Monday, April 14, 2014

Generation W Conference #GenW

Wow! What a conference! Prior to the day, I had never heard of Generation W, but after participating in this event, I left with a huge appreciation for this organization and what they stand for. Below you will see the itinerary for the jam packed day- while each speaker/panel shared important information, I came away with a few key points:

1. Thinking about your own job: what are 3 adjectives you would use to describe your role? If someone was going to describe you in 3 words, what would they use? If these 3 words do not match up with the 3 used to describe your job, something needs to change. You want people to think that you were made for this job, when they think of a leader in that role- they should think of you immediately.  You can change what people think of you- consistency and authenticity are THE most important take always. Be YOU, and be consistent with your mission statement of what you want to do.

2. Social Media- How will you "brand" yourself? What are your pictures, quotes, comments, etc. say about the person you are? Before you post something, think:

It is approval seeking?
It this a fleeting emotion?
Is it kind?
Would I say it TO the person?
Is this a moment that I want to protect?

So often, we post things without thinking about the long term effects.. I want to keep this in mind when I am bored, and wanting to share a picture, or boast about something personal.  Is this the best way to use my time? Probably not. 

3. Finally, a speaker talked about ways to have more fruitful conversations. In counseling, we NEED this in order to be effective. We need to think of both parties, not make assumptions, think about diversity, and be willing to learn something new. This is very subjective, but I want to improve these skills, and I have the ability to practice everyday!

Below is the schedule, I highly encourage you to check it out!

Feeling extra inspired,
Your Floridian Chick :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Results, heading into April with a different :To-Do" list!

March has come and gone within minutes it feels like..During this month,my goals were the following:
1.Finish my 2 girls groups
2. Finish the SS GRIN boys groups
3.Start 2 more lunch bunch groups
1. CHECK! Lunch bunch with 5th grade girls is complete
2. CHECK! This 10 week group is done and I will be starting a new 9 week group next week.
3. Started this week!
After I posted about my March goals, I had a a counselor friend of mine remind me about the importance of to- do lists, and how they can become so important that we lose sight of the bigger picture. There will DEFINITELY be goals that I do not make, but maybe those months, I got to make some great connections with kids who were not on my "list". While these goals are great and creating objectives lists are crucial, they are not THE most important thing. 

For this month of April, my goals are much more subjective:

1. Administer the FCAT to my group of students.
2. Make connections with each one of the people in that small group. 
3. Spend at least one hour in the cafeteria every day, and sit with a different class.

At the end of the month, there will be no objective results to these goals, but hopefully I will feel good about the new relationships I have made. 

Learning as we go,

Your Floridian Chick:)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why are you HERE?!

Annie and I going through her entire closet!!.

For spring break, I escaped the Florida sun to visit a very wonderful friend of mine, Annie. She and I spent 4 years living together as roommates in college, and she was a bridesmaid in my wedding; if we are being honest here, she has really become more of a sister than anything else.

The reason I share this personal story is because in early August 2013, she suffered a brain Aneurysm- was in a coma, eventually woke up, and is learning to live again.  During my visit, I truly saw passion for living. 

It got me thinking about what I am passionate about: what makes me move, run and search for new answers, drive myself to do better, and what has me thinking outside the box in terms of this career. WHY am I HERE doing this job?!

Our job can be bogged down with so much paperwork, duties, and other tasks that take us away from why we chose this career. When I sat down and thought about what I was passionate about- it came down to two things in this job: The Kiddos- they are hilariously witty, blunt, honest, and think of life in a pure, refreshing way, that adults simply do not. The other passion in this job for me is the Teachers. We have the neat ability to work with adults and children and help foster and build relationships all day long. Their job is incredibly difficult-the individual demands of 25+ people at a time. How do they do it- and for 8 hours a day!?

Annie chose to work for Google and do video editing- to hear her talk about her "pre aneurysm" life and her job, it brought me to this realization that we can complain all day long about the tasks we are "voluntold" to do, but really, we should be thankful to have this wonderful job and career, and think about all the possible relationships we can create when we are ...standing at bus duty.. in the cafeteria.. greeting in the morning...etc.  I am sure that Annie had some stressful parts to her job too- but I never heard anything negative from her. What a gift- only looking at the positives.

If nothing else, this life is crazy and you just don't know what it has it store for us- if you are not living out your passion, go find it- because if you don't do it today- there is a chance you might not ever get it.

With tons of love for "our Annie" and her living her life,

Your Floridian Chick

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

First ever- Coffee with the counselor!

Well this has been on my "Amanda- set a date and make this happen" list for a long time now!

I started by inviting parents in our monthly newsletter and followed up by sending home 1/2 sheet invitations to parents/guardians the week before the event.

I called surrounding donut/breakfast shops in the area until I hit the jackpot- FREE Dunkin Donuts!  Our PTA had a connection at a local Starbucks and was able to pick up a container of coffee at NO cost to serve to our parents. The phone calls went like this: Hi I am calling from your local elementary school, I am the school counselor with a zero dollar budget, but would like to give parents a little breakfast for coming out to participate in a program. I was SO thrilled to see the community support us and thankful that I got to connect with different vendors- even those we did not use.

Each table had different resources
I had 6 tables full of information as you can see in the pictures: 3rd, 4th, 5th grade guidance curriculum, character education materials, small group curriculum, and a table on a local resource center.  On the 5th grade table, I also included information about middle schools.

We had about 15 parents show up- 15 more than there ever has been before! While it was not a huge turn out- it was a great start; it gave me the push I needed to have more parent activities and to get my name and resources out to our community!

Lovin' the smell of coffee, just not the taste!

Your Floridian Chick!

ALWAYS send a thank you card before the day is done!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pep Rally Time!

During the last week in February, the state requires us to test 4th graders in their writing ability. The teachers work very hard from day 1 of school to teach about the types of writing, author's purpose, how to write an interesting, informative, or expository story, and how to capture your audience. The students have been practicing writing prompts around the clock and they were fully prepared to do well. In addition to getting them ready in the classroom, we had a 4th grade only pep rally!  I posted about this last year but I think it is important to change things up every single year- for our own sanity as teachers/counselors, but also to keep things fresh and exciting!

Here is how it all went down!:

  • Students came in to the Middle School band playing
  • Welcome from our principal 
  •  Band plays song
  •  5th grade girls doing a cheer for our 4th graders.
  • Skit put on from our leadership team which included a game show where the contestants shared goofy answers about the writing process.
  •   Band played again as students exited the cafeteria. 
The students could have easily spent this 30 minute period doing another practice prompt- but instead they got to relax, laugh, and see their administration do some crazy things.

I love hearing about ways to make Pep Rally events more exciting and interesting- please share here if you've done anything great at your school! The more ideas- the better!

Playing Cheerleader,

Your Floridian Chick:)

Monday, March 10, 2014

February results, March goals!

My promise in 2014 was to set monthly goals for myself for my school. So the results are in! Let's take a look:

1. Continue SS GRIN for every Thursday in February
2.  Start Ready to learn in 3rd grade for the 10 3rd grade classrooms we have.
3. Start at least ONE lunch bunch group for a specific group of students (thinking girls for behavior?).

1. I am continuing to do my boys SS GRIN group each Thursday in the extended day program. This has been a great way to see more kids and not feel the pressure to get them back to class by a specific time. 
2. I completed 4 of my 5 guidance lessons ism 3rd grade. This week I am trying desperately to fit in the  last group of lessons this week between district meetings and RTI meetings.
3. I did start 2 small groups for girls. We meet during their lunch time and I kept them to 5 girls each. I forget  each time I do a group how much I absolutely love them. They are the perfect way to connect with these students. 

Now for that month of March: I have to admit I have a few obstacles..
1. spring break- 1 full week 
2. district testing- 6-7 school days
3. ESOL testing ( state tests we have to give to students who speak a language other than english at home) 4 school days 

BUT-enough with the bad, let's get to the good!

1.Finish my 2 girls groups
2. Finish the SS GRIN boys groups
3.Start 2 more lunch bunch groups

Here's to working through obstacles, and making moves!

Your Floridian chick 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monique Burrs Foundation

Over the last year and half, I have had the privileged of working with the Monique Burr Foundation  through our county. The district views child abuse prevention as an essential part of elementary curriculum in our schools. While this is an awful topic that I truly hate discussing, it is one that children need to learn about in order to stay safe from strangers, and even those they know. I have been trained in 2 of their programs: The Speak Up Be Safe (SUBS) program, which is now called Child Safety Matters, and Darkness to Light . Child Safety Matters is a program for children in the classroom that teaches prevention; it aims to educate children K-5, and is supported by the DOE in FL, and DCF. The main points about this program entail:

What is child abuse?
Explain what physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and neglect are.
Bullying & cyber bullying- what is it and how to prevent it? 
What to do if you see bullying/cyber bullying?

Now I know what you are thinking: Talking about all these types of abuse in PUBLIC- ELEMENTARY school?! Yes, sadly, these are real issues that need to be addressed. The MBF does a phenomenal job of making the lessons interactive, fun, yet soft enough of an issue that children do not leave scared or worried for their own well being. 

When I attended the Darkness to Light workshop and training, I have to admit- I had no idea what I was in for. I knew that we would be discussing children in some capacity and I figured since the MBF was putting it on, it would include prevention information of some sort. What I was shocked by was how moving these hours were for me. I have never been sexually abused, nor have I heard of anyone personally who has been involved in sexual abuse in any capacity. I left with real names and emotions of people who have had to live through these awful experiences. These people show courage, strength, and resilience. 

This program is adult focused, that shares sad but true stories of sexual abuse. This prevention program left me thinking about these personal stories- days, weeks, and now months later. It is the only national, evidence-based program that teaches adults how to prevent sexual abuse. The intentions of this program are for adults to take this information and use the knowledge to keep students safe. 

I love sharing about this non-profit because it feels only right to share how good things can come from very awful situations. 

Keeping our kids a little safer,

Your Floridian Chick! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Birthday!

One of the committees we have at school is the sunshine committee; the main purpose is to encourage staff and students and to provide activities that will benefit everyone! This year we decided to have monthly breakfasts for staff members who were celebrating their birthday! Everyone is welcome to bring in homemade or store bought treats, and it makes a Friday morning extra special! 
Does your school do anything for staff birthdays? Share your ideas with #SC here! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Principal Counselor reception to celebrate #NSCW14!

During National School Counselor Week 2014, the First Coast Counselor Association held their spring event to honor those principals and counselors who have gone above and beyond for their students. The event was held at a local university from 5-7pm on Wednesday night. FCCA offered tasty appetizers, and recognized one counselor and one principal from different schools in our district. The Monique Burr Foundation helped sponsor the event and Lynn, the executive director spoke about the importance of mental health- this is a wonderful organization and will be posting about them in the weeks to come!

Our guest speaker was one of our school board members speak about how crucial the relationship is between counselor and principal. Personally, I feel that I cannot do my job to the full, without the support of my principal.

It was a wonderful opportunity for principals and counselors to sit OUTSIDE the school walls and enjoy time together. My principal and I got to chat about our lives, laugh a little and eat some treats- one of my favorite activities!:)

A school board member sharing her view of why counseling is great!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accountability Goals- February!

I told you I would be reporting- honestly- about my January goals, so here they are! To recap, I wrote these goals during winter break to hold myself accountable.

1. Start the  Speak Up Be Safe in our seven  4th grade classrooms.
2. Finish lunch bunch with three 5th grade classes
3. Start the SS GRIN small group for my 3rd grade boys.

1. 4 weeks of  Speak Up Be Safe have been completed! The kids love these lessons and it really is so important to share this difficult information with them.
2. Lunch bunch: in 99 school days, I ate lunch with every single child in the school - 526 to date! It is safe to say that I am full!
3. I have started SS GRIN and am on week 3 of 10! I wish I had started it earlier in the year, but at least it has been started!

February Goals:
1. Continue SS GRIN for every Thursday in February
2.  Start Ready to learn in 3rd grade for the 10 3rd grade classrooms we have.
3. Start at least ONE lunch bunch group for a specific group of students (thinking girls for behavior?).

WAHOO! Here is to the month of love- love for this job, this school, and love for eating lunch!

Floridian Love,
Your Chicka! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Family Academic Night!

In years past, our school had different nights to celebrate each major subject. We began to notice though, that attendance was low for most of these nights. In order to improve attendance and build parent support, we started  "family academic night" This past Thursday all the teachers worked together to create activities for each subject for the whole family to get involved in. This included a science, math, reading, and writing room- all of which had hands on activities for the students and parents. There was also a technology and integrating all subjects seminar as well. It was a great event that people enjoyed! Our district is big on "center rotations" these days, so many of the classrooms had different activities for each particular subject. Here are some of the things we did:

Reading-Making book marks,exchanging books and donating them.
Writing- Experience tasting different foods and writing about how it tasted using sensory details.
Math-playing card games to practice fractions
Science-finding your heart rate and creating electricity with circuits
Technology-Showing parents how to access the grade portals and exposing parents to the classroom technology that their children are using everyday!
Integrating all subjects- practicing calligraphy and how it involves art, social studies, and writing.
I am always looking for new ideas to bring to these family nights, 
Please share here!
Enjoying family fun,
Your Floridian Chick

Friday, January 31, 2014

Superintendents making time for counselors!

Going along with the theme of these last few posts, I am continually amazed by how large this district is. We have 106 elementary schools alone that cover the city of Jacksonville. The superintendent has a very big job, making sure everyone is abiding by the local, state, and national laws, and try to educate dozens of thousands of little people who will one day be running this country.  When you think about how many different jobs make up a district, the counselors are sometimes left to the waste side, trying to cover 10 different bases all at the same time.

I was pleasantly surprised last week to sit down with the Superintendent himself and ask face to face questions. He invited about 15 counselors  from elementary, middle, and high schools across the district to give him the good, bad, and ugly of what we are experiencing during the day to day of our jobs.

He asked simple questions:
1. What has been your high and low of working in this county.
2. What are your concerns?
3. What do counselors need in order to be successful at their job?

It can be easy to invite people to a meeting, it can easy to ask questions; what I was impressed with was that he actually LISTENED and HEARD what we were saying. There are some things that are going very well, but there are others that need help, and he wants to change that.

Advocating for "your people" is crucial, and I am thankful that he wanted to hear what we had to say.

What works in your district?! What needs help?!

Loving this career,
Your Floridian Chick!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


From previous posts throughout the last 2 years, you can see that I work for a big..big district. While there are pros and cons to the big district, I am happy to report that I have some great news to share. Earlier this month was the School Choice EXPO. The district invited every school to promote what they are doing and share with future students what the school has to offer. In prior years, this was only for magnet and charter schools, yet this year they opened it up to everyone! I work at a neighborhood school, so MOST of our students come to us because they live in the area. We do have the opportunity to a few "special assignment" spots for those out of the area to come to our school. It was a neat opportunity to show our Bobcat pride and let others know what we do for and with our students.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Advocacy in our community

This past Friday goes down in the books as one of the more wild mornings we have had in a while. Our school was nominated by parents to win "Cool School of the week" on our local news station. A large group of students got to school bright and early and production time went into high year. They filmed 4- one minute clips featuring our music program, safety patrols, gifted program, and our very own morning  news production team. While 4 minutes clearly is not a long amount of time, it took over 2 hours to practice and record everything!  It was a great event that students really enjoyed and were proud of.

BUT, it got me thinking about advocacy...promoting what you do or what others do and letting the world know what is great about it. As school counselors, it is critical that we advocate for ourselves. The "Cool School" event advocates for great schools who are trying their best and working hard to achieve their goals. I want to put it out there and see what you all are doing:

What advocacy do YOU do in your community for people who do not have a child at your school, or work in the school system? How does your community know you exist?

what it is with kids and Krispy  Kremes?!
For me, honestly, I am starting to wonder.. does my community know what I do? How can I get the word out there that we are NOT guidance counselors, that we do not sit at our desk all day with a cup o' joe, and we do more than paperwork?!

Can't wait to hear answers and/or to get you wondering the same thing!

Learning new ways to advocate,
Your Floridian Chick!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 2014 Goals!

Happy New Year to my favorite blogging friends! The start of the new year brings about some reflection, and a time to look forward to things we want to do and how we are going to do it.

SO, with that said, each first of the month, I will be sharing my goals for the next 30 days. Some will be specific and data driven, others will be subjective and only determined through "the gut feeling". I give all the credit of this idea to the blog The school counselor kind. She is making goals for 2014 and it gave me the kick in the tush I needed to make some difficult goals and push myself.

1. Start the  Speak Up Be Safe in our seven  4th grade classrooms.
2. Finish lunch bunch with three 5th grade classes
3. Start the SS GRIN small group for my 3rd grade boys.

Sitting back on my couch, with the Christmas tree still on, and the television talking to me in the background, it is easy to make set these goals. January 6th I head back to work, it is my intention to complete these 3 goals. I will check back in come February 1st and let you know how things went! This not only shares my counseling ideas, but it holds me accountable to myself, my students and YOU!

Lets get a movin'!
Your Floridian chick

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Holiday presents to staff

I wanted to share a simple, inexpensive present I gave to staff members this holiday. Being the school counselor gives us the ability to work with literally.. everyone.. in the school. I love this part of the job, but when I think about how to buy presents or make presents, I wanted to stay within my budget, but also let people I know that I appreciate them. While the homeroom teachers get presents from their students, many of the "resource" teachers, front office staff, special education teachers, aids, etc. might not get as much love as they should!  I got jelly jars from the local grocery store (the Dollar store also has these!), and made candied pecans.

Candied Pecans:
1 Tablespoon Water
1 egg white beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds of pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix together the ingredients and add pecans with a slotted spoon. Place pecans on cookie sheet with parchment paper on single layer.  Cook for one hour. Let cool, separate pecans and store in container. They freeze well too!

I doubled the recipe and made jelly jars for 16 people and had  left overs too:)

The hardest part was waiting an hour to "taste test" these little treats.

It was a little something that staff members enjoyed and I hope you will as well!

Nuts for school counseling,
Your Floridian Chick!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Party!

WHEW! Friends, it has been quite a while since my last post. No excuse will do justice, but I do have some fun to share about the last month of life:)

I feel one of the major roles as a counselor in a school is to be the cheerleader. Our school is compiled of a few different committees. I am a co-chair of the school climate committee. Our big responsibilities include Red Ribbon week, winter and spring luncheons for the faculty, and spirit week. I feel like these activities fall under my job- so I might as well help with the committee!

Our committee planned for weeks to make a great winter luncheon for the faculty/staff who have worked their tails off during the first semester. In addition to the paper invitation, our PE and art teacher went "door to door" to staff members dressed up at the Polar Express conductor and the homeless man on the top of the train to deliver "golden tickets". The staff laughed long and hard- a memorable moment for sure!  I hope you can use some of these ideas for next year! While getting high test scores, good grades, efficient/effective lesson plans are important, it is also crucial to actually TALK to the people we work with, and know who they are outside the 4 walls of the school building.

Invitation in each mailbox!
Place settings for each person

My amazing co-chair and I dressed up for festive sweater contest!

Gift certificates from the principal to the storeroom!

Did someone say dessert? 

Well friends, I promise to be getting back to speed in the next few days as I recap the last few events that are worth sharing! I wish you and your family a very merry and happy new year and cannot wait to see what 2014 brings for all of us!

With a very full Christmas cookie belly,

Your Floridian Chick

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A one in a million kind of afternoon

Usually in my week, there are a few great moments that I walk away with thinking- "THIS is why I do what I do". This post takes the cake for events though. Big Brothers Big Sisters tutoring started at school, and it was out of this world. High school students from our neighborhood came over on a bus for a part of their afternoon and tutored some of our struggling students. Not only was this an educational event that will be happening every other week, but it was beneficial from a social and emotional aspect as well. To see the elementary student's faces and how excited they were to be with "someone so old" and learn from there- was an amazing experience as a fly on the wall. BBBS is a phenomenal program that we are very fortunate to have and I cannot wait to see where this year takes both sets of students as they grow and prosper academically, socially and emotionally.

With tons of love and happiness today,
Your Floridian Chick

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving lunch!

Well I have to admit- I was wrong! I bring my own lunch every single day. I thoroughly enjoy my vegetables, fruit, and sandwich. Yet the district offered a "full Thanksgiving meal" so I took a leap of faith and went for it. IT WAS GOOD! And shockingly full! 

Moral of the story-go out on a limb, that's where the fruit ( or in this case-turkey) is! 

With thanks, 
Your Floridian chick 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A patriotic, donut kind of morning!

If you have been following my blog over the last few years, you might have noticed that I shared information last year about donuts with dudes and our flag raising ceremony for Veterans Day. Yet this year was better than the last and I wanted to share what we did differently to make it better. 

This year, we had over 300 people attend our donuts with dudes breakfast where we bought 45 dozen donuts and 10 gallons of orange juice. Yes, you read correctly, 45 dozen donuts-450 donuts, and surprisingly only had 5 dozen left! Last year, we only had about 200 dads and thinking about what we did differently, we marketed our event like this:

1. We used the announcements each morning for 2 weeks to talk about the event. 
2. We sent home flyers 10 days in advance instead of just 7.
3. We reminded teachers to put it on their front board as a visual reminder to the students. 
4. We put flyers in ether main offce so every parent/guardian that came in, saw our note!

We encouraged our dudes to stay for the flag raising ceremony and Veterans Day celebration and many did! By having the 2 events go right after each other, it made it easier to have everyone at school at one time instead of two. 

Since we live near a naval base, we had men who currently serve in the Navy share their experiences of where they had been, their jobs, and where they were going next. We were also able to talk about our character of the month, patriotism, and why we celebrate our country. 

It was moving to see how much they did for our country, and I feel fortunate to live in a country where people are willing to serve. 

Enjoy the pictures and thank you to all the people who have served and currently serve this great country!

Patriotically yours,

Your Floridian chick 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


It seems like it is that time of year for PD! Over a 3 day period, I traveled to the gulf coast and got to spend some serious time with over 300+ counselors from all over the state. We shared ideas that we love, lessons that worked, and therapies that helped change our kids from struggling to superstars. I could easily go through and write a novel on each session I attended and  the 10 take aways that I will be bringing back to school, but lets be serious,- I  will narrow it down to a few overall take-away themes during my FSCA weekend:

1. School Climate: working from the inside out, not the outside in. While it is great to hire a security guard, tint windows, and lock doors, it is also important to do the following:
  • Make your school relationship focused, student centered, with restorative consequences and increased student voices. When our school climate is positive, our academic achievement is improved. 
    • How do we do this: Say hello to student as they walk through your door. Ask them how they are, create those relationships so that the student respects you and KNOWS you. Listen to the words they are saying, and try to understand how they might be feeling. These might seem like simple, little ideas, but they WILL make a difference. Connections count!
2. Create a college/career going culture. Not every career needs college, but all careers need some training. Prior to this conference, I was putting career topics on the back burner. "My students are in 3-5 grade, they don't need to know about college/careers yet.." WOW, was I wrong! There are amazing elementary schools doing week long career weeks, teaching their students about how their interests, abilities, and strengths can take them to careers they will LOVE!  A huge take away from this conference will be implementing career topics into my classroom visits, and hopefully having a career week in the spring.

3. I don't know what I don't know! Just when I thought that I was getting the hang of what is going on in my district, how the state looks at school counselors, and what our expectations are, I get a reality check that I have SO much to learn. THIS is why it is crucial to attend conferences, seminars, webinars, etc. so we can learn and develop not only as a professional, but as a person too. I met dozens of people this weekend that are polar opposites from me; they bring so much to the table that I would have never thought of, and it is amazing to me to see how generous and kind people are to share their views on how to improve.

This weekend was so much more than  2 speakers, 5 breakout sessions, and a few meetings. It was learning about what kind of counselor I am, what kind of counselors I want to be, and a the steps I need to get there.

Until next time my friends,
Your Floridian Chick

RAMP it up!

One of the sessions I was fortunate enough to attend during our county conference was about getting your own program RAMP certified. In the counseling world, RAMP means your program would be a Recognized ASCA Model Program. This is a HUGE deal and is incredibly difficult to attain. 2 of our counselors from a nearby elementary school received RAMP last year and were willing to share with us what the process is and how much work truly goes into it! This is something that I am looking into and felt very lucky to hear from current RAMP counselors about their trials, errors, and successes during their application.

 I am curious though, what is the difference between RAMP certification, NBCC certification, and NCC certification? I would love some advice on pros and cons of each and how to decide on which to pursue.

Any counselors have any expertise?

Excitedly pursuing,
Your Floridian Chick

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walk the Walk, Talk the Walk for RED Ribbon Week!

The annual red ribbon week has already come and gone this year, but I wanted to share with you our exciting week and how it went!  We had a 4 day week so we day we dressed up to "fight drugs". Our theme this year was "Walk the walk, talk the talk" and our decorations showed it!

Here are some ideas hopefully you can use for future dress up days:

Monday- Follow your dreams, not drugs- Pajama Day!
Tuesday- Career Day! What do you want to be when you grow up?
Wednesday- Team up against drugs-wear your favorite jersey
Thursday- Red Ribbon Celebration- Wear as much red as possible!
  • I am no fool, I intentionally put pajama day on Monday- who doesn't want to wear sweatpants, a t-shirt, and a robe to work on a Monday?
  •  As for career day, I went for comfort again and dressed up as an Olympic Athletic runner! I had a medal in my office from the Disney 1/2 marathon, so I wore my sneakers, running shirt, work out Capri pants, and my medal! I taped "#Runner #9887" to my back and off I went!
  • As for Wednesday, I had to represent my college, and went with a JMU football jersey.
  • Lunch for our winners!
  • Thursday was full of red, with a red shirt, hair accessory, and bracelet. 
As for activities, the students could submit posters and one page essays promoting our theme of Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk and why drugs are harmful. Each grade had 3 winners for each contest. We ate a very fancy lunch tomorrow consisting of pizza from a local restaurant!  As you can see from the pictures, this giant train was hung in our cafeteria with the children's picture in each bubble. Teachers gave students the opportunity in class to make these so they could be hung up to promote unity against drugs!

Overall, it was a great week and I am thankful for all of YOUR ideas that you share with me!

Sincerely yours,
Floridian Chick

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2nd annual County Conference

I think I am still on a high from this past Friday and have been dying to get to the computer to tell YOU all about it!  Our county had it's second annual counselor's conference at a local university. The conference consisted of counselors from our entire county in elementary, middle and high schools, all coming together to share ideas and strategies to help our students. Our day started off with a message from our superintendent, followed by great keynote speaker! Between the hours of 9-2:25,over 200 people spent 4 sessions with 8 different speakers each time slot, to share their expertise and knowledge about a variety of topics (32 choices is a beautiful- but difficult thing!).

After 2 sessions, we stopped for lunch and resource fair. Check out the list to the side- we had so many different organizations share their information and I know I am not the only one already plotting ways to get their organizations into our schools!After some wonderful Jimmy Johns, we headed back to the classrooms and got to enjoy 2 more sessions before calling it a day!

I was fortunate to be a very small part of this day, helping on the committee. I really enjoyed the "behind the scenes" aspect and would definitely recommend to any new or tenured counselors to join in on the next conference you attend.  Well that is all for now, I will keep you posted about more conference material I come across later in the week! Thanks for stopping by!
Special thanks for all the counselors who helped make today possible!!

Any suggestions on what makes a conference great? Let me know!

Soaking up the knowledge,
Your Floridian chick!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Inexpensive Finds!

5 years ago if you had asked me to be a scavenger in a Goodwill or thrift store, I would have politely declined the offer. I cannot say that I used to do my regular shopping at these stores, but times have changed and they are my new favorite place.

During a recent visit to a Goodwill store, I came across tons of games that I could use for counseling.  Candyland and Operation do not exactly scream counseling services to me, but with the right imagination and tweaking, these $1.99 games have changed up my brief counseling sessions for the better and gave me a little more to work with.

I highly recommend checking out these places to find great deals on games and toys that are normally 10x more $$ in the Toys R Us.

Saving money as we go,
Your Floridian chick:)

Monday, October 14, 2013

My perspective of teaching

After seeing these teachers each and every day, I have come to the conclusion that when they get their teaching degree, they should also get a degree in drama as well.

Yes, I said DRAMA.

These teachers get on their "stage" each morning and for 7-8 straight hours; they talk, share, demonstrate, and lead their students on their specific subject.  They are on their feet, moving 100 miles a minute trying to hold the attention of 25 students who EACH have their own wants and needs.They essentially are putting on a day long play for their "audience", and do everything they can to get a their standing ovation at the end of the day (this comes in the form of high test scores and conduct grades).

This job as a teacher is so much harder than one would think. They spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each August to make their rooms beautiful and bright. They spend hours prepping for the class as a whole, and then spend hours prepping for specific children who have special accommodations.

I go into each classroom for 30 minutes each week and "perform" my guidance lessons. I might do 5 lessons a day- at most- and even after that- I feel I have exhausted my energy.

I don't know how you do it, but you do it. So thank you for being a wonderful actor/actress and putting on a phenomenal show each day! YOU are appreciated!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Creating Community

A few posts ago, I shared I was out of school because I was sick. Being that we are counselors, relational people, who love exchanging  information, I might as well share with my "online counseling family" that I have been out sick with my first attack of Multiple Sclerosis.  I missed 6 school days but heading back to work is a beautiful thing!  I have had some serious time to reflect on the loving, empathetic staff I work with. 

It got me thinking: How is community created? It will never be measured by test scores or a school improvement plan. It will never be given a grade and it will certainly not be measured by the state standard.  The role of community is created in between the lesson plans, the lunch breaks, and the hallway chats. It is created in times of crisis, great sadness, and in times of pure joy.
When I think of how my school community has been formed and how it is possible that after just one year, I can feel the pure love from these 50 individuals, I wanted to write a "how to love your staff" handbook and give it to every school in the district.There is no clear cut answer as to how to create community but I think there are a few things that can make a difference:

1. Go out on a limb- Go talk to someone, or join a committee that you do not know about.
2. Cover for your friends, and cover for people who aren't your friends. There will be a day when a colleague can't make their duty, or has a meeting. Help them! That 30 minute coverage you are doing for someone else will be remembered far longer than 30 minutes. It all makes a difference.
3. Complement others. It is easy to judge and say how you would have dealt with this student or that student, but everyone is trying, and a good complement goes a long way.
4. Empathize- Know that everyone has a different story to tell and a history that may or may not be written on their sleeve. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. My entire staff just found out on Wednesday I had MS. The number of texts/emails/conversations that went " BUT I had NO idea?!" are too many to count at this point.
5. Leadership is key- having a strong leader (principal) makes it easier. If he/she is promoting the love, others will follow.
6. Make cookies- I don't know what it is about a little brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, but it seems to work. Bring them to your work room, put them in the teacher's mailboxes. People who have treats are usually happier- it's just that simple.

Well, I could be wrong, but I think community is the single most important part of work. I will be on Twitter on Thursday October 10th on #ESCChat (Elementary School Counselor Chat) on chat about how to create a healthy community in your school. I would love you to join and share your ideas too!  Tweet me-@SCfromAZ!

Feelin' the love,

Your Floridian Chick!

Reading Kick off!

We are going to hang up this sign outside the library !
Each year our school has a reading kick off to encourage our students to reach their reading goal. Our reading coach created an exciting environment to get students pumped to read a total of 33,000 books from the start of the school year through the end of May. If the goal of 33,000 books is reached, the principal, vice principal, and myself will get PIED in the face by over 500 students! Luckily I enjoy pie, so I will clearly be encouraging our kiddos!

In addition to the school goal, each individual student has an individual goal to read over 25 books.IF they are able to read 25 or more books, they will have a FULL day filled with pizza parties, bounce houses, games, and arts and crafts. I saw this come to life last year for the first time and was amazed by the hard work and planning that was involved by the committee.
Over 500 students, 50+ teachers, and a TON of energy!

 Dreaming of pies,
Your Floridian chick!