Monday, January 27, 2014

Get "Green" for Your School by Going "Green"

Have you heard the expression "one person's trash is another person's treasure"?  School counselor friends I have a project that can help you turn your school's trash into "treasure".  My school recently started collecting "trash" (candy wrappers, string cheese wrappers, empty chip bags, yogurt and apple sauce containers) for Terracycle.  Terracycle is a company that upcycles trash into items that can be reused again.  As you turn in items to be recycled, you receive points (money, 1 cent per piece) that can go towards any non profit or charity that you choose (it adds up very quickly).  My school is raising money to fund classrooms in Haiti, but I've heard of other schools that donate the money back to their school's PTA so the money comes directly back to school.

This project costs no money to start but does take some teamwork and planning.  We have a team to put this together and run it.  Click here to read how to get started with Terracycle.  They provide free shipping labels for your boxes of recyclable products and are very easy to contact if you have questions. 

We started collecting right before Halloween (hello tons of candy wrappers) and within 6 six weeks we had collected  21 boxes of items to be recycled!  It has gone very well because we also have students bringing in items from home to be recycled too.  We have a "JYJ Green Team" which consists of students & staff that collect and sort recyclables at our school.

(Top) Green team shirts (aren't they awesome), (bottom) collected items about to be shipped off.

I haven't mentioned this before but I have a passion for recycling and taking care of our environment.  Things that can't be recycled at school, I bring home and put in my recycle bin at home & I take my own bags to the store.   I even hope to one day drive a hybrid car (but since I haven't had a raise in 6 years, that's going to have to wait). This project really lets us as a school see how much we waste in our day to day activities and lives and how just saving something so small like a candy wrapper can make such a huge impact on our world (since we are helping fund classrooms in another country).

Does your school do Terracyle or have a recycling program? Pin It

Monday, January 20, 2014

Flying Solo at Your School? You're NOT Alone!

Recognize this lyric "1 is the loneliest number that you'll ever do" (music by Three Dog Night) and boy is it true working solo in a school!   Most but not all elementary schools have just one school counselor.  I've been very fortunate to have an intern for several years so that helps both me and my school tremendously but I have certainly worked solo before. 

Here's some ways to not feel so "alone" as a school counselor:

-Meet with other school counselors in your district monthly or even quarterly to share ideas, best practices or even to vent.  In my district, we are divided by regions and my regional counselor group meets once a month and I so LOVE that time to connect (they are an amazing group)!  

-Use social media to connect:  Lots of us elementary school counselors are on....

Facebook: Did you know that there are Facebook pages just for school counselors to connect?  Click below to join:
Elementary | Middle | High


I'm finally on Instagram:  @ajburston

Use the website tagboard to view ALL social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram) in one place.  Use the hashtags:  #schoolcounselor, #scchat or #escchat 

Yes there are 2 of us at my school but my connection to so many amazing school counselors via social media is endless and the cool part is when I've had the opportunity to meet my social media counselor friends in person, it's so awesome!  I text regularly with Blog Bestie Danielle from the School Counselor Blog and Vanessa from Savvy School Counselor (thanks ladies for being so awesome)!
See you're really not alone!

A couple more tidbits I'd like to share about working solo are:

-Take care of yourself 1st!  That pile of folders will be there tomorrow, those emails will still be in your inbox, and I guarantee that the school will most likely still be standing if you don't work 3 extra hours after school. 

-It's OK to take a mental health day.  Do I?  I sure do!  What better way to absolutely clear your head and have a little break from the hustle and bustle.  Just think, how effective are you being by being overstressed, overworked and overwhelmed?  I feel so much better and more effective after returning from a break.  If you still aren't convinced take a look a blog buddy Susan from Entirely Elementary Blog on The Wasted Day (enough said, Susan I think of this post often, thank you for sharing). 

-Speak up for yourself...being pulled in a million directions by what seems like a million people?  I repeat to myself (and others making demands) "there is ONE of me and I will do my very best to make (fill in the blank) happen but again realize there is  ONE of me".  If by chance those millions of people continue to make more demands, kindly repeat the phrase as needed not raising your voice (it works, eventually they'll get it). 

Even though you are literally alone in your school your really aren't, there are lots of us ready to connect!

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Spoonful of Sweetness Review and Giveaway

Raise your hand if you own any book(s) written by the fabulous Maria Dismondy (I'm raising mine)?  In case you're wondering Maria wrote Spaghetti in a A Hot Dog Bun, The Juice Box Bully, The Potato Chip Champ and Pink Tiara Cookies for Three.  I love how all her books give children tools to empower themselves to be who they are and model great character traits (perfect for school counselor class lessons).  Now Maria has a new book out....Spoonful of Sweetness which I had the opportunity to read and want to share with you how it can be used at your school

This book is geared towards birth-Kindergarten aged children.  So I used this book with my Pre-K students at my school.  What I like about it is that it covers character traits and brings up good talking points to discuss with the students.  I'll also add that when sharing the book with the class, I used the document camera to display on the Smartboard (the book is made for little hands, which I don't have and it was easier for everyone to see the pictures). 

After each page, I shared examples of how to show the character traits (kindness, friendship, responsibility, empathy, respect & courage).  I then asked the students did they show any of those traits at school or at home (of course they all nod yes).  Some students even wanted to share how they showed those traits (I just love hearing those stories)!  I loved this book because it allowed me to expose my youngest students to character education (it's never too early). 

I have great news to share... one lucky school counselor will receive an autographed copy of the book!  To enter for a copy of the book leave a comment below, like my Facebook page and follow me @jyjcounselor at Twitter.  Enter by midnight Friday, January 18th.  Good luck!

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Look Who's Been SPOTTED for Staff Spotlight

Staff morale truly plays a role in the direction and climate of any school.  One cool thing that my school does each month is "spotlight" great things that people are doing in the building.  Here's what we do:
-There's a bulletin board with the words "Look Who's Been Spotted" with "Spot" the jaguar on it (that's our school mascot).  There are spots (just construction paper cut in the shape of a circle) where any staff member can give another staff member a "spot".

-People write their compliment or shout out on the spot and staple it to "Spot" the jaguar. Sometimes people write who it's from, sometimes they don't, that's another cool thing, you never know how what you do affects someone in a positive way (umm hello that's school counseling/working in a school all the time).

-Each month at our staff meeting, we have a time where the principal and assistant principal read the spots and staff members are recognized (we get to keep our spots too).  It's neat to hear what nice, caring and thoughtful things our staff does to support each other.   I'll admit I actually enjoy this part of the meeting, because as the spots are being read, we clap and cheer for the person being recognized (and by the way it really feels good when it's your name being called).

Poor Spot, has no spots.....
Lots of spots for staff!

I even had a spot, whoot whoot!

This consistent staff recognition goes a long way with us and is a great pick me up.   

What ways does your school recognize staff in a positive way? Pin It

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Wow, it's the start of an exciting new year (hope your holiday break has been wonderful)!  I want to thank you awesome readers for taking the time to read what happens in my little school counselor world.  I have some fun and new ideas to share for 2014, please stay tuned!  Pin It