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The Moment

Quick share today just for the sake of inspiration.  I was participating in a Twitter chat (I know how that sounds, and I’m OK with it), and the final question was “Q5: How can teachers encourage students to become active creators of their own learning?” BAM. Great question. So many answers, so few characters.  My answer was “A5 Make a personal connection, build confidence, allow them to stumble and then help them rebuild.” but the only way to really sum it up is with this:


Isn’t this the best feeling ever?! The whole reason I am in education is to be able to say this to students.  Empowering them and then seeing them succeed is one thing, but to get to say, “SEE??! YOU did this!  YOU made this happen!” is flipping amazing.

Recruit! Or Just Support!

So, my daughter is on a 16u Softball team and we have started to look at the process for college applications and recruiting and whatnot.  It’s crazy (and a little uncomfortable) to be on this side of the process!  Being that I’m in the system, I have been sending info to parents and players in hopes to help with their process as well.  I recently sent out a “touch base” e-mail and thought I could share it here!
Hello parents and players!
We are now half-way through Freshman/Sophomore year, so it’s time for a gut check! Here are a few things to consider:

  • Get NCAA ID- Please be sure to go to the NCAA Eligibility Center and make sure players have a NCAA ID. All Sophomores should have one by the end of the year.
  • Review transcripts/meet with counselor- It’s a good time to review transcripts with your School Counselor to assure you are taking the right classes and the steps for eligibility. You can also start talking schools and other scholarship opportunities, as many scholarships are already available to underclassmen.  Parents are also encouraged to reach out to the counselors and use them as a tool to help guide through this process. (you know I have to put a plug in there for us Counselors!)
    • Students should know their general GPA at all times.
  • Attend camps/clinics/showcases- Students and parents should be looking into camps at colleges/universities. You can choose both multi-school camps and camps at schools your player is interested in (both can be very beneficial, especially in a skill-building context- if players/parents attend a camp just to be recruited, they have fallen out of the growth mindset and are missing a large part of the point). This is NOT required, but is a great platform for development.
    • It might be good for players to attend at least one camp, clinic, or showcase by themselves. This team is amazing because of the way the players get along and interact. However, many of them will not be at prospect camps together and/or attending post-secondary paths together. This could help them perform without the crutch and comfort of each other.
    • When players return from camps, they should share at least one exercise/drill/lesson with their teammates. This will broaden the scope of individual monies spent (coaches- this could even be required for players who miss practices for a camp, as a way to require them to apply what they learned).
  • Communicate with coaches- Players can continue to send e-mails to coaches with questions you have about being a student-athlete and navigating this crazy process.
    • Any time you are in contact with a coach, always follow up with an e-mail. You should thank them for their time, ask a question, and mention something that you learned.  This gets you info and gains exposure. Make sure your inbox is cleaned out so that you can see when they hit you back.
    • Also, tweet, tweet, tweet!! Just yesterday I heard a D1 coach say, “follow us on Twitter!” This is a great tool. See a good play on a televised game? Wish you could make a great rivalry game? Retweeting a picture of the roster/team/campus/etc.? Tag the team and coaches on all of these.
    • Continue filling out interest surveys online
  • Compile/narrow post-secondary options- Now is the time to talk about post-secondary options that players are interested in. Early decision admission deadlines will be as early as next year for some players! With financial guidelines and lessons on the money, time, and work required to attend school, kids can make better decisions for themselves, and know where they will be responsible in filling in the gaps of areas where your checkbook ends.
    • It is easy to default towards discouraging a student from looking at a school/team that is out of their GPA/skill reach, but it could hurt the process. This could make a difference between their being picked up by a D2 vs. D3 team, even if the original goal was D1. Realistic and honest conversation is perfect- but at this age, it is beneficial for students to come to realizations on their own. In the school we try to lead the student to the reality check and have the student do the work (ex. ‘Harvard? Look up the minimum GPA, then compare it with yours. Is it possible?’ instead of ‘not a chance’- the difference is, this is Harvard’s decision, not the counselor or parent’s). This goes for hopeful teams as well; if a student is interested in a super competitive team, be honest with them about the skill and work that will be required to get them there. If it’s above their skill level, they can strive to get better. College coaches and admissions officers will be happy to let them know they did not make the team or entering class! I’ve seen students do amazing stuff- some rise to the occasion with the thought that someone believes in them!


I mean…I just can’t even.

B Board and Doggies

I finally finished my bulletin board!  Before break, I made a mindful and executive decision (don’t tell my admin) to finish my registrations and tie up loose ends instead of finishing my 6th grade hall bulletin board. I did, however, involve STEM in my procrastination nation, as you can see below:


Feel free to use this technology-infused intervention.  I think it’s genius.

I actually love making bulletin boards.  It’s a total excuse to get artsy and craftsy in the middle of a long week. Mindfulness, my dears can be productive (so are my lunches with peers where we have closed-door gossip sessions conversations about the goings ons of the day, but sometimes more is needed).  So, I have been wanting to use a really cool Kindness Game idea that I found at the trusty Edutopia.  I love how it gives simple ideas of how to be a good citizen, no matter where you are.  Always in the field of assessing the health of the school environment, it is also a perfect way to remind students (and staff!) that we can work together to help each other and be happier throughout the day.  So the finished product is…dun dun dun dun dldldldldldldld (that’s a drum roll, much more difficult to write than I thought)…



Ain’t she pretty!  I laminated just about everything so I can wipe away middle-year germs and save it for later.  I tweeted it (@steffschoolcoun) to Edutopia and they actually tweeted back! I geeked out.

Just as an update from my short break post, here is a view from my loom on one of the last a lazy and lovely days:



And here is one more of that cute pup, who was making us pay for leaving her behind when we traveled to see family in Ohio:



Spending the Break in Therapy

imageNeed I say more??



Some time ago a colleague tweeted this image to me (update: Yes, I am still obsessed with Twitter. Yes, it is still my principal’s fault.). I really like how it points out an intervention that has major impact on the student, with very little time. The big picture? Connect. When we connect with our students, they are present.

This really hit home with me the other day in the hallway. I had already been to work an hour early, but had a long list of things I needed to do outside of a busy day of Minute Meetings (oy vey did I underestimate how consuming that would be- but I’ll share more on that in another post). I stood in the hallway to greet my students, smiling and waving on the outside, frantic and bumbling on the inside. As students passed, I thought about things I had spoken to their parents about, e-mailed the teachers for, shared in private with. Like a ticker board these thoughts popped up as I said good morning while they passed.

Then this image came to me again, several days after I had initially seen it. Here I was, with the opportunity to make that 2 minute connection with them, and I was missing it. I realized that though I was connecting the thought in my head, in reality they had no idea. The mom I promised I’d check in with, the student who admitted to feeling irrelevant, the kid I wondered about who had been sick; I have always thought I was staying on top of them, but I really haven’t been.

Sometimes I think I am so consumed with trying to maintain my entire caseload, that I get completely stuck in my head. And with all of the available resources and networking I make on a daily basis, sometimes I forget about the best and easiest intervention I have to offer: acknowledgment. In the hallway, cafeteria, my office, the classroom, etc. I hold the power to give students existence. That’s deep. But really, it’s not enough for me to wonder if a student is feeling better, and instead of just thinking it, I need to work on actually looking a kid in the eyes and asking them. I need to show them that I see them, and they do not walk our halls going unnoticed. I know how much I think about them, they need to know it.

Today I made a conscious effort to do this. It felt good, and it showed on their faces that it was indeed a much different feeling than only receiving a generic “good morning”. I came out of my head and asked, “is your mom feeling better? Did you get to finish that assignment? How was your game? Good job not getting ISS yesterday! Are you and so-and-so friends again? Did you get to see dad this weekend? How is that puppy? How much longer on that deployment? You look like you’re feeling so much better! Don’t forget to apologize to Mrs. Teacher.” Some kids even looked surprised that someone remembered…and yet, I had remembered all along, I had just forgot the most important part- letting them know about it.

Now, just to be sure I’m fair, this does not mean that all of my students miraculously turned their grades around, became content with their home lives, passed all of their state tests, and brought each teacher a flower. In fact, I missed half of their departure bogged down in my office instead of taking a moment at the end of the day to connect one last time. BUT I am definitely feeling like I am starting down a different path, and effort has been awakened to connect.



I’m adapting some of this post from a book study I’m completing  at work using the text Teaching the iGeneration by W Ferriter and A Garry.  It’s actually pretty interesting, easy to read, and has a TON of reproducibles.  As I was writing my first post (don’t tell anyone, I’m like three weeks late on my assignments), I was all, “I can totally use this in my bloggy-blog and post something that is actually relevant to education!” So here I am. Before actually finishing my assignment. procrastination at it’s finest, and now you are partially to blame.

So the chapter talked about teaching students how to organize the information following an explanation of who the iGeneration is.  I like this idea of learning to organize inforamtion because there is so much out there.  I never really delineated the process though to realize that simply organizing information is the real first step in learning to evaluate sources, which is obviously every adult’s fear of the interwebs as a whole.  But it also got me thinking about how far the effects of this might expand as a result.

I think that appropriate sourcing is easily related to interpersonal growth and many different counseling topics. When a student is taught from a young age how to sift through sources and consider where information comes from to decide whether or not it is valid, they can also learn to apply this to choices they make in their personal life. The implications might be better choices made more by factual information and less by peers and assumptions. With this kind of decision-making in mind; Could this change a student’s decision when offered illegal partaking and opportunities? Maybe. Could this be factored into what kinds of decisions might be made with college and career planning? Maybe. Might a student be more likely to listen to a teacher during lecture than a classmate? Maybe?

Though some of these might seem far-fetched, the truth is we don’t quite know yet. Information saturation is relatively new, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am not even entirely clear on how it must feel to be part of this generation growing up with information overload. But I feel like teaching students the principals addressed in this book is a good start. Just because a student is born into a world of unlimited information, opinion, and networking does not mean they know how to use the information, or how to make sense of it. The bridge that is needed is between these two lines: they know they know more than us in terms of the integration and vast uses and ease of cyber information, but we understand better the application of this information on the real-world and real-life situations because of our experience without it and acquired knowledge.

The book doesn’t ask teachers to teach students how to judge a source, which I also think is important, because kids will automatically baulk at doing something so lamely adultish (see: most Incident Reports because the student will typically mention at some point “I don’t want to be a snitch”).  Instead it simply asks that they be categorized based on certain criteria- also a good method given that developmentally there is some serious cognitive categorization going on during adolescence. Students have no problem disagreeing with peers or adults, it’s about harnessing that towards skepticism of the internet.


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