Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

I have been so very thankful for everyone who has visited the Entirely Elementary...School Counseling blog, liked the corresponding Facebook page, and followed along on Twitter! It has been great fun "meeting" those who find my ideas and materials worthy of exploring for a few minutes. Having the unique opportunity to make an impact with children, beyond the walls of my school, has been unreal!

I hope the few days off from school affords you some wonderful, rejuvenating time with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Make a Sweet Decision!

In 5th grade, I teach a lesson on problem solving using these "candy" problem solving steps. I call it "Sweet Decision Making." I use candy Smarties to help motivate during the lesson. Read below.

To make the candy, I used thin board canvas and wrote the following steps (using a paint pen) on each one. I then covered the canvas in colored cellophane tying the ends with ribbon to make it look like wrapped candy. I used red and green cellophane (strategically). The red candies signify the STOP and THINK steps and the green candy signifies the GO step.

Step #1: What is the Problem?

Step #2: What are some solutions?
               What could happen?
                    Will it hurt someone?
                    Will you get in trouble? Consequences?
                    Will it make you feel bad about yourself?

Step #3: What is the best choice?

First, I teach the students each of the steps. I give a scenario and walking through the scenario modeling how to use each of the steps (with some student assistance). Next, I give a scenario to the class. Every student who offers an answer, gets a pack of Smarties tossed to him/her. I purchase huge bags of Smarties every Halloween in the clearance section to use with this lesson. The students are not allowed to eat the candy at the time, but, it adds a little incentive to participate and it's fun to catch the flying Smarties! Also, I read on the Smarties packaging that they are peanut free.

After I am finished with this lesson in all of the 5th grade classrooms, I hang the "Sweet Decision" steps in the hallway for students to refer to later.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do Not Disturb...Please!

My phone rings off the hook all day. If I'm with a student, or a group of students, I don't answer it. It often drives my students crazy and many times they will say to me,"Your phone is ringing. Aren't you going to answer it?" I always respond, "No. If it is important they will leave a message and I'm working with you right now." So, most times I can dodge the phone bullet.

Yet, trouble with the office door is becoming a bigger problem for the first time in my career. Maybe this scenario sounds familiar to are in the process of a difficult session with a student - talking about and discussing confidential information or a sensitive issue. When much to your amazement, without a knock, your door opens and either someone is talking to you from the doorway or someone walks in. I am always struck by this because my students are not engaging in this behavior. They students always seem to knock if my door is closed and if my door happens to be open, and they see me working with a student(s), they tend to stop at the doorway until they are acknowledged. What happens after that door opens unexpectedly is often so uncomfortable; a student is disclosing sensitive information or is upset and the adult is standing there as happy as a clam...saying "HI" or wanting to talk with me or both of us. I do not feel comfortable locking the door and even if I close my door's window curtain, someone could still feel compelled to walk in. I don't know how many other school counselors face this same issue, but, I've been struggling with maintaining confidentiality during these sensitive session times.

Maybe a Do Not Disturb door sign would be helpful. I asked for some wording suggestions on one of my Facebook posts because I didn't want the wording to sound harsh (I am in an elementary school). Then, I contacted Lindsey at Personal Pizazz by Lindsey about making a smaller sign to either hang on my doorknob or with a Command hook on the door. Lindsey was so generous and so willing to do this for me! Thank you Lindsey :)

This is what I decided for the wording:

Please Do Not Disturb!
School Counseling in Progress
Minds at Work Inside
Please Stop By Later!

Here are the fantastic signs that coordinate with the name sign from Personal Pizazz by Lindsey which I posted in August 2012! They are each about 8x8 in size and are extremely light! These signs will certainly be noticed....they are so colorful and fun!

The holidays are almost here! These signs would make great gifts for a school counselor, teacher, principal, or other school staff members. Maybe you would like to treat yourself by getting one for your office door! If so, please visit Personal Pizazz by Lindsey for more information! I believe her holiday deadline is fast approaching.