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Another Free Spirit Post!

I’m telling you, these guys are magical! They take my humble thoughts and really refine them and know how to make it look shiny! My second post is about positive peer pressure. I was excited to write about this topic because it is truthfully the most fun part of my job.

Kids are cognitively very self-centered, working more outward as their world expands. But they have so much capacity for kindness, that even developmental psychology doesn’t stand in the way of their impact on each other!

Follow the link and feel free to ask questions or add comments!!

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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?

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.

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!

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! 

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).