I get a flash from my own elementary school memories. I can remember gazing up at the impressively dressed firefighter who towered above me and my floor-sitting cronies. I consumed all sorts of descriptive details about his death-defying feats and physically demanding routines. He was my hero, and it was awesome.
That career day presentation was working, right? Well, somewhat. Something about that day was working. This hero-type figure helped me understand that being a firefighter was the ultimate realization of my far off adulthood. But there was one problem: I was about 3 feet and 10 years short of being a strong applicant for any firefighting school.
I wonder what would happen if we shifted the career day focus away from job descriptions?
What if, instead, the presenters who visit elementary schools talk about the character traits that got them into their chosen careers?
With this new curiosity, I set out on the web to find career day lessons that focused on early life skills and connected those skills to later careers. I was sad to discover very few. Now, full disclosure. I work for a character education program called The NED Show, whose mission is to promote academic achievement through character development. Over the last three years, our resource team has created tons of free resources that teachers and school counselors download and use from the web.
We’ve especially concentrated on the traits that live within our “N.E.D.” acronym: Never give up, Encourage others, and Do your best. With the support of my organization behind me, I set out to create career resources that infused character lessons. The result: 3 free career day video lessons.
Focusing on concepts like the importance of practice and the rewards of hard work, I identified professionals who achieved their dream jobs because of their character traits. The three videos are now complete, include Common Core aligned lesson plans, and are freely available for anyone to use:
Career focus: Artist, Game animator, Mathematician, Game ‘analyst’
Skills & Character Traits: Positive attitude. Striving for excellence. Patience. Practice. Never giving up. Perseverance. Rewards of hard work.
I encourage you to play a video and use its lesson plan! Perhaps select one that will uniquely appeal to your students.
If you do show a video, I’d love to hear how your students reacted to the ‘character skills’ approach to a career day lesson. Simply comment below, write to email@example.com, or tweet @thenedshow.
The day will come for students to learn all sorts of details about particular jobs. Yet as long as they sit at miniature desks, I personally think we should explain big picture concepts like life skills. That way, in the future, students will be ready and motivated to chase their dream careers.
I love finding and sharing ideas with other counselors and Pinterest is the Mecca of Inspiration…well, at least it is for me when it comes to new ideas to try with my students.
However, it seems that I do more pinning than actually using the ideas that I pin.
I have an idea that may help with that!
Welcome to “Make It for Monday!” Make It for Monday will be a weekly linky party were I make something I have found (or been inspired by) something on the internet and I invite all of my readers to participate!
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Find something to make and make it.
2. Take pics and upload them to a photo sharing website like Photobucket.
3. Link to your finished project in the Linky form below!
I would love for fellow bloggers to participate, but you do not need to have a blog to share your awesomeness with everyone!
Okay, back to my project…
I’ve been wanting to make these Olliblocks for some time now. There are 6 different characters in each set, which mix & match very nicely!
Since I need to make three sets of these blocks (one for each office), I decided to start off with just making the boy and girl version. The company also has a Valentine theme set, which I think I will make when I go back and make the animal set. Too cute!
But for now, here’s what you will need if you want to create your own set of Olliblocks for your office, classroom, daycare, or even baby shower gift (<- We have several pregnant teachers in my district and these will make a great gift.)
Print the Olliblock templates onto the white card stock or sticker sheets
If you use sticker sheets:
Cut along the squares and adhere them onto the blocks. (faces, bodies, and legs each go on their respective blocks).
Voila! Your new build-a-person blocks are ready for Monday!!!
I thought I would be clever and save money by printing the templates onto card stock using modge podge. While definitely doable and bit more cheaper, this process requires extra time and increases the chances that the images can get messed up.
The Directions I Followed:
Print templates onto card stock.
Cut out the squares and “glue” them to blocks by applying a thin coat of modge podge to the block and then laying the card stock square onto the block.
Make sure the card stock square is firmly attached to the square by pressing it on a flat surface (sort of like a stamp).
It is FAR easier if you only do 2 or 3 sides at a time and allow a few minutes of drying time in between.
After all of the sides have been attached to the cube, coat each side with another thin layer of modge podge. Once again, this is easiest if you only cover 2-3 sides at a time. You will also want to make sure that the first layer of modge podge is mostly dry, as brushing another layer on may shift your images.
I found the boy templates to be about 1/16″ too big. I emailed the company, so hopefully they will correct the size ASAP. If you are planning on making your own set of blocks, you will want to check the measurements before you apply the modge podge.
Blocks are available for use AFTER they have dried completely. Do not stack them until they are COMPLETELY dried or else they may stick to one another and you’ll be pretty bummed.
I would love to see your latest crafty(ish) project…for the purpose of this linky party, you can share anything you have made or created that helps promote social, emotional, or behavioral development!
Feel free to link up new or an ol’ favorite! I will post a new Crafty Counselor Linky Party each month.
I’m not talking about that kind of “seize the moment”. I’m talking about the moments in life when we fall flat on our face, when we feel like crawling under the covers for the next 48 hours (or so), when we question why we even bother fighting the good fight.
The ability to seize the moment in the face of adversity is the difference between allowing something to make you bitter or better. While this philosophy can be applied to life in general, it is essential for all school counselors!
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I know it’s a post that needs to be written.
Think of how many teachers are in your building. When things go foul they are able to support one another. While my teacher friends have been their for me, they can never truly understand all of the stress that comes with the job, the feelings of failure when our students do not respond to our services, the agony of having to tell everyone that you can’t work with students for 9 weeks because you are the MEAP coordinator…
We need to be able to hear one another’s stories in order to realize that it’s “not just us”. We all go through ups and downs in our career. No one bats 1,000…nobody should demand 100% performance at all times…
In the wise words of Macklemore, “The greats weren’t great because they could paint. The greats were great because they painted a lot.” (Check out the song 10,000 Hours by Macklemore!)
Sure we are going to spill some paint along the way, we might use the wrong brush, or fail to prep our canvas’ properly. However, these mistakes can lead to greater things we didn’t even know was possible. Sure mistakes can be time-consuming and challenging, but those misadventures can be used to hone your knowledge, skills, and counseling program.
My English teaching mentor called this FAILING FORWARD. It’s about trying something, analyzing how it went, and making adjustments for next time. While nerve raking at the time, the lessons I learned will stick with me throughout life.
What??? You want me to fail? <- No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is, “Take advantage of your setbacks.”
It can be something small…
Bucket of several 100 crayons fell all over my office floor giving me the opportunity to get rid of all of my broken crayon nubs. <- happened today
Or something with a little more “teeth” to it…
Teacher asking, “Who the hell do you think you are?” when I told her that the district’s money collection policy changed (for our Angel Tree program). This lead me to develop my, “I’m not an administrator’s mouthpiece” policy. If an admin wants to implement a policy, they should be the one to break it to the staff. There’s something to the expression, “Kill the messenger.”
What about all of those other moments? The career of a professional school counselor is filled with these “learning opportunities”. A school counselor’s day can become one of those failing forward days at the drop of a hat.
A school counselor must be ready to deal with anything and everything that walks through their door at any given moment. While it would be really considerate for a crisis to schedule itself in advance, it doesn’t.
There really isn’t anyway to prepare for this part of the job in grad school, but it’s vitally important to learn how to use the situation(s) to make you better (and not bitter).
Here are four easy steps to RATE your problem and grow your school counseling program:
Take time to review what happened. What was the desired effect/outcome? What was the actual effect/outcome?
What factors contributed to the outcome?
What can be changed/adjusted to reach the desired outcome?
Put your new plan into action!
I made this freebie too! Hope you find it helpful!!! Just click on the image to download.
How are you with practicing self-care? Do you take time to recharge your batteries or do you give and give until you pass out from sheer exhaustion?
People who take care of others are sometimes the worst practitioners of self-care. We get into the business of helping others but then we tend to forget that we need to be cared for as well. I speak from personal experience.
I know I need to take care of myself…I know I need to make time for myself…I know this, yet it doesn’t always happen.
That’s why I was really excited to read about how one of my Facebook fans combines her love of crochet into self-care time that benefits her students. Seriously? How awesome is that?
I invited Amanda to share her experience with the rest of my readers. (You check out the original Facebook thread and join the conversation here.) Without further ado, here’s the fabulously talented Amanda:
It is hard to believe that the fourth quarter of my first year as a School Social Worker is quickly approaching! Just like Dorothy and her adventure down the yellow brick road, my first year has been a wild ride! My current position has me split between two schools in my home town. I am at the middle school ( 6th-8th) part-time and spend the other half at an elementary school where I am with a self-contained classroom (K-2) for students with behavioral concerns. The fun part is I attended both schools I work at when I was a student and know that I have landed my dream job!
I began my social work career as a therapeutic day school and quickly realized that working with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities was my passion. I continued my career by becoming a mental health specialist at a residential treatment center in Illinois. It was at the residential treatment center that I first used crocheting as a therapeutic intervention. When working with adolescents who have traumatic pasts and even more unsure futures, it takes creativity and persistence to find ways to develop rapport with the clients and help them develop coping skills to be successful in life. The image of a 16-year-old male crocheting in his room as a way to replace his aggression will always hold a special place in my heart.
As a school social worker, I spend a lot of time modeling for my students, especially at the elementary school level. Crocheting emerged in my career as I began talking to my colleagues about the importance of self-care as we work in a high stress environment. I always described crocheting as my therapy and brought in some of my amigurumi stuffed animals to show them. When I saw the look and excitement on one of my students faces when they saw a big, cuddly crocheted turtle on the table, I knew I had to find a way to merge my passion for crochet into my practice.
I have used crocheting as a way to show my students that even adults use coping skills to regulate their emotions. It has opened their eyes that coping skills can be more than just deep breathing and counting to 10.
I involve the students in helping me choose which animal to make next so I can stay happy and calm, and they help me name them when they are done! I keep my finished products in my office so that they can be reminders of previous lessons we have talked about. I have future plans to incorporate my crochet creations such as making animals that the kids can purchase in our school store with the tickets they earn for positive behavior. I love that I have been able to enmesh two of my greatest passions together and hope that other counselors can do the same!
Please visit my page to see the crochet creations I have made which are all for sale. I love custom orders, so I would love to hear your unique ideas/orders! www.facebook.com/amandaschmittcrochet
Aren’t they adorable! I’ve ordered a lil’ skunk from Amanda…I can’t wait to “meet” him!
Here are some of the great coping skill strategies (in no particular order):
Homemade Stress Balls (w/Playdough):
During my counselor training, I was told that you should never ask your students to do something that you have never tried yourself. This is very sound advice as it allows you to work out kinks and reduce frustration.
So, when I heard about making stress balls out of playdough I thought I had better try it out first. After making a huge mess the first time around I was able to tweak my method.
Tips for making homemade stress balls with playdough:
Work over a table to catch bits of playdough.
Half of a can of playdough makes a stress ball the perfect size for my elementary kids.
A third of a can (green stress ball) is great for really small hands or for pinching. <- Excellent for kids working on their pincer grasp!
Roll the clay into small “snakes” measuring about 2 inches in length. The playdough will fall down to the bottom, versus having to push it through the opening…which is where I experienced the most mess.
Wait until you have finished stuffing the balloon with playdough before you try to squeeze it from the opening to the main part of the balloon. The playdough inside helps keep the air hole open.
I think creating these stress balls would be therapeutic for my older kids (4th grade +), but I will make them ahead of time for my little ones.
Taking care of yourself:
Do you have students whom seem routinely unkempt? While lack of resources, such as soap, shampoo, or even running water can lead to a student looking disheveled. A lack of grooming can also be a sign of depression or severe stress.
Teaching students the importance of taking care of basic needs can help them feel better both physically and psychologically.
I’ve always used polished river stones for worry stones with my students, but I’ve been seeing a lot of counselors making worry stones out of clay. I love the idea of having the students involved!
Everyone says to take deep breaths, but not all breaths (even deep ones) are equal. Expanding the diaphragm is important to get the full effect. I love the Teacher Tipster’s Hot Chocolate Breathing technique!!! Not sure if I love using the technique to teach deep breathing or that I get to working in a delicious cup of hot chocolate (when appropriate…sometimes we just pretend).
Figure 8 Breathing:
For those of you that are into Brain Gym, there is figure 8 breathing. Figure 8 breathing can be very helpful with “centering” oneself in stressful situations, especially if steps are taken to be mindful of where they are at on their figure 8.
Another great technique for teaching about controlled breathing. Have you students try different lengths and speeds of breaths to blow bubbles. Deep steady breaths win every time!
Bonus: Kids can pop their worries (aka bubbles)!
List/think of two things for each of our senses. 2 things you see, 2 things you hear, 2 things you feel, 2 things you smell, and 2 things you taste.
This activity can be very intense when used to explore traumatic events. I prefer to use it for them to revisit a happy memory.
For instance my happy memory is going to the cabin with my kids:
2 things I see: sunsets and my kids jumping off of the dock
2 things I hear: the waves of the water and laughter
2 things I feel: the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the water
2 things I smell: suntan lotion and fresh cherry pie
2 things I taste: hamburgers cooked over charcoal and (did I already say) cherry pie
Ahhh…I feel better already!
Being a big fan of crocheting myself, I will definitely have to work this one into my bag of tricks. What a great way to use up my old yarn!
Painting with Water Colors:
Use preprinted mandalas to allow the child to stay in the moment and focus on the act of applying the color. Very soothing!
Have you ever heard of zendoodles? I really enjoy making them and so do my older students.
The best part of zendoodling is that it consists of repeated shapes. Even the worst drawer (*raises hand*) can do it. I’m the queen of stick figures at my school. Seriously, I think my students feel sorry for me when I try to draw.
Draw things or activities that make the child feel better…older kids may like to include positive quotes.
Staple along one side to create a “book”.
You can also hole punch along one side and tie the pages together with yarn, but I would classify that as more “fancy smancy”, rather than “easy peasy”.
Breathe to Relax App:
Displays relaxing pictures and sounds while the user takes deep breaths.
Use your finger to make the shapes move and change colors. Very soothing!
Mini-Pillows with Lavender Stuffing:
Cut two hearts out of felt. Sew around edges, but don’t forget to stuff the pillow with lavender scented oil before closing. I vanilla or sandalwood would also smell lovely!
(Gotta make some of these!)
My youngest during International Mud Day!
Create a List of Positive Behavior Choices:
Cognitive behavior theory (CBT) dictates that our thoughts affect our behavior, which put together, affect how we feel. In keeping with CBT, we can use positive behavior to hijack our feelings.
Do things that you enjoy = feel better.
The trick is to create a list of activities when the child is calm. Try to have a child articulate what would make them feel better in the middle of a crisis is not going to work. When kids are in crisis they are not rationale and nothing will seem likely to work for them.
Younger kids may benefit from a visual list of activities. I like using my coping skills deck with my students to identify possible ideas. I then print them up and attach them to a ring for them to keep at their desks.
Learn to Laugh at Yourself:
You know that saying, “You either have to laugh or cry.”? Well, I choose to laugh. I’m always doing goofy stuff. Sometimes it’s intentional, while other times it’s more of a “what the hell was I thinking” sort of moment. Ah well, whatcha gonna do?
Me rock’n it out at a Maroon 5 concert with my 11 yr old!
Love to hear your favorite coping strategies in the comments below!
Many of the students on my caseload have a difficult time managing their anger and making positive choices. One of my FAVORITE parts of being an elementary counselor is that I get to use fun play therapy activities to help teach new skills!
Several of my kindergartners and 1st graders LOVE pirates…hmmm…sounds like a great way to increase engagement and buy-in to me!
Integrating students interests into guidance lessons not only increases engagement, but it is also a great way to show that you are thoughtful about their wants/needs.
You can check out my newest game here or by clicking on the images below! Don’t forget to download the free behavior chart at the bottom of this post. I had my Facebook peeps vote on which one they wanted. Enjoy!
My Facebook Fans chose the colored behavior chart for my freebie! Just click here or on the image below to download.
During a recent group session, I heard, “Mrs. Thomas, do you know what a fox says?” immediately followed by a chorus of “ring ding ding da ding ding ding” or something to that effect…
It didn’t take the my kiddos long to realize that I needed to be caught up to speed. “Mrs. Thomas you need to watch the fox song on Youtube.” Ummm…ok…
Honestly, I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a generational thing…However, given the way my students lit up just by the mention of the song I felt that I might be able to use their delight in the silliness to my advantage.
With the song as inspiration and a few snow days to plan my next few group sessions, I came up with several coloring puzzling pages and a game based on the goals of my positive behavior/social skills groups. You can check out the whole activity pack at my TPT store here or by clicking on the image below to download a free sample of my activity pack.
In an effort to boost parental involvement, I encourage my students to take their puzzle home and assemble it with the family. Many of my parents are thankful when I send home activities with their child, as it provides them an opportunity to be a part of the process.
My “The Fox Says” bulletin board has been a great conversation starter in my buildings. To be honest, I’ve never really thought about how powerful a bulletin board was until I started having students coming out of the wood work to talk about the fox using good manners.
I definitely see the advantages in changing my boards more often than 2-3 x’s a year!
Do you maximize your bulletin boards or are you of the “set it and forget it” variety? Leave your bulletin board confessions in the comments below!!!
As the only elementary school counselor in my district, traveling between three buildings, it is really hard to not take on the “lone wolf” mentality. Even though teachers and administrators are there to support our students’ emotional, social, and behavioral development, let’s face it…it’s not the same as talk’n shop with other counselors.
Andrea from JYJoyner Counselor Blog, mentions many of the benefits of connecting with other counselors through social media in her post Flying Solo? You are not alone.
As soon as I read the post title, I got the overwhelming urge to sing some MJ:
So the video may not have much to do with school counseling, but the idea of not being out there all by one’s self is extremely powerful.
If you haven’t already jumped into the professional learning communities available through social media, I strongly suggest that you take the plunge!
There are a ton of fabulous counselors out there willing to share their ideas and favorite resources.
Facebook groups are great! My favorite Facebook Groups are like virtual teachers’ lounges filled with counselors.
Twitter Chats and Hashtags:
Twitter Chats are a great way to discuss specific topics with fellow counselors on Twitter. You can also use the hashtags #scchat , #escchat, and #sccrowd to find school counseling related tweets. Just type the hashtag in Twitter’s search feature and voila!
For those of you who would like to participate, #scchat is held on the first Tuesday of the month 8pm EST and the #escchat takes place every Thursday 8pm EST.
I get to host my first #scchat in April. The topic will be Positive Behavior Supports and Behavior Modification…can’t wait! Follow me on Twitter @helpfulcounsel to stay posted!
I *heart* Instagram! As a very visual person, Instagram is a great way to share ideas and connect with other counselors! I’m @thehelpfulcounselor on Instagram & I would love to see more counselors on there!
Ah…Pintrest IS the Mac Daddy of sharing ideas through visual images! I am still floored when my teaching/counseling friends say that they don’t use Pintrest.
Trust me, the learning curve is minimal (even for the most anti-tech person) but it sooo worth it.
While perfect as is for little ones, the book is very adaptable for Kinders and 1st graders. It even ties into the Common Core!
Here is an outline of how I used Spoonful of Sweetness to explore informational text…
Ask students if they know the difference between fiction and non fiction.
Choose a few students to answer and discuss the differences.
Ask students to “turn on their thinking caps” and see if they can tell if the story about to be read is Spoonful of Sweetness.
Before Reading the Story:
Show the students the book and read them the title. Ask them to predict if they think the book is fiction or nonfiction…why/why not. (At this point all guesses are fair game. The object is to have the students use the image on the cover along with the title to analyze the purpose/meaning of the text.)
After you get a guess for both fiction and nonfiction, recap the meaning of both terms and have students vote for their guess by raising their hands.
During the Book:
Read the first two pages and ask the students and ask them what they notice about the two illustrations.
Ask the students who they think the book is for? How can you tell?
Continue reading the rest of the book.
After the book:
Ask the students if they think the book would be helpful for the audience they previously identified. Why?
Have the students brainstorm different ways to show manners in a kindergarten or first grade classroom. Write their answers on a dry erase board or overhead projector.
Create a class book on manners by having the students draw a picture and write a sentence about how kids in their grade should show good manners. Don’t forget to review what goes at the beginning and end of every sentence.
Bind the book and present it to the classroom.
Classroom books make a great display item during parent teacher conferences! I’ve also had success with having some of my students with behavior challenges present the book to younger classrooms…positive role modeling is a great motivator!!!
Would you like to win your own autographed copy of Spoonful of Sweetness? Enter the giveaway below. Giveaway ends on February 1, 2014.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.2e Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.5c Identify real-life connections between words and their use. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships.