Within the last week, Dove
's "Real Beauty Sketches" video has been plastered over social media accounts. In fact, I discovered it through Carli Counsels
, a wonderful new elementary school counseling blog.
It's amazing how quickly good resources and thought-provoking content can spread! I love that I am able to better my school counseling program by engaging in social media. (Insert shout-out to Marty Stevens
for encouraging me to join Twitter in the first place!)
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If you haven't watched "Real Beauty Sketches," what are you waiting for?! Press play...NOW! ;)
I am fairly confident that if I were in these women's shoes, I would have been just as hard on myself. This begs the question: If we are consciously or subconsciously self-haters, how can we teach young children to avoid that path? How an individual feels about their outward appearance is usually quite apparent - body language and clothing choices, in particular, give you away. So, wouldn't our students notice that we are not practicing what we preach? They are looking to us for advice, but are we qualified to give it? I think it's time for us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
| |The Dove Social Mission
, in general, is a wonderful resource for school counselors. I think you could use almost any of their videos or materials with your intermediate level students. Personally, I would opt for 5th and 6th graders.
I created a companion workpage (left) for the "Real Beauty Sketches" series
, that would give students the opportunity to share how they see one of their peers. This would work best in a small group setting, so students have the chance to reflect and share in a more controlled, safe environment.
I have conducted a similar lesson called "Compliment Circle," an activity where group members must provide positive feedback for everyone in the group. I start by giving every student a piece of blank paper and having them write their name at the top. Then, everyone passes their paper to the person on their left. The students write something positive about the person on their paper. When everyone is finished, we pass the papers again. This continues until the students have written on every paper but their own. Before the compliments are revealed, I have students discuss how they are feeling (anticipation, worries, etc.). Then, students read their compliments. Again, we reflect as a group on the peer feedback and discuss how this could positively impact our friendships.
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Once students hear positive feedback from their peers, it's important to work on their own "inner critics" as well. Sometimes, we rely too heavily on praise and reassurance from others - we need to learn how to generate that from within. You could do this by having students complete the above workpage for themselves (before seeing what their peer created), then compare the two.
I hope there will be a day when image will no longer hold us back, preventing talented individuals from reaching their dreams and performing to their fullest potential. In the meantime, we need to help each other see what's REALLY reflecting in our mirrors...and that's beautiful. :)
Are you an author? Do you have a book that you would like me to review on my blog? If so, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be happy to check out your work and spread the word to my readers.
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If you've been following my blog, you know that I have been incredibly busy in the theatre world this year. In the last 7 months, I have performed in 5 local productions, including From Up Here, I Hate Hamlet, The Dinner Party, The Laramie Project
and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later
. The Laramie shows were performed in the same weekend, which required the actors to learn 2 full-length plays and collectively, over 100 characters.
For those who may not be familiar, The Laramie Project
is about a theatre company that traveled to Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of Matthew Shepard's brutal beating. Matthew was gay. One night, he was tied to a fence and savagely beaten by two Laramie men. When he was found, Matthew was barely breathing and days later, he died in a Poudre Valley hospital. 10 years later, members of the Tectonic Theater Project
returned to see how things had (or had not) changed since Matthew's murder.
My fellow school counselors may be wondering why I have dedicated so much of my personal time to theatre and perhaps, how I can manage to fit it in at all. Well, my best answer is that theatre helps me be a better person. I can release the stress of my day through my characters, connect with my local community, and immerse myself in a variety of situations, allowing me to better empathize with others.
I love school counseling and most definitely feel fulfilled by my career. However, I truly believe that we must have an additional outlet for our creativity; otherwise, we may be sucked into a black hole of self-doubt, stress, and worry. We need a break from any passion so we can come back to it with a fresh perspective and rejuvenated spirit.
I also try to pick projects that I am excited about, especially since I have to devote so much time and energy to them. The Laramie Project
has been one of my dream shows since my freshman year at Bowling Green State University, when I read it for the Honors Program's "community read." It broke my heart as I discovered more about Matthew Shepard and the town he lived in. It forced me to have an opinion, a stance, and a voice.
Soon after watching a live performance at BGSU, I checked out HBO's film version
of The Laramie Project
, which is extremely powerful and brings the Laramie voices to life in a honest, heartfelt way. I encourage you to watch the film because it sparks great discussion about our communities and nation.
So, when it came time for me to live out this dream, I felt nervous, but prepared. However, I didn't realize how emotionally challenging and intellectually demanding it would be to perform in not just one, but two Laramie shows in the same packed weekend. My nine characters were so different: some blamed Matthew, some used their anger to advocate for others, some didn't know what to think. Looking back, I'm so proud that I was able to remember my lines, my props, and all of the little details that kept the story afloat. Our company of 13 actors worked together to create a production we could be proud of.
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Finally, I wanted to share a powerful video that leaves us with, as Doc O'Connor says in The Laramie Project, "H.O.P.E."
I couldn't help but tear up as I saw Matthew's picture appear. What would our world be like without hatred?
I like to think that, as school counselors, we can help our students stand above the negative actions they see in the news, in films, and in video games. I want to create free-thinkers who can recognize when injustice is occuring.
I want to be the change. I hope you do too.
Here are some production photos from The Laramie Project
and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,
courtesy of Todd Michaels
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I interviewed Stephanie Moore, my friend and fellow school counselor, about her wonderful school-wide program. Vehicle Day is a way to help students learn about a variety of careers through the vehicles that the companies use.
To learn more about Vehicle Day and to download helpful documents, check out the official page
It's the first snow day I've had in 2 years, so I'm excited for the unexpected opportunity to relax...and my definition of relaxing is movies, theatre, and blogging.
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These are some of the movies I've been digging lately. All 3 deal with tough topics and can certainly help school counselors reflect on the challenges their students experience. While there are inappropriate parts in each film, there are brilliant clips that students could benefit from as well. For additional movie suggestions, visit my Amazon store
I know many of you have watched Shane Koyczan's powerful visual poem about bullying. When I saw it for the first time, I couldn't help but cry - I became a school counselor because I want to help students who feel broken become whole again. This is the kind of thing that stirs the helper and healer inside of me.
But...the poem also made me think about my own childhood. I had trouble in school, I was made fun of...but...did I inflict pain on others in order to fit in? Did I say something I thought was funny, but really damaged someone's self-worth? The thought haunts me sometimes, because I may never know how I'm truly perceived through another person's lense.
I discuss this with my students, because not only do I not want students to feel bullied, I also don't want students to live with regret. I don't want anyone to be the villain in someone else's memory. I, like most of us, will never know the extent to which my kindness and my cruelty (intentional or not) have impacted others. My hope is that we all take a step back and reflect on our actions, good or bad. Then, and only then, can we become better people.
Right now, I'm preparing for The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, my 4th and 5th shows of the season. These plays discuss the aftermath of Matthew Shepard's murder in Laramie, Wyoming. We have a company of 13 actors who are dividing up over 100 roles, which are, in actuality, real people who were interviewed in Laramie.
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I first read The Laramie Project my freshman year at Bowling Green State University, because it was the Honors Program's "community read." It broke my heart as I discovered more about Matthew Shepard and the town he lived in. Matthew was gay. One night, he was tied to a fence and savagely beaten by two Laramie men. When he was found, Matthew was barely breathing and days later, died in a Poudre Valley hospital.
Members of Tectonic Theater Project interviewed the people of Laramie and created a moving play based on those interviews. Ten years later, they came back to see how things had or had not changed. "The original will move you, the follow-up will shock you." More on these productions will be posted soon!
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I recently added a new school-wide program to my website. It's a friendly, good behavior competition my school started to improve cafeteria behavior. For more information on this program, click here
In other news, Elementary School Counseling.org was featured in the January/February issue of ASCA School Counselor
! The article, Get on the Blogging Bandwagon
, was written by Darrell Sampson, the founder of From the Counselor's Office
Check it out!
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Each month, I offer classroom lessons
that highlight my school district's core values. "Dedication" is our January core value, so I taught my students about the importance of never giving up.
For my youngest students, I based my lesson on The Little Engine that Could
. This year, I opened my lesson with a Sesame Street
music video called "Don't Give Up." Then, I discussed the story of The Little Engine and told students we would make our own train to show what we will never give up on. They loved it! I definitely recommend this lesson!Click here
for more lesson details.
I also found this amazing video that older students may appreciate. It's about a man who was told that he would never walk without assistance, but with hard work and dedication, he was able to run.
Be ready to wipe away some tears, because this video is quite inspiring.
One of my favorite quotes from the video is: "Just because I can't do it today, doesn't mean I'm not going to be able to do it someday." That is such a wonderful message to share with our students. School isn't always easy (and it shouldn't be), because we are challenging ourselves to be better, stronger people. Let's live this message: Never, EVER give up!
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While catching up on my blog reading, I came across a Corner on Character
post about "the path that leads to awesome." Within the post, Barbara highlighted an adorable, hilarious, and heartfelt video
's "Kid President" that inspires viewers to make the world a better place.
I was incredibly moved by the video and instantly thought of dozens of ways that my students could benefit from its message. But, like the obsessive video scavenger I am, I HAD to discover what SoulPancake
was all about and, of course, if there were more videos school counselors could incorporate into their own programs.
So, here's what I found out:
was founded in 2008 by actor Rainn Wilson and his friends, Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry. As described on their website, "SoulPancake
sprang out of their desire to create a space where people from all walks of life could discuss and question what it means to be human - a place to wrestle with the spiritual, philosophical, and creative journey that is life" (FAQ
is not just video - there are also print, web, and live event formats.
One of my favorite aspects of the site is the "activities
" section. There are various writing or multimedia prompts (i.e. "List the one thing that you'll never give in to.") that visitors can participate in. These activities are a wonderful springboard for school counseling services; you could easily modify an existing prompt to meet your specific needs. If you trust their little hands, you could even provide your students (in individual or small group sessions, ideally) with a camera so they can respond to challenging questions in a different way.
As for the additional videos for school counselors, I found plenty of clips to spice up a lesson or two. I added some of these SoulPancake
videos to my YouTube channel
- organized by topic, of course! ;)
You can view my "Brighten Your Day" SoulPancake
playlist in its entirety here
. You won't be sorry! I promise! These videos are meant to energize, inspire, and ease the burdens we carry. Lighten the load. Enjoy!Here are two of my favorites:
In addition to their website and YouTube channel
also published a book
. You could use this to spark conversation, encourage friendly debates, or to help with your own self-care.
Wow...big discovery today. Thanks, Barbara!
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In December, I highlighted
an educational and super adorable television series called Small Potatoes
, which was created by Little Airplane Productions, Inc.
Little Airplane, as described on their website, "specializes in quality film and television programming for young children." They have created many outstanding shows, such as The Wonder Pets
, 3rd & Bird
, and Tobi!
One of my favorites, which was recommended to me by one of my readers, is The Olive Branch
. The Olive Branch
is part of Little Airplane's non-profit wing, Little Light Foundation
. Each 1 minute episode is meant to model effective conflict resolution strategies, but does so without using words. This way, the message can be understood by anyone, anywhere, which is quite beautiful.
"The children of today are the global citizens of tomorrow. They will play and ultimately work with people from different countries and different cultures. Tolerance, the ability to see and incorporate diverse points of view, and the skill to forge win-win solutions will soon be the most important skills we teach our children. It's never to early to lay the groundwork of these skills."
-Laura G. Brown, Ph.D.
While researching Little Airplane, I was lucky enough to speak with Tone Thyne
, Supervising Producer for the company. We discussed how their shows are made, the dreams for The Olive Branch
, and ways that fans can get involved.
We also talked about an exciting and unique aspect of Little Airplane: Little Airplane Academy
, a 3-day intensive workshop in New York for those interested in created their own preschool series. Participants are able to meet with influential network executives during a panel discussion. There's still time to apply for the upcoming February 9-11 session. Interested? Then, contact Tone at email@example.com
Okay, so better late than never, right? I've been a bad blogger and never finished Pixar
Week! Yikes! I've had 2 straight weeks of rehearsals and performances, so I am a little out of sorts. I apologize for being much more unavailable than in previous months. Please forgive me, lovely and intelligent school counselors...no, I'm not picking up clever (but still bad!) habits from my students.
Alright, now to the final Pixar
short film of the "week." Day & Night
is a thought-provoking movie about two completely different people who have a hard time getting along. There are, however, 2 potentially inappropriate parts of the film that I think you should know about. First, there is a scene when one cartoon is punching the other. Second, there is a scene when one cartoon is oogling a girl in a bikini. Besides those concerns, Day & Night is pure genius and great for our elementary students.
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A wonderful follow-up activity would be a friendship venn diagram. The film, in essence, is a moving venn diagram, so how perfect is that?! Students could be divided into pairs to complete this task. You can use a basic diagram (below) or a cutesy one from Mar*Co's Colorful Counseling
activity book (one of my favorites!).
Pixar Week is almost over, but I still have a lot of excellent resources for you.
Today's short film has a funny group counseling scene. I know many students have questions about what small groups are like and frankly, many school counselors (like myself) wonder how to implement them in the best possible way.
I created a video podcast (right) to help answer some of your questions. Please post additional questions in the comments section below so that everyone can benefit from the discussion.
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's short film, Small Fry
(left), could be a fun way to reflect on our expectations of small group counseling.
Some of your students may think that a group is all about sitting in a circle and crying. Some may think it's a punishment or a negative reflection of their character. It's important to start a group with a clear purpose, so that everyone feels comfortable and prepared for the sessions ahead.
For more information about small groups, check out my small group page
. You will find documents, activities, and more!