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Bullying Prevention and Changes

Hello hello! It is still feeling like Summer here, but the bags under my eyes are a giveaway for September! What a great year start it has been too. A new school, New challenges, new kids, New team- and I have loved every second. I’m still missing my lovely and homey old school, but the change has helped me get over the ABANDONMENT of my newly high schooled babies. They are thriving, of course, but I still look for them in the hallways.

Anywhoooo here is my latest blog post with Free Spirit!

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Slow Start

I HAVE FOUR MORE DAYS OF SUMMER

Yep. Four more days. What a Summer it has been. We have had some serious changes this Summer in my family, some super sad and some exciting. It always seems to happen that way that the Summer is so seldom a slow burn. I can’t decide which way I like more. But I am ready to head back.

The crazyiness will begin soon, as I step into a new school. After my babies left for High School I’ve decided to take the leap and start a new adventure. As sad as I am to say goodbye to my old school, I am really excited to get my hands into a new place, new population, and forge new friendships. I get so much inspiration from the people around me, sometimes I think they get fatigued from my harassment! So now it’s time to give someone else a turn.

To prep for returning, I started reading The Balanced Teacher Path which has really helped me get into the mood to set my mind right, and remember to support the teachers on my hallway. It’s such an easy read, contains personal stories, and suggestions for the classroom and home. I seriously recommend it, and think it would be an amazing all-school read.

I also got to spend today in training with all of the secondary counseling peeps in VB. It was tough to wake up early, but it was so perfect to get me reignited and ready for the year. I am itching to get in, take care of scheduling conflicts, and get the year rolling. It feels so good to be in a profession that excites me enough to get my tail out of yoga pants and into business.

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.

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!

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.

Tracking Time

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Sooo…Today I had to start tallying my time for work, delineating how I spend my time (e.g. P/T Conferences, 504 meetings, one on one, group, department meetings, etc).  It is sort of hard to break apart all of the components of such crazy, moving days.  You sit down and start responding to parent e-mails, start to organize classroom student response forms, get called down for a registration, get stopped with a class change form on the way, get an impromptu lesson on departmental goals upon walking into the office, talk with a family about a student’s history and choose classes, stop in at the lunch room on your way back and discuss some friend drama-rama, offer consultation on a student with a teacher picking up their class, speak with a student in the hall who has been put out and reiterate behavioral goals, return to a ringing phone, and then try to remember what it was you were trying to do before you left your office 15 minutes ago. How in the world is it possible to outline the tasks that you do all day, every week, within a month, throughout an entire year?  And when we don’t record everything, we feel as though on paper we look like we may not be doing enough to justify our profession.

But alas, it must be done.  Recording what I do throughout the day has saved my butt plenty of times.  In going over a student history, recalling why I made one decision over another, catching a student not living up to the things they agreed to; I refer to my notes all the time.  But still, I find myself thinking, ‘wait, I remember talking to that parent, what was it that they called about? Or, I did talk to that kid, but I never agreed to change his class past the deadline, or did I?’  One thing I have learned through internship and counselor subbing has been to make my own worksheets for processes that help me get the job done.  In Grad school, I remember professors encouraging having us make worksheets in class, and begging us to really get cozy with Microsoft applications that can be helpful.  Well let me tell you, I spoon those puppies now- and Word and Excel are the big spoon.

This is the Daily Log Sheet I created to keep record of everything I do.  It is based on a sheet one of the lovely ladies had made that I subbed for when I was on the maternity circuit.  I keep it on a clip-board that I bring with me everywhere like a besty.  Then I move it over to a Daily binder, and have a running log.  This way, if I so happen to forget to record my goings ons daily like I am supposed to (which I typically do), I have a reference to go to.  Between this, and appointments in my Outlook Calendar, I can usually get the majority of my time down.  I love to hear how other people track there time though, and like to take bits and pieces as I alter things.