Monday, October 28, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Lesson & Activity

After seeing other school counselors share what they did during Random Acts of Kindness week in their schools, I decided that I too wanted to try it at my school.  What is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) you may ask?  Well it's when people do kind things to others, unexpectedly.  The random act of kindness can be as simple as giving a smile, helping someone with a task or even anonymously leaving something to brighten someone's day. So here's what I did at JYJ:

-Counselor intern Kelly and I did a Random Acts of Kindness themed lesson for each grade level.

-We did a lesson on RAK where we showed examples of how RAK is shown in our school (well I actually had to "stage" the acts done by students so I could photograph them clearly but you get my drift).  It was great to get students to participate, we had many willing participants.

Counselor intern Kelly and a 1st grade teacher Anita were so kind to "participate" in showing students RAK.

Another example of showing RAK (of course the counselor shows RAK)

- For the younger grades we read the books Ribbon Rescue by Robert Munsch (thanks to Felicia Carter a school counselor from Louisville, KY for recommending this book to me) or Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson.  Each book discusses how one act of kindness can make such a positive impact on so many people.

-For our older grades we showed and discussed a video clip that I saw on the TV show Sunday Morning where an 82 year old man gives free haircuts to the homeless each week (by the way, Sunday Morning is one of my favorite shows, they have the most interesting and insightful stories). We had some great discussions from this clip.

-For each class we had students to tell us ways they've shown or received random acts of kindness. 

-Our school display came from an idea that I saw on Pinterest, where for each random act of kindness that students do, they tie a ribbon to a wreath frame and throughout the year we'll be able to see how much kindness was shown school wide!  I got the wreath at AC Moore (which always has coupons and offers a educator discount) for $4 and the ribbon was 3 spools for $1 (I was able to get more ribbon from donations from parents).   I used a 3M Command Hook to hang the "RAK Wreath".  We cut strips of the ribbon and pinned them in a plastic bag in the middle of the wreath.   

RAK display
A student ties a ribbon on the RAK wreath for each RAK that they do.
Counselor intern Kelly & I tie a ribbon on our RAK wreath. 
-Both myself and Kelly wrote nice notes, gave out bottled water, pencils/pens and stickers for random students and even treats to some teachers on each grade level.  I found this free RAK printable on Pinterest from the Make Them Wonder Blog.

RAK notes from the Make Them Wonder Blog
RAK bottles of water and pencils that we gave to students. 
Here's what the wreath looked like after the 1st week of RAK:

I was so excited to see how full the wreath became only after 1 week!
I can't wait to see what it looks like after a month.  If our RAK continues I plan to put up another wreath to keep the RAK going.  We've had do many compliments from staff and parents.  Students are constantly coming up and telling us what kind things they are doing.
It's a great pick me up, doing RAK's for students,  especially for children that go "under the radar" as we say. Actually most people enjoy a pick me up (I certainly do)! 

Kindness goes a long way in my book and I hope that it's had a lasting impression for my school family.  We plan to continue our random acts of kindness all year long!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Free Career Exploration Website

During my minute meetings with my students, one of the questions is "do you know what you want to be when you grow up" which gets all types of responses (by the way my favorite response was "mermaid" from a 1st grader).  So I have a cool website to share with you to use as you plan ways to expose your students to different careers.

Career Sighted is a website that shows short 3 minute video clips of real life people and their careers, think the Occupational Outlook Book put into video form.  I love how the videos show and tell what to expect in the job, working conditions, education, etc (covers all the basics). 

This could be used in career cafe groups or in classroom lessons followed by discussion.  Just the exposure of various careers would be quite beneficial to our students and give them several career options to think about.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Great Way to Get Books for Your Counselor Library

Books, books, books!!!  How many times have you gone to a book store and find yourself wondering in the children's/young adult section to find books to use for work?  I certainly have.   I use books for many things: classroom lessons, resources for parents & students, my book clubs and our character ed book bucks cart.  I love the joy that reading brings and encourage students to read regularly to take on the joy of reading.

Copy of character book bucks. 
I've talked about our character ed book bucks reward incentive program previously, but I'll mention it again.  When students are showing good character by showing one or more of the character education traits (respect, responsibility, good judgement, perseverance, kindness, integrity& self discipline ) they may be rewarded with a character ed book buck from a teacher, staff member or school safety patrol member.  On Friday's students may trade in book bucks for a book, 5 book bucks = 1 book, 10 book bucks = 2 books and so on.  Our book supply had gotten quite thin and were mainly younger children's books.  So our main "customers" were Kindergarten - 2nd grade.   
Book bucks cart before new books were added...I know kind of thin

Every week students would ask "do you have any chapter books?" and I'd have to say "well there are a few, but they get gone quickly".  So here's where the awesome opportunity comes up.....our county library has an annual book sale, however before the books go on sale to the public there's a special day where educators can come and get as many books as they want (they even provide the boxes).   I feel like I had the ultimate opportunity of a lifetime on getting books for an awesome (my favorite price)!  The literacy teacher and myself went with a get as many chapter and children's books for the character ed book bucks cart at our school. 

We arrived at the library sale bright and early, dressed in our comfy clothes, tennis shoes with a hand truck in tow ready to book shop.  There were rows and rows of tables full of books.  Thank goodness they were separated into groups (Children's, Young Adults, Adult Fiction, etc.) so of course we headed right to the children's section, which by the way everyone else was in too.   Since we were there fairly early, we had plenty of time to look through the tables of books.  At times I will admit it was a bit overwhelming with all the books but I after a while I got in a rhythm of choosing chapter books from popular children's series (Harry Potter, Magic Tree House, etc).  I also realized that a lot of our students (both male & female) are really into science fiction so I began choosing books based on book cover appearance that looked like they might be science fiction.  Any book with a dragon, ghost, knight or warrior I picked up and put in the box!   As stated before before our goal was to get chapter books but if we saw books to go in our professional libraries we wouldn't pass on them either.  So after 2 and a half hours and 28 boxes of books later we felt quite successful in our task of book shopping.  Once we arrived at school, we sorted the books  and I "updated" the book bucks cart. We now have a side of the cart for young children's beginner books and a side for chapter books.

This is only half of the book sale area, see why I was a little overwhelmed!
These educators are on a book mission.
Books we collected...28 boxes worth
 I'll use these books all year to refill the cart as needed (parents also donate books throughout the year).  I highly encourage you to make use of your local library book sale (check with your library about it).  As you can see, this was so like hitting the jackpot!  On book buck day, we had an astounding number of students coming to get their "new" chapter books (I guess the news traveled fast).  I know that I heard "wow" at least 10 times as students searched for their books.  After finding "the perfect book" the students looked like they had hit the jackpot.  Their faces told it all, I even saw a few reading their books during carpool.  Seeing their excitement shows me that all of us hit the jackpot!

Children's Beginner Books Side
Chapter Books!
Searching for the perfect chapter book!  This is before the large crowd came.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Tips for Supervising an Intern

You may have added a new counseling member to your team this upcoming school year, meaning that you'll be supervising a school counselor intern.  This is my third year in a row supervising an intern.  I actually really enjoying having an intern and have been fortunate to have interns that have been fantastic to work with.  Each year I have learned more and more on how to improve the counseling program at my school and having a "fresh pair of eyes and ears" has been extremely helpful.

Here are some things that have worked for me as I've supervised school counselor interns:

-Meet and discuss what types of things your intern is strong in, areas they want more practice in and things that they would like to learn more about.

-Remember that everyone doesn't think the same as you, it takes some time for the intern to adjust to the school setting and working with you (same with you too with adjusting to a new intern).

-Give feedback, if there were areas that you may need some feedback on, wouldn't you want to know?

-Collaborate and communicate, this has been a key piece with my interns.  Collaborating allows "great minds to think alike" and allows even more creativity in your school counseling program.  Plus it also allows your intern to have some ownership in things being done at school.

-Enjoy the experience, I was fortunate to have an outstanding student teacher and counseling intern experience and I want the same for the counselor intern working with with me.  When an intern is introduced to students, it's not "oh here's the counselor intern", it's "this is the 2nd counselor who will be working with us this year, you are welcome to talk to her just as you talk with me". 

Having an intern has been great and has been a learning experience not only for them, but for me too.

Previous counselor interns Anna and Dhruti

I warmly welcome counselor intern Kelly this year!

Are you supervising an intern this year?  Please share your tips and best practices.

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