Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Red Ribbon Week Recap

I had big plans for Red Ribbon Week this year, so here's a recap of what happened....

-The iTune out Drugs bulletin board was great and got many looks & compliments from students, staff and parents.  

iTune out Drugs Bulletin Board
Because this is elementary aged children, I focus more on making healthy decisions and not harming our bodies (by using harmful things such as drugs).  I added a little more to the bulletin board by giving reasons to be drug free.

Reasons to be drug free

-The banner was also quite popular too....

Red Ribbon Week was featured on the school news program.

Banner before
Banner after!
-Each day a fact about making healthy (drug free) choices was also made on the news.  

-The "drug free at JYJ" bracelets were a hit!  I loved seeing so many students wearing their bracelets in support of making healthy (drug free) choices. 

I thought that red ribbon week at JYJ went extremely well and hope that yours did too!  

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Licensure in Advanced School Counseling

Would you like to gain additional or advanced training in school counseling?  Would you like to interact with school counselors from across the state? Would you like to increase your
salary? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you should consider applying for the Post-master’s Certificate in Advanced School Counseling (PMC-ACS) program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro. *Please note that this program is currently offered only to school counselors in North Carolina (sorry out of state counselor peeps).  The PMC-ACS program offers a complete online program to earn an S (specialist) license. Most school systems recognize the completion of the program and the S license as an advanced degree in terms of salary increase.

You can complete the PMC-ASC program in four semesters. Participants move through the program as cohorts and take courses completely online. If you’ve never taken an online class don’t worry. An initial class meeting on the UNC- Greensboro campus covers what to expect and how to navigate the online courses. The program offers evening classes and modified schedules to meet the needs of professional school counselors.  The modified schedule means that it caters to a school schedule and you get a full summer off with no class!

I completed the PMC-ASC program in 2011 and was extremely pleased with the program and courses. I really enjoyed my classmates, it was great to interact with them and my very insightful professors. Although the classes were completely online, it felt like I was in an actual “class.” I highly recommend this program.

Applicants for the PMC-ACS program must do the following.
-Apply to the graduate school at UNC- Greensboro.
-Submit an official copy of a transcript for each school attended.
-Submit a resume. 
-Submit a personal statement of goals for the PMC-ASC program. 
-Submit a copy of your North Carolina teacher/counselor license. 
-Submit a letter of recommendation from your principal or administrator.
The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2012.
For more information on the PMC Program, click here and click on Post Master's Certificates.  
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Monday, October 22, 2012

JYJ Counselor Blog FAQ's

First off, I want to thank you for reading and contacting me.  I LOVE connecting with other school counselors!  In my connecting with you, I've noticed that I get these questions the most, so I'll share my answers with you.

How do you have time to manage a blog?

Well I actually have superhuman powers that allow me to make it off very little sleep... no not really!  Pretty much like any "new" thing that gets added to our counselor plates, we somehow make do.  During my first 3 years of counseling, I felt as though I did every possible school and counselor duty under the sun and didn't have much time to make my own counseling program the way I wanted it.   I would have never dreamed of writing a blog.  When I got a position at my current school, I was in total shock when the principal told me I was hired to be the counselor and nothing else (whoo hoo).  So since I had more freedom to do counselor things, I thought that a blog would be a great outlet to share and connect with other school counselors.  The good thing about blogging is that it's by my choice and it's something that I really enjoy doing.  I've made great connections with counselors all over!  I blog when I have the time, but managing a blog hasn't felt like a burden at all.  Once I got into my groove of how I wanted my blog to flow (it took a while) things kind of fell into place. 

How often do you write on your blog?

Some bloggers write on certain days of the week at certain times of the day, that's not quite me.  I write whenever I have an idea to share.  Now here's the catch, I almost NEVER complete a post in one sitting.  Whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I usually start the post and come back to writing as I feel like it and as the "project" progresses.  Some posts take me a few days, while others take weeks (or longer).  I try to be detailed with pictures and directions in my posts so, that's why it may take me a while.  Some posts are my 1st time trying out something new and I want to make sure I have all my "ducks in a row" (my mother says that). 

Will using an iPad really enhance my counseling program?

Absolutely!  Now I know some people aren't fans of Apple products but that's the beauty of choosing another tablet (there are many other options on the market).  I can speak based on my experience with my iPad and it has been wonderful!  When I got an iPad, I was determined to make it work for me both personally and professionally and it has!  I use my iPad every day I'm at school.  I'm still learning new and innovative ways to incorporate its use into my counseling program.  Stay tuned, I'll be sure to share with you!

I heart using my iPad!

Where do you get your ideas from?

Oh my, I consider myself to be kind of a free spirit so my ideas just come to me.  I could be sitting reading and get an idea to try at school.  I use Pinterest and read other blogs from school counselors to get inspiration also.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments.  I LOVE connecting with other school counselors. Pin It

Friday, October 19, 2012

Red Ribbon Week Plans

What better age group to tell of the effects of living a healthy & drug free lifestyle than young (impressionable) students?   This year, thanks to Pinterest and reading other counseling blogs I had a better "game plan" on how I would celebrate Red Ribbon Week this year at my school (I'll have a post AFTER the week to share how it went).  It works out that Red Ribbon Week is the same week as our spirit week so that makes it even more special (we'll have lots of participation).  So here's my plan for the upcoming Red Ribbon Week:

-First on my agenda:  I spoke with my school's PTA about having a budget for celebrating Red Ribbon Week school-wide.  I was super excited when I found out that my budget was approved!

-Now that I had some money to spend, I had a banner made from Vista Print to hang in the front of the school so that everyone can see it.  The cost for the banner was around $28 (with 50% off).  I paid extra for outdoor vinyl and for clear adhesive hangers.  I'd rather pay a little extra and be able to use it for many years.  I asked the custodian (who's wonderful) to hang the banner at the front outdoor entrance of the school for all to see.

Banner made by Vista Print

-I ordered "Drug Free at JYJ" silicone bracelets   I know that you've probably received several Red Ribbon catalogs with all types of goodies to order (including the bracelets).  However, after comparing prices the wrist-band website was much cheaper (nearly $200 cheaper, plus you get 100 free bracelets for your order).  Now the logical thing to do would be to order red bracelets, but I'm just not much of a fashion rule follower.  So instead I got the bracelets in our school colors (blue & yellow).  I ordered 700 youth sized bracelets for students and 100 adults sized bracelets for staff.  As I mentioned earlier, I got 100 free bracelets which were split 50 youth/50 adult bracelets, total = 900 bracelets.

Drug free at JYJ bracelets

-I made "Red Ribbon Week" facts about making healthy choices and saying no to drugs our school's  televised morning news show and will have the facts in the news rotation that stays on the TV during the day.

-I made a "Drug Free at JYJ!" banner for students to sign.  I used white butcher paper and cut/laminated red letters to put on the banner (they can be used again, I'm using last year's letters this year too).  I'll have several red markers taped to the wall so that students can sign.

Last year's banner for students to sign

-I saw an awesome Red Ribbon Week bulletin board on Pinterest to re-create.   Before I go into details, I apologize in advance for the few pictures.  I was so excited about creating this, I forgot to take pictures along the way.

I used black butcher paper and cut a medium to large size piece in the shape of an iPod.
I typed "songs" that have a Red Ribbon theme onto a Word Document (landscape orientation, 1" Margins).  The list of songs is below.  Choose any song and highlight it in blue (just like on an iPod). 


To create the "iPod wheel", I traced a large circle and traced a smaller circle inside the larger circle.  I typed and printed the 4 symbols on the iPod wheel on the computer.  When I typed the symbols, I highlighted and made the text grey and background black (so it'll blend in on the black paper).  

Tracing circle patterns to make the wheel.

Menu buttons made using Word

I glued all the pieces together and laminated.  I made a sign that says "iTune Out Drugs" & "JYJ Rocks Drug Free" using Word.  

Finished Red Ribbon iPod

-A student made "ear buds" using white yarn to attach to the "iPod".  I'll be putting up the board on the wall space that I've converted into a bulletin board area outside of my office.

-Each day of sprit week will tie into Red Ribbon week and have a drug free, healthy lifestyle theme.

So that's my plans to celebrate.  What plans do you have to celebrate Red Ribbon Week at your school?

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Career Planning

Yes, you read the title right, career planning can begin at the elementary level.  I highly suggest to parents that they encourage career exploration and allow their child(ren) to search and learn about careers that they may be interested in.
When I ask students "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I hear anything from policeman to grass cutter.  I will admit that my own career plans have changed numerous times from dentist, to marketing exec, to teacher, to school counselor and so may our students (and it's perfectly ok if they do)!  I love the imagination and desire that children have when asked that.

Many students are very passionate about telling me their career choices and feel that they've chosen what will make them most happy.  I tell them that I am a school counselor because it absolutely makes me happy to work at my school and see the wonderful students here (which is 100% true).   I'm glad that I had the opportunity to explore my various career interests and learn truly what was the best fit for me!  Some resources that may be helpful in your student's career exploration search are:

-My Next Move
-Occupational Outlook Network
-Paws in Jobland
-Career Information for Kids, Bureau of Labor Statistics
-Career Exploration Guides and Resources for Younger Students
-Career Games
-Careers in Science & Technology
-Kids Work!
-Your Child's Career
-Career Aisle Pin It

Friday, October 12, 2012

Store Your Books With Style!

It's no secret that a "tool" in our counselor tool belt is books.  I absolutely love reading, reading to classes and just books in general.  In some previous posts, I've shared my love for books and have taken several measures to try to keep my counselor books somewhat organized.

After using my book crawler app to scan in my books and assigning them to a category (i.e. bullying, character ed, friendship, etc) I wanted to separately categorize the books.  Well wouldn't luck have it, the librarian at my school was doing some cleaning and had these book/folder holders on the staff, free giveaway table (wish I'd gotten there earlier to get more).

Free book holders!

Who knew that a little bit of scrapbook paper and adhesive spray could spruce up these book holders:

Spray adhesive on, let dry for 30-45 seconds before putting on scrapbook paper.

Spray adhesive, or any type of glue will work.

Add scrapbook paper and trim off the edges.  I used the leftover scraps to glue to the front.
Recovered book holders
I made some labels to put on the front of each box to identify/categorize the books.  I printed them on Post-It mailing labels (3 1/3 " X  4", 6 labels per sheet).

Labels, I found these on clearance ($6, I think) at Office Depot

Printed labels
If you'd like a printable copy of the labels (with the text above) click here.

Blank labels printable
If you'd like the blank labels printable with just the borders (where you can write what you choose on the labels) click here.

Here's the finished product:

I also used the labels to add to storage baskets (some with more books) in my cabinet.

Labels on storage bins (Target $6.99)

Total cost for the project:  $0, the book holders were free and I had all the other supplies already.  As I've said time and time again, free is my favorite price!  This was a super easy fix to add a little flare to the way my counselor books are stored.  I really wish that I had gotten more book holders because I have many more book categories (I know to act fast for next time)!

How do you keep your counselor books organized?

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Expand your counselor office space

As school counselors our counselor office is truly "ours" and is our space to meet with students, staff and parents however, sometimes it's OK to think and work outside our "counselor box".  Although I'm very happy with my office I sometimes like to meet students in my "extended office" space.  This space that I'm talking about is an area outside my office.  I consider myself to be one lucky school counselor because my school has some neat little outdoor areas and connects to a park that can be used to meet with students for a little change of scenery.  I view it this way, we're in a building within four walls most of the day (and my office does not have a window), why not utilize some outdoor space and get some fresh air?  Many students request to go outside to talk or have lunch.  If the weather's nice, I'm always willing to go!  Here are some pictures of my outdoor counselor spaces:

Outdoor lunch area

Outdoor classroom
(Shaded) picnic area

My school connects to a park!

Another outdoor area I like to use.
Do you have an "expanded counselor office" space that you use? 
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Interactive Counselor Introduction Lesson

What's the best way to tell your students who you are and what you do?  Why with a snazzy introduction, of course!  The counselor intern (Dhruti) and I used a lesson using the Promethan board to introduce ourselves to the students. 

In our lesson, we described how things can relate to what the counselor does.  A few things we compared ourselves to were:
-Eyes: To help you see the good in yourself
-Scissors: To help cut out the bad things in your life
-Comb: To help you comb out life's tangles
-Heart: Because the counselor cares about you

For each comparison the counselor intern and I took fun pictures of ourselves (on the iPad) showing how we can help students.  I used Activ-Inspire to create my lesson (Promethan board software, this can also be created using SMART software if you have a SMART board).  If your school does not have interactive whiteboards, you can use PowerPoint.

Screen shot of "scissors"

Counselors help you cut out the "bad" things....

So to make it a little more interactive, I used the activotes (remotes for the Promethan board) at the end of the lesson for the students to answer questions about when to see the counselor (post test).   This worked very well, because the students use these all the time with their teachers and are already somewhat familiar with how to use them.

Class set of activotes

Questions on the post test were:
-Who do you see when you forget your homework? Teacher, Principal, Counselor, Bus Driver
-When you need to talk to someone, who can you talk to? Bus Driver, School News, Counselor
-If you had an awesome day, who can you tell? Bus Driver, School News, Counselor
-There are 5 JYJ counselors (Yes/No)
-The counselor is your friend (Yes/No)

Screenshot of post test question
Students using Activotes to answer questions

As students vote, the device is highlighted on screen to show who's voted.

The results are automatically calculated for each question.

After all our fun, I gave each student a sticker that said "The JYJ counselor visited our class today".  I made my own stickers using Avery Print to the edge round labels (Staples $7.99 after rebate).  

Avery round labels

I used the online template to create my stickers

Screen shot of the template (after downloading into Word)
Sharing the great news...they're getting stickers!
I thought they were going to put them on their shirts...

This lesson was a hit with the students!  I plan to do more lessons using the activotes in the future. This is a great tool to use to collect data from students.

Do you use the interactive whiteboard for your counselor lessons?

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Counselor Pocket Chart

A 1st grade teacher friend recently gave me one of her extra pocket charts (it's her very 1st year as a teacher and she had several given to her).  As I happily took the pocket chart, I already had an idea in mind of how to use it. I thought of a previous post on "I statements" from blog buddy Tabitha from Scrapbook of a School Counselor and how she used whiteboard sentence strips for "I statements".  I thought why not use similar statements on a pocket chart?

Pocket chart

Here's what I did:

-I started out with 2 "I statements","I feel" and "I like to"; I typed these statements in Word.  I cut and glued the "statements" onto sentence strips and trimmed the edges with wave trim scissors.

Printed "I statements"
"I statements" cut, glued onto sentence strips, trimmed with wave trim scissors

-I typed (feeling & action) words into a Word document and printed onto mailing labels.  I put the mailing labels onto colorful index cards (I put words on both sides of the cards).  I also made some blank cards so that students can write a feeling/action with a dry erase marker.

Here's a list of feelings words I used:  Happy, Awesome, Sad, Down, Angry, Upset, Fantastic, Great, Ok, Not Sure, Really Angry

Here's a list of action words I used: Play, Run, Play Outside, Read, Write, Hang out with friends, Hang out with family, Listen to music, Draw.

Feelings words printed on mailing labels
Feelings/Action cards
-I laminated the "I statements" and index cards.

-The pocket chart is now ready to go:

Finished product!

I LOVE this counselor pocket chart idea for students to express how they're feeling and what they like to do! I'm now thinking of other ways to use the pocket chart.  Do you have any ideas to share?  I'd love to hear from you.

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