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Tag Archives: high school

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.

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?

Meetings on Meetings- More on Drop Out Prevention

I am so excited about this week, because I get to present at the upcoming VSCA Conference, our state association for School Counselors! I’m always super pumped about presenting or public speaking when I sign up to do it, but then the closer I get to actually having to stand in front of people and say smart stuff, the more I start to unravel freak out a little.

Anyways, at least it is about my very favorite subject: drop out prevention in Elementary and Middle School.  My dork meter on this (and data…mmm data…) (oh, and office supplies…yessss…) (and spreadhseets…) is super high, but I feel like it is really at the heart of why we do what we do.  I’m basically covering the process I outlined in a previous post , but I’m also including some examples of what the data might look like, and then together we’ll compile some ideas for intervention.

In looking through some of my resources, I came across one of the worksheets I had made for student meetings that I have used at several different school, with high school and middle school kids.  It is aesthetically similar in to the daily form I shared, by giving an easy checklist format, but includes areas for signatures and follow-ups to keep us all honest.  Try it out and see what you think!

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contract

Late Post on Leadership

I have been meaning to post about my November lesson on leadership- it was fun and I really had some good kid participation.  Having never been a classroom teacher, I am certainly a work in progress on creating lessons.  I can make things graphic enough to draw kids in, and my babies and I have good rapport to banter and keep the convo engaging, but the actual *teaching* part is definitely something I struggle with.  First, I have attention issues, so I am easily distracted (pair that with less-than-stellar classroom management and basically the kids rule the roost), and second, there is a reason I’m not a teacher.  I am so in awe by these dang teachers and their endless energy and self-control…for me, my family knows the frazzled look in my eye on those loooooonnnng classroom lesson days, and I have to decompress after being in the classroom all day.

So, it was a light-bulb moment when last year my principal (a previous outstanding teacher) told me he thought I was working too hard- bogarting all of the talking, and not having more participation. He suggested I play with incorporating asking questions instead of telling, having students work in groups, and checking in with “shoulder partner” moments.  WHAT a difference that made this time around!

Being that this was a November lesson, and we were knee-deep in the crazy election process of 2016, I knew I wanted to cover leadership.  These kids were witnessing some stuff, hearing a lot, and, I can only assume, feeling more disconnected from democracy in the midst of one of the loudest and in-your-face elections we’d ever seen.  I wanted to draw them in; my goal was to introduce them to leadership on their terms and invite them to reconstruct the concept to their own definition.

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We started by warming up with Free Spirit Publishing’s Everyday Leadership Cards .  I love these because they are really engaging for multiple age groups.  They are perfect for whole classroom discussions and activities, individual and small groups, and apply to multiple different topics (I can think of ways to use them in all counseling domains!). For this lesson, they were in small groups, and then when we came together as a class, a couple groups shared their Q&A.

Then we touched on the current events in politics.  Now, I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole and hear about different views and whatnot, so my questions came with a disclaimer about not revealing which candidate they (or their parents) were rooting for.  I told them my core question was, “what makes a leader?” They talked with their shoulder partner and also came together as a class.

The next and best part: movie time!  I played three movie clips, and after each clip I asked them what examples and types of leadership they saw.  The three clips were:

  1. Cinderella (my favorite, the dress-making scene)
  2. Remember the Titans (various clips since the entire movie is every counselor’s dream-boat)
  3. Lion King (Scar’s song where he takes over the kingdom) ***WARNING: the clip that auto-starts after this scene is Hakuna Matata so you MUST quickly drop the browser, as students are nearly violent if you take away Timon and Pumbaa.  I learned this the hard way.***

I won’t go into my main points for each one, because they’re pretty obvious.  After movie-time, we then started talking about the broader concept of leadership again.  I had them use their devices (if you can’t beat ’em join ’em, right?), and discuss two main questions in pairs, then enter their answers using the Poll Everywhere app.  This thing is awesome and super easy to use by the way (or BTW if you prefer).  They were asked to use one word that was described a leader, or was the main quality a leader needed, and also what their platform would be if they were president (I only had to toss about five of the roughly 250 responses, which I think is pretty good!). I love some student voice, and so I printed their responses and stuck them on our hallway board.

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Hope your lessons have gone well, and your break is lovely and relaxing! Cheers!