Monday, August 31, 2015

New office!

As you may have read from previous posts, I moved schools! Here is my new office and I am adjusting quickly to my new digs! I was given the choice of what furniture to have in my room, and I shared that all I needed was:
1. A desk for myself.
2. A table for lunch bunch and parent meetings.

I am fortunate to have a closet in my room, so I am able to hide all my files, and extra materials there, leaving me space in the room for actual counseling:). Having a window has been great for getting my name out there, but also, for my own mental health! There are large bushes outside the door so people cannot see it,BUT I can see out:). I hope this room brings me as much happiness as my old office did- but so far- so good!

Happy New Year! let's get a movin'!

Your Floridian Chick

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The "guidance counselor" has left the building!

I wrote this in our school's weekly newsletter hoping to get the word out on our name and why we should be called it! Advocating for ourselves is a huge part of our role, and I am very thankful for a administration that supports me. 

The "Guidance Counselor" Has Left the Building

No, the title is not a typo. The "guidance counselor" is gone and the "school counselor" is here! The term guidance counselor implies that I am the only person "guiding" our students.
This couldn't be farther from the truth! I help guide students, but so does every other adult in this building. The American School Counselor Association changed the name of our title a few years ago to appropriately call us what we are: counselors who happen to be in a school. Hence, the school counselor was named!
The role of the counselor is a unique one; I do not have a homeroom, I am not administration, and I do not have "direct reports." I have the opportunity to work with every student, every teacher, every person in the school! 
As adults, we would never talk to a counselor about our life whom we did not have a relationship with. I feel that way for students too. If the students do not know me, they will not want to talk to me about concerns, life struggles or what  they are going through. I try to develop relationships with every student through a variety of ways. 
Inviting the students to lunch bunch is a great time to play games, eat (one of my favorite things to do), and chat about their passions. I also go in classrooms to conduct lessons on character education, academic skills, conflict resolution, and more! In addition to those touch points, I have small groups for specific issues, such as changing families, self-esteem, being a boy groups, and effectively coping. 
I am meeting your children in the cafeteria, at arrival, dismissal, and in the hallways. The teachers have been very kind in helping me get acclimated, and have invited me to their rooms to get to know their students. 
I look forward to working with families from every grade as I continue to get to know them. Please introduce yourself when you see me around campus. Knowing faces and names is a top priority of mine and my goal is to know every face in this beautiful school. 

Amanda Sheroff 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Marketing your school counseling program 101!

Stand here- they have to see you!
Tri-fold #1: Welcome Station
Even though our degrees might be in psychology and counseling, it feels like I should have gotten a minor in marketing as well... The role of the school counselor can sometimes be hidden in a back office, off the beaten path, and have a negative connotation, or NO connotation at all!

 Example A: Yesterday a parent asked if he could come talk about his dreams so I could psychoanalyze them... A smile and a laugh later, I informed him that I would NOT be able to do that... on the basis that I am not a psychic, nor am I Freud... 
Plan yourself HERE: The Welcome table!

Tri-fodl #2-in the car tag room,
where EVERY parent HAS to go:)
I use this silly example to show how little people know about our role. We HAVE to market our program, or else it will be marketed/interpreted for us.

Here are my top 3 Marketing Tips to get your foot in the door, your name on peoples mouth, and your presence KNOWN for all (teachers, admin, parents, and most importantly, students!):

1. Meet EVERYone and ANYone.. from the Principal to the custodians. I would argue that the custodian is the most important person you need to know, but that is for another time. Go to each room individually, with a notebook, and introduce yourself, and learn ONE thing about that person. Write it down and then go home and STUDY! If you do not make connections with the staff, there is NO way you will get to know the students.  Write a thank you card to each staff member.. Yes that means you go to the dollar store, buy a pack of thank you cards and get writing! I didn't write a novel in each card, but I DID write about a personal connection in each one. "Thank you for letting me come to your room, I loved your bird theme... Thank you for sharing with me about your husbands job... etc."

2. There is no way we can be in 10 places at once. This is where your brochure and tri-folds come in. Have your traveling bulletin board in places that have high traffic. I put mine at the welcome desk the first few days of school,  in the front office, and in the conference room, where every single family HAS to go. While I would have loved to be at all 3 places the first few days of school, I knew I couldn't. I traveled in between these places and let my board talk for me.  On the board I have the following:

    Tri-fold #3 in the main office
  • Name, about me, small groups, guidance topics, individual counseling information, counseling mission, vision, and where to find me. This helps to start the conversation about what we do, and who we are. 

3. Lunch bunch: Starting Day 3, I start the process of inviting EVERY student to lunch with me. I do this in small groups of 3-4 students, and make my way from oldest to youngest in alphabetical order. This starts the conversation of where my room is, about me, and then I get to learn a little bit about them. YES, this is marketing, YES, this is fun, and YES, it is the best part of my day- all wrapped in one 25 minute block. The students go home, tell their parent about our lunch bunch, and parents start knowing who I am and how I can help!

WHOO! That was a long one,BUT I hope it is helpful for our newbies and those trying to revamp their program.

Missing a minor,

This emotionally stimulated Floridian Chicka!

Back at it for 2015-16: Pre-Plan Tools

Pre-plan is a time for teachers to set up their room, meet the new teachers, and organize their summer brains just in time for the students to walk in the door.  It is great to have a burst of positive energy on Day 1 to set the mood for what the year will be like. We were fortunate enough to have the author Jon Gordon who wrote The Energy Bus come speak to our entire staff! He lives in our town and came to share about the power of positive thinking and living. Even if you do not have the author come to visit your school, the book is great for the staff! It focuses on 10 ways to approach life and work with a positive mentality. Each staff member was given the book, and each classroom was given the children's version of the book.

In addition to our positive burst of energy, we were given a wonderful breakfast by the Parent's association which gave us a little pep in our step as we got back into the groove of the school year. 
"Refuel Station"

I attached this to Kit Kats for everyone
On the second day of our pre-plan, we were given snacks (do you notice a trend here?!), that were set up in the faculty kitchen. I may or may not have stopped by a time or two to "check things out"... and was very appreciative of what the administration did to make us smile. I also left a Kit Kat treat in every staff member's box to introduce myself/my program, and start to build communication.

Lastly, I made an iMovie for my staff: Pre-Plan 2015-2016. I went around the school and took pictures so everyone would be able to the other rooms. This is a great way to show all the creative things that are occurring in just 5 days!

So in conclusion, here are my tips of pre-plan week:
1. Have a burst of happiness via a theme, a book, a speaker,  or idea.
2. Feed them well.... and often!
3. Document the great work your staff is doing!

If you do only these 3 things, I am sure you will see smiling faces, and full bellies. 

Bring it on 15-16, we're ready for ya!

Your Floridian Chick!

Monday, August 17, 2015

New Teacher Orientation

They says it's the little things that make all the difference, and this is no exception. I am starting at a new school this year and am one of a few new faculty members. The Friday before the entire faculty was asked to come back, we had a new hire orientation. They didn't waste any time giving us the most up to date information on the curriculum for each grade and subject. While school counselors obviously don't teach the reading, math, etc. components each day- it gave me a glimpse of what our kids will be learning and how it is incorporated into the resources (music, art, PE, library). This is incredibly helpful to understand the WHOLE child.

Presents each morning from my Buddy (Dunkin Donuts treats not shown:))
They also shared the history of the school, our branding, what the school stands for, and the central themes that run through each and every classroom. 

We stopped for lunch, which was when we met our "shark buddies"(teachers/faculty members who have been working at our school before this year). Each new person was assigned a shark buddy, and we had the opportunity to eat lunch together and spend some time getting to know one another. 

This entire day was so proactive; I was blown away session after session. I felt so much more prepared for the first day of preplan, and now I have a few familiar faces that I know:). 

This is simple to implement, and I highly encourage you to incorporate this into your new school year planning. 

Excited for 15-16,

Your Floridian chick!