Thursday, December 15, 2011

Personal Safety Classroom Lessons

As mentioned in a previous post, we had a parent program to introduce the personal safety curriculum we used for our last rotation of fall classroom guidance lessons. Parents had the ability to view and provide feedback before we introduced Yello Dyno to their children. It was our hope that between introducing this lesson in a safe environment, having a class discussion about key points, and having parents follow-up with a discussion afterward, that students would have a clear understanding on how to stay safe.

Kindergarten had a presentation by the County Fire Educator on fire safety.

First graders watched a Sunburst video called "I Can Be Safe." Topics discussed included: car and outdoor safety, animal safety, stranger awareness, playground safety, kitchen safety, medication safety, and how to handle phone calls from unknown people. It was also stressed to students to be aware of their address and important phone numbers in case of an emergency.

Second through 4th graders watched the Yello Dyno video "Can't Fool Me" and reviewed safety rules including: Knowledge is Power, Tricky People, Trusting Feelings, I can say NO!, and don't keep secrets that make you feel unsafe.

5th graders watched the Sunburst video called "When Should You Tell? Dealing with Abuse." Follow up questions included: Feelings associated with abuse, NOT keeping it a secret if someone abuses them, the importance of not touching others- especially in areas covered by a bathing suit, the importance of continuing to tell if an adult is told about the abuse and doesn't do anything about it, listening to instincts, feeling safe, and unwelcome touches are not their fault and they didn't do anything to deserve it.

Overall, knowledge is power and it is our hope that through sharing this sensitive topic with students in a developmentally appropriate way, they will know how to handle different types of situations that might potentially arise.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Social Skills with ED class

Each month I meet with the Emotionally Disabled (ED) class to do social skills activities with them. Oftentimes, I cover topics that are covered during classroom guidance but I also take the opportunity to do activities tailored to the needs of these students. Through collaboration with the ED teachers, I determine what the current need is and select activities based on their feedback. One student in particular has been having difficulty with transition (he doesn't want to transition OUT of the ED class). To help support his success and to promote his attempt in transitioning out of the class, I focused on this topic with the students today. We read Julia Cook's book, Don't Be Afraid To Drop and talked about the different mix of feelings we experience with transition. We also discussed the pros and cons of transition and how we experience transition all the time. Students had the opportunity to draw a picture of a time they had to transition. I encouraged the students that since they were able to successfully transition before, they will be able to use those skills learned through their previous experience to help them with transition in the future. We also discussed how transition is important to grow as an individual and to not miss out on fun, new, and exciting opportunities that come along. If you have a student struggling with transition, this book is a great resource to use!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Data & Small Group Counseling

As mentioned in a previous post, in my accountability plan for this year, I'm using data to drive the small groups I implement. With the winter break quickly approaching, I'm beginning to wrap-up my first round of groups for the year. Three of the groups I've implemented (one academic, two behavior) have focused on school success. To determine the participants, I've used my experience on the school data team to assist me. I've also found that implementing groups through data demonstrates how counselors play a vital role in the school, to assist teachers in the academic and behavioral development of students. Using the RtI model is quite simple and user friendly when the components are understood.

Academics- During the data team meetings, strategies to support identified red and yellow zone students are discussed. As a school counselor, I'm able to take note of these individuals and share strategies I'm implementing to support these students. One is through small group counseling of study skills. I'm happy to say, all students that (as of the beginning of the year) were only receiving classroom intervention (while progress monitoring) participated in 30 minutes of small group counseling once a week for 8 weeks. During the group (often during lunch, specials, or recess- I interchanged the times so they didn't miss the same activity each week), we cover different topics including: work habits, listening skills, organization, test taking strategies, preparing your body for learning, and homework plans. I've used a variety of resources to implement this topic in a fun and interactive way. One of my favorite resources for academic group counseling is called, I Didn't Know I Could Be the Child Left Behind. I've used this resource several times now for academic groups and it's easy to use, a quick and easy resource for me, and most of all- something the kids really enjoy from grades 2-5. I'm looking forward to looking at the data again to determine if participation in these groups played a role in increasing academic performance in these students.

Behavior- To determine participants in the behavior group, I looked at the total number of logged behavioral referrals from last school year. There were a total of 590 write-ups among 201 students (school population from last year was 821). The results are very similar to the different tiers of RtI; 93% of our school population was identified as green zone (1-2 behavioral write-ups), 4% are yellow zone (3-5 write-ups), and 3% are red zone (6 or more write-ups). I identified all red and yellow zone students and what the write-ups were for. These individuals have been participating in a school success group focused on different behavioral strategies. Thanks to collaboration with the school librarian, we will begin a book club with students using Scholastic- Muhammad Ali: Go the Distance! books. I used these books at a previous school for behavioral support and the students loved them! Hopefully, follow up data will demonstrate a decrease in behavioral write-ups for students participating in this group.

To learn more about RtI please visit some of my favorite sites/blogs: RtI Network, Musings of an Urban School Psychologist, and Notes from the School Psychologist.

School counselors help make students teachable- facilitating small groups is one component of the multi-faceted job we have; however, it's important for EVERYONE to remember that we all have things going on in our lives (especially students!) that make it difficult to learn and/or make the best behavioral choices. Getting to the root of those problems is necessary before ANY intervention can be successful!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Angel Tree 2011

As our schools unofficial community resource liaison, I have the opportunity to coordinate a lot of activities that support the community and particularly our school community. This year's angel tree is being sponsored by a community business (specializing in home lighting). It was so wonderful (and helpful to me) for them to contact us and ask how they could help! Mid-November (through our school newsletter) I informed families that if they needed holiday assistance and were not receiving support from another organization, to contact me to be a part of the angel tree. I just contacted the coordinator of the lighting business that was so eager to provide assistance and gave her the gender, age, grade, clothing sizes, and wish list items of students and their siblings. I'm so glad to be a part of a community where people are willing to help and give back. Come mid-December the parents that contacted (who were very humble and modest) will be able to pick up the items to give to their children on Christmas. I don't know about you, but it is quite frustrating to see people so focused on "black Friday," "cyber-Monday," and decorating a tree before Thanksgiving (sorry if I offended you)....but isn't giving back and focusing on what we're thankful for what this season is all about (among other things)?! This season makes me hopeful that in the bottom of people's hearts, they wonder how we can give back and help those in need....isn't that what this season is all about anyway!?!

Each angel represents an angel we will help this holiday season!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teachers promoting Careers

It's always such a joy to walk into a classroom and see a counseling related resource I use with students visible in the room. It's also wonderful when teachers do classroom instructional activities that correlate and support the counseling curriculum. I walked down the third grade hall the other day and saw posted outside a classroom a writing lesson that was done on careers and had to share. The students had the opportunity to write about what career/job they wanted when they grow up. They then using card stock people cutouts, decorated the card stock in the career they wrote about. It's very apparent by looking at the pictures below that the students really got into this activity. When talking to the teacher she said she plans to use these cutouts for other activities throughout the year.

Seeing this really makes me excited about our upcoming school-wide Career Day in January! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bullying Awareness on the Wall

To summarize the end of our classroom guidance bullying lessons and to remind students of the importance of NOT allowing bullying at their school, we posted the pledge against bullying in the hallway for all students to see. Students love finding where they signed and I hope it serves as a reminder that they will not bully or stand by and watch it happen to someone else.

I also had the opportunity to do an extension activity with a 5th grade class on the bully machine lesson I discussed in a previous post. To do this activity, I adapted my own version of The School Counselor Blog's anti-bully machine created by Danielle. Students teamed up to do different parts of the machine, some were the 'architects,' their job was to design how the machine would look, some were the 'negative ninjas," their job was to find negative terms and pictures from magazines to put on the 'pain' side of the machine. Lastly, there were the "positive promoters," their job was to find positive terms and pictures from magazines to put on the 'power' side of the machine. Students also used construction paper to write painful and powerful words that have been said to them to add to the collage. Some students even cut out pieces of the machine they created from the first lesson to add to the collage. It is now displayed in the 4th and 5th grade hallway and the students love it!

I wanted to remind students of how to positively and effectively deal with bullying by adding the "What will YOU do to STOP bullying at your school?" section. I made sure to include all the ways we discussed on how they can actively work to stop and prevent bullying from continuing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Safety Lesson from Fire Educator

A special thank you to Kathy Nieuwhaus (County Fire Educator) for coming to our school this week to do a lesson with kindergarten students on fire safety. A video was shown to students on fire safety/awareness and several volunteer fire fighters also did a demonstration and role-play with students on how they rescue them from danger. They even left souvenier fire chief hats for each students to keep as a reminder that fire fighters are their friend and ready to help when 911 is called. We look forward to having them back during Career Day in January!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Parent Program on Personal Safety

Next week we will begin our last rotation of classroom guidance before the winter break and it will be on personal safety. To introduce this series, I will be co-facilitating a parent program this evening with my wonderful co-counselor! We will be sharing with parents the Yello Dyno curriculum that we will be using to teach students about personal safety. This program was purchased for the counseling department with money donated from a local church to the school. It's a wonderful program that teaches about 'tricky people' and being safe in a developmentally appropriate way that is easy for kids to understand. Come join us this evening from 5:30-6:30 to learn more about Yello Dyno!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Drive Results

This week also concluded the Thanksgiving Food Drive collection for the Salvation Army that we had for the past three weeks. I'm proud to report that as a school, we collected 1,080 non-perishable items to support members of our community! Great job everyone and thanks for your support with this initiative.

Red Ribbon Recap!

We had a very successful Red Ribbon Week this year with participation from so many students and staff! Here are the highlights:


To kick-off RRW we had a PBIS assembly where HTCs Nicole Hyman came with McGruff the crime dog and members of the fire department talked with students about safety.

Students also received Red Ribbons that said they show 'Good Character' by being Drug Free! (It was a great continuation from Character Counts Week.)


"Sock it to Drugs Day!" AKA "Crazy Sock Day!"

"Put a Cap on Drugs Day!"

Gotta love faculty participation!

"Slam Dunk Drugs are Junk"

Students enjoyed showing off their favorite sports teams!
"Everyone Wear Red Day!"

Friday also concluded the 3rd annual door contest!
Thanks to everyone for participating and showing the importance of being healthy and drug free!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2nd & 5th Bullying Lesson

2nd grade

This week 2nd graders had the opportunity to participate in a classroom guidance lesson that promoted bullying awareness. Much like the 1st grade lesson, students were informed of what the words bully, bystander, and target/victim meant, then participated in a role-play with the counselor as the 'bully,' one student as the 'victim,' and several other students as the 'bystanders.' (It's never good to have a student play the bully or for a timid student to play the victim.) The role-play involved the 'bully' saying something along the lines of "Give me your lunch money!" and the rest of the students playing along. It was a nice visual for students to understand what all the terms meant and they enjoyed 'playing' their role. To reinforce student understanding of the terms, the WONDERFUL story "The Bully Blockers Club" was read to the students and they completed the 'Bully Blocker Bingo' activity from the book, "That's My Story Too!". A parent letter was sent home with students that was photocopied on the backside of the bingo sheet to educate parents on what bullying is and how to provide support for their children if they ever feel their child is a victim of bullying. At the end of the lesson students had the opportunity to sign the pledge against bullying a receive a "Take a stand, lend a hand against bullying" sticker.

5th grade

This week in classroom guidance, 5th grade students learned about bullying and spent a lot of time discussing what a bystander is. Students had the opportunity to read "Good-bye Bully Machine" and discuss how they are the ones in the school building that have the power to make the school bully-free. The bully machine is a large, cold, loud, and fearful machine that operates on students being mean, hurtful, and negative towards others. To make the machine break down and not work, students need to stand together and not let bullying happen. By taking a stand against bullying, it is less likely to occur because it isn't accepted and it teaches the bully the way others expect to be treated....with RESPECT! To reinforce the topics discussed in the book, question cards from the "Good-bye Bully Machine" card game were distributed to each group and they had the opportunity to 'think, pair, and share' what they would do in different scenarios. Students then completed the "Build a Bully Machine" activity from the FreeSpirit leaders guide with a copy of the bully word search on the back of their handout for later reference. Students also received a copy of the "Let's Talk About Bullying and Cyberbullying" activity book from Positive Promotions (purchased by the PTO) while signing the pledge against bullying.

To learn more about this amazing book that I'm so glad I introduced this year, please watch the video below!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

1st & 4th Bullying Lessons

1st grade

For this weeks bullying awareness lesson with 1st grade, the story "Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully" was used to teach students about what a bully, bystander, and target/victim are. To start the lesson, students were informed of what all the words meant, then role-played with the counselor as the 'bully,' one student as the 'victim,' and several other students as the 'bystanders.' (It's never good to have a student play the bully or for a timid student to play the victim.) The role play involves the 'bully' saying something along the lines of "Give me your lunch money!" and the rest of the students playing along. It's a nice visual for students to understand what all the terms mean and they enjoyed 'playing' along. To reinforce student understanding of the terms, the story was then read to the students and discussion questions were asked from the book, "That's My Story Too!". Students then had the opportunity to complete two activity sheets from the Tanglewood Press website, one where they cut and pasted positive things to cover up or "Get Rid of the Bully!" In the other activity sheet, students identified what they would do if someone bullied them. Student's then signed the pledge banner against bullying and received a 'take a stand, lend a hand' sticker (purchased by the PTO).

4th grade

This week in classroom guidance, 4th graders discussed the difference between a bully, bystander, and target/victim and read "Nobody Knew What to Do: A Story about Bullying." Through discussion questions from the book, "That's My Story Too!" students spent a lot of time on what a bystander is, reasons why people stand by and let things happen that they know is wrong, and most importantly- all the ways they can 'speak up' without having to necessarily say something directly to the individual that is bullying. The extension activity in the "That's My Story Too!" book was then used, where students identified ways to 'stop' bullying and each table had the chance to read a scenario card and share with the group what they would do to solve that problem. At the end of the lesson students had the opportunity to sign the pledge banner against bullying and receive a copy of the cyberbullying activity book from Positive Promotions (purchased by the PTO).

Conflict Resolution Extension Lesson

Due to the schedule (and large number of students) at our school, there are a few classes I see more frequently than others. I use this to my advantage to try out new activities and based on student response, determine if they're worthy of doing with other classes.

This past week I did an extension lesson of the conflict resolution lesson I completed last month. To do this, I used a fantastic resource called Counseling on the Wall. This resource has lesson plans and activities on a variety of topics while also allowing you to display them to advertise/reference those strategies at a later time. The included CD allows you to print all that you need for your bulletin board so it's user friendly and time efficient!

For this lesson we reviewed Kelso and the conflict resolution wheel of choices for solving small problems. We then talked about the importance of calming down before solving a problem to avoid saying or doing something we might regret (not allowing your anger/frustration interfere with solving the problem). We then discussed ways to calm down and relax and I introduced 'The Peace Train' from the Counseling on the Wall book. After discussing the possible techniques to calm down as suggested by the peace train, I distributed blank 'tickets' for students to write things they do to calm themselves down. Students had the opportunity to share their wonderful ideas including; play with my dog, go for a walk, play sports, draw, read a book, etc. I encouraged all students to actively listen (eyes on speaker and avoid distracting those around them) to gain other ideas/suggestions they might not have thought of to calm down. With the remaining time we used the Kelso Conflict Resolution thumb ball to finish our review of conflict resolution.

I displayed in my 'counseling cottage' The Peace Train for students to see when they come to classroom guidance and small group counseling. I left some space to add more 'tickets' from students that I talk with during individual counseling that need assistance with dealing with anger. More tickets could also be added from individuals that participate in an anger group. I look forward to displaying more Counseling on the Wall for students to reference when working with me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red Ribbon Week

To support the importance of being drug free and healthy, our school celebrates National Red Ribbon Week each year, the last week of October. This year, October 24-28th is Red Ribbon Week!

Each day on the morning announcements there will be a special message regarding Red Ribbon Week.  We will also be saying the Red Ribbon Week Pledge after the Pledge of Allegiance.  Here is a list of the activities that we are happy to be participating in! As an incentive to promote participation, teachers tally the number of students that participate each day and the top 5 classes that have the most participation will receive a prize and the teachers will receive a duty free lunch! 

Below is a list of the activities we will be doing at our school.

Monday:  Everyone receive a Red Ribbon to kick off Red Ribbon Week.  Also, students will read then post the Red Ribbon Week History somewhere in their classroom.

Tuesday:  “Sock it to Drugs Day!” Everyone will wear the 'craziest' socks they have!!! Students will sign, decorate, and cut out red ribbons, then put them up in the hallway outside of their classroom.  We hope to have ribbons up all over the school!

Wednesday:  “Put a Cap on Drugs Day!” Everyone wear a hat or cap! Students will read and sign the class pledge to be drug free and post it somewhere in their classroom.

Thursday: “Slam Dunk Drugs are Junk!” Wear a favorite sports team jersey or logo. During writing students will write about why it’s important to be healthy and drug free. Door contest concludes at end of the day.

Friday: “Everyone Wear Red Day!” 3rd annual door contest winners (judged by PTO) will be selected and announced!! (1 winner per grade- classroom prizes awarded)

Other ideas:
         Writing Prompts:
            “I promise to live a drug free life by…”
            “The choice for me is drug free because…”
            “If someone asks me to use drugs (including cigarettes) I can say…”
         Brainstorming Ideas:
             “Ways I can respect myself…”
             “List of better things to do than drugs…”
             “How does character tie in with being drug free??

I'm looking forward to posting pictures to showcase all the participation of students and faculty at our school!

School Counselor (yes!) vs. Guidance Counselor (no)

I often get the question when talking about my career, especially from individuals not in the field, "What's the difference between a guidance counselor and school counselor?" I'll sum up the difference in just a few minutes but first a little history lesson. :) A few decades ago counselors were introduced into schools to assist students with occupational/vocational choices, college preparatory support, etc. They were teachers that simply took a few extra classes and were then called 'guidance counselors.' Fast forward to today and you'll find that we have state and local professional organizations (The American School Counselor Association- ASCA) that support us professionally and legislatively, standards we're required to follow, a requirement of (at minimum) a master's degree in counseling, and oftentimes counselors have specializations in other areas. A far cry from the persona of those that play counselors on television, in movies, and those that many of us experienced when we were in high school.

There is a wide array of responsibilities that make up the job description of a professional school counselor and they mainly focus on the proactive, pro-social development of a child. School counselors work with conditions that interfere with a student's social, emotional, and learning process. A school counselor encourages successful academic, career, and personal/social development to ensure every child succeeds. This is accomplished through a variety of methods but mainly through individual counseling, group counseling, and classroom guidance. School counselors also work collaboratively with students, teachers, parents, administration, and community members. For more on what a school counselor does, their standards, and why they are an integral part of the school community click here.

After participating in a counselor tweet chat, I found that many counselors are still faced with the frustrating and oftentimes annoying challenge of being referred to as a 'guidance counselor' below are some of the wonderful and BRIEF explanations of why we should be called school counselors and NOT guidance counselors:

* (classroom) guidance is only ONE component of a counselors job
* guidance is a service, school counselors provide a program

* it's outdated terminology that does not represent the broad scope of what counselors do

* To me I feel that anyone involved in a child's life provides 'guidance' in some way, my expertise allows me to do more than just point them in a productive direction and give a 'quick fix' to a problem their presently working through. My education allows me to assist them in seeing where they've been, what they want to change/keep the same, where they want to go, and help them take the steps to get there. By assisting children through problems they are currently experiencing, it's my hope to teach them the skills and strategies to not only work through their current problem but also those that will present themselves in the future.

So now I hope you have a better concept of the difference between guidance and school counselors. With that said, please stop making us cringe, and start calling us by our appropriate title!  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'Intro to the Counselor' Lesson

For the first classroom guidance lesson each year I share with students what my job is as a SCHOOL counselor, (more details on that later!) ;) procedures/expectations for the 'counseling cottage' that align with the school PBIS motto (that our school R.O.C.K.S.), and most importantly how to request to come and talk. I share with students that I'm an adult that cares and want to hear about good AND not so good things going on in their life. I do this to build rapport and to let students know that I'm not just someone that listens/helps with their problems- I want to hear about their successes too! In every classroom there is an envelope with "I would like to see the Counselor" slips in them. I inform the students that during NON-instructional time they can fill out one of the slips and either 1. give it to their teacher to give to me or 2. put it in the envelope on my office door. I also share with the students that if they have an emergency (that involves safety, them or someone else getting physically hurt) to NOT fill out a note. If they have an emergency, they need to tell their teacher or another adult that they have an emergency and need to see the counselor right away. We then work together to make sure they see me or my co-counselor that day. As you might imagine, the notes certainly pile up but we make sure to get to everyone as soon as we can. It's a great way for students to self monitor their needs and to know they have an objective adult in their life they can trust. It's also a great way to 'advertise' ourselves to students- sharing with them what our role is. Early in the year we also give teachers referral forms to use when they have a student they feel would benefit from seeing us.

At the end of the lesson we do a 'getting to know you' activity with my infamous 'thumb ball' the kids LOVE it and ask to use it often. Some students have even asked where I got it so they can get one! It's a great tool to use to get to know students, as an icebreaker, and even as an incentive for following classroom procedures and finishing the lesson with extra time remaining!

When meeting with the young students we are a bit more creative with our approach and how we share what we do. To do this and keep the students engaged, we compare ourselves to Mrs. Potato Head! We ask the students how we are like Mrs. Potato Head and they certainly give creative responses. :) Then we go into detail about how our job and what we do is comparable to Mrs. Potato Head, for example we have ears to listen to students, hands to 'lend a helping hand' when students are in need of help or to give 'high fives' to celebrate successes with them, the glasses are to help students see more clearly and gain a different perspective to the problem they have, the purse/bag is full of tools and ideas to help students work through their problems, etc. The students really get into it and it also allows students to take turn and celebrate differences (i.e. what one student might select for the hat might be different from another student). I've also heard of counselors using a beach bag of tools that relate to their job, you can even use a beach ball and add questions to the different sections much like the thumb ball.

Another way we advertise our comprehensive program and all the components of our job, while also letting people know where we are is through our "Where is the Counselor" door sign. I made the apple sign my first year as a counselor and used library pockets to demonstrate where I was in the building. Since it's one of the first things I made as a counselor, it means a lot to me and it has traveled with me to every school I've been at. When I was split between two schools I wanted one for my other office so I made a fish and used Velcro to show where I was in that building. It's now in the safe possession of my co-counselor.

Monday, October 17, 2011

K & 3rd Bullying Lessons

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to build student awareness on this topic we are focusing on bullying in our classroom guidance lessons. My co-counselor and I are on a three week rotating schedule to see classes and this past week we had kindergarten and 3rd grade, below is a review of the topic/lessons we facilitated.

Kindergarten- The emphasis in all kindergarten classes is to develop awareness and familiarity with terms, feelings, and choices. For this lesson, students were introduced to the topic of bullying and what it means through the story "Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Bullies" in this story they learned about what bullying is and what to do if it happens to them. To enhance their understanding of the concept they sang a song and did other interactive activities on the We Do Listen website that supplements all the Howard books. Be sure to check it out, it's wonderful! Students received a take away activity sheet from the site that allows families to review the lesson with their child and a coloring sheet from the site was on the backside of the take away sheet, reminding students to be brave, be bold, and to tell a teacher what's happening. Kindergartner's love Howard and you will too!

3rd grade- To review student understanding of what bullying is we start out the lesson with a Bullying Questionnaire from the "Skits, Raps, & Poems For the School Counselor" book. To do this I laminated 6x6 sheets of construction paper with red on one side and green on the other. When I read a question aloud, students held up the green side for yes/true or the red side for no/false. It was a great way to see what the students responses were and what the class understanding was of the concept. After the questionnaire I inform them of the three words we would be focusing on for the lesson: bully, bystander, and victim/target. We then read the book "Bully BEANS" by Julia Cook (one of my favorite authors!), she also has a great supplementary teacher's guide that goes with the book. B.E.A.N.S. stands for Bullies Everywhere Are Now Stopped! Once we finish the story we define the three words introduced and identified the characters in the story that were most similar to those three terms. We also connected the discussion to the previous classroom guidance theme discussed (Conflict Resolution), just like they have many solutions for resolving conflicts, they also have lots of choices for resolving problems they have with bullies. Students then had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments regarding the topic. They then had the opportunity to sign a pledge banner that will be displayed at the end of the month showing they are standing up against bullying. Thanks to our generous PTO we also ordered and distributed a copy of "Let's Learn About Bullying & Cyberbullying: An Educational Activities Book" from Positive Promotions for each student to keep and review.

I look forward to posting a picture of the banner at the end of the month that will remind all students to take a stand against bullying!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Character Counts Week!

October 17-21st is Character Counts Week, to celebrate my co-counselor and I collaborated with students, administrators, the school librarian/media specialist, custodian's, teacher's, bus driver's and others to host the morning show each day emphasizing a different character trait. This year we became a PBIS school where we look for students demonstrating positive behavior (that goes with our school motto) and reward them with dolphin dollars that they can turn into 'Rocky's Cove' for a variety of prizes/incentives. Our school's motto is that it R.O.C.K.S. : Respectful, Organized, Cooperative, Knowledgeable, and Safe. Each day during Character Counts Week we will be focusing on one of these traits. Monday- Respectful, Tuesday- Organized, Wednesday- Cooperative, etc.

For the morning show we recorded the individuals mentioned above on a Flip and converted the mp4 videos to be compatible in a DVD player using a program called DVD Burning Xpress. The converting took a while but once complete, we had a DVD of five morning shows one to play each day. The program is great, it allows you to fade in and out of different clips, add music, background pictures on the main window, titles, etc. The main screen when put into the DVD player is like a chapter menu for a movie which allows you to select which video clip you want to watch.

Monday- Responsibility- Dolphin Council members giving an overview of the week and talking about how to show each character trait in different locations of the building followed by my co-counselor reading "Mind your Manners in School"

Tuesday- Organized- Several teachers, a custodian, and administrator share what being organized means to them.

Wednesday- Cooperative- Members of the Dolphin Council share what it means to be cooperative in the cafeteria and I read "The Gigantic Turnip"

Thursday- Knowledgeable- Members of the Dolphin Council share what it means to be knowledgeable on the bus then several 5th graders did the rap, 'Get on the bus' from the book "Skits, Raps, & Poems for the School Counselor"

Friday- Safe- Members of the Dolphin Council share what it means to be safe on the playground followed by the librarian reading "The Recess Queen"

It is our hope that Character Counts Week educates students on different character traits and encourages all to promote positive character this week and always!

Grief Crisis Response

At the beginning of every school year I go over grief/crisis response with teachers during a faculty meeting. This is done at the recommendation of the district office since oftentimes when there's a loss of a student or faculty member at a school, the crisis team is activated and counselor's at nearby schools respond. There have been multiple times in the past few years when I've needed to respond to a school and you can really tell the difference between those that had an organized plan in place and those that didn't. With anything, it's always best to be proactive and have a plan in place before unforeseeable incidences occur and it's especially true for crisis situations.

Important points I go over during the meeting include; contacting administration and the school counselor once aware of a potential crisis so they can activate the district crisis team, do NOT talk to media- direct all questions to administration, and locations/procedures for directing students and faculty for counseling support. I also share the location of the crisis kit and the contents that are in it.

The crisis tool kit includes; tissues, art supplies (paper, markers, crayons, pencils, etc.), grief books, activity sheets, passes to/from crisis counselor, literature on how to inform families, warning signs, and ways to assist individuals experiencing a loss. For crisis responders not familiar with the building, I include a map of the building, phone extensions, and a sign in/out sheet for students that request counseling so they can be followed up with at a later time.

I hope we never have to activate a crisis team at our school but I know that if it ever has to happen, we are as best prepared as we can be to deal with the situation.