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.
For the past few weeks, I've been adding content to my website. In case you've missed the new additions, here's a list of all of the new material. Just click on the numbers to visit each page.
Other Ideas for Elementary School Counselors:
*Read the book with kindergarten-1st Grade students in a small group or classroom setting. Explain that babies learn important manners when they are younger, just like we are learning now. Then, brainstorm what "big kids" need to practice, writing their ideas on the board. Finally, students get to pick their favorite from the list and make their own book page. This way, the class has their own, age-appropriate version of Spoonful of Sweetness for their class library.
*In an individual, small group, or classroom setting, reflect with older students (5th-6th) about how they've changed since kindergarten. What is their classroom environment like now compared to then? Do they act differently? Reflect on the manners they see from various age groups at school and the role that the oldest students play. Use Spoonful of Sweetness as an extra resource to remember and discuss early childhood. Finally, have students create posters in small groups (or individually) that highlight the manners they feel are important for their age group and/or school as a whole.
SoulPancake 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). SoulPancake 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:
My name is Marissa Rex and I am a 1st Grade teacher and an elementary school counselor from Ohio. I hope you enjoy my site!