Monday, January 4, 2016

Brag Bag & Best Part of Me Lesson

Happy New Year!  During this time of the year, many of us follow tradition and make resolutions and goals that we'd like to do for the new year.  Often times the resolutions we make are to improve or enhance something in our lives.  We often forget that we have many things already in us that we can brag about and don't need to change.

I was able to do an awesome lesson on body image and acceptance with 2 super cool activities with my 5th grade classes, partnering up with the 5th grade teachers in planning and preparing this made this even more special.  Let me give a little background info...prior to this lesson I went on a field trip with 5th grade for their human growth and development unit to a health center.  Also prior to this trip I had heard several cases of negative self-talk among peers.

For my lesson, the classroom teacher opened with "give your neighbor a compliment" as we listened, nearly all the compliments were based on items such as "I like your shoes", "I like your bracelet" and so on.  That was our doorway to talk about things that we have within us that can't be purchased at a store.  I then read a short story from Chicken Soup for the Soul, Think Positive for Kids entitled "Learning to Love my Nose".  In this story the author shares how something she was embarrassed about became something she was proud about.  It was great to hear the discussion from the class on how they connected with the story.

Next I used the Brag Bag activity from the Girls in Real Life Situations book.  Students were to write 10 things that they could brag about themselves that were not materialistic.  After you wrote the brags down, you cut them out and out them in a plastic bag.  The teachers and I shared our brags with the classes and shared that it can be difficult to brag about yourself.  It was so interesting seeing the students write their brags down.  If we had time, students had the option to share (many were very willing to share).
GIRLS book (notice all my sticky notes, I love this book)

My Brags, that I shared with the students
Student works on their Brags
Cutting the Brags out and putting them in a bag
The following week students wrote a poem after reading the book The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald, where they wrote about the best part of them.  This activity was lead by their teacher, however the brag bag gave them many ideas on things that just might be the best part of them.

Best Part of Me...Eyes
Best Part of Me...Hair
I loved seeing how thoughtful and creative students were doing both of these activities.  I really loved the collaboration with the amazing 5th grade teachers.  We have already said that we would do more things like this in the future. Pin It

Monday, September 28, 2015

More Book Club Book Recommendations

If I haven't mentioned it several times before, book clubs are my favorite school counselor led group. I like the use of bibliotherapy to work with each group (books are so versatile to reach so many types of groups).  Each year I look forward to adding more books to my book club collection.  Here are some more to consider if you're looking for new books:

Brown Girl Dreaming, author: Jacqueline Woodson- This is an autobiography, written in poetry form (the title of the book says it all).

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, author: Wendy Mass- Book with a mystery that I think students will find very interesting.  This book also deals with being in a single parent home, having a deceased parent and friendship.

All of the Above, author: Shelley Pearsall- My students and I both LOVED this book!  A great book about overcoming obstacles to the fullest.

The Fourteenth Goldfish, author: Jennifer Holm- A funny sci-fi book that (humorously) discusses family dynamics, friendship and coming of age.

The Hundred Dresses, author: Eleanor Estes- This book is on many counselor book lists.  Deals with bullying and acceptance of others.

What other books have you read that you think will be a great addition to a counselor led book club?  Please share below.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Friendship Review & Back to School Giveaway

Now that I think the majority of us are back in complete school-mode, what better time to offer a giveaway.  Youthlight was so kind to let me do a review of Brad Learns how to Take a Bite Out of Meanness, which is great interactive CD on friendship and getting along with others (I don't know about you but this topic leads the pack of reasons to visit the counselor).

I LOVE this disc because it can be used in various settings, meaning it can be used in class lessons, small group or even individual sessions (there are 5 mini lessons completely adaptable with SMART or Promethan boards and in English & Spanish).  Another cool feature is that there are printable worksheets and posters on the disc.  I consider this a great resource to add to your "counselor friendship" resources.

The kind people at Youthlight were so nice to send me an extra copy as a giveaway prize.  Please enter to win below.

What are you most looking forward to for the new school year?  I'm looking to connect with even more students because this year we have a lot of new students (hello minute meetings).

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Tips for Counselor Self-Care

Call back the search parties...I'm back!  After an extremely restful and relaxing summer it's time to get back to business and head back to school.  Although I did not blog this summer, I certainly thought of upcoming posts.

Posting about self-care is something that I've wanted to share for some time.  Often we give so much of ourselves in our schools to our students, parents and even staff that sometimes we forget to give some time to "us".  I thought of a few tips, some others told me in my career and some I've just learned from trial and error that I'd like to share with you:

-Do something (non-work related) that you enjoy:  I have several hobbies that I enjoy, my morning group run twice a week (Shout out to BGR) and going to group fitness classes at my gym (shout out to the Cary Y).  My class starts at 4:30, which makes me leave work on time.  During the fitness class, work is usually not on my mind.  After I've finished, I have a clear head and have had a great workout.

My morning run group (awesome ladies)
-Keep a folder (or even a drawer) of positive notes, cards, drawings from students, parents, staff, etc: When having a rough day(s) it's very reassuring to know that you're truly making a difference in your role.

Notes like this can totally brighten your day.

-Don't respond to voicemail or email messages when angry or upset:  Guess what kind of response you give when you angry or upset? Yep you're right angry and upset!  Take some time to calm down and get your emotions in order before you respond, as my students sometimes say "don't get all up in your feelings".  Usually by the time you have calmed down you can rationally respond to your email.  Also word to the wise, keep those emails short and sweet.

-Eat lunch away from your computer:  Each year, my intern and I make a rule to have lunch together and not in front of a computer.  What a difference that makes.  We really need that non-work time to connect.

-Even if you're alone as the counselor in your school, you're NOT alone:  Connect with other counselors in your district or nearby.  Thank you social media for allowing so many of us to connect!  If you haven't already joined the Elementary Exchange Facebook group, you sure are missing out!  Ask a question, share a resource or even a little vent on the FB group and you'll have a multitude of support.  I'm so thankful that this blog has allowed me to connect with so many of you.

I never feel alone thanks to this amazing PLT (Professional Learning Team)!

-When needed, take a mental health day:  Any form of burnout isn't fun.  You're no good to yourself or your students when you're not "yourself".  If you need to take a day to rejuvenate and refocus it may be in your best interest.

Do you have any other tips that you'd like to share for self-care?

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Monday, May 18, 2015

(Free) School Counselor Printables

I know many of you wonderful school counselors are on Pinterest. How do I know this?  I follow lots of you and you follow me.  One of my favorite boards is my School Counselor Printables board because A.) I like printables, I actually have a folder that I save all these goodies called "Pinterest stuff to Print". B.) I don't want to re-create something that's already been made. So friends I'm going to share my favorite Pinterest School Counselor Printables along with their links (all of these are free).  Enjoy!

(yes even my binders have to have a little style)

(this is also a great anti-bullying resource website)

If you'd like to follow my Pinterest board of School Counselor Printables, click the link and follow me (most of my pins are freebies, free is my favorite price). Pin It

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dressing Interview Ready on Budget

After working at my district's career fair recently, my fashion forward co-worker and I began to chat about how it felt to be on the other end (the person looking for a job) and all the emotions and feelings that you feel being at a job fair...nervousness, excitement and especially feeling overwhelmed.  One of the things we discussed was dressing for an interview and how as college students funds may be limited to spend on new clothes.  So hark, a blog post idea came on sharing budget friendly and simple ways to dress appropriately for a school counselor interview.

I thought back to my first rounds of teacher interviews fresh out of college (I was a teacher before becoming a counselor) and I wore the "unofficial interview uniform"...a black dress suit.  Not just any suit, this said suit I thought was quite snazzy (for 12 years ago).  This two-piece suit had a dress and a black long-sleeve jacket to go over the dress accompanied with black pumps AND off-black pantyhose (gasp)!  Did I mention that I did my interviews during the summer the south (HOT)!  Since then, my interview dress has been a little more relaxed and I don't think I've worn a suit to an interview since then.  There are ways to dress professional without wearing a suit or breaking the bank.

I'd like to share some affordable ways to dress for your school counselor interview.  I stuck with basic clothing pieces and things that most people are likely to already own (or have a friend they can borrow them from).

So here are Basic Clothing Pieces to start with:
-Black or Navy dress pants
-White Button-up Shirt
-Basic Black Dress
-Black  pumps

Pants: JC Penny, Shirt: Nautica  Pumps: Nine West

Black Pants: Banana Republic, Navy Pants: JC Penny
Dress: Old Navy
Here are some ideas on how simple pieces can update your look, while looking professional.

Black or Navy Pants + White Button Down Shirt + a Statement Necklace:  

Statement Necklaces: NY & Co (Left), Gifted (Right)

Black or Navy Pants + a Stripe Shirt + a Statement Necklace:
I added brown pumps since it's great compliment color with navy pants. 

Shirt: Old Navy, Necklace: NY & Co, Shoes: Naturalizer

Black or Navy Pants + White Button Down Shirt + a Stripe Blazer:

Blazer: JCrew Factory

Black or Navy Pants + White Button Down Shirt + a Stripe Blazer+ a Statement Necklace:  

Basic Black Dress + Belt:

Belt: Gap

Basic Black Dress + Belt + Cardigan +Statement Necklace:

Cardigan: JCrew, Necklace: Belk

Basic Black Dress + Belt + Cardigan + Scarf

Scarf: Old Navy

See there's potential awaiting you in your closet as you prepare for your upcoming interviews!   Veteran counselors these looks work for us to, just for a regular school day.  I loved writing this post, I plan to share more shopping and outfits that are school appropriate and budget friendly. Pin It

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book on Celebrating Diversity with Empathy and Giveaway

Teaching empathy is something we school counselors do oh so well and what better way to model and show empathy to our students than through books.  Author Maria Dismondy's newest book Chocolate Milk, Por Favor is a fantastic book to use to show empathy AND teaches accepting others through diversity.  

What I really like about this book is that this story is very relatable because it's Maria own story of a new student (Gabe) at her school who's an non-English speaker from another country and how another student (Johnny) goes out of his way to be unkind to him.  Throughout the students differences Johnny learns that those differences make people special or unique.  He learns that these special differences don't mean that you can't be kind and learn from others that may be different (and in this case, speak a different language than you).  This same story happens in many of our school buildings with (initial) non-English speaking students.  I can see this being shared with many of the classes and teachers in my school.  This is a great addition to my school counselor book library.

As an added bonus super fantastic Maria already has Chocolate Milk, Por Favor Reader's Guide with worksheets and ideas to use with students (thank you Maria).  Maria has been so kind to give an autographed copy of the book away.  Enter below.  This is a win-win and activities, what more can I say!

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