Since e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular, more and more people are viewing them as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. Unfortunately, the misconception of e-cigarettes being safer and their sweet flavors are enticing to teenagers.
Long story short, e-cigarettes are still packed full of nicotine…a highly addictive substance. So, no…e-cigarettes are not safe!!
Summer vacation – Since I applied for and received my teaching gig over Labor Day Weekend, I can’t wait to have the summer to plan for the year ahead of me…anyone who’s had to throw together a classroom and plan for the year ahead of them in three days will totally get it.
Winter break is a great time to sit back, reflect, and get a few projects done for the new year. Hopefully, my top posts for 2014 will help you have a super productive 2015!
Did you happen to notice that #9 is a guest post by Colleen from One Stop Counseling Shop? Her post received almost 20,000 hits in 2014!!! Do you have an activity or topic you would like to share with the readers of The Helpful Counselor?
Shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll fill you in on how to become a contributor to thehelpfulcounselor.com!
Thank you for making 2014 amazing! I look forward to sharing 2015 with all of you!!!
Just a really quick post to remind everyone that today and tomorrow (8/4 & 8/5) is the BIG sale over at Teachers Pay Teachers!
You can save 28% on all of my counseling games and activities. You can save as much as 50% when you purchase my activity bundles!!! I just added 4 new bundles with my newest activities, so you might want to check them out if you’ve been thinking about adding some new activities to your bag-of-tricks.
As a BIG thank for all of your support, I am going to give everyone who purchases something from my store (during the sale) a free activity that tackles “Sweet & Sour Behavior”. Here’s what you need to do…after making your purchase, email me your Teachers Pay Teachers user name to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “free activity” in the subject line and I will send your thank you gift within 48 hours.
**I will honor all requests within 30 days of your purchase during the sale (8/4 & 8/5).
*This post contains affiliate links. Purchases provide a few cents that goes towards to cost associate with operating this site. Thank you for your support!*
Landing your first school counseling position can seem like a dream come true! However, some of that joy can lead to stress when it comes to setting up your office so you’ll be ready to rock’n roll on your first day.
Elementary counselors have unique challenges given the span of grade levels and developmental abilities of their students. We need to be able to appeal to the interests of 4-12 year olds. Books that are engaging to 5th graders can be too advanced for our kinders and games our kinders and firsties are into can seem “babyish” to the preteen set.
To complicate matters, the market is flooded with resources that look awesome. Unfortunately, these resources are expensive and only target a small portion of the population you serve.
So what’s a new school counselor to do?
I’ve created a list of essential supplies every elementary school counselor should have. Not only will these supplies help you support the diverse needs of your students, but they are also easy on the wallet!
STICKERS!!! <- It’s a must for ALL elementary counselors. Scented stickers are my students favorite! Super hero, princess, Disney, and animal are also very popular.
Prize Box: I have a prize box for when new students complete their scavenger hunt or when my students complete their behavior chart. A dollar store plastic shoe box works well – jazzing the box up with sharpies and/or stickers adds a bit of wow factor for our little ones.
The items in your box don’t need to break the bank. My students LOVE old McDonald toys, mechanical pencils, and temporary tattoos. Around Christmas, you can find packs of small plastic animals for a great bargain. You can also find fancy erasers, stamps, mini notebooks in the clearance aisle from time to time.
Copy paper has a million and one uses…okay, bit of an exaggeration but there are A LOT of activities you can do with a blank sheet of white paper.
Bright color paper: Plain copy paper has a way of blending in with all of the other notes that get sent home. Make your parent correspondence stand out by using brightly colored copy paper. An added bonus: using colored paper for your counseling forms makes it easy to locate them quickly! <- It’s super helpful if you color code the different types of parent communication and counseling forms.
White card stock: Elementary students (k-5) love making things. Card stock is more durable than copy paper and should be used if the craft has moving parts.
Construction paper: Another staple for our crafty kids. My students make a lot of cards and other creations for their family members.
Gems: Gems add that wow factor for special projects. Tip: Some students will want to go crazy with how many they add to their project. Set limits by saying something like, “What 10 gems would you like to add to your memory box?”.
Googly eyes: Googly eyes are an excellent way to break the ice with even the toughest of customers. They add levity to serious issues and can make the time you spend with them more memorable.
Scissors: You will need 8-10 kid friendly scissors. Make sure they paper worthy. Old worn out scissors from the 1980s will leave you and your students frustrated.
While we’re on the subject of scissors…make sure you have a nice pair for yourself. Using safety scissors isn’t ideal, especially if you are in a rush.
Glue: There are many types of glue and each type has a purpose. While you can use any type of glue in a pinch, it will affect the overall quality of your project.
Stick glue: Best for gluing paper onto paper (no lumps!)
White glue: Best for heavier projects – googly eyes, gems, glitter, and gluing construction paper to construction paper.
Hot glue: Hot glue is the secret to getting posters to stick to brick walls. Chances are someone in your building will already have a glue gun and some hot glue you can “borrow”.
General Office Supplies: Pencils, pens, highlighter, post-its, etc.
Nerf basketball hoop My basketball hoop is a great motivator. Students may earn up to three shots for participating in group sessions. I also use it for reluctant students -> one shot for each response or coping technique they share.
Board Games (Yard sales and thrift shops have games at a fraction of the cost!):
My most used games: Connect Four, Chutes & Ladders, Trouble, Sorry, Don’t break the Ice, Apples to Apples and Battleship
Caution! Books can be extremely addicting…especially if you’re a lover of books.
I’ve spent thousands of $$$ over the years on books and a good majority collect dust of my bookcase.
Basically, you can’t go wrong with an of the books by Trudy Ludwig, Julia Cook, and Maria Dismondy. I reach for their books over and over – some I’ve even had to replace because the spin wore out!
I’ve written about some of my favorite books on specific topics. You can check them out by clicking the links below!
Well, summer is in full swing and I’ve been busy finishing some of my projects that got pushed to the back burner during this past school year.
I’m super excited to use my new games and activities next year!!!
You can check them out below. Don’t forget to download the free list of coping skills at the end of the post.
First up is a reproducible booklet, 5 coloring pages and 5 posters set that teaches kids about kind & unkind behavior. The posters are 300 dpi and will keep resolution when resized. You can check out the preview here.
Next is a bingo game to teach kids about the qualities of a true friend. The game includes 35 friendship qualities and 30 unique bingo cards. You can check out the full preview here
This product is currently 50% – until this Saturday!!!!
Last, but not least is a bingo game to teach kids/teens about different ways they can cope when they are upset. The game includes 36 coping skills and 30 unique bingo cards. You can check out the full preview here.
Thanks for taking the time to visit The Helpful Counselor blog and checking out my new games and activities! Here is a free coping skills download for being awesome. Click on the image below to download the file.
One of my favorite things to do (besides spending time with my family) is getting caught up on my reading. I read all kinds of genres, but I really like to read about all things counseling. It energizes me and helps expand my creativity.
Confession: I’m a book hoarder. I have piles upon piles of books – not counting my floor-to-ceiling bookcases.
**Just to clarify…this article is not about refusing requests. Rather, it’s about finding a way to say “yes” in a way that benefits the majority in your counseling program.**
School counselors are trained to help people. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, PTO members, and community organizations require our time and efforts.
While it’s an honor to support others, we can’t do it all and in order to save our sanity (and meet the needs of our students) we must know how to say “no” to some requests without upsetting stakeholders.
Just to clarify, “saying no” comes in many different forms. It may take the traditional form of turning down a request or the “no” may come in the form of trying reform practices that go against the best interests of your students.
Several states, including mine, have gotten away with tenure and that may make you feel uneasy about saying no. However, school counselors are charged with advocating for children above everything. That is why it’s imperative that you master the art of “saying no” while strengthening professional relationships.
I feel like I’m in an unique position to speak to the “Fine Art of Saying No.” Actually, I feel that my ability to say no while strengthening professional relationships is one of my biggest strengths (next to winning over oppositional people <- more about that later).
My professional background has afforded me with many opportunities to sharpen my ability to address issues with mutually beneficial outcomes. For those of you who have worked in the protective services/foster care/residential areas know that there are oodles of stakeholders that want different things and they all expect you to deliver.
School counselors are put in the same position with providing services to students, teachers, parents, principals, the community, etc. The reality: there is only so much of one person to go around.
Truth is: I still have to say, “no” a lot.
I cover 3 buildings (tons of kids)…I’m only in each building 1-2 days a week and when I am in the building my students, teachers, parents, etc. tend to think that I’m “available” to do whatever might pop up or they think because I’m not tied down to a classroom that I can take on their various pet projects (breakfast club, lunch groups of their choosing, various charity projects, pd that they think would be a good idea, etc.).
Well, I don’t say it like that of course! I guess I technically could, but I wouldn’t really look like a team player and I would be burning bridges faster than I could build them. It takes a while to build up a good reputation as a school counselor. This is especially true when you’re only part-time in a building.
I can’t risk rubbing people the wrong way, but then I can’t possibly say yes to everything either. Hence, the need to be able to say no in a way that is beneficial for you and the other party.
Step 1: Understand Your Role as the School Counselor
School counselors are not the “catch all” for any tasks that need to be done or issues that need to be addressed. If you haven’t already experienced this phenomena, you will.
Try not to look at requests that go against best practices or (GASP!) those that would be considered unethical as an affront to you or the school counseling profession. It’s hard not to take it personally, but in my experience it’s (usually) not personal…it’s a lack of understanding….even if you believe their request isn’t due to lack of understanding, treat it like it is.
It’s vital that we keep our cool. Taking things personally only clouds our judgement.
On the flip side, approach the situation as an opportunity to educate stakeholders about the role of the school counselor. If requests go against American School Counseling Association guidelines for a comprehensive school counseling program (including ethical standards) use the opportunity to strengthen the official role of the school counselor.
Establishing the boundaries of the school counselor’s role has the added benefit of reducing future requests.
In some situations, counselors and teachers are asked to perform nonprofessional duties (bus lot, lunch room, recess monitoring, etc.). If this is the culture of your school you have a few options.
Advocate best practices as discussed above.
Show your admins what they are missing out on or in essence what you have to say no to when you aren’t able to function as a counselor. Principals may be more agreeable to release you from lunch duty in exchange for lunch bunch groups…especially if you target a population that will save them time in the long run.
Use the time to bond with your students – keep a deck of What Would You Do cards in your pocket to engage conversation, role model appropriate conversation skills (or table manners if you can eat your lunch with them too!), show them how to approach others at recess, and teach them games that don’t require a lot of athletic skill (I like PIG and Around the World).
Step 2: Know Thyself
Know what you can manage. Ask yourself a few quick questions to access your ability to handle additional projects and responsibilities.
How’s your schedule forecast? Do you have the time available? Are you able to make time? Be sure to check ahead and leave some margin for error.
Example: I have my divorce groups right after conferences and they go until Christmas break. I am also organizing our Angel Tree project during this time. I cannot take on any new projects during this 7-8 week period unless one of my administrators releases me of my Angel Tree responsibilities.
Step 3: Seek to Understand the Other Person’s Point of View (Entirely)
The role of educators has changed tremendously in the past 20 years. Educational policies, practices, and attitudes have waxed and waned to the point that the pendulum is has swung from one extreme to the next and now it’s back again. This creates a bit of a “We’ve seen this all before. It didn’t last, so why bother.” attitude.
Another big change has been the ever increasing use of technology. When I started my current job 8 years ago, some of my teachers didn’t check their email for months…now they’re required to have a class webpage and upload their lessons on various platforms. Talk about a learning curve!
If you take the time to really understand the cause of their resistance, you might discover a mutually beneficial compromise.
Example: Let’s take a look at teachers who are reluctant to try interventions because it resembles something they have done in the past. Dig into their experience (it really is a gold mine!) find out what worked/what didn’t.
Try to address their skepticism by incorporating elements to address their concern(s) -> teacher reluctant to implement classroom token or chart system -> teacher states that they didn’t have time to write comments every period -> develop a chart that requires the least amount of time in a handy spot (check box charts on a clipboard by the back door or backpack area works great at the elementary level).
Teachers like easy and they are much more likely to buy-in if you can save them time and while meeting the needs of their student.
Refusal to buy into programing/interventions or the email that says, “I can’t access your online survey can I have a paper copy” are situations when it is vital for a school Counselor to say, “No.”
Step 4: Accentuate the Positive
Acknowledge what they have done well – even if it’s a, “Thanks for reaching out to me, I know it was difficult.” or maybe an, “I’m glad we have to opportunity to meet to work out a plan to meet (insert child’s name) needs.
People want to feel valued and when you make them feel that their efforts are valued they will be much more willing to meet you half way. Take it a step further and make them feel like a valuable part of the team that is working on addressing a shared task and they will have more buy-in and the chances that they will commit to the plan to address the problem will be a lot better.
WARNING: You MUST make sure that your praise is genuine. This isn’t a “fake it till ya make it” kind of a thing. People identify that as false flattery and the statement, “Flattery will get you nowhere.” is true. You will be seen as disingenuous and they will disregard much of what you have to say.
Step 5: Think (and Move Toward) Win-Win
If you have to say no to a request, try to find something that you can say yes to. The other party might not get exactly what they want, but a mutually beneficial compromise can benefit all those involved.
Step 6: Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Let stakeholders know that the process is on-going and that you aren’t going to put the lion’s share of the work on their shoulders.
Outline your role. Include how you will help them address their concerns and establish a time line to revisit the plan and determine if any adjustments need to be made.
Most people will be likely to try something new if they know that we can review what worked/what didn’t work in 4-6 weeks, rather than think that they are committing to 9 months of something that may or may not be successful.
I hope you are able to put some of the tips I have shared with you to good use. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!