Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Name-Calling Week

The last full week in January is always designated as No Name-Calling Week, an nationwide effort started by GLSEN ( to stop the hurtful language frequently directed as sexual minority youth. However, principal associations have paired with GLSEN to make this a K-12 initiative. At our school we have done bulletin boards, taught lessons, posted ideas for teachers to use in classes, made morning announcements over PA, and send home information to parents. Words can hurt! As counselors we need to teach students what to do if someone calls them a name, what to do if they hear someone else call someone a name, and why it is wrong to call names. If name-calling is frequent, intentional, or cruel it is considered bullying and should be treated with the same reporting and response procedures mandated for schools regarding physical bullying.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Favorite Tech Tool

I am so happy to have Live Binder It to keep track of all the resources I want to save when I am searching on the Internet. I have a Binder for my school counseling program organized around the ASCA Model and another Binder for my counselor education courses I teach. My "shelf" is growing. This free resource is easy to use. You can also search for other School Counseling Binders that are public. This is another tool to share resources with other counselors.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SMART Results-Oriented School Counseling Program Goals

I am presenting to the other elementary counselors in my district how to write SMART Results Oriented Program Goals so I thought I would share a few samples. To apply to be a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) your program needs to be based on goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results oriented and relevant and Time-bound. They need to be written in terms of how students will be different as a result of the counseling program. The formula for writing this type of goals is By (who)___ will gain/increase/reduce (what) ___ (an attainable amount) (when) on/by ___. Examples: Reduce student bullying behavior by 10% in school as measured by bullying reports for the school year. Students knowledge of career paths and education requirements for occupations will increase by 15% after classroom lessons taught by the counselors and participation in the career fair. SMART goals are increasingly becoming part of a counselor's evaluation so it is important that we start incorporating them into our action plans for program improvement.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Anxiety Abounds With Back to School

Today was the first day back after winter break and several of our students who at times experience significant anxiety struggled today. My office and the clinic were very busy places with students who felt "ill" and wanted to be back in the safety of their own homes. For people, children and adults, without personal experiences with anxiety it can be hard to empathize with the level of distress going to school creates for many children. I like to teach children with anxiety issues to develop their own Anxiety Checklist. When they start feeling anxious they need to immediately start mentally going through their own list and doing each item until the anxiety decreases to a level they can manage. This is just like any checklist (homework written in agenda, all books and materials needed in backpack, backpack and coat, etcetera). I try to encourage the students to practice using their list when their anxiety is low so it becomes automatic. For example, a checklist for anxiety might be: 1) take 5 deep belly breaths while counting slowly; 2) notice things in your immediate environment; 3) visualize the sights and sounds of a favorite relaxing place; 4) do a repetitive motion that can be as simple as tapping fingers for 2 minutes; and 5) use progressive relaxation to squeeze and relax muscles in the body beginning with toes. I usually type up the checklist the student develops and give them 2 copies. If they want me to (give their permission) I will also email a copy to their parents. Students with anxiety need the right type of support so collaborating with parents can lead to much speedier results. Who knows if tomorrow will bring more students who struggle to focus on school because of anxiety or the return to routines will help them cope better. That is what I love about being an elementary counselor, each day is different.