Thursday, July 30, 2015

Child abuse prevention conference

VERY interesting statistics
Child abuse: everyone knows it exists, but the thought makes your skin crawl. I was able to attend the Crimes Against Kids Conference, put on by the Florida network of Child Advocacy Centers, The National Child Advocacy Center was there to represent as well, and WOW! Some amazing people with great research presented. The statistics are startling, and while it brings me anxiety to think about the safety of our children- I am resting assured knowing that we have very capable,proactive law enforcement investigators that  know what to do to catch those who are mentally unstable. 

I came away with two key points from this conference:

1. As mental health providers, and law enforcement, we truly passionate about helping others, especially children. We need to be very cognizant of our OWN mental health. We work with confidential cases that are heartbreaking to hear. How we deal and process this kind of information is crucial for our stability and lifestyle. 

Me & our favorite Mouse:)
2. Child (physical, sexual, emotional) abusers are smart- they know how to talk to children online, what to say to them, how to convince a whole school/town to think they are someone they aren't (i.e. Jerry Sandusky anyone?) while I want to trust others, I think we all need to be alert 110% of the time- in order to protect those we care about. 

The more conferences I go to, the more I interact with people of the same passion I do for education, mental health- the more I am learning about all the ways to unify the community to protect, grow, and hopefully help people be the best they can be! 

I'll leave you with a little hint of where I was:)

Gotta love those ears,

Your Floridian Chicka

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer jobs for school counselors

Our role is kind of weird isn't it? We don't have a classroom, and we aren't principals/administration either. We work with every population under the sun (kids, parents, grandparents), and are located in a school. When I started thinking about what I do with my summer months off, and my type A, hyper, extroverted personality, I started to worry... 8 weeks with no to do list...8 weeks with no paycheck...8 weeks with time to help, but no school in session... Well life hit me like a brick- as it always does, and I found a role that was perfect for my set of gifts. This summer I have had the amazing opportunity to see what the nonprofit world is like. I am working for a child advocacy organization. This organization does indirect services for elementary school age children, and gives schools lessons and programs to implement during the school year.

I am able to learn from well trained leaders in the non-profit world as we collaborate to streamline, edit, and improve their program to make it the best it can be. I am learning a ton from this group and feel very foruntate to be improving my own communication skills, and seeing the educational system from a  completely different lense than I do during the school year.

Hope you are enjoying your summer- weather you are relaxing by a pool, or working elsewhere:)

More work but more play, 
Your Floridian chick 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ASCA15 Session Take-Aways

I am finally sitting down to write this, after a long day of starring at this computer screen for my summer job (posting soon about that one too!), but if I don't get this post out soon- the school year will be here and we will be spinning our wheels to get things moving!

SO- if you were not able to get to ASCA15, you saved your skin from burning (it was H-O-T!), and probably some money, but I can say from the girl who hates to be hot, and who has a tight budget- it was ALL worth it. While state conferences are great, having ideas/plans/networking from around the country, you are able to take your program to the next level and learn outside the (state) box. 

The following are the sessions I attended and 2-3 main ideas that YOU can USE at your school. While I love theory- I feel that at a conference, I am there for tangible, usable ideas that I can turn around the use the next day (in this case, that would be August... but you get the idea).

Her Contact Info:)
School Counseling with heART with Julie Ford (Oregon): This woman was SO funny- you can tell she loves what she does. She had great ideas but here were my favorites:
  • Pre/post data-using students pictures, scales, circling how they feel before and after.  
  • Postcard to yourself- decorate the front, message on the back to encourage yourself. 
  • Goal setting- Vision board for long or short term goals, mind mapping (like a word web, but with pictures), shields,
  • Coping Skills- Mandalas, Zentangle/Doodle Art, Mad Sticks: Pipe cleaner and beads- put the beads on, and then take them off- count while you are doing it, helps to calm down students.
Career Exploration with Cartoons:
I never thought to use cartoons but it can be such a simple idea with YouTube!
Key Takeaways:
  • Use characters that mirror your population (This makes perfect sense, but I had not made the connection until they shared this.). 
  • Paws in Jobland- Free website, great for primary grades. 
  • movie segments for class guidance. Bubble Guppies, Nick Junior STEM, Fairly Odd Parents, Boy meets World, Hey! It's Arnold- ALL of these have career episodes/segments you can use!
  • Connecting to the content: career days, Get everyone involved (music class can make a jingle for a new product, family consumer science can have a bake sale, art classes can do advertising, PTA can get donations from the community)
How to make your own Webinar:
Webinars can be great for any age groups- either for parents/community for elementary grades, or for your students in middle/high school. People are busy- if you give them an online option, they will be able to connect to your information at a time that is convenient for them. 
  • Google Hangouts- anyone can view these as long as they have the internet. This is what they recommended. You will need a Gmail account for this. If you don't already have gmail- I highly recommend it. 
  • Screen-cast-o-matic- records what you are doing on your computer for up to 15 minutes. If you are doing a powerpoint, you can have the audience look at your presentation and you can go to different screens/websites- all recording step by step processes. 
  • Educreations and sceenr are free as well
  • Padlet and Linoit are both online bulletin boards that people can write questions and you can answer them. 
Solution Focused Sessions- I went to two on this topic because it has so many tangible take-aways. One was strictly a list of activities to do, and the other was more macro/big picture thinking. 
  • Using scales: Thermostats, 1-10 Small-large, drawing a line. inflating/deflating a balloon. This can help us understand where they are coming from. 
  • Future thinking- what do you want to happen? What would you like instead of the problem? Write a letter to the future you. 
  • Drawing- picking colors that reflect each feeling, drawing your future. 
  • Using their hands/object to describe their situation. 

The other solution focused session focused on the big picture:
  • Moving forward- lets look for small changes, not big ones. 
  • Success comes in the CANS, not the CANNOTS.
  • The way you see the problem- is the problem.  Look at the times that the student has been doing a great job, not the times when the student has been getting in trouble. 

Blah to Blazing presentation skills: I loved this one, the 3 presenters truly have their heart in what they do, and did a great job sharing their information. 
  • Blah: unfocused presentation, no agent, trying to cover too much, overloaded presentation, reading the powerpoint (my biggest pet peeve!)
  • BLAZING!: Find your strength and build off of it. Command control- be powerful! Dress to impress- sometimes we think we are standing in front of your peers (faculty), so we don't need to look professional, but WE DO! The simple rule is to dress one level "up" from your audience. Use analogies   to communicate what you are saying. Speak slowly- even if it does not feel normal, we tend to get excited/nervous when we are in the spotlight. Finally- create a memorable quote- something to leave your audience with that captures your message. 
OH I could go on and on about more sessions but these stood out to me as a few of my favorites If you were at #ASCA15, which ones were your favorite? 

You better believe you will be seeing me in New Orleans for ASCA16!

Spiced up!
Your Floridian Chicka

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life Lessons from Broadway

I will definitely be getting to the #ASCA session details soon, but the speakers just kept blowing me away. Sometimes it takes a different perspective (i.e.- a broadway dancer turned author?!), to see the gifts that life has given you.

The closing keynote before we all drove/flew away from ASCA15, was an amazing Broadway performer, and author of the middle schools books, "Better Nate than ever!",  and "Five, Six, Seven, Nate!" Tim Federle. While he is a gifted speaker, and obviously talented performer, his message was worthwhile, honest, and inspiring. most of all. He gave us 7 life lessons that he wished someone had told him when he was young. I do NO justice to his words, but here is my recap:

" I wish someone had told me...":

1. The struggles in life help us define who we are.

  •  Think about a tough time in your life, how did you get through it? How did it make you stronger? When I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, who knew that would be the gift of a lifetime?!
2. Perfectionism is overrated. GRIT will get you where you want to go.

  •  If everything was easy, we wouldn't appreciate what we've got.  Thank goodness someone said this, I am about as imperfect as it gets these days, but I am willing to push up my sleeves and get a little dirty. 

3. The world has bullies, they exist in all ages, types, and forms. Build resiliency and coping skills to be able to work with these people. 

  • PREACH IT Tim! If he wrote an entire book with only this line, I would buy 10 copies.
4. Follow your dreams, but also follow your one line ideas- the wims- they can become something you never would have dreamed of. 

  • Try it all out, you never know where life will take you. I started to think like this when I got to college, but I wish I had started earlier. 
5. Be nice-to everyone, from the top of the totem pole, all the way to the bottom.

  • Character education at its finest! Let's be serious, everyone was at the bottom at some point (maybe some of us are still there:)). 
6. Everyone is always starting over. We are "growing ups", not grown ups. No matter your age, we always want to try something new, go somewhere different, explore those places, those things. You might find something new that sparks your interest.

  • You've never done growing. I tell my students this often, "when I grow up I want to be..." They look at me funny, but I tell them I am not done my career/aspirations. I hope I never will be.
7. You never know who will change your life. 

  • Go out on a limb, meet someone new- that's where you find the fruit. If someone has hold me in 7th grade, I would be marrying the guy across the room, I would've fallen off my chair. 
While he produced MUCH more laughter than I ever could, his message was from the heart. Using these ideas,  I think we can all come away with some new perspectives, ways of thinking, that we can then share with our students. 

Wow did I love this guy! Thanks Tim for who you are, where you've been, and where you're going. 

Lessons learned,
Your Floridian chick!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

ASCA for First Timers

When I say this was last minute, I really mean last minute. On June 1 if you had told me I would be going to a conference that would change my perspective on this career, I wouldn't have believed you. Yet little did I know, I would be offered the opportunity to go, and the rest is history.

 In the few shorts weeks.. well days..before this trip, I had preconceived expectations of what this week would look like. I figured there would be some good sessions, some slower sessions, and maybe I would get to meet a friend or two from my Twitter account. BUT when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong and this is a perfect example of why expectations can change our mindset. This conference fundamentally is about connecting, networking, building, growing, and expanding our knowledge base of counseling on the school setting ( too many verbs, I know....). 

As soon as I got to the Phoenix airport, the butterflies in my stomach, and the feeling of excitement took over. Starting with registration, the exhibit hall, and obviously the people- this conference is a well oiled machine and I commend the staff who worked so hard to make this as amazing as it was. Over the next few posts, I will be sharing the highs and... well highs of this conference, and give you my perspective of the take aways from this experience. So without further a due, I give you perspective 1: the opening session.

My first question: How do they get these speakers?! Everyone left me in awe of their passion for what they do. 

Opening session: Fredi Lajvardi is a long time teacher, and now famous movie star from "spare parts" who chose to take teaching to another level. Working in an inner city, low income school- he spent time with students outside of the regular school day to create and compete underwater robotics. The story goes on to tell that they beat MIT, and many other universities with their GRIT, perseverance, and ability to do what others thought they couldn't. 

Wow- what a way to start a this week- it got my mind thinking about what I can be doing to build GRIT and improve my character education program. Readers: Your ASCA15 post nĂºmero uno homework assignment: watch the movie, and pick up a copy of the book!

Just the beginning!