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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.


I have all of these topics I have been wanting to discuss: grading practices, holidays, weaving craftiness, minute meetings, scheduling.  You know, professional topics that may aid in my professional and personal advancement.  But alas, I slack.

Why? BECAUSE A MAN’S GUILT OR INNOCENCE DEPENDS ON ME. Well, not really.  Or at all. But I am completely obsessed with an amazing podcast series.  Undisclosed.  It’s a new old podcast hinging on Serial, the podcast I was dutifully obsessed with last year.  These podcasts follow the case of a young man who was sentenced to life in prison when he was 17 years old.  It picks apart the case, the people involved, and the investigation of a young woman who was murdered in the late 90’s.

I’m serious though, it’s amazing.  The voyeur in me is interested for the storyline, and -to be completely honest- intrusion into the lives of those involved.  The mother in me weeps for the young woman’s family, especially when I imagine hearing so many details about the death of their loved one.  The student in me is intrigued learning about the legal system and subtleties of society.  The counselor in me ponders how this effects the life of a young person, wonders if Adnon was able to graduate, and winces for my students who have no idea how life can smack you in the face.

I would love to construct lessons around following the case through this medium.  I think students could gain so much from diving into such human information, and see how convoluted the legal system can be.  Even realize how much an argument, sources, and strategically placed words can make a difference in the outcome of just about anything.  And it’s applicable to so much more than just isolated legal cases too- think about the implications that can be taught about decision making and multiple perspectives.

I highly encourage anyone to check it out!  Take a look at the website, or get out your podcast app.  It’s addicting, and considerably better for me than watching Real Housewives (not to say I am not keeping up, we all have our vices people).  I have my opinions on the case, guilt, and/or innocence.  But my interest lays less on that, and more on the intrinsic peephole view on real people and real tiny choices that have resulted in alterations for all parties involved for the rest of their lives.  Though sometimes I feel a bit guilty hearing such intimate details about someone’s lives, as if I am exploiting them, but I try counteract that by really thinking of the material in a way that is not judgemental, but almost appreciative of the vulnerability of human living and our connected frailty.  It’s kind of an anthropology hobbyist’s dream.

How My Principal Made Me Socially Awkward

@SteffSchoolCoun is where it all started.

When I am speaking with you in line or while we are drinking coffee (even though I do not like coffee), I just might have a compulsion to tweet things like: Cereal is my favorite food and Serial is my favorite podcast. Weird.

And I am sorry for that.  But it’s my principal’s fault.

I do try to keep my Twitter feed content school-related, but if it’s the night of a Project Runway finale, or I spot some poorly-timed irony around me I may need to scratch that itch while we are supposed to be working on a worksheet’s formatting or planning a meeting, and tweet that tweet.

And I am sorry for that.  But it’s my principal’s fault.

During in-service week, we were encouraged to start a Twitter account in order to share photos, events, ideas, etc. of things we are doing in our schools and in our career. As you can imagine, there were many, many scowls received in the cafeteria that day.  I would venture to say that Twitter received at least 30 new accounts that have been inactive since that very day.  Really, I was nervous myself.  I can hardly keep up with Facebook and Pinterest, let alone this new-fango-young people social media.

But as I was instructed, I created an account a posted a few things. I’m not really sure if “posted” is the right terminology, because that’s how dorky I still am with this tool. Either way, very quickly, I was hooked. I love the small post format- I clearly like talking, so this has helped me communicate in a less dramatized fashion. I also like the networking aspect. I have followed, been followed by, joined chats, been retweeted and commented by people in the school-system and education community I would have never crossed paths with had it not been suggested that I join Twitter.

But I am learning (as I do often) that I am needing to listen to my own advice for students and my own kids regarding technology, respect, and finding a balance of not letting these great tools take over, while still being brave enough to completely submerge into them for professional development and personal growth.  They do offer a lot, but I am learning how to not be socially awkward as a result.

I am so glad I was twittered!

Weekend Loom Therapy

This weekend was like Christmas.  For reals.

I had gone to B&N last week with my main craft-nerd lady, and we were distraught by the poor magazine selection.  Crafty magazines are my all-time guilty pleasure…the more imported and ridiculously expensive the better, as you’ll probably learn in the next few weeks when the new edition of US$20 Flow comes out.  Don’t judge me.  Anyways, there wasn’t a whole lot of selection, and it made me very saddy-face.

But there was insane redemption this Saturday, when I happened to waltz back in, to find the bestestestest edition of Molly Makes with the cutestestest mini loom!


I mean, just look at it- and look at the small loom I may have acquired from Amazon! Again with the judging??!?! BACK OFF.

It totally reminds me of one of my best happy places in Manteo, NC called Endless Possibilities.  It is this awesome weaving shop that uses all recycled materials, whose proceeds fund a domestic abuse hotline.  I’m serious, it’s that storybook.  Here is my shiny face with Jen (Hi Jen!) on a day trip last year.

image image image

Some good Weekend Therapy extending through the week…aaaaahhhhh, feels good…

Coming Back

Ok, ok.  I am clearly so terrible at keeping up with my personal commitments! I get super pumped and ready to reach out with a blog and all of these things, and then I let them fall off.  Super secret, don’t tell anyone: I am starting to see my pattern where when I want to do something, I start it up and then as soon as the ball is rolling, I balk!  Can you believe a counselor could have so many insecurities??? (I can, because I know we’re all just human…which allows me the excuse of making life interesting!)

So here I am, back and in the tech saddle.  I’m ready really (for now)!! Here’s what got me thinking about dusting off this old blog thing: I need to walk the walk.  We spend all day trying to get our students to partake in all of the opportunities that are out there.  We beg them to understand how lucky they are to live in such a time where they can reach out for what they want, and connect with it through technology.  We tell them to open their minds to more than their own backyard… and then we quickly retreat back to our own homes when the clock runs down and continue with our personal comforting standard, remaining afraid of the expansive interwebs and cybersphere.   And by “we” I mean “me” but, you know, misery loves company.

So here I am, taking another stab at this whole blog thing.  I want to connect with other educators, I want to develop communication with inspirers, and I want to document my own professional and personal growth.  And we all know what I want is what’s most important in this whole wide world.  I’m a middle child, what can I say?

I may even, perhaps, let someone know that I’m working on this.  Because truth be told, I’m kind of in the closet.  So there it is.  I’m back.  Please feel free to connect, suggest, and hold me accountable!

Can’t Wait!

Will post soon! Great year! So busy!


Damage Control

I was listening to an NPR recording on how companies correct their image and consumer trust after there is some sort of mistake or public controversy. It got me thinking about how much damage control we do in the school system and as School Counselors. The interviewee was talking about specific steps that they take with the public to get them back on “their side” and ultimately start to buy their products again. So I, always a fan of lists, decided to break down my usual process. This was particularly time-appropriate since today was especially trying with a few teachers, students, parents, and situations (I’m taking a half day tomorrow, so I should have known I would be paying for it).

Anywho, bitterness aside, I think this is the typical process I take when talking with upset parents (and sometimes teachers):

1. Make sure I start with a super pleasant and positive voice, even if I know the person on the other end is anxious, seething, and/or in manic mode.
2. Ask them to address their concerns. More specifically, I give them a chance to define the circumstances before I do. This helps to not start the conversation with possible defense.
3. Acknowledge their concerns and make sure they know I am concerned about the situation, understand their concerns, and am invested in the success of their child as well. I think this validation goes a looooong way, and also becomes part of every step (sometimes needing extra emphasis at different times). Just like we encourage with students, there is surely always other perspectives to consider and things that could have been handled differently on either side (even the side of the teacher who is amazing and dedicated, but at their wits-end with a challenging student nonetheless).
4. Address inconsistencies, but not the emotional side. I do think we should not take charisma to the point that we compromise the reality of the educational environment. As a parent myself, I know that I can sometimes be blind to specific- er- particulars about my kid that others might not appreciate as much as I do. So I am real about bringing out discrepancies, but I try to do it in a way that states facts or data, not what my personal judgements or the teacher’s emotional responses are on the situation.
5. This is a good time to reassure them of your understanding, and validate their concerns again. If you are on the phone, they better feel your smile through the line.
6. Now we start to brainstorm solutions. Truth be told, if the other party appears way off base, I have found that (excuse my frankness) humoring their claims seldom hurts. Example? When a student has crazy truancy issues, and the parent tells you it is because they have had a cold or get headaches. Riiiiight. Well, even if I know the student simply stays up all night and then whines until they can stay home, I entertain the idea (in counsely terms, I meet them where they are) and mention services reserved for students who are gravely ill (such as cancer treatments, scoliosis surgery, etc.) in which the student can get education at the home. Typically, when the parent knows their students is not quite there, they will balk and either throw the kid under the bus, or backtrack to accept more appropriate solutions.
7. At this point, the reassuring and validation returns, and I use student-centered angles to push solutions that I think are good ideas, or that teachers have urged.
8. I leave the final decision open-ended. I have found that if the solution is agreed-upon, offering other steps ends the call much more nicely. For example, you might resolve that the student will attend tutoring, change classes, or attend a P/T Conference- but you note that you will reconvene and if the circumstances have not changed, you will try an alternate intervention.

And then, everyone becomes best friends and makes Starbucks plans and lives happily ever after! Well, not really, but the hope is that, even if for that moment, the fire is out and the damage has been controlled.

If at some point you can find something to connect (e.g. you also have a child, you both work in high-stress environments, there are a million things to do before a holiday, you were an only child as well, etc.) it is a REALLY good idea to play on this and find a common ground outside of the situation.

I really do love working with parents. Even some of the tougher ones are really only trying to advocate for their child the best way they know how. When a relationship can be forged, there seems to be no better way to see success in a student, than when there is a united front. Sometimes it feels like putting a puzzle together, but when the pieces fit, I sleep so much better!


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