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I’ve got one more week until I’m officially on summer breakkkkkkkkkk!!! And it’s right on time with my creative therapy juices flowing. Working on a summer tote to throw a book and wallet in for the next two months, and I’ve been addicted to the loom! Here is a sneak peak with more to come (once I’ve got summer time on my hands)…


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Christmas Making!

Some of the gifties I worked on this holiday (not including a couple…or the five projects I started and didn’t finish…). 

A couple of creds:

Police car cross-stitch- http://www.braceletbook.com/pattern_alpha/7856.html

Crocheted cowl pattern-http://crochetdreamz.blogspot.in/2015/11/alice-button-cowl-free-crochet-cowl.html?m=1#.Vj5KiNIrJkh

Buttons added to the cowl- https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodenHeartButtons?ref=s2-header-shopname

VW cross-stitch pattern- http://hancockshouseofhappy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/groovy-this-vw-van-cross-stitch-chart.html?m=1#.WGU5FXQ8LYW

Dropping Drop-outs!

I have recently started working with the Drop Out Prevention Task Force at my school, and I am finding that I love it! I mean, I don’t like the act of dropping out, but I love looking at data and identifying student needs and concerns. So, for our first meeting, I was inspired by some Personalized Professional Development stuff I had been following on Twitter, so I decided to find something to derive focus before coming. I found this AMAZING video from PBS that I think every person on Earth should watch and discuss. It is really the best description of the role of Middle School in student development that I have heard. I had everyone watch the video before the meeting to come prepared with what direction we would be going to.

Second, I took a page out of my HS bag, and decided that I needed to create a list of heavy-hitters to focus on at the meeting. Sometimes, leaving the concern portion open-ended can become a little witch-hunty or complaint session, which is perfect for SC venting session, but not so productive for a 20 minute meeting. So I used our amazing data people to pull three lists consisting of the three subgroup of risk in the video: Student with 3+ discipline infractions, 15+ absences (verified or unverified), and 2+ classes failed in the previous 9 weeks. Now, we all know that populations vary, so some of these numbers might need to be adjusted- I was looking for our top 20-30 biggies out of all three grade-level. My last list was a cross-reference of these three lists, to identify students who were on more than one of the three lists.

So at this point, committee members have watched the video, and I have created 4 packets of each of the three lists, the compiled list, and a page for intervention notes and “honorable mentions”. I wanted to put members into a group and have them evaluate each list. On the side of all four lists I added a notes column, and I asked teachers to identify anything they knew about the students mentioned- at-risk factors such as mobility and helpful info such as sibling in the school. Here is the order I took:

  • Welcome
    • Video
    • Less than 80% attendance, fails Math or English, unsatisfactory behavior in core course = 75% chance student will drop out
  • Identifying
    • Identifying our students (lists made for each table)
    • 2+ Failure, 15+ Absences, 3+ Discipline
    • Cross-reference list results- 2 Ss on all three lists, 10 Ss on two
    • Explanation of other risk factors- retention, SC, high mobility- increase risk
  • Action
    • In groups, look at lists and write any notes that would be helpful (e.g. SRT held, deceased parent, lives with grandparents, good relationship with mom, stays after for a sport, e-mail regularly with parent, etc.)
    • Add any names that you think are at risk but not on the students that are on 2+ lists
    • Write any ideas for interventions
  • Moving forward
    • Filio to create master list (that’s me!)
    • Team leads to share risk information with content/grade level
    • Administrators and Counselors will evaluate list/actions

My next steps are coming together too, but proving to be more vague. I compiled all of the information for student information (and we definitely learned so much more from having input from teachers and specialists), and will give that to administrators and counselors. At this point, we know who we need to focus on for a targeted program. I am thinking I would also like to have admin and counselors get together to review what interventions have been used, and what interventions we can collaborate on. Then, at the next meeting, I will have an updated list with updated data and students so that we can review what has been done, get suggestions, and celebrate those who have fallen off of the list. It is so exciting- I could do it all day every day! I can’t wait to hear about what other schools are doing too!

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:

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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.

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!

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Let’s take a look

I’ve been hearing whispers about a report that came out regarding the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When that happened, like so many others, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fallout from that tragedy. Even with all of its darkness, that story elicited one of the few times the news brought me to tears. Not once or twice, but every time it came on TV. I pictured my own kids, and all of my babies at the schools I was serving, and could not imagine what the families were going through in loss, students experience in shock, and staff felt in their hearts.

I have started reading some of the report on the treatment measures that had been taken with Adam Lanza in his short lifetime. It is astonishing, and an insanely stark reminder about the importance of what we do in our counseling and educational professions.

We throw around the word “accountability” in goals, classes, presentations, and statements. But for the first time, I am realizing the true magnitude of what that means. We can examine a million points of data and give thousands of surveys every week, but at the end of the day, the acts of Adam Lanza represent the true nature of what we are capable of in this powerful profession. Not that the weight of the world should be put on the shoulders of one or two professionals or agencies- that is equally dangerous- but how different might every life be if students were not touched, changed, influenced, or inspired by the people at their schools.

The capacity of our potential for change stands for both good and bad results that have occurred in the past and will continue in the future. I am extremely proud to be a School Counselor. I have seen awesome change and development in students, and have also let a few hands go in hopes that the students might allow success for themselves at a later age. But for the first time, the notion of “accountability” is a wonderful thing for me. It is a loaded word now that means, on one hand, we have the position to allow a student to realize their worth and become confident adults despite grudging circumstances. On the other hand, it means we can play a part in something as horrendous as the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The tricky part is that we will never know how many tragedies we have helped to prevent. This being, it is important to have faith and be confident in our skills and abilities. Holding ourselves accountable, we have to be honest about feelings of complacency. For all of our hard work, there is no shame in admitting when we are having a dark day, or have little strength to smile wide and show patience.

What a huge learning experience. I will definitely be rolling this one over in my head for some time.