Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Monday, March 3, 2014

Even More Counselor Lead Book Club Suggestions

I've received several questions about running a school counselor led book club and I love that so many of you are interested in starting a book club(s) at your school.  I'd like to share a few more tips and answers to common questions that I've gotten:

-Since we meet for book club during lunch, I pack a picnic basket with my book club "necessities" which include, hand sanitizer, paper towels, wipes, extra utensils and dry erase markers.  This year the library is being used during lunch so we're having book club in a classroom.   I try to cover all my bases with my students (things that always seem to be dropped and forgotten) and so that we don't leave a mess for the very nice teachers that let us to meet in their rooms.

Book Club Basket
-After we finish each book, someone from the group volunteers to bring in a snack (snack is up to the students) and we have a book club celebration in Dec and in April after our last book.  The students love the celebrations.  Our celebrations are like a pot luck where everyone brings in something (I usually assign items to bring and I order pizza). 

-Take a picture of the group and print copies of the pictures for each student in book club to give at the end of the year. 

 On a side note:
-This year I mixed up the way I do book clubs a little. This year my 4th grade book club is high level readers and I will say that the conversations and discussions about our books are quite interesting.  With my 5th graders, I have all girls in the group this time around and that too has been an interesting change from before (in a good way).

-Here are a few more book suggestions for your counselor led book clubs:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Holes by Louis Sacher

The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

Do you have any books to recommend for book club?  Please share Pin It

Monday, February 17, 2014

Being Prepared for Your School Counselor Evaluation

Evaluations, yep we all have them but when you meet with your principal/administration team what does your evaluation entail?  Well in NC, this year our school counselor evaluation instrument was changed.  Our standards work directly with the ASCA National Model (but of course) meaning we are to have artifacts/evidence that we're meeting our standards and we have to be observed by someone from administration. If you're interested in seeing our evaluation in NC rubric click here.   So that made me think "how can I prepare myself for this new evaluation"?  So I thought of a way to keep myself (somewhat) organized for this.  Here's what I'm doing to prepare for my evaluation:

-My principal and I met to discuss the new evaluation instrument and how we would work together on artifacts/evidence and the observation (this is also great school counselor PR and lets your principal know all that we do).

-I bought accordion folders from the Target $1 Spot (just got them last week and they have new spring colors, whoot, whoot).  For each tab, I made a label (using a Brother label maker) for each standard (there are 5 standards but some standard objectives overlap).  I keep samples of activities, lessons, bulletin boards, groups, etc that I do by standard.

Accordion file folders from Target ($1 each!)
-I try to take pictures of what I do as a school counselor:  Bulletin boards, (nice) parent emails/notes,  class visit lessons, newsletters, thank you notes from organizations that you may have worked with, school projects that you may have done, professional development certificates, the list is endless.  It's better to have too much than too little to show much you do (although I'm positive that your work speaks for itself, this speaks even louder).   If you have a school Twitter account, that could also serve as an artifact (parent/community communication/collaboration/resource sharing).

Here are a few examples of things I'm using as artifacts (luckily I have this blog to refer to from time to time to remind me of things I do).  I'll also list the standard that it covers (this is for NC but I'm sure you can adjust it to fit your state/school district evaluation).  If you click on the links below each picture, they will take you directly to my original post. 

Your 3 Words Lesson/Bulletin Board:  Embrace diversity in the school community (Standard 2b) & Plan programs for the academic, career & personal/social development of all students (Standard 4b). 

Joyner Gives Back:  Develop, enhance and promote global awareness (Standard 3c). 

ASCA Conference:  Participates in high quality professional development (Standard 5b).

Smore (newsletters):  Work collaboratively with the families & significant adults in the lives of students (Standard 2)

Student & Staff pick me ups:  Establishing a positive school climate (Standard 1b)

Supervising an (awesome) intern:  Demonstrate leadership at school (Standard 1a)

RAK:  Foster a school environment in which each child has a positive nurturing relationship with caring adults (Standard 2)

Are you required to keep artifacts for your school counselor evaluation?  How do you keep track of all that you do, please share. Pin It

Monday, November 18, 2013

Answers to Planning Holiday Help Questions

I've gotten several questions from you awesome school counselors from my previous post about planning and implementing holiday assistance programs at your school.  So here's my responses to some of my more frequent questions:

-How far in advance do you plan for your holiday help program?
I usually make/print the tags and labels (they're not filled out yet) for the tree in late October and I send home letters to families in early November. I have a quick turnaround time for letters to be returned back to me (usually less than a week) and I am very firm on forms being turned in by the due date.

-What do you do when numbers aren't taken from the tree to help students and families?
I haven't really had that problem.  I have the tree up before Thanksgiving break (the parents at my school expect it to be up by then, just in case they want to shop on Black Friday) and my principal mentions it in her weekly message.  Last year within 2 days of the announcement all of the tags were taken (I added more gift cards to the tree later to "refill" it and those were also taken in a matter of days)  

Snowman tree
Tags on the tree

-Does everyone bring back their gifts if they take a number off the tree?
Yes (knocks on wood)!  I'm very fortunate to work in a school where parents are extremely supportive with this project and are more than willing to donate to our families in need.  

-What do you do if someone doesn't bring in their gifts?
When the parents take a number off the tree, there's portion that they must fill out for me to keep track of who has what number.  I am able to contact the people with "missing gifts" (if needed).  I also add gift cards (in any amount) to various stores to our tree in the event that someone doesn't bring in a gift that we can also give out if a gift is missing.  

-What if a parent doesn't come in for their child's parent conference as required for the holiday help program?
Unfortunately if a parent does not come in for a conference their child's name does not go on the tree.  I also am very firm with this and stress this point (several times) in my letter.  My administration fully supports me on this rule.  The teachers at my school are great with letting me know who's come in for a conference.  In fact some of our hard to reach parents (we all have them at our schools) came in for their conference because they wanted to be sure to be put on the tree, so it's worked out pretty well. 

One more thing that we do is write a thank you note to every person that donates a gift for the snowman tree.  I use the contact info cards that the parents fill out when they take a number off the tree to know who to address the thank you note to.  The administration and student support services team all take a stack of names and write the note to those parents (we do them after the holidays & send them home with their children).  So many parents were so impressed with our handwritten notes afterwards!  

Planning for a holiday assistance program at your school is very doable, but takes a little planning.  Good luck as you prepare for the upcoming holidays at your school.

Do you have any other tips to share for how you plan and implement holiday help at your school?

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Daily Reminders Magnet Board

No matter how many calendars or to do lists I keep, I do from time to time forget things (it's seems a little more often these days, but I digress).  A former counselor intern gave me this cute and cool magnetic message board.  At first I thought great I can put little notes, reminders and such on it.  That plan lasted about let's see....2 days!  I had a small board and a large amount of reminders & notes.  I got this great idea to make this reminder board for each day of the week.  I used something similar when I was teacher a few years back.  So this is what I did:

Magnetic Board
I typed a quick reminders template using Word for Mac (it took probably 10 minutes to type this).  I just typed the usual things that I have daily such as: classroom visits, students lunches, meetings, people I may need to call & other notes.  I typed the title "Monday's Reminders"once and changed the day of the week after printing.  I printed each day of the week on different color cardstock paper and laminated it.
Daily Reminder

The whole week of reminders

After trimming the laminating film from each day of the week I then glued some magnets I got in a race packet from our 5K several months ago (I also got extra magnets to use for future projects, hey they were free) on the back of each day of the week reminder sheet. By the way 2 magnets (shown below) came with the board, but having magnets on each day works great for me.
Free magnets, my favorite price!

Magnets that came w/ the board
Using glue gun to put on magnet

I write what I'm supposed to do each day with a dry erase marker (it's better to get a smaller tip dry erase pen, the ones used for a large whiteboard are hard for me to write with).  I can then wipe clean & reuse the same daily sheet...forever!  I use my Google calendar (agenda view) and transfer it to my daily reminders sheets.  I usually write my reminders for the following week on Friday's and it has worked great for me! 

Dry Erase Markers $4.99 for pack of 4
The finished product is below.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

(Paperless) Counselor Calendar

Again in my efforts to go paperless here's an idea to consider using for the new school year...a paperless counselor calendar!  I used this paperless calendar idea for part of the year last year to try out and I can happily report that I loved it!  Here's how to create your paperless counselor calendar:

-Go to Google and log in (you'll need to have a gmail account to log in)

-Choose the calendar option and you can begin to create your calendars.

Choose Calendar from Google

-Click "create" to make your calendars (remember you can make multiple calendars)

What I love about this paperless calendar feature is that you can have multiple calendars all in one place that can be shared and viewed by others (you can still have private calendars too).  Work with a team?  Then everyone on your team can make a calendar for the team to see (each person's calendar is a different color).  My counselor intern and I both have a calendar that we share and post info for the other to see.  If I'll be at a meeting, I'll post it on our "shared" calendar together and my intern will see it and vice versa.

Share your calendar with another counselor/team member
-You can synch your calendars to your mobile device (smart phones) and of course it will synch to your iPad!  To synch to your iPad, go to Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars and update your calendar settings.

Add your Google Calendar to your iPad or smart phone.
-Another cool feature I like about the paperless calendar is that you can have a reminder before your event (on your iPad/iPhone). On my JYJ Counselor calendar, I like to have an alert 10 mins before any event that I have scheduled so that way, I know I need to get to a stopping point on what I'm doing.  It's been really helpful in keeping me on track especially when things start getting hectic and time slips by.

This calendar has been yet another (paperless) success!  Do you use Google Calendar for your counselor calendar?

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Monday, August 12, 2013

My Top 10 Counselor Must Haves

I see this question all the time: "what things are counselor must haves"  well the answer certainly depends on the school counselor (please always do what works best for you and your students) but I'll be glad to share my top 10 counselor must haves (I have more, but keep this post from being super long, I'll keep it to 10).

Here's my list (in no particular order)

-Kimochis:  My favorite cute feelings friends.  My students LOVE these and they are great conversation starters on how students are feeling.  Many students have "multiple feelings" with these fun toys.  I have several sets and also have 2 mini sets for parents to check out and use at home (they are machine washable just in case you're wondering).

-Board Games/Puzzles:  Students love playing games and not to mention it's another way to re-live childhood memories for me (I loved board games as a child).  Games that are very popular with my students are UnoJengaCheckersMancala & Perfection.  As for puzzles, I took an idea from Pinterest and put my puzzles into cloth mesh bags to take up less space.

-iPad/VGA Adapter:  This also falls on my counselor tech list, but this combo is great to have.  You can do so much with an iPad in your school counselor program!  The VGA adapter is the perfect addition to take your iPad to another level by connecting to a LCD projector, SMART or Promethan boards.

-Trevor Romain DVD Series:  These are the BEST!!!  Need a video about friendship, bullying, facing fear, organization, healthy eating, grief or even divorce?  These are an absolute must have.  Each time I've shown a video to a class without a doubt someone will ask "can we watch it again" or "where'd you get that movie?"  The students love, love, love these and they have a great way to tie in an important morale and lesson that is completely relatable to children.  I ordered these from Amazon.

-Art Supplies:  What counselor can't function without a good supply of paper, glue, markers, crayons and other craft goodies?  I try to keep all of my counselor craft supplies in a bin so that it's easier for students to find.

-Composition Notebooks: These can be used for any and everything under the sun.  Students having problems communicating with their parents, what to express themselves without actually saying them, want students to keep track of group events/activities or even want to draw positive thoughts a composition notebook is a must!  I've given out so many "fill in the blank" journals to students and they have had such a great effect on them.  My school supplies the composition books, but you if have to purchase your own, wait until back to school time starts and catch them on sale.

-Dry Eraser Boards & Markers:  These are great for so many things, individual sessions, group sessions, notes to yourself, the list goes on and on.  I go all these items from the $1 Spot at Target.

Dry erase markers, glue a pom pom on the cap to add a built in eraser.  

Dry erase boards (these have lines, like notebook paper)
-Counselor Treats:  I always have counselor treats on hand (sometimes for myself too, we need treats too).  I usually have smarties as my candy of choice students (it's not chocolate, no allergies, no gluten, etc).   My personal "counselor treats" include my favorite snack(s) of choice (I have a serious weakness for sweets).  This counselor's treat box was given to me my 1st year as a counselor by the previous counselor.  I've been asked several times where to get one, but I have no idea where she got it from.

-Vista Print Goodies:  Where do I begin with all the awesome counselor goodies you can create via Vista Print?  Banners, posters, note cards, t-shirts, polos, business cards and more!  Sign up to receive notifications so you'll know when they have sales.

-Thank you notes:  Without a doubt, someone (staff member, student or parent) will do something nice for you throughout the year.  Writing a handwritten thank you note is such a personal way of showing your appreciation.  I have several sets of thank you notes (including some created from Vista Print).

-Also worth mentioning: Cleaning Wipes (like Lysol), Room deodorizer, mailing labels (address and mailing sized), storage bins, counselor bag, play dough and books of course!

-Some of you may question where's my sand tray, well I don't have a sand tray and I'm a bit of a germaphobic at times.  Although I work in an elementary school, my education career started out in a high school.  Younger students tend not to wash their hands as well/often as older students and because we've had multiple cases of lice, ring worm, flu, stomach virus, etc. I'll trust my high school teacher intuition and pass on the sand tray, but again do what works for you!

What are some of your school counselor must have items?

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In Case You Missed It...School Counselor On Air (Back to School Chat)

Just in case you missed's the School Counselor On-Air live chat on...Back to School!  I had a pleasure of being in great school counselor company:

-Andrea Burston:  (JYJ Counselor) @andreajburston
-Rebecca Lallier:  (School Counseling by Heart) @SchCslByHeart

-Tabitha Panariso:  (Scrapbook of a School Counselor) @tpanariso
-Danielle Schultz:  (School Counselor Blog) @sch_counselor

-Jeremy Goldman (Pikesville High School Counseling Department) @MrJGoldman
-Darrell Sampson (From the Counselor’s Office) @CnslrDarrell

Here's the video of the chat:

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Get Connected for Back to School

We all know what this time of the year is...if you've forgotten check any TV ad because it's back to school time!  Andrea from JYJ Counselor Blog and Danielle from School Counselor Blog want to celebrate and kick off the new school year with you!

There are many ways that you can participate and connect with other school counselors to celebrate the new school year.

Here's how:

Share Your First Day of School Picture!
We want to see your smiling face as you head back to another year or your first year as a school counselor! We also want to see graduate students and counselor educators heading back to graduate school!  To share your first day of school picture with other school counselors use the hashtag #scday1 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine.

Share Your School Counseling Office!
We want to see your school counseling office! Whether you are still preparing and decorating your office for the school year or are all done and ready for students, we want to see your space! To share pictures or a tour of your office with other school counselors use the hashtag #scoffice on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine.

Join Us for a LIVE Chat!
Join us on Wednesday, August 7th at 8PM EST for the first ever School Counseling On Air Back to School Chat.  We will discuss back school tips, best practices, and much more!  We have an amazing lineup of school counselor bloggers to represent each school counseling level! The following school counselors will be participating in the chat:

Elementary Level:
Middle School:
High School:

To view the School Counseling On Air Back to School Chat live from YouTube visit the School Counseling On Air YouTube page. The School Counseling On Air Back to School Chat will also be broadcast live on JYJ Counselor Blog and School Counselor Blog.

You can tweet questions on Twitter using the hashtag #SCOA. You can also ask questions on the School Counseling On Air YouTube page.

We look forward to kicking off the new school year with you!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

(free) School Counselor Time Trackers

Being a school counselor there is no such thing as a "perfect scheduled day" as we know that things in the life of a school counselor change from hour to hour, minute to minute.  I will admit that coming from a very structured teacher routine that I had some trouble adjusting to going with the flow when I started out as a counselor.  Maybe I've accepted it a little too much, because now going with flow, is now pretty much my way of life.

Anywhoo, while attending the ASCA conference I attended the Ready to Use Data Templates session. This was presented by Karl Liedtka, a high school counselor  from Leabanon, PA who was so kind to share a wiki full of counselor templates that can be used for various counselor things such as time/task analysis, pre/post test analysis and student trackers.  The time tracker is the one that I plan on using the most.  It's pretty user friendly (there are directions/user guide on how to use it) and the tracker makes the charts and graphs for you!  This will be awesome to use for my counselor evaluation and data collection piece and it's my very favorite!

Screenshot of time tracker

This will be so awesome to use this year and I can't wait to try it out!  

*Please note that I am not the creator of these time trackers, if you have specific questions about the files I would suggest that you contact the creator.  
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Exploring Middle School Options

Middle School is a big step for 5th graders and their parents (especially when it's their 1st child going to 6th grade).  In my district there are 36 middle schools and because I work at a magnet school, our students go all over the district to middle school.  Due to the variety of middle school choices, I like to keep both students and parents as informed as possible about "the next step".

 Here are some ideas that have helped with keeping 5th graders & parents in the know about middle school:

-I work with my school's magnet coordinator on scheduling recruiting visits to our school.  We've had several schools speak to our 5th grade classes.  Some visits have been for the entire grade, others have been small lunch info session with a representative from the middle school.  We've also had parent breakfast info sessions during morning drop off.

Middle school students speaking to the entire 5th grade

Middle school students showing elective & club options (African drum circle)
More options...African dance!

Lunch middle school info session

-Emailing middle school open house info to parent email lists.  I actually email the 5th grade team which they forward to their parent email lists.

-I asked the 5th grade team to link my counselor webpage with my middle school info (which I update regularly) to their class blogs so that parents can access the info on the web.

-I send a monthly paper copy of middle school updates (which is also posted on my website).

What ways do you keep your parents informed about middle news and events? Pin It