Monday, December 10, 2012

5th Grade and Careers!

Well, I've gotten back in the groove since my last post--thank goodness!  I've been doing a really cool collaborative lesson w/ my 5th grade team that I thought I'd share today.  South Carolina uses a career website called SCOIS which has an elementary career site called CLIMB.  So, I've been administering a 3 part career lesson with the input of the 5th grade teachers to help the kids learn about career clusters, identify their interests and which clusters they may be interested in as well as put their research skills to work and write a paragraph explaining if a certain career that they research is or is not a good match for them.  They've LOVED it!

The first lesson was during my normal classroom lesson time.  We met in the computer lab and I had the students take the interest inventory.  Their results came back with three career clusters that they may be interested in pursuing.  They used the rest of the allotted time to explore different jobs within each cluster on the SCOIS CLIMB website.  The next lesson took place the following day during their class' writing time.  We again met in the computer lab for them to research one job that they were interested in learning more about (again we stuck to the same website).  I had them use a graphic organizer (created by a 5th grade teacher to crosswalk w/ her standards) to list characteristics of the job they were researching.  Beside each characteristic, they had to answer the following question: Does this sound like me? Is this something that fits what I want to do or be? and write either a "Yes" or a "No" with an explanation.  This was their pre-writing.  The final part of the lesson took place again during their next writing period and they used their research to formulate a paragraph on whether or not the job that they researched would be a good match for them.  (Some of the teachers preferred to lead the writing activity and others handed over the reins to me.  I'd never taught writing specifically, but with the help of a sandwich model: Intro-bread, details-meat, conclusion-bread- I was able to handle it!)

The students did a great job!  We talked about how it can still be helpful for them even if they decided that the job wasn't perfect for them and how even jobs that are a great fit can still have things about it that you don't love (Case in point-->see my previous post :)  I also talked with them about how this research can be helpful in a couple of months when we talk about registering for classes in middle school.  They had a blast doing the research and learning about careers and gained a huge insight into themselves and more self-awareness as they decided whether or not each characteristic fit them.  Also, it was great for me to collaborate and co-teach with our 5th grade team!

Thanks for checking in-- good luck to you as you wrap up this crazy time of year and move into 2013!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Am Only One

It's true, I've been MIA on the blogosphere world lately... I haven't updated my blog or checked into others to see what is going on in the world of school counseling.  I haven't even gotten on Pinterest in weeks!  I've  been in my own little corner struggling, feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared for the work that I'm doing-- or lack there of, because I feel as if I am constantly playing catch up and only able to half-do everything on my to do list.  The worst part of it all is that I feel like I have so much to give and that I'm responsible for and yet, I am constantly responding to situations that arise, that I can't give my all to my students.  There is a new need every single day.  Today I continued to add to an endless list of students that I am behind on seeing, that are struggling with issues and feeling pain that I can only imagine, that are having problems in class or at home and as much as I want to help them-- as much as I feel called to be there for them-- there is only me.  Just me.  The only counselor at a title one elementary school of 550 students.  The character ed coordinator, the testing coordinator, the HUG coordinator, the records custodian, a Girls on the Run coach, an educator, a consultant... the list truly goes on and on.

But, I know there are times when everyone feel like this.  Like no matter how hard I try and feel so passionately about what I do, I just can't do enough.  I came across this quote last week and didn't even realize then how much I needed to read it:  "I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everette Hale 

So, tomorrow is a new day.  Even though it is a day off from school, I won't be taking the day off, but using it to play catch up.  To get everything ready for the testing beginning next week.  To send and receive records that are weeks behind.  To hopefully find a better system to organize the students that I need to meet with and then follow up with.  To screw my head back on straight and find ways to do what I can do rather than allow that helpless, overwhelming feeling to sneak back in and take over.  After all, I am only one and I can't do everything, but I certainly can do something and I need to step back, take a deep breath and take that something one day at a time.

:)  Hopefully next time, I'll have something awesome to share that I did with students or a wonderful success story.  But today, you get the true confession of an overwhelmed, first year school counselor.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Red Ribbon and Character Counts Week

Whew, time flies when you are the only school counselor at a Title 1 elementary school with nearly 600 students!  In fact, time is flying so much that I am just now sitting down to plan for Red Ribbon and Character Counts week and it is just over 1 week away.  Yikes!  Luckily, I follow some pretty great blogs that have wonderful ideas and resources (perfect for us first year and totally overwhelmed school counselors like me!)

Thank you School Counselor Blog for being awesome and sharing such wonderful ideas!!  I love the idea of using Character is our Super Power as a theme for the week.  Now it's time to get planning.  Check out these great ideas for combining Red Ribbon Week and Character Counts Week-- and check back in a few weeks for some pictures and thoughts about how it all came together :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Habits Poster

Over the summer, I made this poster for my office to refer to the habits with my students!  I am so excited to be teaching these important skills to my students.

Be Proactive!

It's official, I am PUMPED about teaching the 7 Habits at my school.  I think in the past 3 weeks I have used the word "proactive" at least a thousand times.  To me, if our students can learn, practice and do this first habit, then they are limitless in what they are able to accomplish!  I've taught it to all grade levels differently, but everyone has heard my definition of Be Proactive: Being proactive means that you take control of things in your life rather than letting things in your life take control of you.

I used the example of someone hating the rain and deciding to just stay home and not do anything they had planned because of the rain.  What is in control in that example?  THE RAIN!  Instead, what could that person bring or do so that they are in control?  An umbrella! :)  We also talked about the difference in being proactive (like a water bottle) and reactive (like a soda bottle). The kids really got it, and I continued to provide them examples in each lesson.

My favorite lessons were with the upper grades.  I used the circle of control to talk about how we should spend our time and energy focused on things that we actually can control and make better rather than spending time complaining, feeling bad about ourselves, or giving other people the power to ruin our days.  Then, in 5th grade, I got a wonderful idea from another counselor in my district.  Each student created a Personal Proactive Plan for ways that they were going to be proactive at home, at school and outside of home and school.  They folded a piece of paper into thirds and came up with ideas that they could do to be proactive in those three areas.  I shared my own PPP to help get them started thinking of ideas.  We talked about how it was like a contract with themselves to practice being proactive all year.

I've caught so many students being proactive since our lesson, and I love complimenting them on it!  How have you been proactive this school year?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

This summer, I got together with my fabulous former internship supervisor and another counselor friend of hers in our district and we planned lessons for the 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  I am so excited that the lessons have started!  Below is the bulletin board that is across of the cafeteria.  I like the idea of a tree, but we used that last year at our school for something different and I wanted something that I could use and add to as the year goes on.  There are 7 habits and 7 colors of the rainbow so, viola!  Each month, I will teach a habit to all grade levels.  After the lesson, I will have kids write down on the "gold" an idea they have for practicing that habit and display it so that others can have ideas for how to practice the habits.  Stay tuned for more to come about the individual lessons and some freebies of things I've created for the program :)

Individual, Individual, Individual!

True Life: It is Hard to Blog During the Week!  But finally, I can steal a couple of minutes to sit down at my computer and write about the week.  I have been busy seeing individual students because of my new mailbox.  I brought it with me during the first counselor introduction lesson and kids have been filling it up!  I've found that it's pretty easy to weed through the notes to find the "emergencies" versus the "small stuff" but I know that even the small stuff is a big deal to those students.

Most of the student referrals have been about getting along with people in their class.  When I meet with them, I try to give them some tools that they can use to solve their problem themselves.  We discuss Heart Talk and The Feedback Game [When someone gives you feedback about yourself- good or bad- ask yourself these questions: 1) Does this match what I know about myself? 2) Did the person who gave me this feedback have my best interest at heart? 3) Will this help me become a better person?  If NO is the answer, you reject the feedback with positive self talk!]

Some of my friends have needed to talk about things going on in their family, and I have been keeping a little list for students to add to a group when they get started.  Also, I've gotten to help some friends learn to self-monitor their behavior in class!  It's been lots of fun to get letters from students who want to talk with me about things going on in their life.  One sweet little 2nd grade filled my bucket by leaving me this note: "Dear Mrs. Kendrick I love you and you are a good guidance counselor."  :)  Do you have a system for letting kids self-refer themselves to you?  I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lat Minute Lesson Change-Up :)

Well it turned out to be a busier weekend than I had anticipated and as of Sunday afternoon, I didn't have any of the items that I wanted to use for my introduction lesson to the students!  So I had to come up with something quick that would work.  I had seen the School Counselor's First Aid Kit floating around on Pinterest and decided that I could make it work for me.  I went to this wonderful blog and got all of the directions that I needed to create my very own School Counselor Tool Box.  Yep, you read that correctly-- I made a tool box instead of a first aid kit.  I like using the analogy of adding tools to the students' tool boxes throughout the year and I figured it was a good start to teach them about the different "tools" that I use in my job.  They got a kick of out me asking them if they thought that I had a hammer and a saw in my box-- of course I don't use those types of tools!  I used it with all grade levels (even the upper grades) and it worked so well to help explain my role to the kids.  Since the lesson was done in such a short amount of time (15 minutes each) I was able to meet all classes before next week when I will start my lessons... 7 Habits here we come!!

Here is a picture of my tool box:

I didn't have time in each class to cover all of the items, but I was able to pick and choose.  I used the eraser (to help them fix mistakes), the head phones (because I'm a good listener) and the key (to explain what confidential means and tell them the exceptions to that rule) in every lesson.  I only used the star in 5th grade to talk about how I was going to help guide them to middle school and get them through the lonely, confusing, scary times along the journey.  I just picked and chose the rest of them depending on the grade level I was with.  I made sure to talk about all of  all of the points I wanted to make even if I didn't use the tool that specifically represented that (they all tie together pretty nicely).

Also, the most important (and my favorite!) thing that I did, was leave them with with their own tool to solve problems this year.  When I came in the middle of last year, I brought with me Heart Talk.  It was something that I learned in my internship and came from a WONDERFUL lesson planning resource, Puzzle Pieces by Diane Senn.  Heart Talk teaches the children to use I-messages (I feel, because, please) when they have a problem.  In every class I had at least a couple of students fill my bucket by showing me that they remembered Heart Talk!  :)

What did you use for your first lesson with your kiddos?  I'm so glad to have met all of the classes and I can't wait to get started next week with my lessons!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School!

Well, we made it! This has been my first first week back to school since I was a student myself, and I must say I am loving the chaos, smiles, nerves and excitement as our students and teachers gear up for a wonderful year.  I've gotten so many hugs and "Hey, I remember you!"s that make me truly excited to be back in the swing of things.  This week I've been mostly floating around to be helpful wherever I can, but next week I'll be "popping" into classrooms for a quick counselor introduction lesson plan.  Last year I introduced myself for a full 30 minutes lesson with Mrs. Potato Head for K4-1, counselor trivia 2-4, and decorating puzzle pieces in 5th grade (the counselor helps "connect the pieces"... their puzzle pieces went on my bulletin board. So cute!)

This year however, I think most of the students already know who I am, and I really want to get started with my 7 habits lessons in September so that I can cover all of them, so I plan on getting a few things here and there and taking them to each class to introduce myself for a quick 10-15 minutes.  Some of things I'll be looking for this weekend are: a large ear (where to find?!?), big shoes (maybe I can borrow a pair of the hubby's), an oversized key, a hand (thinking a foam hand would work), large sunglasses.  I'll share whatever I am able to come up with next week.  I'd like to have students in the upper grades help me out by wearing some of the things that I'll bring.

A little back to school FUN:

I just thought I'd share this with you since it was crafted for back to school.  Below is a picture of our volcano that was in the middle of the atrium for Meet the Teacher and the first day of school.  Our theme is Learning is a Treasure and we turned the atrium into a treasure map!  We found some footprint peel and stick wall art that we put on the floor with the volcano in the middle ("we're erupting with learning!") and a pirate ship on the wall.  The ship has pirates that will hold the "scrolls" of our honor roll students, perfect attendance and Bug Club for the 9 weeks.  It was so much fun to see the kiddos walking on the footprints around the atrium.  What did your school do for back to school??  I'd love to hear about it!

Have a wonderful, fabulous school year!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gettin' Crafty School Counselor Style

So long summer!  We officially start school next week, and I’ve been spending some time making some different crafts for my office.  Most things on here came from Pinterest so I’ll try to attach the tutorials that go along with it.

First things first: A School Counseling Planner 

One of the biggest challenges that I had my first few months as a school counselor was keeping track of everything that I had to do: classroom lessons, groups (who, what, where), individual appointments… and then some of the less glamorous duties, state-wide testing, meetings, records—the list goes on and on.  This school year, I wanted to do my best to start off with more organization.  Enter this *amazing* planner that I found on Pinterest.  Click here for the original post and tutorial- you won’t be sorry! J

I used the freebie template from the blog that originally created this and just added new headings to make it work for me.  As you can see, I have my month on one side and my weekly planner on the other.  I usually do about 2 different lessons per week (grade levels that is) and around 3 groups going at a time. This planner gives me room to write the session/ lesson topic and student initials so I can keep track.  Also, I struggle w/ remembering which students need an individual follow up session.  Now I’ll just write their initials down on my appointment list for the following week!  After each week, I’ll simply turn the page and violĂ ~ start a new week!

Next up, Crate Seats!

I’m lucky to have a table w/ 4 chairs and a small couch in my office for students to sit on, but there is always room for more—especially when I have a bigger group meeting in there J  I have been eyeing these crate seats for a while and one of our teachers set up a get together for those of us who wanted to make them this school year.  I definitely recommend doing this so that you can share your plywood and mattress foam!  Here is the finished product.  Also, they can still be used as storage…endless possibilities!

There are so many uses for these little guys!  I see myself giving them to homesick babies during the first week of school, kids who need some extra love, groups to invite them to share the love w/ others, ect.  Also, I love using the book The Invisible String with students who are homesick, missing a loved one, or who have had a love one die—although it is a younger book, I still like to use it w/ the big kids too because I think it has a very powerful and true message.  One of these hearts can be given to a student after reading the story while they process who their string is connected to. *Disclaimer: I am NOT a sewer. Seriously. Not at all.  However, these will be going to my little friends and I don’t think they’ll be too concerned with the shabby edges—don’t let that stop you either!

Sweet Treats for the Soul (Affirmations)

I took an old pickle jar and washed and cleaned it (but it still smells like pickles a little bit…oops!)  I then decorated it to say “Mrs. Kendrick’s Sweet Treats.”  It is full of sweet treats for the soul not the tummy.  Inside, I cut up little strips of paper that have different affirmations printed on them.  Students can have one when they’re feeling down or need a pick me up (teachers are welcome to them too!)


I also made a mind jar (which has been floating around Pinterest) and brain sprinkles with the left over glitter.  I don’t have their pictures here, but the brain sprinkles are just glitter and little beads in an old spice jar that can be used to give kids an academic boost.  I’m thinking I might bring these to my academic skills groups and give them a sprinkle at the end of each lesson to encourage them to remember what we've learned and give them a little extra boost to get ready for class.

Summer was wonderful, but I am so excited to see the kids and teachers that I work with.  It is going to be a great school year!  Good luck kicking things off at your school—thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Here goes nothing...

       Let's just start off by saying that this blog has been a long time coming!  I really wanted to start my own school counseling blog during my first internship, but it took an unfortunate back burner to my diving into the world of school counseling head first. There was SO much to learn, practice and see (not to mention that I was planning a wedding, nannying for a wonderful family and in class every night) that the blog was set aside as  something that I just "didn't have enough time for".  Two internships later, I graduated with my Masters degree in December 2011 and was blessed beyond belief to walk straight into a school counseling job at an elementary school (Yay! I could have handled middle and high, but my passion is working w/ the little ones).  Thus, my career began smack dab in the middle of the school year as the only school counselor at a title one elem school with roughly 540 children.
      I was determined to start my blog in January, but as you can imagine the whole "not having enough time" excuse that kept me from starting it during internship was magnified by a million when I embarked on getting to know the students, teachers and admin, creating a program and a schedule, running groups and classroom lessons and of course, the thing we all know and love, coordinating state-wide testing (more on that to come later I'm sure).  So, here I am with 5 months of experience under my belt gearing up to start my first "official" year as a school counselor in a few short weeks.  
      I am thankful to be where I am.  I love my school--our students really are so amazing, special and unique.  I love my job and can't wait to work this year to bring a comprehensive school counseling program to my school.  Certainly there are challenges and things that I worry about for this upcoming year-- How can I reframe the way that my teachers, admin and parents view my role as a proactive and comprehensive school counselor when everyone is so used to working with a more disconnected "guidance counselor"?  Am I putting too much on my plate during this first year?  Honestly, where do I even start?

**Hopefully** I'll be able to keep this blog up for real this time around.  I am obsessed w/ pinterest and following the absolutely awesome school counselor blogs out there already.  I think that we are all more passionate, creative and enthusiastic when we collaborate and share ideas.  I'm excited to network with you!  Thanks for reading...see you again soon!