Friday, August 30, 2013

Goodbye "Guidance" Door Sign!

Equipped with my Philips's screwdriver and a little muscle power, I removed the "Guidance" sign from my office door! I was convinced this sign must have been around since the years when school counselors first came to elementary schools! Not quite, because when I removed it, an outline of the "old" room numbers were on the wood. Keep in mind, I'm in a fabulous old school building - I like to think my wood door has some character:)
Here is the BEFORE!

I don't know why I haven't done this sooner... it's not like it took me more than 3.5 seconds! Maybe it's been all the talk about guidance counselor vs. school counselor? Nonetheless, it is off the door, but not gone forever. I tucked this baby away in my desk drawer - in case I need a reminder about where I've been and how far I've come (how far we've come).

Here is the AFTER!

So, in honor of my "Guidance" sign removal, here is the SCHOOL COUNSELOR sign I made to replace it. Go ahead, remove your "Guidance" sign and print this one out to replace it! Click here for the sign printable! 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Tip #5

Working with little ones also means working with all of their germs!  I hate getting sick, but unfortunately, it is inevitable that it will happen - especially when working in an elementary school!

To help ward off those nasty germs and to help keep my office clean, I invest in these handy dandy wipes! No spraying, no paper towel roll...just a tub of wipes! I use these to wipe down my table, chairs, desk, phone, door handle, pencils, toys, game pieces, etc. GERMS STAY AWAY!! After using them, my office smells fresh and I feel like I'm in a much cleaner environment.

It is a great time to get buy these...they are all over the place on in Back-to-School sales flyers and you can pick them up for a great deal!

Also at the beginning of the year, I buy Sensitive Skin Hand Wipes - for me and for the kids to use. They are perfect to use before lunch, after lunch, or to wipe off those grimy little hands after playing with the Model Magic or sand.

Keeping the germs away and staying clean...heck, those two things are part of our role as school counselors - right?!? In my office they are!



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

YOU Rock Kindness Bulletin Board Printables

Honestly, I didn't have a plan - that is until I went to put up my freshly printed "YOU Rock Kindness" poster on the open bulletin board in my hallway. Just that sign in the middle of the bulletin board looked way not cool! So, I came home after my first day of school to whip something up to add to the look. 

This is the outcome....

I know this is a bit late for some of you who have been back at school for awhile or who are already finished putting your spaces together for the new school year. But, maybe this can be a bulletin board for another time. Click below for the free printables! Enjoy!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Honor Roll

You all know I love finding great products to use in my office and/or with the kiddos. I often say that these fun things help to keep me happy when having the roughest of days.

So, this week's Honor Roll recipient is:
Mandi, a new K-6 school counselor, found these fantastic classroom light filters to use over her unsightly and hard on the eyes florescent lighting! 

Mandi says, "If there is one thing I hate in classrooms, it's the lighting. During my practicum, my supervisor did a great job of creating good lighting so that students felt comfortable and relaxed. I wanted to create the same kind of mood in my room. So, I thought I would get a lamp or two. Well, I found a better idea! These cozy shades, as they are called on Amazon, have been a huge hit with my students! When I see students walk b, they have to come in and see why my room is tinted green. They love it! The teachers have also commented how neat they are. These have made the room so much more inviting and sets a calming mood for anyone who walks in. I would recommend these to all school counselors."

I love the picture that Mandi sent me, not only because we get to see these green (I love green) light filters in action, but also because we all got a glimpse into her office space! That is one huge small group space - a lot of kids will be able to fit comfortably around those tables. And in the background I see some awfully familiar school counseling signs from Vistaprint!

Thank you, Mandi, for sharing. You are going to love your new career as an elementary school counselor! Even though starting out is often overwhelming and quite nerve-racking, you will get into a groove and learn something new about yourself, about your staff, about your students each and everyday! These learnings will help you become a great school counselor. Get are going to have a whole bunch of fun and you are going to make the difference in the lives of many!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back-to-School Blahs

I am going out on a limb (risking a negative perception of myself, but also hoping that others may feel the very same way) - but I have the Back-to-School Blahs. Each and every end of August, I have a very difficult time saying goodbye to summer and hello to another school year. While reading the beginning of the school year excitement in a bunch of other blog posts, Tweets, Facebook statuses - I sometimes think that living this struggle every August makes me a horrible counselor/educator or that I'm one of a few who feels this way.

In my head, years ago, I created a list...I call it my "dread list" - a number of items about my job that make going back to school so very difficult. What I dread the most is the high level of stress - day in and day out. It exhausts me physically and emotionally and it certainly isn't one bit healthy. Most times I get home and just need to decompress on the sofa or head outside on the deck. Second on my list, the number of significant behavioral and mental health challenges/issues/needs that I am faced with during the course of a school year. This year, more than others years, I am worrying about this. Our support staff has been cut and I wonder how in the world we will be able to handle these somewhat unbelievable issues with fewer hands and expertise. Third, the schedule. The schedule is by no means bad, but my work day rarely ends for me at staff dismissal time. I'm either at school for a few more hours, at school for a few more hours and take home work, or take work home. My perfectionism and drive can be a downfall for me and these extra hours are proof to that. Finally, the pace. It is non-stop from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. When arriving at school, the craziness begins immediately and doesn't end until I walk out the door (and many times beyond that time). So, all in all, I'm in the "end of summer funk" and truth be told, I struggle with it.

That being said, I will get over these "blahs" because I love my job as a school counselor in an urban elementary school. The challenges are never the same and keep me on my toes. Just when I feel like I've seen it all, I haven't! Once in the groove, I so enjoy working with my students and staff. I like planning great learning opportunities to do with them and giving each child the undivided attention he/she deserves. School counseling is an outlet for my creativity...I get to be as creative as I want in this role and geez, that is really fun! I like coming up with ideas for the benefit of students (sometimes [usually] out-of-the-box ideas) and having administration and teachers support me the green light. I get to talk and work with kiddos all day;I get the biggest kick out of their genuineness, spunk, and spirit. I could go on and on here...but, I will spare you!

So, this school year I have set a few goals for myself:
  1. Stay balanced between school and out-of-school life. Take more time time for myself, friends, and family away from the school work. 
  2. Utilize some time-saving and exciting technology tools I learned about at ASCA 2013.
  3. Find each student's "spark" and keep it lit (thank you Mike Thompson - PDE school counseling consultant).
  4. Attempt (try really, really hard) to remain positive even when all hell is breaking loose around me. This goal is really a stretch for me, because, believe it or not I'm a pessimist (yeah a school counselor who is a pessimist - I hear the gasps!). Many I work with say I'm a realist...I don't know... but after doing a bit of reading this summer, I'm going to do my best with this goal.
  5. Continue to do what is right for kids - even if it means I'm standing alone.
Even though I currently have the "Back to School Blahs" I will eventually get over it and be ready with a genuine smile on my face for the students and staff when I first see them. I wish all of you a fantastic school year and look forward to another year of sharing ideas and camaraderie on this little ol' blog of mine!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Linda's Lessons #1 - Beginning of the School Year

As the new school year approaches, I recall similar days twenty-odd years ago when I began preparing my third grade classroom for the coming term. My two sons would often accompany me, and we’d pack a lunch in preparation of a full day’s work. I taught in a large, old urban building with long halls that echoed with my boys’ delight as they ran and slid towards my classroom door. They loved drawing on the chalkboard, but they also enjoyed helping me distribute student materials in preparation for the first day.

When I reflect on the amount of time and work that it took to prepare for the first weeks of school, it still amazes me. Without that effort at the end of the summer, the first weeks of school would have been extremely difficult. In fact, without those days and weeks of preparation, the entire year would have been a disaster, especially if there were behavior problems in my class (and there usually were). 

There were some personal guidelines that I followed when planning for the beginning of the year. I’m sure yours are similar. They sort of evolved over the years, but I would follow them today if I were in an elementary school. Compare them with yours, and I’m sure you could add to mine. 

  1.  Planning
  • Plan more than you need. It’s always better to have too many activities rather than not enough to engage the students.
  • Plan large group activities during the beginning of the year rather than small group activities. Without really knowing your students, it’s really easy to lose control during small group work. 
  • The first day is also a good time to plan fun activities for the children to get to know each other. It may be perhaps the only time for such activities if your school follows a strict standards calendar.  Fun activities “hook” the students into your class.
  • Along with planning for the first weeks, I also eventually found that if I told the children to sit wherever they wished on the first day, I would soon find which children needed to be separated within a few days. After about three days of sitting next to their friends, I would announce at the end of the day that they should look to their left and right because they would not be next to that person on the following day!  I also felt that it was actually better to begin the year in rows. (I can hear the gasps now!)  This helped until the class adjusted to my class behavior plan. I then gradually changed the seating to pairs, and after the new year, I began utilizing groups in the classroom. However, working in groups involves a massive amount of preparation and planning – that’s for another post!

  2. Class Behavior Plan

  • Develop a set of rules with your class on the first day. I always found it helpful to keep it to five rules and state them positively. I had an idea of what the rules would be, but the class discussion could be directed in such a way that the children would offer them to me. I could then restate the rule to sound more like mine. Many times, we would actually MODEL the rules in order that everyone understood what it did and did NOT look like in the classroom.
  • It is VITAL to have a system of pre-established punishments and rewards that you discuss with your class and STICK TO THEM!
  • The first days of school are also the time to go over routines and procedures in your classroom. Before the year began I would list all of the procedures that I needed to explain to my class. Here is a sampling: Getting in line, going to lunch, fire drills, getting a tissue, sharpening pencils, going to the bathroom, returning classwork/homework, working independently, things to do when finished working, beginning the day, hanging up coats/backpacks, forgotten work in backpacks. These are just a few. I know I could think of more.  However, the more time that a teacher spends on going over, and in some cases modeling, procedures, the more it impacts on how smoothly the classroom will run. Considerable thought should be put into deciding how these things will be handled. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES did I ever allow a student to talk while I was talking, to get up to get a tissue, sharpen a pencil, go to the bathroom, or throw away trash while I was teaching. It sends the message that what I had to say was not important. 

  3. Materials Ready in Advance

  • Always, always, always have materials ready before the day begins. The copier is the busiest place in the morning, and it often doesn’t work in a large school. Everything should be ready and waiting when you walk in the door. The time before school is a good time to be an observer and a listener of your students. You can learn a lot during this time.
  • Make sure you keep to your schedule/routine – begin and end your lessons on time. It is important to keep students engaged so that they have little down time. There are fewer behavior problems this way.

  4. Communicate with Parents Before the First Day

  • I found that it helped with parent/school communication if I sent a letter before the term introducing me and explaining my expectations. I always kept it positive. It is good to follow your school policy in regards to giving your school email. It is pretty standard procedure today. Just make sure that whatever is sent to parents is proofread by a colleague. It is not a very good impression when a teacher misspells or has grammatical errors in communications. 

  5. Communicate with School Counselor(s) and Special Education Teacher(s)

  • Often the school counselor communicates before the year about potential concerns with children. It’s important to know about severe concerns, but if you have your own behavior plan set up in your class with a set of rules, rewards, and punishments, some of the behavior problems do not occur. Make sure to touch base with the counselor again after two or three weeks when you know the children better.
  • Special education teachers may also contact you about children in your class receiving support. Make sure you ask to see the IEP to find out if you are responsible for any specialized instruction. You will need to work closely with this teacher throughout the year.

Hopefully, I have added to your knowledge of things to remember for the beginning of the year.  I’m sure you are all anxiously preparing for the year and looking forward to meeting the students in your class.  Best of luck to all of you for a great year!



Monday, August 19, 2013

Introducing Linda's Lessons

Many years ago, Linda came to my school in the position as Instructional Support Teacher. I was thrilled. I have clear memories of Linda when she was a 3rd grade classroom teacher at the urban school where I was doing my elementary school counseling internship. I can remember Linda in her classroom - small in stature but a spitfire! I was in awe of how she handled her room, how she instructed, and how she created such strong relationships with her students (especially those who came to school each day with a host of challenges) and parents/guardians. She is someone who stuck with me and here she was at my school a few years later to share her expertise with all of us! How lucky!!

In her position as Instructional Support Teacher, she quickly became a highly respected part of the school staff. Her teaching experience and work ethic were magnetic in drawing teachers to her for help with struggling students, for ideas on improving classroom instruction, for guidance on behavior management and class management, for help to become better planners, and how to reflect on each classroom moment. Ultimately, she was helping teachers create optimal active learning for all students in their classrooms and intervening with struggling students along the way. 

Her expertise and life experiences made her an asset in working with the parents of the students she was intervening with. She spoke from the heart and even in the most difficult of meetings she was able to say the difficult things with compassion.

Finally, her no-nonsense style paired with respect, care, and kindness made quite an impression with the kids. They all knew where they stood with her, what her high expectations were, and that they would all be treated fairly. They knew that she would expect their best and would be recognized for doing so. If they chose to make poor choices - well, there would certainly be consequences.

When Linda retired a number of years ago, I had a really difficult time adjusting to life in my school without her presence; she became a great friend to me. She continues to be my go-to-person for educational advice and conversation (and for life advice for that matter). We have grand ideas about improving education and instruction for children and many of them went nowhere after we pitched them. Linda is currently teaching at a local college and mentoring some up and coming classroom teachers. 

Why will Linda be contributing to this blog for school counselors? 
As I've said before, I have a passion for great teaching, curriculum, learning (that is why I earned a Ph.D. in this area). I love being in front of a room full of kids during my lessons and I enjoy getting involved with how to intervene academically (and behaviorally of course). The role of the teacher is such a dynamic one - a role I have great respect for. To be an excellent and dynamic teacher it takes a ton of work, planning, vision, compassion, management, patience, and reflection (just as it does to be an excellent and dynamic school counselor). So, I feel that Linda has something to offer to the teachers out there. She will be offering to the teachers what she has learned during her years in the classroom. Tips, ideas, and wisdom for teachers!

Now for the school counselors. Many, many school counselors and many, many school counseling graduate students do not have classroom teaching certifications or classroom teaching experience. I have seen first hand with the interns I supervised over the years and the graduate students I have had the pleasure of working with, that because of this lack of classroom experience, they lack the knowledge of how a school works, the school culture, instruction/interventions, classroom management and behavior management in a classroom, etc. Not that someone can't overcome this lack of knowledge, but it sure does put school counselors in a position of having to prove themselves to the teachers in their building. School counselors need to prove to classroom teachers that they truly understand what is happening behind their classroom door. They have to prove that they can handle a classroom for a lesson, they need to prove that they are able to help students succeed in not only in personal/social development, but in academic and career development. School counselors need to prove that they can empathize with a classroom teacher and truly understand the classroom teacher's struggles, challenges, and triumphs. So, I feel that Linda has something to offer all the school counselors out there. A glimpse into the life of a classroom teacher. She will instruct school counselors about what is happening in the classroom - teaching, curriculum, planning, learning, behavior and class management, on and on and on. School counselors may want to forward Linda's posts to the teachers in their building -- some great reading for them, but also, it will show that as a school counselor, you are making an effort to truly understand their difficult, difficult job.

I hope you enjoy this new addition to Entirely Elementary...School Counseling!

Graphics by: 

Fonts in Graphic by: 
and Krysten Tom

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Honor Roll

This week's newest addition to the Entirely Elementary...School Counseling Honor Roll is:
Alyssa Hall, author of Classy Counselor, is the school counselor at a private Christian elementary school in Tennessee. 

Alyssa created some really fun Sentence Completion Cards to be used in her work as an elementary school counselor. These Sentence Completion Cards can be used in a plethora of ways when working with children individually or within a small support group. In her free download, you will see that the cards address a number of areas including feelings, conflict, and social situations. Also, for those school counselors who are in religious settings, there are some spiritual cards in the set.

Alyssa states, "I am excited to use these Sentence Completion Cards this year.   I have used the sentence completion technique before, but I think I'm going to enjoy having the cards to lead this strategy."                                                   

                                                                        "One thing I love about these is that they address many different topics including grief, family changes, emotions, conflict, abuse, behavior (to name a few). These statements are very purposeful for certain topics that might arise in counseling elementary and middle school aged children."                                                              


                                                           "These cards can be used as ice breakers for classroom or small-group counseling. I plan on choosing the cards that best fit each individual student. This tool will hopefully help my students did deeper into our conversations."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Alyssa was  generous enough to include a Freebie download of the cards in her blog post titled: Sentence Completion Cards. Head on over there and download them today!

I've visited Classy Counselor a number of times and she a has a lot of fantastic ideas and lessons posted. I especially loved looking at her office pictures. Who doesn't dream of a whole classroom for an office space?!!?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick Tip #4

I looked back to see if I wrote about this product (because I could swear that I did) in a post somewhere, but it seems I didn't?? 

Part of my back to school preparation includes buying my yearly supply of Crayola Model Magic. I wait until it is on sale and then I head out and get some fun colors. I gave up on Play-Doh (too crumbly/messy and dries out easily) and clay (many times too tough for small hands) years and years ago. Model Magic is light and doesn't crumble. I keep each color in it's own Tupperware container (sealed tight).

I keep the small containers of Model Magic in the middle drawer of these fun drawers on wheels (Target). I keep them hidden away - so I get to choose when my students will have the opportunity to play with it. Get yourself some Crayola Model Magic!!

If you are wondering, the dotted pattern inside the drawer fronts is just scrapbook paper cut to fit and lightly taped inside. In the top drawer I keep all of my markers, colored pencils, and a pencil box of sharpened pencils (should I need to take them for a class visit). Honestly, I have no clue what is in the bottom drawer?!? On the top of the cart you can see my big giant bowl of crayons. I've had that bowl of crayons since I started my career! One of these days I should really go through that bowl and toss out the really old and broken crayons! Also, I'm particular about the type of crayons I use (Crayola), but I know there are other brands in that bowl. I'm sorry, but those brands just don't color as well. Lastly, on top of the cart, is a pencil holder filled with dry erase markers for the white board (that is above the cart). The cart is easy to move out of the way when I am using (or the kids are using) the white board during small group or individual sessions. I highly recommend a cart of drawers on wheels - to hide your fun stuff and to make maneuvering your belongings easy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer Story...

Enjoy this week's unveiling of the "Honor Roll" and Quick Tip #4! Keep reading Entirely Elementary...School Counseling for some exciting new things over the next few weeks! A Blog Shop is coming featuring materials I have created. Also coming up, a new blog page written by an amazing teacher - for teachers looking to improve their teaching, management, and planning AND for school counselors who need to understand what it is that teachers do daily and how we are all in this together to help students succeed. I'm so excited about both of these...but, extremely thrilled about the new teacher component to the blog!! Such good stuff, I can't take it!

If you've gone back to school already, I hope you had a fantastic summer story and you've had a great start to the new school year. If you are like me and have a few weeks left to summer vacation, I hope you are finishing your summer story with a fantastic ending. Best wishes for a super school year!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Honor Roll

As a kid, I can remember looking in the newspaper to see my name listed on the Honor Roll. It is always exciting to see your name published in black and white. So, the Honor Roll page will highlight amazing ideas that you have brought to fruition in your schools and would like to share with the world!

The first name listed on the Entirely Elementary...School Counseling Honor Roll is....

Wendy created a fantastic PowerPoint presentation titled: What Happens in the School Counselor's Office! She has this posted on her school website for parents/community members to view. It is awesome! I told her that I have always dreamed of having a classroom for my office space - big enough for children to come to me for core curriculum lessons. Wait until you see her space -- dreamy!! I also love all of the activities she does beyond the traditional school counselor's role -- Homework Club and Wacky Wednesday! So fun!!

I was originally going to just post her PowerPoint. But, after looking at Wendi's website, I didn't want all of you to miss out on the fun ideas she as posted on there! I love the types of groups she runs (I especially love the fun names). Also, check out her Resources tab - for a bunch of book ideas.

Click here to go to Mrs. Ellis-Clark's "About Your School Counselor" page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and open the Power Point presentation titled "What Happens in the School Counselor's Office!" After you are finished viewing the presentation, visit the website's other features.

Thank you, Wendi, for the fine work you are doing in Boise, Idaho and for sharing your ideas with us. As evidenced by your students' smiling faces, you are making quite a difference in many, many lives!


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It Stuck With Me #3

I'm sure I am way behind the 8-ball, but I found TED: Ideas Worth Spreading today at Where in the world have I been? Anyway, I watched a number of brief videos today and these two "Stuck With Me!"

Sir Ken Robinson speaks about childhood creativity and rethinking our educational system. In response to the amount of ADHD testing occurring, he stated: "If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget." He continued, "Children are not, for the most part, suffering from a psychological condition, they are suffering from childhood!"

Watch this TED Talks: How To Escape Education's Death Valley video and be inspired too!

In this next TED Talks video titled, Rita Pierson: Every Child Needs A Champion, I was struck with her realness about building quality relationships with kids! She speaks from the heart, recognizes the challenges we all face, and knows that every child deserves and needs an adult champion. She states, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like." I loved her examples of how her students reacted when she apologized for teaching an entire lesson incorrectly, how she embraced the reality of having academically challenged classes with a positive attitude, how she handled a student who struggled with a 20 question quiz, and how she learned from her mom the message of what it means to create a legacy for yourself - a legacy as an educator!

Watch Rita Pierson: Every Child Deserves a Champion in this Ted Talks video below!

Monday, August 05, 2013

You Rock Kindness - 2013 Theme

In my search for a book to use for this year's beginning of the year theme and introductory lesson, I found this fantastic book! Each Kindness --  Authored by: Jacqueline Woodson and Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis. It is a beautifully written story about bullying/exclusion, missed opportunities to be kind to others, the power of kindness, and the far reaching effects of kindness. 

I've been pondering for weeks how I would use this book in a lesson K-5 in ol' Fuller fashion...a book and some sort of fun and memorable activity. In the book, the teacher uses a bowl of water and a rock to symbolize the far reaching "ripple" effects that one act of kindness can have. I sketched and I wrote down ideas -- how could I use this analogy in an activity that would leave a lasting impression? How could I visually make a lasting impression? I saw a picture on Pinterest with a rock and YOU written on it (no blog/website attached). So after seeing that, my mind was focused in a bit more.

Here it is folks, my big idea: YOU ROCK KINDNESS!!!

Here is what I did and will do to make this lesson a great one!
1. Get your hands on this great book: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
2. Buy some polished river rocks. I purchased mine at A.C. Moore with a coupon and the educator's discount. But if this isn't an option for you, click here to see some river rocks at

 3. Buy an opaque black paint marker/pen or some other color. Again, I purchased mine at A.C. Moore, but you can click here to see a set of broad point Deco Color paint markers.  These markers will come in handy for other projects you will have in the future!

4. Using a damp paper towel, wipe off each of the polished river rocks and set to dry off.

5. Using your paint marker, write the word YOU on each rock, but leaving one without the word YOU on it. Set out to dry. I did this on a rainy day and it took forever to dry. So, I left them out over night and the next morning they were dry. I would suggest doing this no matter the conditions. This is what they will look like.

6. Store in some sort of sturdy container that will be easy to carry - will weigh a few pounds.

7. Then I created this nifty graphic using Word and some fun Freebie fonts from Kevin and Amanda (Miserably Lose) and Kimberly Geshwein (KG Ten Thousand Reasons). To make it a JPEG, you group all the rock and the words. Then you right click when hoovering over the graphic and choose copy. Open up Microsoft paint and in the upper left hand corner click on paste. Your YOU ROCK KINDNESS graphic will show up. Then, choose Save As, JPEG, and where you would like to store the picture. 

8. After making this graphic a JPEG, I then printed out a copy that is the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. In paint, choose Print, Page Set-Up. Under Scaling, choose the % you would like to scale the picture to (it will show you how big it is in comparison to a sheet of paper. Print.

9. Next, I made two sheets of these adorable graphics. One sheet with larger graphics and the other sheet with smaller graphics. The little "buttons" will be printed and cut out to give to students. The larger "buttons" can also be printed out to give to students, but I had staff people on my mind for them. I will be taking these to a local printer who will print out these colored sheets for next to nothing. More about these later, but in the meantime, you can download these sheets for FREE (for a limited time) by clicking here!

10. Finally, find a large bowl - one large enough to hold plenty of water for the demonstration (as was done in the book).

The Lesson

  1. Gather the students close to you. Read the book to the students. Take your time to discuss the various forms of bullying in the story, the feelings of both the victim and the students bullying, and the feelings of the student who is now feeling guilt. Be sure to discuss throughout, what could have been done differently to include Maya and the feelings that would have come next. 
  2. Tell the students that we are going to practice our "Kindness Ripples." Go to a table or desk and gather students around you for the demonstration. Get out your bowl, fill it with water, and take out the one rock you left unpainted with the word YOU.
  3. Ask students, "Who does this rock represent?" Guide the discussion to get to the word "YOU" (meaning themselves) or "ME" (meaning themselves). 
  4. Ask the students, "What behavior does this rock represent?" Guide the discussion to brainstorm a number of ways we can be kind to each other. Try to elicit more then the surface kind acts such as telling someone you like their shoes. Get them to think about the really meaningful acts of kindness they could carry out.
  5. Ask the students, "What does this water represent?" Guide the discussion to elicit responses that have to do with the world around us, the people around us, our peers, our family members, our teachers and other adults; our home, our neighborhood, our community, our classroom, our school, our sports teams, our clubs, etc.
  6. State, "So, when YOU (hold up the rock) behave in kind ways (give the simple example of smiling at another person or saying good morning) towards one person, ripples or waves of kindness will reach many, many people." 
  7. Ask the students, "What do I mean by ripples or waves of kindness will reach many, many people?" Guide the students to discuss how kindness spreads. Using the smile example or saying good morning example, discuss how that simple single act of kindness will spread. Guide students to brainstorm: then that person who received the smile, might smile to someone else, and on and on. Or that person who received the good morning, may smile and say, "good morning" to someone else, and on and on.
  8. Now, demonstrate. Review. "Remember, the rock is YOU and the water is someone you see. You can smile at this person (drop the rock in the water) and the ripples of your kindness will reach who knows how many people (watch the ripples)." Repeat.
  9. Have a few students give some examples of acts of kindness they could do and let them drop the rock into the water. Discuss their kindness ripples ...what might others experience due to their act of kindness?
  10. Leave the bowl of water and gather the students where you read the story.
  11. Tell them that this year, our theme is going to be "YOU (students/staff) ROCK KINDNESS." You may have to explain the play on words.
  12. Show the students a rock with YOU written on it and give some examples of they can "ROCK KINDNESS."
  13. Explain: "I am leaving one of these "YOU ROCK KINDNESS" rocks in your classroom with your teacher. I am also leaving some of these "YOU ROCK KINDNESS" buttons in your classroom with your teacher. Acts of kindness will be recognized by your teacher and by your classmates. Maybe during a class meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss some acts of kindness that happened during the week and what kindness ripples happened from that act of kindness. Maybe your class will vote on the person who they feel deserves to be recognized for that act of kindness. Maybe your teacher will spot a act of kindness that is worthy of bringing attention to. If one of these things happen, the person who is recognized for his/her act of kindness will get to set this YOU ROCK on his/her desk for the day and will get a YOU ROCK KINDNESS button to take home or collect."
  14. Explain: "Here's the thing about ROCKING KINDNESS, you do it just because it is the right thing to do. So, if you do something that is kind to another person, you aren't going to be asking or lobbying for the YOU ROCK. Many, many acts of kindness will be happening without getting recognized by receiving the YOU ROCK. When you are kind, your reward is feeling good about how happy you made someone else feel. But if you are lucky enough to be recognized, you will be thankful and gracious and proud of how many people you affected by your kindness. If you do not receive the YOU ROCK, you will be proud of the student who did receive it and thankful that your classmate has made your classroom a better place for all of you."

Make sure that the classroom teachers hear this explanation and are on board with you. To up the anty, you can tell them to send kids to your office for some extra recognition when receiving the YOU ROCK. Maybe they want to display the names of those who receive the YOU ROCK in a place in the classroom or hallway. Maybe you want to display the names of those students who earn this recognition by your office in the hallway.

I will be making a hallway poster that has the graphic on it. On this poster, I plan to recognize students and staff members!


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Quick Tip #3

Surprise students who are doing excellent work! Buy yourself some of these fun and small die-cut accent pieces. As you leave your office, put a couple in your pocket - along with a
Sharpie marker and some Blue Stik (the old Fun Tak) or tape. Off topic - but Blue Stik works the best to hang items up on walls, to keep them up, and to reuse. The white stuff - dries out. Back to Quick Tip #3 - When you walk down the hallway, take notice of all the fine student work that is hanging up! When you spot some work worth recognizing, take out the accent piece and write a personal message to the kiddo who put forth such great effort.  Make sure you sign your name and date it! Stick the accent piece on the work itself or right next to the product. Your students will love hearing from you! They will have a little reminder of the fine work they did and how much you believe in them!


Friday, August 02, 2013

Quick Tip #2

Scheduling classroom core curriculum lessons can sometimes be a challenge - especially with all of the tight academic agendas in each classroom. Use this "Quick Tip" to make scheduling a breeze.

  1. In your email system, create some new contact lists that group your grade levels by team. So, for example I have: Kindergarten Team, First Grade Team, Third Grade Team, Fourth Grade Team, Fifth Grade Team, Special Education Team, etc.
  2. Map out what your school year will look like, as far as, providing Core Curriculum to all classrooms. This would be based on your K-12 School Counseling Program or if you do not have this in place, it would be based on data you've gathered regarding topics to be taught in each grade level and time of year to teach them.
  3. To schedule the first lesson of the school year in each grade level, send a single email to each teacher in the grade level team (for example, you would choose from the new contact groups you created "Fifth Grade Team" and one email will go to each teacher in that contact list). In the email, explain that you will be beginning a series of however many lessons, once/twice per week, at however many minutes each (30 minutes is my norm). Ask each grade level teacher to respond to your email with some days of the week and times of day that work best for him/her. To begin lessons the second full week of school, I send out this email the week of the first teacher in-service days.
  4. Using the information you gather from these emails, plug each of the classrooms into your planner and schedule out the entire series of lessons (maybe it will take 3 weeks or 4 weeks, etc.). Schedule around meetings, days off,school events, personal days etc. This is the planner/appointment book that I use. See my post School Counselor: Our Time and Services are Valuable to find out why I love this product!
  5. Send a single email back to each member of the grade level team, again using the contact groups you created). In the email, list each teacher's name and underneath the name, list the dates and times you will be coming in for each lesson, and next to each date/time indicate the lesson topic. CC this email to any support personnel that service students in that grade level (special education, speech/language, OT, etc.). I put the entire schedule in one grade level email so that the team members can see when I will be visiting each class. I CC to the support personnel just so they know when I will be in there in case there are servicing needs. Also in this email, I include a disclaimer to have a back-up-plan scheduled in the event that I get called away and would have to reschedule the lesson.
  6. I schedule two to three grade levels at a time; I would teach lessons in fifth grade and fourth grade during the same weeks because the preferred choice of lesson time is usually not the same time in each grade level. I schedule out two to three months at a time; for example, I schedule for the entire fall this way so that I do multiple lessons in every grade level prior to the Winter Break. This way, it helps to keep the "big picture" in focus and enables me to schedule any other responsibilities that pop-up around these scheduled lessons.
  7. If I have to reschedule a lesson, I make arrangements with each individual teacher.