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Snow-Weekend Inspiration 

Ahhh…fresh off of Winter Break and my lucky tail gets an extended weekend for Snooooooowwwmagedddddooooonnnnn 2017!  I know, I know, we’ll have to make it up, but I am a big fan of enjoying it while it lasts and paying the piper later.  And enjoy I have.  Lucky ducky me, I got some books from Free Spirit Publishing, my favoritest place to get books for work and inspiration, right at the end of last week!  As part of the Advisory Board, Free Publishing periodically thanks us with book choices and I cannot get enough (their blog is also awesome with so much info and insight they will win you over with just that)!  Anywho, I received the books below and have not been able to put them down!


I recommend each and every book I get from Free Spirit, so I suppose this is overkill, but I recommend all three of these as necessities of a Middle School counselor’s box of tricks.  The Respect: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line is Crossed book is ridiculously amazing, and I would marry it if it were legal and I was not already married. For real.  It really speaks to young woman and is incredibly empowering in a super low-key classy way. 

I started to think about how I wanted all of my babies to be able to read this book.  In particular, how great it would be to have a girl’s group (girls’ group?) using the book as a guide to each session.  I have seen some really great girl’s groups that are centered around confidence and character building, but I find that they are often created for the girl who needs a confidence boost and place to exercise socialization and meeting friends.  Though there’s definately a place for that, sometimes it starts to feel marginalizing, as if all girls are broken and need to recognize how pretty, smart, and valuable they are.  But what about girls who are confident (quiet does not equal a lack of confidence), but don’t know how to use that confidence?  What about teaching strong young women how to use their stories and their amazing characters to walk around and own the place, and become power-house communicators and mountain-movers? This book seriously does just that.  Though there is some reflection on experiences past, it avoids revictimizing them, but instead uses those barriers to further empower themselves.  It tackles media, social perceptions, body image, relationships (WITHOUT the whole “mean girls” stereotype that my girls know they ARE NOT allowed to say in my office), and so much more in such a real way.  There is a short chapter on sex (I think it’s super tastefully done) which I think is a valuable message for girls, but borders on taking over where parents have the right to keep at their own pace.  But paper is made to be paper-clipped, so I don’t think it’s a problem with sharing the book. 

My initial thought was to buy 15 copies of the book to have at the school to run groups with.  Then I remembered I work for a middle school and this would blow our entire budget for the year that was already half-way spent.  Impossibility. And then I remembered the awesome websites one of my besties has had great success with: Donor’s Choose!  I decided to make a page and put it out there to see if I could get some books this way.  I was WWWAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY easier than I thought it would be, and I am bummed I haven’t used it sooner (as she points out all the time). So here it is, check it out after you’ve spent hours dreaming on the Free Spirit catalog! 

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Linkity Links

So, getting to be a part of the Sunshine Awards has made me a bit more aware of some of the blogs and links I frequent.  Since grad school I have been obsessed with counselor blogs (after a long love affair with crafty and food blogs).  As I started to sub, my addiction increased, but I also got bitter not knowing what age I would be working with, or whether or not I would even ever have my own office (I tend to get quite dramatic when I worry).  But for now (technically I am able to get axed for my first three years-yikes!), I have found a considerably constant home in Middle School, and can thus be free to waste as much time as I want on blogs that address my semi-focused population!  This is especially fun when we have impromptu days off.  We are currently on snowcation #2, and I am happy to report that I have completed my annual mandatory online training, which means I have been productive!  Besides the irrelevant fact that I was late, and had gotten e-mails from three different people, I can check training and bloggishness off of my to-do list.

But back to my point, I read some sweet links that peeked my interest, and some that made me excited to get back to the grind.  This is even despite the way I almost had my first crunch-cry before the snowpacalypse hit, as I tried to drudge through the first day of the semester: steady flow of students with wronged schedules, reminders for upcoming High School applications to distribute, students turning in said applications which have to be checked, necessary lunch visits for my grade-level with permission slips for a workshop to hand out, 3 new student registrations, two way too long parent/teacher conferences, a locked-out system leaving me to have to hand-write schedule changes, parents questioning 9th grade class choices, teachers requesting moves, and so on.  Of course, I would never go there because I ugly cry and it would scare the children.  Anywho, here are some interesting tidbits I learned today in between snow-ball fights, shoveling, and dryer loads.

1. This article/video was interesting as a parent and school counselor.  My kids’ timeline would be overwhelmingly red- crap!  I like the idea though, and I like that it reinforces the importance of teaching mindfulness to kids.  I’ll probably expand on this in a bit, as I have been trying to put together a little teacher info-e-mail on incorporating mindfulness lessons into the classroom.  Cool stuff.  I was also thinking about how the story mentions that stress can cause mimicked ADHD symptoms…Re-he-heally??! I mean, any school system worker will give the same shake of the head if you ask them if there has been an increase in kids with ADHD, and it makes me wonder if some of them have symptoms that are manifestations of stress, adjustment difficulties, anxiety, etc.  Not to say that all students have a misdiagnosis, but is it possible that some students’ needs are far different from our typical ADHD bag of tricks to yield academic achievement??? Hmmm…

2.  OK, then there was this really awesome blog post on First Grade Critter Cafe with a really awesome and advanced system to track a few academic initiatives in her school/classroom.  If you remember, I also have an obsession for organization, and well-oiled binder systems!  I just become very giddy when I see someone else who understands how lovely a good binder is.   And I’m totally thinking, some of the great stuff she’s got could translate well to school counseling and middle school.  I love the “Critter Cafe Menu” and it got me to think about how I could fashion some sort of ‘menu’ of services for students to choose from (e.g. mediation, one-on-one, group, etc.).

3.  Lastly, The Helpful Counselor (who seriously runs a nice blog and is genuinely helpful fo’ sho’) had a great post on Pinterest about needs assessments.  This was especially pointed for me since one of my goals for snowcation was to get my work goals and yearly assessment measures for my school system typed up and submitted (which may also be a tad late. may).  I definitely pinned this sucker so that next year, when I’m constructing my own goals from scratch (I inherited the goals from the previous counselor for this year) I can grab some of these tips.

All in all it’s been a crazy semester change but I’m surviving.  I leave you now with my kids enjoying some snow, just because pictures are fun.

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4. OK, one more. What. (I also have a voyeuristic obsession with reality TV, particularly on Bravo).