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!