I'm sure none of us are singing a joyful tune about this time of the year. It's stressful, exhausting, and seemingly never-ending.
I recently read a hilarious blog post about this period of the school year and what you are feeling is known as DEVOLSON, the Dark Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November.
Once I discovered DEVOLSON, I knew I had to share it with my staff. Here are some pictures and free downloads from this special week.
Additionally, as the school counselor, you can view each of your student's workbook scores online, see which educational goal they chose, and view the jobs that were recommended for them. It's a great way to document the work you are doing with your students. Let's face it - many of us are working in districts that are financially struggling due to lack of funding and a struggling economy. We NEED to advocate for ourselves and the work we do for students so that we are deemed essential, not a fun "extra" in our buildings. Tools like The Career Game can help us teach a domain that may not typically be addressed in elementary school and show students, staff, administration, and parents why school counselors are necessary.
Check it out today! :)
Do you have a product that you would like me to review on my blog? If so, contact me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to check out your work and spread the word to my readers.
I have numerous students who struggle with the stress, fear, and confusion that can come with a parent who has been deployed (or will be deployed). It can be difficult to find quality materials for these individuals and their families; I am so excited to share this new film with my school community!
I highly recommend that you check out these films at Professor Child's website and consider purchasing your own copies. Trust me. They are worth it! Although the topics are intense, the films are hopeful and remind you that you are not alone.
You can purchase a digital version of the film (available for immediate digital download) or a DVD. Additionally, Professor Child offers a FREE workbook that includes over 50 pages of thought-provoking discussion questions and creative exercises. The workbook is divided into 12 chapters that correspond directly with the film, which makes things even easier for busy school counselors. Plus, did I mention it's FREE?! ;)
Are you a director, writer, or production company? Do you have an educational film 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.
Here's a quick summary of how I've started the 2014-2015 school year at my building:
Our staff decorated our building with a "Surfing into a New School Year" theme. Here's a sample bulletin board introducing our staff to students and parents.
Very similar to last year's office. Here are some pictures and a video of my space.
I used a LEGO theme to introduce/reintroduce myself to my students. The students loved it, especially because of The LEGO Movie. Check out additional beginning of the year lessons here. Make your custom LEGO icon here.
Transitions are difficult. I spend a lot of time throughout the school year working with my 6th graders on building their self-confidence and important life skills. You can find some of my lessons here.
After one of my lessons, I asked students to complete an exit slip (which I use often to determine what they learned and what they want to learn more about). This time, I used the information to determine which students might benefit from additional support with the transition to 7th grade. This could definitely be used with other grades, though.
I try my hardest to avoid gender stereotyping. I often hear adults explain a student's behavior based on what society expects from boys and girls. You've heard it before...
"He's just a boy. He's going to hit someone if they start something."
"She's just a girl. She's a little emotional sometimes."
There are countless variations, but the message is the same: Boys are strong, confident, and aggressive; girls are gentle, sweet, and emotional. When little boys fall, we tell them they are fine and to dust themselves off. When little girls scrape their knees, we hug them and wipe their tears away. We, as a society, send a clear message about what we expect from each gender and we do this often without realizing it.
Is this a big deal, you may be asking? I know branching out and expanding our minds when it comes to gender stereotyping can be threatening to those who fear change. It can be threatening when an individual may benefit from the stereotype and/or when he or she genuinely enjoys their role. What I worry about is the shame boys and girls feel when they don't fit in. I worry about the box they feel stuck in and the environment that's stifling their development.
So, where am I going with this? Well, school counselors have an opportunity to expose students to different ideas and encourage their interests and special skills. We can help a young girl who loves math gain the confidence she needs to stick with her advanced coursework and join math-related clubs, even if there are few females doing the same. We can support a boy who loves to dance more than he loves shooting hoops. We can love the students who DO fit their gender stereotypes and find ways to help them love, respect, and understand those who don't. And vice versa.
Elementary School Counseling.org was recognized by MastersInCounseling.org as one of their favorite school counseling websites! Check out the complete list here.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a This American Life episode called "Bad Baby," which discussed some cases of extreme behaviors in children, the prognosis for overcoming those behaviors, and why the "badness" started in the first place.
I only have my 5 years of school counseling experience to draw on, but I've seen many students exhibit intense behaviors (i.e. biting, hitting, running, swearing, threatening, etc.). I have some interventions in my back pocket and some that I make up on the fly out of necessity, but it can be difficult to discern what those students truly need. We observe, experiment with behavior plans, track and analyze data, attempt to determine the function of certain behaviors...but sometimes, our efforts just don't work. It can be frustrating for a school building to work so hard for seemingly no results. Parents feel helpless because they are often dealing with the same behaviors (perhaps even more intense versions of them) at home. Other students may be scared. So...how can we help a student in crisis? I wish the answer was as simple as finding the last remaining puzzle piece and putting it into place.
Unfortunately, I offer no answers in this post, just questions. I encourage you to listen to this episode - SERIOUSLY, you won't regret it.
Post your thoughts about extreme student behaviors in the comment section. Have great tips? Please post those too! :)