Sunday, October 30, 2011

November is National Career Development Month

Elementary students love learning about careers. Whenever I survey my students they always want more career development. At my school we bring in community helpers to speak in classrooms this month (e.g., firefighter and nurse) and first grade workers in our community and parents (naturalist, bomber pilot, and software supervisor). In second grade we use Virginia View our states computer career education system in the computer lab. Every third grader gets a homework assignment of interviewing a person about an occupation and presents in to the class. For our older students we have a bi-annual Career Fair. We try to have at least 4 occupations from each of the 6 career paths. This is a great hands on activity that ties in with the lessons taught in the classes by the counselors. Anyone willing to share how you address careers in your program?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mix It Up at Lunch Day

Today we will be mixing the students up in the cafeteria and hopefully promoting tolerance. We have tried a variety of ways to reshuffle the students quickly. Two years ago we gave them each a single lifesaver and they sat at the table with a gigantic lifesaver of the color they received. Last year we used playing cards. This year we are back to sorting by birth months. My school psychologist helps with this activity. We were smart enough to laminate the signs with the months when we sued them 3 years ago. We distribute questions for the students to discuss with their "new" table group. Luckily the sun is shining today and they can go outside after Mixing It Up at Lunch!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

I think most school counselors believe Steve Jobs' advice, "You've got to find what you love." He said these powerful words to college graduates 6 years ago in one of the most memorable graduation speeches. It is a message we should communicate to young children as well. As we help students explore the possibilities the world of work offers, we need to communicate optimism that career exploration can help them find what they will be happy doing. Hopefully school counselors love our occupation so we can teach through example.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

WHY DON'T YOUNG PEOPLE TELL ADULTS? (About being bullied?)

Many counselors work hard to support schoolwide bullying prevention and intervention programs, like Steps to Respect, but still find students reluctant to report bullying behavior. Here are some of the reasons students have shared for not reporting what they knew was bullying.

1. They are ashamed of being bullied
2. They are afraid of retaliation
3. They don't think anyone CAN help them
4. They don't think anyone WILL help them
5. They've bought into the lie that bullying is a necessary part of growing up
6. They might believe that adults are part of the lie--they bully too
7. They have learned that "ratting" on a peer is bad, not cool

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Counselor's Role in Parent Teacher Conferences

We are in the middle of our mandated fall conferences. These are suppose to be simply an opportunity for parents to share information with teachers about their child but parents don't want a one-way conference. They of course want answers to 'how is my child doing?" "does my child have friends" etc. Sometimes I attend just to have more contact with the parents and hear their perspective. At times I attend the conference to facilitate the discussion between parents and teachers, especially if the teacher is inexperienced or there has been a prior history of conferences not going well. I always remind myself that my goal is collaboration with parents and teachers to maximize my work with students. Many times my schedule is too full to attend all the conferences I'd like, so I do my best to prioritize - if I already have a relationship with a family I might skip that one in favor of the chance for face-to-face time with a new family. Parents and teachers who have conferences that do not go well often want to meet with me afterwards because of issues that surface in the meetings. I always get many referrals from these conferences which means next week my already full schedule will become even tighter. It is good that I already have 3 groups started and 7 more planned to begin next week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month

October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. Bullying is the most common form of violence in schools. Of course we must work with students who bully and are bullying but the effectiveness of a bullying prevention program really grows when education is targeted at the witnesses. Counselors need to teach "bystanders" to become "upstanders." Students need to know one person standing up for a child being bullied can make a difference. The message to children who see or know bullying is happening should include:
- stand up for the children who are bullied, they need the support of peers;
- invite children who are excluded to play and be part of a group;
- comfort children who are bullied and tell them no one deserves to be bullied;
- don't provide an audience for bullying behavior;
- tell students who are bullying to back off (if it is safe) otherwise report the behavior to an adult immediately;
- offer to go with the student being bullied to report to an adult;
- give them an opportunity to report anonymously if they don't feel comfortable reporting face-to-face (we use the Bullying Box outside my office);
- be part of the solution by speaking out, not part of the problem ( including keeping a code of silence).