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Back on the Donor’s Choose Train

We are knee deep in prepping for our Writing Standard of Learning, and I am seeing all kinds of crazy and creative ways that teachers are trying to make this material less tired. I started to realize that there are a lot of things I use with students, and keep in my office, that could easily be part of an English lesson. It makes complete sense too, after all, Guidance is about understanding, perspective, and communication. As I wished that I could share all of my office toys with the teachers, I realized that there might be a way to get some for everyone!

If you haven’t checked out Donor’s Choose yet, you totally should. It’s so easy to use because it’s a simple template. Then they are really helpful in making your project professional and marketable. Check out ours here and share if you’d like!

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Newbies

First of all, SimpleMind is amazing and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. If you are a visual understander, you have to check it out. My learning styles are mixed, but let me tell you, the way I understand things I know and organize my brain is definitely visual. This app is so easy to use and it is giving me all the life right now.

Second, I have an intern who is awesome and has gotten me thinking all about how I started things up and got going with my program. I feel like I’m at a great spot because I’ve found a comfortable rhythm, but it hasn’t been very long since I started. So when she asks me questions like, “how do you come to do all this??” I really had to take a pause a think about it.

Since starting as a counselor six years ago, I have been so lucky to be in a couple of schools and learn crazy tricks and see amazing things from so many teachers, counselors, administrators, kids, and parents. To compartmentalize all of it and break things back down to consecutive details has actually been kind of therapeutic. To start, my first thought was, “fake it ’til you make it!” and I proud of it (look, I’m a middle child, what can I say?)! A first day is a first day no matter what your experience is; to shower and show up is enough confidence building you need!

The rest gets a little more muddled. Where did I start? What did I need? Who did I ask? What was allowed? How did I know? I knew what was important to education, and my profession, and myself because of the thorough degree I obtained (I am lovingly reminded of this every month when I get the bill). But all of the academia in the world can’t completely prepare you for actually hopping (and later skipping) into the trenches. City to city, school to school, department to department…our job is transformed everywhere we go.

But there are a few goals and actions we are required to take…or really, figure it how to implement despite diverse school cultures. I’m trying to map out some of the things I experienced to better illustrate the beginnings, and decided to start with lessons. I think I will go into greater detail with some parts, and make a few more for a couple other crazy parts of our job. Let me know if I missed anything, would you?

We have PRIDE with PBIS

Everyone knows education is a real big fan of acronyms. I’ve definitely found one I like with PBIS. Side note: our high school students particularly like SOL (our standardized state tests) and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)…those clever little students like to quote them as something quite different than intended. Our school is piloting this new popular initiative and embracing (let’s be real, change is a struggle!) it’s techniques.

The rumor mill went around for a while that it meant no discipline, free reign, complete anarchy and chaos. But luckily our administration has been smart about how they roll it out and how they explain the different concepts. My favorite part about PBIS is that it truly models a mind frame and perspective shift from focusing on the negative to focusing on the possibility of fellowship and equitable productivity. It creates a much more harmonious atmosphere and encourages a stronger community. Especially in Middle School, when everyone wants to blend in and feeling safe from emotions and embarrassment is nearly impossible, it really makes a safe haven for students to exist and work in. Quite frankly, if I had my way, our whole American society would be on a PBIS track and learn to chill out a little (oy vey, social media).

I created a bulletin board to highlight one of our components, which recognizes students for every day opportunities they take to have a positive impact on their hallways. Student receive a PRIDE slip from their teacher when they exhibit one of our goal characteristics and bring it to their School Counselor. I’m then displaying them on the board, but I’m shooting for a visual of how our good deeds are not for the benefit of one, but rather that we make up a whole. And of course, I threw in some collegiate flair to keep our eye on the prize!

I know sometimes bulletin boards are a pain in the butt, especially when there are a million other things to do, but I think they can be really powerful. Middle School kids need visualization and engagement to catch their eye. It’s like a little subliminal every day when they pass by. They’re not the only clever ones around these parts, no sir.

Bossest Ever Crochet Hook

I am literally in love with this new (to me) hook. For real, we will have a Summer wedding with flowers and puppies. I was checking out some of the rubber-enforced hooks on Amazon and found the Addi Swing Hook by chance. My tension is usually pretty tight so I was intrigued by the shape and took a chance on a 1.5 for a summer bag I’m doing (it’s never too early to start prepping). It took a second for me to figure out, but I have gotten the hang of it! The only thing I miss about my tiny 1.5 is feeling like a giant while man-handling that little metal bar. But I do it miss the claw hands I had after using the standard, that’s for sure.

My inspiration comes from this lovely pin

Babies on Babies!

Since I have effectively gone to work for two and a half days out of the last three weeks due to wonder break and snow, I have been able to decompress with a ton of crocheting. Good thing too, because evidently there is something in the school system’s water- I have two babies at my school coming up, and one at a neighboring school!

Crochet has really be my go-to for gifts lately, especially since I started seeing so many crocheted item for $1,000,000,000 at Anthropologie (that’s my, “one day when I go state or federal or become a traveling consultant and can afford” store).

For baby #1 I chose to do a blanket with a few different stitches and some bows. She’s a 7th grade Math teacher who is endlessly energetic and wonderful, but doesn’t have a ton of family around so I figured every baby needs a little blanky-

The second baby is getting some little stuffed animals. The Math mom is very into her church, and I figured he/she’d already get a blanky since the only thing churches make more of than babies, is baby blankies. I found an adorable pattern on Etsy by Madelenon. Her patterns are easy to read and turn out well!

I am finishing up for the last baby (a fellow counselor in another school), but will post as soon as I do!

5x7x5

Buy these for your office! They are so fun and easy to use (once you look up the syllable configuration because it was only your favorite unit in MS because it was the easiest). I play with all different types of kids and they all get their artsy-mode on and love it!

Find them all over the interwebs or sometimes at Marshall’s!

Curiosity Does Not Kill the Career?

I attended a really great local literacy conference and was delighted to get to hear Harvey "Smokey" Daniels speak. He was a-ma-zing and super inspiring. I promptly bought his book, The Curious Classroom and can already recommend it. It's so good and so applicable to all kinds of subjects and grade levels.

And it really got me thinking about curiosity and signs of content engagement, that maybe go beyond just the student.

We all hear grumbles and gripes from even our favorite colleagues. As I thought about curiosity, and how to model curiosity for students, I started to realize that this is a quality that I've seen less and less of in my disenchanted peers. I'm wondering if this might be the key to helping our burnt-out brethren get back on the energy train.

My favorite and most loved teachers definitely still have that curious streak about them. They get excited about everything, they are constantly looking around and observing, they ask question after question and can't wait to figure things out. They are not only curious, they are active learners in their own lives. They are engaged in education and engaged with their students every day.

I'm throwing the idea around of doing some professional learning about this. How can we get those down-trodden educators to tap into their lost source of curiosity? How can we remind them how good it feels to be obsessed with something and not get enough of it? How can we re-engage them with the petri dishes that we show up to everyday to remember how fascinating human development and neural connections are?