Monday, December 17, 2012

How pure is pure?

On Friday, the halls and classrooms were filled with laughter, cupcakes, and crafts as the students got ready for their winter break. I was busy running from classroom to classroom visiting my friends (I call all students my friends, because let's be serious, they are!)  and wishing them a happy, healthy, winter break and new year. As I walked back in to the front office to check my email between parties, my principal pulled me into her office and away she clicked on her screen. CNN has posted in huge letters that over a dozen CHILDREN had been shot and killed...As tears filled all our eyes, and the panic filled my heart, you can't help but feel such deep sorrow for what our world has become.

It makes me wonder how such a pure, pure place could have such havoc and pain in a matter of minutes. Not one good thing has come of this massacre, but it is bringing attention to the importance of mental health in America. Just as we go to the medical doctor for a yearly check up, maybe we should think about getting emotional help when we need it to.

I pray for the future of this country, the future of mental health, and for these families as they mourn the loss of the most wonderful people on earth: children.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advisory Council

This past week I held my first Advisory Council meeting. This is a fancy term for gathering teachers, parents, students, administrators, and community members together for a morning of breakfast and learning about the counseling program. This group will meet twice a year, once in December and once in June, to discuss the department and how it can grow and become a stronger program. The meeting started at 7:45am and was over by 8:25am. We got bagels and O.J. and spread the word.

Since this is the first year there has been a full-time counselor at our school, I have had the opportunity to lay the foundation for what our counseling department is going to look like. I presented information from the teacher survey, the student survey and what the district "said" a school counselor "should" be doing. I also created a rough draft for my mission statement and my vision for the department. I shared information about the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) model looks like and how I would like to model my counseling program like that.

This was a PHENOMENAL way to let every group I work with understand the tasks of a school counselor and get feedback from each group about how to improve.

I would definitely recommend doing this for your school to get the word out about school counseling at your school!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Perfect attendance party

As students finished the first nine weeks of school, I wanted to reward those who came to school each and everyday and who were on time each morning. At the end of a Friday, students with perfect attendance were invited to the cafeteria for an ice cream celebration! Of the 515 students at school, about 230 were able to make an appearance and be congratulated on their hard work and effort over the last 9 weeks. The kids loved it and it gave them time to socialize with their friends in other classes and grades. I am a huge advocate of "positive parties" and feel that kids need time to recognize their efforts.  For the next 3 marking periods, I will be having parities for those with perfect attendance and would LOVE any ideas on how to make them feel special!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Donuts with DUDES

In society today, there are fewer and fewer families that live together under one roof with a Mother, Father, and children. Since there are so many different male role models in a child's life, the term "dude" sounded more appropriate and applicable to our school than just the term "Dad". On Friday morning, we had 40 dozen donuts and hundreds of "dudes"  (Dads, Step-Dads, Grandfathers, Pastors, Uncles, etc) with their children in the cafeteria for a special breakfast together. It was a time that children could show off their school and their friends to the wonderful dude in their life who is helping to raise them. We had a great time and had high attendance!  We were definitely be making this in to an annual event!

Stickers for all the Dudes!
A FULL cafeteria!

40 Dozen donuts and juice!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Food for thought!

During our first teacher planning day, our principal had a great idea to have a potluck breakfast. I feel that as a counselor, our role is to foster community and build relationships with and among teachers. While not all principals are as supportive as others, counselors have a very important job and can take advantage of days like this to work on community building.  Besides the fact that I love breakfast foods, I really think that by simply bringing in food- it brings people together. I got to talk with some teachers on a personal level that I usually do not get to. I hope you have the opportunity to build up your community at some point this year!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Counselor's Corner in our media center

After getting a little more acclimated to my school, I found that our media center was FULL of counseling resources but they were not in a centralized location. I worked with our librarian/media specialist and got a list of the books that could be helpful for students dealing with counseling issues. My goal is to have students refer books they are reading to me/media specialist. This way, the students are the ones who are helping boost the counselor's corner! After all- they are the experts in their own problems!  Hopefully this idea could be used in your media center!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Red Ribbon Week! We vote NO for drugs!

Goodness Gracious! I have been thinking about this blog and ideas to post, but have not hit the button to submit and publish these stories!

Last week was Red Ribbon Week at school and we had a great turn out! I was thrilled to see so many teachers and students participate.

This is how our week looked:

Monday-Walk the Red carpet!  Wear Red to kick off Red Ribbon Week!
Tuesday- “I am a JEAN-ious, I Don''t Let Drugs Sneak Up On me!" Wear sneakers and jeans to school!
Wednesday- Sock It To Drugs Day" wear the craziest socks you can find!
Thursday- “Living Drug-Free Is No Sweat” day with everyone wearing sweatpants/sweatshirts to school.
Friday- “Be a Star- Don’t do drugs!” Wear your school shirts to school and dress in blue and yellow!

This is how our students got involved:

·       1. Essay Contest- done at home, or at the teachers discretion during school "Why is it important to NOT do drugs?"
2. Poster contest -  Students use 8 1/2 by 11inch  piece of paper and can use one of the slogans from above or create their own.

Our quilt of "What we do instead of drugs!"
·      3.  Quilt- each child will make a patch to put on the quilt. On each diamond, we asked the students “what do you do instead of drugs?” They had teh choice to draw or write what they do and it is now hung in the Cafeteria!  
       4. Our PTA was kind enough to give out candy with anti-drug sayings!

Throughout the hallways, we hung up the posters!
The winners of the Poster contest- hung outside Cafeteria!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Share Chair

I saw this on Pinterest earlier this summer and was excited to add my own little twist to it. I bought this chair at Wal Mart for $9. I put a few stickers on it but here is a unique way to incorporate the students:

 Every time a student comes in and shares something- positive, negative, neutral- they will add a sticker to it. This way, they will know they are not alone in coming to talk with the counselor, and hopefully feel more comfortable.

I started with a few stickers on it so it would not look too bare but hopefully by the end of year, I will have it FILLED to the edges with stickers!

Monday, August 13, 2012

My New Office!!:)

 I have been looking forward to this day for SO long and it is finally here:
Today I started work
I have been setting up my office all summer, and I finally have things settled.  Here it is:

I made "no sew" curtains from Wal Mart (easy to make and inexpensive!) and I decorated the window for the hallway. I had kept  Beanie Babies (thank goodness for basements where these things have been sitting since 1998) and bobble heads which I was able to place around the room.

I have tried to make it "elementary friendly" while still keeping it somewhat uncluttered  because of my need to keep things simple and neat. I cannot wait to see what this year brings me and I feel thankful for the opportunity to work with others and encourage them!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Reading

Over the summer, our principal suggested we read this book. Now usually during the summer, I enjoy a mindless read on the beach so I have to admit, I was somewhat skeptical. Yet this book truly opened my eyes to ALL that poverty can do to a person and a family.  It speaks to what poverty does emotionally, cognitively, mentally, physically, and socially. Hard to believe it reaches all those categories? Don't worry- I thought so too. Yet when you read it, you can see-very clearly- it does.

Even if you THINK you know what our students are going through, this will give you a detailed perspective that will have you walking away with a different, more empathetic, open mind set.

Teaching with Poverty in mind By Eric Jensen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beginning before THE Beginning

       Hello sweet summer time! I took a hiatus from the blogging world over the summer but have good news to report on the A-Z blog front: I got a full time elementary school counseling job and will be starting in just a few short weeks! Since my last post, I got married and moved to the wonderful (and hot!) state of Florida, where my hubby and I are settling in to married life!

Some helpful hints for new counselors that have seemed to work for me:
            1. GET IN THERE ASAP! By going in each week during the summer, I have met families/students who were picking up/dropping off forms,etc. I have also met a few teachers and got to know the principal during her slow time of the year.  This is also good for finding your way through the school. I have gotten lost too many times BUT better now than in September when there are 500 other people in the school!
            2.CLEAN UP-The summer has been a great time to clean up (and throw out!) materials and "stuff" that the old counselor left behind. When the school year starts, counselors do not to be alone in their room- they want to be out meeting people,forming relationships, etc.
            3..NETWORK- By meeting as many people as I can, I am getting a pulse on the school, before it has even started. If you have 1 or 2 days before the staff comes in, any extra time will help!
            4..DO YOUR RESEARCH- By Being in  not only a new school, but a new state, there are tons of laws/information that are different from my other school/state. I have been reading all about the Florida school system and the unique acronyms that they use. While I still have A LOT more to learn, this is hopefully curb my transition.

ANY more suggestions are welcome! I want all the advice I can get!

There will definitely be more to come from A-Z but for now this Sunshine state girl is off to enjoy her last days of sweet summer time.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The end of an era!

August 22, 2011 seems like days ago, but clearly we have come a long way since the first day of my internship! Since August, I feel like I have grown so much as a person and as a counselor. During my last days at the elementary school, I received many kind words from faculty, staff and students, that encouraged me for what is it come. I would like to say a BIG thank you to all the people who shared ideas with me, helped me finish out my graduate school days with a smile, and those who gave me the inspiration to start a blog!

I will be continuing this blog this fall. Thanks for following and you'll hear from me soon!

My last day as an intern, hearing such kind words from some of my elementary friends.

 Florida, here I come!:)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Study advice for license tests (Local, state and national)!

In order to graduate from my program, I  had to take a multitude of tests ranging from a university given comprehensive exam to state exams and then finally (if you chose to ) a national exam. After scouring through Barnes and Noble, online, and it seems everywhere in between, I found two very helpful and useful books that enabled me to do well on my exams.

The first book, Encyclopedia of Counseling has over 1000+ questions to get you ready for the big test. I was able to pick it up when I had 5 minutes or when I had an ample amount of time.

The other book that I found to be useful was the book "Mastering the National Counselors Exam" This had information for every topic and questions to go along with the information.

Hopefully this will help you as you are walking the isles of Barnes and Noble looking for those "A+" books!

Enjoy and good luck!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kindergarten Night

Recently, the district I am interning at invited every 2012-2013 Kindergarten family to their very first district event! The panel of district employees included 2 school counselors, a kindergarten teacher, the head of curriculum and myself.
After this Kindergarten night, I complied the information and added to it to create a "Kindgarten morning" for incoming families to this elementary school. Some of the extra information that I gathered was from the Occupational Therapist at our school, and the kindergarten teachers. Here are some key issues/concerns O.T. is seeing with incoming Kinders:

1. Hand dominance- help children decide which hand will work best for them.
2. writing their own name- using correct upper and lower case letter.
3. drawing a person-including appropraite placement of hands, feet, arms, legs, and head.
4. scissors-appropriate grip, safety and using the opposite hand to guide.

As our Preschoolers are getting ready to head to elementary school, there are so many ways we can help them gear up to be great in Kindergarten. Hopefully some of this information will trigger an idea for you to something special for your new students!

A Bitter Sweet lesson!

Today, our F.I.S.H. group (Families In Separate Homes) ended. I began by giving them lemon juice with a VERY small amount of water- clearly, this drink was too sour for them! We talked about how divorce is kind of sour sometimes. Then I asked what are some ways that might help us to make the situation better. Every time they gave me an answer, I added water to their cup. By the end, their drinks were much sweeter and less sour!

Lemons are kind of like families who live in different places. There are some sour things that make divorce/separation difficult, but there are also sweet things about having parents live in different places (less fighting, more attention, etc.).

I hope you can use this in one of your groups because when life gives you lemons...:)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Friendship sand necklaces

Last week in our flower (friendship) group, second graders came together and talked about qualities that make up a great friend. We made a huge list on the board and from there, we narrowed down the list to 6 qualities that they felt were the most important.

From there, we assigned a color to a quality and they were allowed to choose 4 of their favorite qualities that they think they possessed. to make a sand necklace. They worked in pairs and helped each other to make their beautiful necklaces.

The girls left the office with their heads held high and enjoyed making the necklaces!  I hope you can do this in your office soon!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Formal dining" in 4th grade

I have started eating lunch with the 4th grade as a "Bon Voyage" as they make their way out of the elementary school and onto  the "5-6 School." I wanted to make this meal a little more special and make sure that they had a great time eating with their classmates and the counselors. Some easy ways to make them feel special include:
  •  An "invitation" to lunch instead of just a simple note
  • Centerpiece with a sign to welcome them
  • TWO choices of hand sanitizer (WAHOO!)
  • Name cards 
  • Table Cloths

These simple but extra things made them separate this lunch from all the other lunches that they have had with the counselor before.

As your oldest grade graduates from your school, hopefully you can use these simple ideas to make them feel great!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Divorce and "Pudding"

Today the third grade FISH (Families In Separate Homes) group met. During our time together,we read a great book called "Was it the chocolate pudding?" By, Sarah Levins

It is about a boy who made a mess of chocolate pudding and thinks that it was his mess that made his parents get divorced. By the end of the book, he realizes that it was not his fault and feels relieved!

After, we used "vanilla pudding" (A.K.A. shaving cream!) to draw pictures of how the boys in the book felt, and then we moved on to talking/drawing about how each of them felt about THEIR family/divorce. Not only was it fun for them, but it was a GREAT way to get them talking and sharing!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

G.I.R.L.S group fun!

This week was my first week of my new GIRLS group (Girls In Real Life Situations).  We started the group by listing AS MANY REASONS AS WE COULD about why girls are great! I have to share this list with you because it was amazing the kinds of things they came up with..

In case you can't read all of them, here are few:
Girls are great because...
-we can do flips
-we love Bounce U (local activity center)
-we get to wear dresses, skirts, AND pants!
-we eat (really, really, really) cool food!

This is not to say that boys are great too but the idea of this activity was to get the girls thinking about how great each and every one of them are, and what better way to start then with the fact that they are GIRLS!

Try this for a group and let their ideas flood the board!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Today I did a lesson in Kindergarten about making new friends. I used puppets and it confirmed for me how helpful they are. I could have easily read one of the many books about friendship, and it would have been effective. Yet by using puppets, it takes ME out of it and puts characters who are going through the same situations in the spotlight. Whether they be animal puppets or people puppets, I feel that using them in the classroom as well as individually with students can take on a whole new meaning for the child and help them see the characters as themselves.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Helpful tool for Small groups!

Here is an idea that might be helpful for small groups. Each time the group meets, I add a petal or a bubble. The flower is for my Girls/friendship groups, and the fish is for my Families In Separate Homes group. It is a helpful visual for the children so they know how many sessions are left, and helpful for me as a conscious reminder of where we are in our groups!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Proud to be ME week!

It seems like we have been planning for this week since September! "Proud To Be Me" was one of my biggest projects this year and I am thrilled to say that it went well!

P.T.B.M.Day started in 2010 when a young elementary school girl was being teased for her love of Star Wars in Illinois. Her full story is here: Katie's story  She worked through the teasing and came out stronger. We wanted to continue this positive idea of being proud of you by creating a whole week! Here is what it looked like: 

-HATS OFF to me! Wear your favorite hat to school today!
-HEART ME! Wear red or pink in honor of Y-O-U! Happy Valentine ’s Day!
GEAR UP TO BE GREEAAT!! What does your future hold? Wear your favorite school/college shirt, or dress up to show everyone what you want to be when you grow up.
EXPRESS YOURSELF, DRESS YOURSELF!Choose your clothes and wear your FAVORITE outfit that expresses who you are!
Proud to be me Quilt!
Other special events for the week included:
Making our school quilt. We hung all the 400+ patches together to create a school quilt to express our individuality. 
All grade meetings which lasted about 10 minutes in which we read a specific story about positive self esteem and gave the students a time to speak out about how they felt about the week!  
Rubber bracelets that said PROUD TO BE ME! were given to every student in the school to wear proudly!

Reading to 3rd grade!
Overall, I feel that the school did a great job participating and I hope that I can take this idea to school with me next year!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Milk and Cookies! A National School Counseling Week TREAT!

Cookies Galore!
National School Counseling week is officially upon us! To celebrate this week, every elementary school counselor in the district came together to promote this career and give back! This is just one of the reasons why I love this job; even though it is a week FOR school counselors, our counselors were the ones giving BACK to the district. We gathered together at the administration building and invited such individuals as the superintendent, administrative assistants, the human resources department, and the other school counselors in the middle and high school. We shared the great story, "Cookies Bite-size life lessons" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It is a phenomenal book that explains all the things you can do with a simple cookie!  After making a variety of cookies, we shared this story and paper  (pictured below).  A milk and cookies afternoon seemed to hit the spot and put a smile on many faces! I hope you have a great NSCW and take the time to thank YOUR school counselor.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Having a bunch for Lunch!

At the beginning of my internship, I felt that it was very important to get to know the faculty and staff. Lunch was a great place to talk to them as people- not just teachers. Now that I know the wonderful people that teach all our students, I have become a frequent visitor to the second grade. Starting in January, I invited 3-4 second grade students to lunch! We eat in the counseling office and have time to eat and play a short game. I feel that by meeting with a small group, I am really getting to know this grade! I have eaten with half of second grade and am making moves through the other classes to get to dine to each and every one of them! Here is the little reminder that I have in the middle of the table so ALL our little friends know what we expect during lunch. The sandwich poster is something I created last year which could be a good ice breaker if the group does not know one another very well. Enjoy your lunch!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Developing Postive Body Image in Young Girls

Since the beginning of 2012, I have started a 4th grade girls group. Each week we discuss a different topic and how it effects us as girls. This past week, we talked about positive body image and how social media, and society in general distort what true beauty is. Here are some pictures I found that a group could use to talk about the differences between these pictures. Taylor Swift has changed so much, but is she really "more" beautiful in recent picture than the first pictures? Girls today are seeing such a distorted image of beauty; the number one reason to do a group like this, would be to empower these young women to be proud of who they are and what they do.  I also showed them the DOVE campaign for real beauty.  They were shocked to say the least!
As an early teenager

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese chop sticks in second grade

When I planned for my day at my internship, the last thing I would have guessed that would pop into my life would be learning about culture in 2C. A second grade classroom took the time today to learn about the Chinese New Year. Parents from the Chinese culture brought in information, dragon costumes and more to help us understand how the holiday works and what unique events take place during their New Years celebration.

It got me thinking about cultural awareness and diversity. Some of the children had never held chop sticks while others were eating their dumplings with no problem at all. I would love to do a cultural awareness day and/or diversity day at the future school I work at, and would love some ideas for how to get the entire community involved.
Any advice on other holidays/events that the school could benefit from? What does your cultural day look like?

Monday, January 2, 2012

NYE party supplies for counselors!

Instead of tossing all the New Year's Eve party hats, napkins, and banners out after the new year has begun, you might want to think about keeping them around for a few months! You can use the NEW YEAR banners for the start of the school year in the fall. As counselors, we want to promote a positive outlook at the beginning of the school. It can be helpful to have a theme to get the teachers, administration and staff ready for a brand new school year! The banners, posters, hangers, from your New Year's party could be used in the staff room, mailroom, or in the hallway as the teachers arrive in August to set up their rooms.

Enjoy the new year of 2012 but remember to Ring in the new year again in September with your staff!