RSS Feed

Author Archives: weekendtherapy

KIT With GRIT- Thanks to Military

My school is lucky enough to have a school incredibly close to several military bases. We get to see jet formations all day, we have resources to help with mentoring and presence, and we get a divers student body that has seen the world. For Month of the Military Child, our School Counseling team decided that this year we would thank our military students by sponsoring and inviting them all to an after-school military social.

Fun fact? Kids don’t know what K.I.T. Stands for anymore, but they came up with some good and interesting guesses. Noted. Anyways, we got about a quarter of our invited students to participate (which is a ton), and I think the chaperones may have had just as much fun as the kids!

I found some of the ancient maps that used to hang in classrooms, and we used one for students to sign in and write all of the places they have lived in.

We also did a chalk-walk, where students decorated our bus loop with inclusive and military inspired messages, to greet other students when they walked in the net day. These activities, coupled with music, ping-pong tables, freebies, and (most importantly) ice-cream made for the perfect afternoon! The only criticism we received from he students was that we had waited so long to provide such fun.

Did your school celebrate Month of the Military Child?

Advertisements

Student Transitions

I have had the most exceptional, fun, laid-back, good kids for the last three years. I cannot even begin to imagine what work will be like after this year as I tearfully drag my feet and throw a fit the size of adolescent attitude move forward and usher in a new group. We rotate at my Middle School, so I will also be back with the littles. It takes adjustment, but it is really exciting to meet a whole new group and start the puzzle all over again.

The 6th graders are so crazy different from 8th graders. It is hard for me to remember my students being those little minis only a couple of years ago. A handful of them cried at the mere expanse of the school, some of those quiet mouths have blossomed, and others walk taller every day. I have also had plenty of time to think about things that may have helped them transition to Middle School and be more successful while there.

One of the things that I would love to know in advance is who will be my frequent fliers from the beginning. How can I help them? I look at plenty of data to get ideas, but who can I keep from flying under the radar for a year causing me to lose essential support time. So I got an idea to send some SOS packets to Elementary counselors. They know them best, they have lived with them for the last 5 years and they have all the dish I need to know who to approach and how. Imagine the time saved in rapport building to already have an in!

I gave each of our feeder schools’ counselors a couple of SOS envelopes, and asked them to write their frequent flyer students a letter that might help them when the hormones hit the fan in Middle School. I can pull them out and have a link for the kid to an easier, more familiar time. I also included some CLMS swag so that they can give some away and also have Middle School stuff around their offices. I figured this might subliminally add some face-time for us.

When I’m not wagging my finger speaking with my 8th graders, I start to imagine students in 5th grade and what they are doing. They have no idea how different their life will be, and I can’t wait to see another group grow and experience.

Easter crafty

First of all, get a Cricut.

Second, if you are in the saintly way or Catholic, check out Tiny Saints because they’re adorable. I love a good collection and these little charms can be picked based on any lucky recipient’s personality so they’re super personal little gifts. I may or may not have found a couple for myself too.

Had the craft therapy itch this year even though my babies aren’t so little anymore. I put little faces on some plastic eggs with my new, amazing, magical Cricut. Then pulled out the hook for these mini hats. They were crazy easy and fast- I love how they turned out! The kids loved them too, well really, they mainly loved the money inside the eggs, but I’ll take it!

Be good

Who do you bring with you to work? One of my first feelings of inspiration as a counselor came early on in one of my counselor sub positions. As I started to feel close with the kids, and learn about their home lives and barriers, my perceived solutions often came from family advice I had been given to me at one time or another. When they were surprised by kindness, support, belief, and tough love, I began to feel more and more sad that these kids did not have such resources at home. I was raised in a gloriously crazy, large, ambitious family where there are copious and equal parts joy and work. I started wishing I could share my tribe with all of my students, and give them the tradition and fierce love I have been lucky enough to grow up with.

Since I couldn’t have my family members all come to work with me everyday, I realized that I could bring them in spirit. My paternal grandmother who had limitless optimism and faith in each individual; my maternal grandmother, a Sicilian matriarch who worked as hard as she expected of us, and loved with such conviction you had no choice but to believe in yourself; my aunt, who has lived her life with a disability and was more active and dreamed bigger than most able-bodied people. So many huge personalities come with me every day to work, and I try to be a channel to my kids so that they too can grow up with these lessons.

I am constantly telling my students, “be good” – sometimes softly, sometimes pleadingly, and sometimes with warning. My grandma always ended conversations with this simple expectation, and now that I’m an adult I see how meaningful it is.

Who do you bring to work with you? What is the endearing phrase that you use easily in your hallways, but that weighs generations of love?

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!

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.