Saturday, October 6, 2018

Sequencing Groups

As you plan your school year it is important to figure out a schedule that maps the number of rounds of groups that will be offered. The diagram above reflects what my part-time counselor and I did last year.  We started groups at the end of September over 9 weeks (8 sessions with one week for make-ups) then started round 2, and a smaller number of groups the final round. Looking at the numbers of participants, perception data, and outcome data can drive your plan for this school year. We always have the highest demand for groups in kindergarten through grade 3. We rarely offer special groups like Children of Divorce, Adoption, or Allergies because our schedule requires us to do groups within a single grade. Completing a simple table like the one above makes it easier to complete the ASCA Small Group Action Plan.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Family Resource Packs

About ten years ago I attended a session at the Virginia School Counselor Association Annual Conference by an elementary counselor who took duplicate and donated books on some common topics and created Parent Packs that were like a folder with two books. She tried to find one book for parents and one book for children.  I brought that idea back and expanded upon it to include a binder with an overview of the topic, lists of books, websites/bogs, and later added Apps and other resources like DVDs to some of the Pack. We try to include a couple of books for children (spreading them out usually by developmental level or variations of the issue).  We have found tote bags work well to contain the binders and books. The packs used to hand on racks in my office but they took up valuable space and the weight of the books frequently weakened the bags. Now they are in 6 large tubs in our Teachers Lounge. Each pack contains a simple evaluation form for parents and another one for the child to complete before the pack is returned. The packs are checked out by the counselor and generally returned to the front office. They are signed out in a book and if they don't come back in 3 weeks we send an email. Parents LOVE these packs and sometimes end up ordering the books so they can keep them. Many families have borrowed 3 or more of the packs. They save the counselors lots of time sharing information and resources about topics we encounter in parent consultation.  This year we created 11 new packs including ones on Grief (Suicide), ASD - high functioning, and Gender Identity. We also add new books on topics as we find ones that are more up to date or helpful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Annual Nottingham School Counseling Report


This is the overall program report I share on my school blog to summarize what services were offered by the counseling program.

2017-2018 Program Report
This report highlights some of the services provided by the Nottingham School Counseling Program during the 2017-2018 school year.  These services meet the program’s mission of helping all students establish their unique academic, career, and personal/social goals so they can reach their maximum potentials. To meet the needs of the whole child, counselors help all students overcome challenges that interfere with their learning and development. Through advocacy and fostering of a safe and inclusive school climate, counselors ensure that all students have equity and access to a challenging curriculum, needed resources, and support. By collaborating with staff, families, and community members, the school counseling program prepares all students to be successful lifelong learners, effective problem solvers, and responsible global citizens in a changing society.
Classroom Lessons
The counselor taught the following number of lessons: sixteen 20 minute lessons in kindergarten and first grade; and ten 30 minute lessons in grades second – fifth.
Small Group Counseling
The counselors lead a variety of social/emotional and academic groups and the school psychologist and social worker each led one group. There were 54 small groups conducted averaging 8 sessions each; 261 students participated in groups. Groups delivered by grade level were: Kindergarten 14, 1st 11, 2nd 10, 3rd 8, 4th 7, and 5th 4.  In addition, all kindergarten students participated in 2-3 lunch bunch sessions with a counselor.
Individual Counseling
The counselors meet with students one-to-one to discuss issues related to academic success as well as social emotional concerns. Number of students seen individually: 80 Average number of sessions per student: 6. Number of students needing risk assessment: 7.  The top 3 reasons for referrals for counseling were: Social skills/peer conflict; 2) Self/Emotional Regulation; 3) Bullying. Anxiety decreased from the top reason for referral to #6 (415 decrease due to more classroom lessons and groups on topic). Social skills/peer conflict referrals increased 100%.
Summary 
Enrollment for K-5 was 526 students. Nottingham had 1.2 counselors with a ratio of 1:438. Direct services are in-person interactions between school counselors and students. All students were taught the school counseling core curriculum. Over half of students were seen in individual and/or small group settings. The counselors provide a range of indirect services including consultation with parents/guardians, collaboration with staff, and referrals/consultation with outside mental health service providers. They also run a highly popular lending library of Family Resource Packs for families.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

End of the Year Data Reports


It is very important in running an ASCA Model School Counseling Program to collect, analyze, and share data. I log all students referred for individual counseling (those seen 3 or more times that I get permission to see); I do not log every child who stops to ask me questions or is upset about a playground disagreement with a friend. If you log the details of referrals by date, grade, reason for referral, etc and do an intervention a change in referrals can be outcome data. For my SMART goal for my own teacher evaluation I was trying to get a reduction in the number of students I needed to see for individual counseling for anxiety. I did classroom lessons at two grade levels and groups for emotional regulation in grades 1st - 5th. Anxiety went from being the number one referral reason to number six and the data showed a 41% decrease. I log my individual referrals EVERY DAY before I leave the building. I look at the data at the end of each quarter to determine what interventions the counseling program should be offering. I share this data with staff, parents, my advisory council, and other elementary counselors in my district. Data is a great way to show how students are different as a result of a comprehensive, data-driven counseling program.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Resources for Gender Identity






Gender identity is how someone describes their own gender. Generally this is one’s sense of being male or female, but gender identity and expression are fluid and intricate, with many variations. To learn more go to bstigmafree.org Although it's not really known how many children identify as transgender, advocates surmise some are now more likely to "come out" and transition at younger ages than in years past because of greater public awareness of the issue. There are also transgender teachers and parents so counselors need resources for this issue. These resources are primarily for children and parents but counselors may increase their own sense of how to support children regarding gender identity from The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are and The Conscious Parent's Guide to Gender Identity: A Mindful Approach to Embracing Your Child's Authentic Self (The Conscious Parent's Guides)  The picture books support teaching children about the fluidity of gender and the importance of acceptance. Also check out genderspectrum.org

Sunday, June 10, 2018

ADHD Resources

As school counselors we work with children with ADHD every day. We do lots of consulting with parents of children with ADHD helping them know what to do and supporting them in doing it. I admit I am biased in favor of Mindfulness but research shows it is an effective intervention for ADHD. Bertin's book points out that mindfulness aims to build various traits that make the ups and downs of life easier to handle Mindfulness can help both the parents and child manage ADHD. Mindfulness can give both the child and parents skills in coping with the stress that surrounds ADHD. This book is written in an easy to read style with examples and steps to follow. I will be sharing this book with families. I also always encourage parents to check out 
chadd.org/fact-sheets-on-adhd and join the local chapter and attend their support group meetings.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sensory Processing


Beck's new Handbook for those living with, teaching, or working with children with sensory needs
explains the sensory system puzzle and the who and what of a sensory diet.  The thoughtful tools in this book provide intervention strategies to support and challenge the sensory systems through meaningful and authentic sensory diet tactics based on the environment, interests, and sensory needs of each individual child. The data collection sheets, screening forms, checklists, and schedulers in this book provide a blueprint for weaving sensory diet strategies into sensory-filled days.
As counselors we see children with a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) that have often been getting Occupational Therapy (OT) since preschool.
There is a significant over-lap in symptoms in what is now called “Misophonia” and SPD Sensory Over-Responsivity (SOR). Misophonia describes a neurologically based disorder in which auditory stimuli (and sometimes visual) is misinterpreted within the central nervous system. Individuals with misophonia are set off or “triggered” by very specific patterned sounds, such as chewing, coughing, pencil tapping, sneezing etc.
Sensory processing challenges are also co-morbid conditions for students with ADHD, ASD, and Explosive Disorder. One small-scale study suggested that as many as five to 16 percent of school-age students have these challenges; therefore, as counselors we need to stay up on a school sensory diet and what can help families send their children into school in the morning well regulated. I always inquire about sleep hygiene and offer suggestions to help with sleep and bedtime routine which are covered in this book.
I collaborate closely with my school OT because many of the children referred for tier 2 groups are on her case load. The high percentage of these kids in our school is another reason I requested dynamic flexible seating from our PTA (e.g., therapy balls).
I will be sharing this Handbook with parents in the new Family Resource Pack I created this spring. It also contains Making-Sense-Your-Senses-Processing