Friday, December 9, 2016

Save the Date

I was so impressed last year with the quality of all the sessions at the Evidence-based School Counseling Conference. I was determined to go again this year. We found out last week our proposal to share our experience transitioning to evidence-based tier 1 lessons in every school K-8. Please check out the upcoming conference March 10-11 in California.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mindset Matters

This counseling curriculum guide by Dr. Lisa King is a great resource for elementary and middle school counselors. It can be used in classroom lessons, but I use it with groups in grades 3-5. It is perfect for a small group because you set the stage in session 1 and then select a lesson from the chapter for each of the letters in MINDSET:
Identify how Your Brain Works
Not Yet is OK
Everyone is Unique
Teach What You Know to Others
I use it in my resiliency groups. There are several lessons for each letter so I select the one I feel is most appropriate based on my group members. The book also has bibliotherapy lists, websites, and video clip lists for each chapter.It contains student pre-post tests but I modifed it to allign with the type of perception data ASCA wants us to collect (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) and using an even number scale (no neutral as you have with a 3 or 5 point scale).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Family Resource Packs

In the counseling office we have over 60 of these Family Resource Packs that were created by the counselors or other student services staff at my school. The one pictured is on adoption. We keep track of common issues parents consult with us about and if it becomes a frequent topic we develop a resource pack that includes a binder with an overview, lists and copies of good articles, web sites/blogs on the topic, and Apps. When appropriate we include ideas for activities that promote a parent - child exchange about the topic. All the packs contain at least one book for parents to read and one for the students. There is an evaluation form for parents and one for students in each pack. We ask parents to return them in 2 weeks. we track the sign outs and submit an evaluation of this effort every few years to the Counseling Advisory Committee.
For some of the topics we develop a primary and upper elementary pack (e.g., anger). For some we have several packs because they represent slightly different issues and need different strategies and books. We have multiple packs for anxiety: Anxiety (general), Anxiety (primary), Anxiety (separation), Anxiety (upper), Social anxiety, Perfectionism, and Selective Mutism. 
These resources save many hours each quarter - we are not repeating the same information to parents. Our learning community has very educated parents but reading is not everyone's preferred learning mode. We have to be respectful that this resource is not going to help all parents. We began this initiative by writing a mini grant with our PTA. It took close to 5 years to develop the 60+ packs we have now. We originally developed 5-8 a year and now usually add 1-2 and update the resources in 5 a year.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Individual Counseling Check In Sheet

This is the sheet I use to determine how counseling is progressing with students I see individually. I record the date and meeting number then I ask "On a scale of 0-10 with 10 being outstanding and ) the pits, what number would you give School since we met last...Friends...Home..." For my students who shift between mom's and dad's home I note which place they are rating (and sometimes get 2 ratings). I love this scale that I download from R. Sabella's site I really believe in positive psychology and that we solve problems using our strengths so I then ask for 5 good things that have happened since out last meeting. It is good for students to focus on the positive because the ones I see individually already have plenty of negative thoughts. I try to use the term challenges rather than problems to determine what we need to discuss. Usually the challenges relate directly to the area of their life that is rated with the lowest number, but not always. If not that is something else I explore. I always have a stated goal students are working on with me and we jointly determine if that is still something they are willing to work on between sessions or if it needs to be revised. I do not show the students this sheet (its on a clipboard) but I would if asked. I want to see how their numbers and challenges change over the course of counseling. If a student would say all 10s for 2 sessions in a row and have no significant challenges, I'd be moving to terminate our work together in individual counseling.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Explain Anxiety to Students Who Have Too Much

This book by Dr. & Mr. Zelinger (revised in 2014) explains using a dinosaur what is happening when anxiety becomes a problem. It is my go to book when the clinic staff refer a child to me because they are not physically sick but feel too anxious to return to class. It explains the link between the 
Children will be left with an understanding of “anxiety” consistent with their various developmental levels. Something I highlight when using this book in individual and groups sessions is the use of an on-off switch to depict the sympathetic nervous system that is carried throughout the book -- from the dinosaurs to the child who is working on the rhymes to train his or her brain. I give the student(s) a copy of the summary of the rhymes as a reminder of the strategies we have discussed. The book handles the topic in detail so I generally break it up into two or three sessions with students depending on their ability to pay attention and retain the key points.
I loan this book to parents (in one of our Family Resource Packs) so they will have the tools they need to discuss and explain anxiety issues to their children. Reading and re-reading this book with children will demystify anxiety, and provide families with the understanding needed to manage these uncomfortable emotions. 

Friday, December 2, 2016


To go along with lesson on grit is my December bulletin board on Perseverance. This board is an adaption of the one in Rosanne Sheritz Sartori's book Counseling On the Wall. You just down load the quotes from the CD that comes with the book. I used it several years ago and just updated it with a different background, border, and sparkly stars (from Target dollar section). It was super easy and reinforces what I am covering in classes and my resiliency groups.
Check out bulletin boards for every month of the school year on the Bulletin Board page of this website.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Understanding Bragging

Frequently fourth graders like to brag and put down peers. Julia Cook's book. "Well I Can Top That" really gets across how this habit can be a real turn off to friends. In the session members sort statements into bragging and not bragging piles. After reading and discussing the key points in the book, each member thinks about the message of the book and applies it to a personal situation.