Friday, December 28, 2012

School Counseling Linky Party 2013

How fun is this?!? Marissa over at is hosting a School Counseling Linky Party for 2013! I never participated in a Linky Party before....looking forward to it!


Other than the blog posts themselves, I don't have too many "Blog Features" yet. I plan on adding some in 2013. So, for now, my best Blog Feature would be the page where I have listed some of my projects that have been "Inspired by Others." So many ideas are floating around out there on the web and these are a few of my first projects that I felt would be useful in my world as an elementary school counselor. Here are a few of those projects!

Brain SprinklesInspired by: Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business
 Sensory Bags
Inspired by: Teach Preschool
 Sensory Balloons
Inspired by: Shared and Remember

Calming Bottles
Inspired by: Scrapbook of a School Counselor                  

It was hard to choose! Can I pick two? Yes, I is my blog:)
My first favorite post was one that I just recently added - Bringing School Counselor Mini-Meetings to Life! This post discussed how Danielle at School Counselor Blog helped me to conceptualize how I could meet with every one of my students in my urban elementary school. Meeting with every student is something I wanted to do for many years, but I could never get past how I could accomplish a task so grand! Through the mini-meeting format, I have cherished these minutes I have spent with every student. Plus, I have had some unbelievable learnings that I look forward to writing about in 2013!

My second favorite post was "Our Therapy Dog Friend." I am a dog lover and I have witnessed first hand, through Moses our Therapy Dog, the powers of what a dog can do for kiddos. He is so huge (all 215 pounds of him), so adorable, and has become a part of the classroom families in which he visits. I highly recommend reaching out to your local therapy dog chapter to inquire about having a furry friend visit your school!
By far, the most popular Blog Post of 2012 was Beginning of the Year Theme - Be Yourself! In this post, I talked about how I was going to start the 2012 school year with a new book and corresponding hallway decor. I included links for folks to print out their own BE Words and Signs. 

Then, I had a follow-up post titled: Be Yourself Update. In this post, I included pictures of what the words and signs looked like in my hallway!
I received so many compliments and thanks from folks all over the place in regard to these words of inspiration. But, one of the most exciting pieces of inspiration for me was when Barbara from the Corner on Character alerted me to the video on Maria Dismondy's web page! Click on the above link to watch the video! Maria Dismondy is a children's book author (I have all of her books)... I couldn't believe she printed out my signs and used them in her presentations!

Geez, Louise, Marissa....this is a difficult one to answer!

So, here are 5 of my favorite school counseling blogs, in no specific order....


                      Plus 1 more... are some of my other favorite blogs....

Kevin and Amanda

Create a blog post titled "School Counseling Linky Party 2013."
Place the Linky Party logo (above) in your post.
Answer the questions (above).

Submit your blog post link on Marissa's Blog at Elementary School Counseling. Be sure to link to the actual post, not your homepage.
Thanks, Marissa! This was a great opportunity to reflect on 2012!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

May you find your time with family and friends to be relaxing, rejuvenating and fun!

Here's to 2013! A year filled with more blog posts, idea sharing, fantastic networking, the ASCA National Conference, and unbelievable camaraderie!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bringing School Counselor Mini-Meetings to Life!

I am not cutout to do the work of a secondary school counselor - or should I say - I'm not cutout to work with that age group. The elementary school student is the perfect fit for me. That being said, for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to incorporate something that secondary school counselors do every year - meet with every student on his/her caseload. It just didn't seem to be a possibility for me over the years for a number of reasons. The first stumbling block was my elementary caseload ranging anywhere from 650:1 to 800:1. The second stumbling block was the fact that I'm an urban educator with extremely unpredictable days and a vast amount of student daily needs. The third stumbling block was time. How in the world would I find the time to do something as extensive as this? Finally, the sheer thought of it all (handling everyday items and meeting with every student) seemed so completely overwhelming. Hence, year after year the idea was always put on the back burner.

Then, last school year I came across Danielle's post on School Counselor Blog describing her Minute Meetings she conducted at the middle school level. Her post helped me to conceptualize how something like this could be/would be do-able for an urban elementary school counselor.

Why do I think meeting with every student is useful and important?

  1. I would have the opportunity to speak to every K-5 kiddo. Each meeting would be another opportunity to make a meaningful connection with each student.
  2. The meetings would be, in essence, a school-wide screening tool to help me address student needs.
  3. The meeting results would help me assess the school counseling program and curriculum (and other social emotional learning initiatives) in order to make necessary changes and/or upgrades.
  4. The meetings would be an academic, career, and personal-social check-in.
  5. I would be assisting students in planning for life beyond high school -- to become college and career ready.
  6. Through this tool, I would be giving every student another opportunity to express concerns, needs, or to ask for help.

Student Interview Questions
I went to work developing my student interview questions. Included are questions from each of the ASCA domains. Danielle from School Counselor Blog included 4 questions, mine has 11 total questions. Also, I developed rating scales with pictures, to make it easier for elementary students in kindergarten through fifth grade to weigh in on their feelings. Below you will see the documents I used for the initial round of meetings.

Every student has one of the above sheets (copied on the front and back - to use over multiple years). I am housing these student sheets in alphabetical order in 3-ring binders - sorted by teacher and grade level. I have binders for K and 1, 2 and 3, 4 and 5. Next year, I will sort the student data sheets into their new classes and grade levels.

I printed 3 of these sheets out on cardstock and laminated them. I keep one sheet in each of the above mentioned binders.


I named my meetings with every student, Mini-Meetings. I planned on each student meeting to take roughly 2 minutes. After I developed the questions and rating scales, I secured my administrator's blessing to implement the idea. I decided to implement the Mini-Meetings now (in December) as a precursor to starting small support groups in January. Next, I emailed all of the classroom teachers explaining the Mini-Meetings and asked each of them for a time of day that would work best. I asked for an hour time slot in which I could pull students individually into the hallway. I obtained the most recent classroom roster lists from the office so I could accurately fill in student information for each class prior to arriving for the Mini-Meetings.

Conducting the Mini-Meetings

I am currently working my way through the school, class-by-class, conducting the Mini-Meetings. When I arrive to a classroom, I explain to the entire class that it is an exciting day for me - that I am going to have the pleasure of meeting with each student for a Mini-2-Minute Meeting. I explain that I have 11 questions to ask them. Then, I tell them the procedures - after each student is finished with me, I will tell him/her to quietly and quickly go tap the shoulder of the next student. I explain that they cannot dilly-dally - we need to keep moving. I express that I expect them to answer honestly because I want to get to know each of them better.
In the hallway I have, my clipboard with all of the student sheets, one laminated rating scale, a timer, 2 pens (in case one runs out), some water for myself :), 2 chairs and a desk. I have been experimenting with setting the timer for 2 minutes or not at all.
When the student sits down, I have him/her refer to the rating scale. For the first two questions, students will be looking at the first row of faces. I actually point to each of the faces and read some of the face descriptors in the small boxes. The students make their choices and their answers are recorded on the student data sheet. I move on to the remainder of the questions and refer back to the faces for the question about how he/she is doing/feeling. far...

My logistical learnings so far....
  • Most classes are taking roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes to get through.
  • The older kiddos have been taking longer because they are struggling in the career section. Unfortunately, they are having difficulty identifying what they want to be when they grow up.
  • It is also taking me longer to get through the older kiddos' classrooms because they are not as quick with the transition between students.
  • If I keep moving with the questions, there is no need to set the timer and there is even some time to have students expand on some of their answers.
  • Fill out all the sheets with student names and teacher names prior to the Mini-Meeting date and time. Then, all that needs to be done for each meeting is to fill in the date of the actual Mini-Meeting. Any student who does not have a date filled in was absent or did not speak with me for whatever reason. It makes it easier to go back and do make-ups.
My learnings for the academic section so far....
  • I tell them that I am looking for an honest answer on how they are feeling in both of these areas. If students have indicated that they hate school or they don't like school, I ask them to clarify their answers. When students choose either of these two responses, I think "hmmm." If they choose the so-so, I am also thinking "hmmm."
My learnings for the career section so far...
  • Older students are struggling to identify what they want to be when they grow up or what career they want to have. For the younger students I have elaborated on the questions asking "Where do you want to work?" or "What job do you want to have?"
  • Overall, students are having difficulty identifying what they need to be good at to have their identified career.
  • Overall, students are having difficulty identifying what education and training they would need for that career. So, I have been prompting the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students with the education/training options of: high school diploma, technical school, on the job training, college degree, or advanced degree. Even then, they are having difficulty. In my mind I'm thinking... this was taught to all 3rd grade students, reviewed in 4th, and reviewed in 5th.
  • For the younger students (and some of the older ones) for the education/training question, I have been rewording the item to ask, "Where would you learn how to do that career/job?"
  • This career category has been an "a-ha" moment for me.
My learnings for the personal/social section so far...
  • Many students are asking if I want to know how they are feeling "today." I have been responding, "yes."
  • I'm getting some outrageous numbers for the "number of friends" item. With this age group, it seems that the more friends the better (like it is a contest or something). To me, 0 is a red flag, I'm listening closely to their tone of voice when they answer the question, and otherwise, I am learning that I need to follow-up about meaningful/true friendships.
  • For the first bullying question, I have been saying and will change the written question to..."What will you do if you are bullied, worried, scared, or if someone is hurting you in some way?" I've been asking them to identify the adult if they say "tell an adult."
  • For the second bullying question, I have been saying and will change the written question to..."What will you do if you see/hear someone being bullied or if someone tells you that he/she is worried, scared or being hurt in some way?" I've been asking them to identify the adult if they say "tell an adult."
My learnings for the "other" section...
  • I have been saying, "Do you have anything you want to ask me? or Do you have any worries or something that I can help you with?"
  • Most responses have been NO, but there have been some that have identified concerns....I have written these down and will follow-up.
  • I have also gotten some adorable questions regarding things they wanted to know about me! So fun!

  • Keep Following
Keep following Entirely Elementary...School Counseling for a future post highlighting other Mini-Meeting learnings. Although a lot of work -- I am having a great time with these Mini-Meetings!!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Intern Necessities

As the last day for my school counseling intern quickly approached, I feverishly thought about what to get her for a gift. I thought back to when I student taught and completed my school counseling internship and I realized that I use some of those same gifts/tools today! So, I headed to our local Becker's Teacher Store on Black Friday to take advantage of the deals. Then, I searched my own personal office "store" for items I picked up over the years that I have multiples of. Finally, I got together some "home-made" school counseling materials that I thought she would appreciate.
So, here are some items that I think will be handy for any elementary school counselor and perfect as a gift for a school counseling intern!

Reward bands, school ID clip, office key cover, Thinking Putty, frog stress ball, a pointer, Dr. Seuss reward/goal game, smiley face tablet, people magnets, basketball stress ball, and cultural paper dolls 

Reward Cones
 Smiley face beach ball, large beach ball, Mr. Happy I feel....magnet, large sunglasses, hand clapper, Mr. Happy bag, dice within a container (dice will not fly off of table when rolling), I-Can, game pieces, pool noodle stress slices, smart beads, and Play-doh