above and how students participated below!

Those were fun days especially crazy sock day with my Wonder Woman cape socks (yes, you need some!), but the bulk of my emphasis has been on weekly guidance lessons in first, third, and fifth grade classrooms.

I showed my all-time favorite RESPECT RAP on the morning show to students and was able to use it as a jumping off point when I made FRIENDSHIP PIZZAS with my first graders. I have written about this lesson before here and finally put my lesson plan and SMART board notebook file on TPT. Download it NOW because the lesson plan is FREE for the next 48 hours!!! 

In third and fifth grades I used the Steps to Respect Curriculum from the Committee for Children (makers of Second Step). I still haven't found anything I like better!  I created my own Smartboard lessons teaching the 3 Rs, Recognize, Refuse, and Report. I love incorporating movie clips when we are learning how to RECOGNIZE the  bullying definition.  This year I used two video clips --the Sneetches and A Christmas Story-- to process the three essential bullying definition questions:
1)  Is it one-sided?
2)  Does it keep happening?
3)  Is it hurting, frightening, threatening, or leaving someone out on purpose?

The Sneetches clip was a new addition, and it worked out  really well. I even added the cartoon figures to my bullying prevention bulletin board so students would have a visual reminder of the 3 Rs and the refusing words.

I intentionally left a lot of clear space on this board because 3-5 students have been challenged to integrate what they have learned in the Steps to Respect lessons into original work products like posters, cartoons, poems, songs, raps, or any other creative work.  I will post any entries I get and PTO donated "bucket filler"  spirit sticks that I can give for participation prizes. Do you know about spirit sticks?! They are ultra popular at my school this year!

I brought back my Friendship Pizza bulletin board, too, with a few changes like teacher pics....the kids always get a kick out of them!

Our final week in October will include sharing bullying statistics on the morning show and a scavenger hunt on the playground for "NO BULLYING" cards just to keep bullying prevention on students' minds.  What have you been doing this month?! I would love to hear!
Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Saturday, October 3, 2015


I hope John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, will forgive me for hijacking his quote and changing it to convey the emphasis I place on the school counselor's role in a school,but it's important to reflect, how are you affecting your school's climate as a school counselor? Are you being a motivator, welcomer, change agent, and lifeline for the students in your schools? 

This year the theme of the NC School Counselor's Conference is "Game Changers" (awesome theme, Christy Welch!), which is a perfect way to depict what school counselors can represent to the students they work with each day. So, how have you been changing the game the first six weeks of school? Are you the quarterback leading the charge to try new plays, pull out the Puntrooskie (FSU fans will know what I mean. Can't believe I got to use that in a blog post), and score the extra point? Or, are you waiting around for the fourth quarter?  Part of being an effective school counselor is preparing your students for the game before they have to do the two minute drill.  

Glimpses from the Field.....
As I work to proactively prepare students for the new school year, I have been working on many different school success habits.

Goal setting:  Several weeks ago, I got this great tweet.  I was just about to start my annual goal setting lessons, and it reminded me how much fun it is to do this goal setting icebreaker, especially when students can go outside and have some fun tossing around beanbags. Although I usually save this activity for small groups, I have awesome fifth grade teachers and students this year who could totally handle a fun "hook" before we got into the nitty gritty of our SMART GOALS lesson. In discussing "just right" goals we simulated goals that were too easy (basket right beside the student), goals that were too hard (basket 30 feet away), undefined goals and action plans (eyes closed to throw the beanbag in the basket), a "just right" goal (6 foot toss in the basket), and goals with support (adult holding the basket as the student shot).

I also changed my fifth-grade goal setting sheet (coming soon to TPT) into a 3-column tracking sheet so that I can have better follow through during the year to help students monitor their goals. How often have I had students set goals and then not facilitated going back to them to see if their action plans are successful? On my new sheet, students defined the SMART acronym so they don't forget it and then wrote their goal and action steps in column 1. Columns 2 and 3 will be used for "minute-meeting" check-ins in Nov/Dec and March/April to make sure students are still on the right track. As the year passes, new goals will be written or current goals will be modified. I have a copy of every students' sheet and so does the student.  At the end of the lesson we brainstormed the best places to keep the sheet so students will be reminded of their goal on a daily/weekly basis.

For third-grade students, I incorporated a new goal game into my Perseverance/goal setting lessons to provide better modeling of all the different types of goals students can and will have throughout their lives.  I introduced the categories of personal/hobby, career/college, and academic goals and also distinguished between true specific goals and a wish (winning the lottery).  It was a concrete, fun way to check for students' understanding after introducing the idea of goal-setting.  We still used lemons to represent obstacles and ended the lesson with lemonade as we brainstormed strategies that would help students reach their goals and never give up. 

Attendance Awareness: Good attendance is a true game changer for kids with unnecessary, chronic absences. I always implement attendance interventions as a school counselor, but this year was the first year I participated in "Attendance Awareness" month. My county recommended the website for some great resources. Each week I shared attendance statistics on the morning show and gave "shout outs" to classes with no absences or those who only had one student absence. The first week we only had 1 class with perfect attendance (blue letters on the bulletin board) so the class got an extra special recess with ME! By the end of the month we had the most class "shout outs" with 13 classes the final week, almost 1/3 of our total classrooms. Classes also received badges on their door to recognize their accomplishment each week. One lucky class made it on the board EVERY WEEK in September and will be spending a fun recess with me to celebrate.

As the weeks progress and absences increase, I will also be starting an Attendance Club to see if daily monitoring, lunch groups, attendance goal setting, and organizational strategies can positively impact attendance data.  

New Students: How are you supporting the new kids on the team?  It is amazing how new student lunch bunches or any lunch bunches quickly help you develop relationships and figure out what is happening in classrooms. I often get referrals for individual counseling from conversations that occur during these lunch groups. This year, I met with all of the new students in my upper grade levels (3rd/5th) after presenting my Introduction to the School Counselor lessons. We did an icebreaker, played new student bingo, discussed the transition with a few small group question rounds, and ended by having students add their names to this bulletin board welcoming them.  I found some great white and metallic chalk markers so names would "pop" out from the black bulletin board paper (in the space to the right of the map).  They also added a sticker on the state/city they had moved from on the map as our administration and school counselor bobble heads cheered them on!

I love football and have enjoyed this analogy to help me stress the importance of a school counselor's role in making each day a great one for students. You may be the one coach that can get through to your players so I hope you will "lace up" and get in the game as the school season continues. #notimefortimeouts #gamechangers

Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

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