Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Talk Technology! Parenting in the Digital Age

We (Instructional Technology Coordinator, Librarian, and Counselors) met our goal of getting at least 40 parents to attend our parent evening event (process data).  I know the SMORE flyer (posted earlier) got their attention and the topic is one on the minds of many parents, even those in kindergarten. We began the evening by showing the short video "Go Figure" that provides facts and figures about online use by children and teens.  We then did a 2 question poll of the audience using "smart" devices (we had a few of the schools ready in case a parent did not bring one of their own).  We just set up a class though (it's free and simple).  We did a brief presentation using materials from  We also shared the technology use family agreement available on this web site. We planned ahead of time 6 questions to focus the small group discussion.  We divided the parents into grade levels (k-1, 2-3, 4-5) and had 1 or 2 facilitators in each group.  The discussion was very lively and parents wanted to hear what other parents are doing to manage technology so it does not overrun their children's lives.
We had a 3 question evaluation.  Our key perception data was the average score for "did you find the evenings discussion useful" was 4.76 (on 5 point scale).  We will repeat this event again. For parents who are interested and cannot attend, we posted the PowerPoint and handouts online.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Every counseling office needs at least one glitter filled ball

There are many ways these can be used in a counseling program.  I use metaphors a lot in counseling and when you shake the ball and the glitter fills the space it can stand for when our brains are overloaded, not thinking clearly, or stress.  Holding the ball still and breathing until it settles is a perfect demonstration of calming down and being able to focus.  This is very helpful when teaching about mindfulness.  She is a great website that talks about using glitter balls.  I have one in my calm down basket for when a child is sent to me and needs to have a moment before we talk.  I have also used it as a warm-up in a group where we pass it, give it 3 shakes, and then they can share at the beginning of the session something that happened since our last session (until the glitter is all at the bottom).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Public Relations

I don't like to have my picture taken; however, pictures are a great public relations tool.  We use actual pictures to help tell the story of what we do with various stakeholders. I try to avoid pictures with children's faces and last names for obvious reasons.  I had a teacher take this picture of my because I am making a slide show for School Counseling Week.  I store all my pictures in Dropbox.  I download some of them to the iPAD mini I use for our program.  Pictures can be added to flyers, posters, pamphlets, electronic flyers, web page, etc.  I typically save my pictures for 2 years, then update them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A great referral experience

Today an upper grade student asked her teacher if she could come see me.  When I pulled her and asked "Why did you want to talk to me..."  She said she had been to her pediatrician the day before for a check-up and shared with the doctor she has terrible test anxiety.  The doctor asked if she knew her school counselor and would feel comfortable asking for help.  She said yea and her mom agreed.  When she came to school this morning she asked if she could see me.  I was very pleased the pediatrician understood the role of the school counselor and happy the girl felt comfortable and was able to ask her teacher to see me.  I will send home a permission form in her Friday folder knowing she has already taken the first step to handling her test anxiety.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SMORE event flyers

I posted last month about using online flyers to promote various aspects of the counseling program.  Here is another example for the Let's Talk Technology event we are doing with parents next week.
smoreLets Talk Technology

Monday, January 6, 2014

Made me smile...

I was doing the final session of a lower grade "Impulse Control" group today.  When I handed out the folders with all the "work" we did in the group a member shared that his mom does a binder each year to save special papers from school.  Then the member added, "This year I will have a chapter for Dr. McCormac's group!"  Such a sweet statement would make any school counselor smile.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

No Name-Calling Week 2014: January 20-24

The GLSEN website  has lesson plans for K-5 for use in the classroom.  Most of them are good.  I really like "Blow the Whistle on Name-Calling" which I hope my PE teachers will use during January 20-24.  I am going to teach an adaptation of "What If It's Not Me" because I like to stress the role of the bystander in making our school a safe place for everyone.  I will not use "Staying SAFE."  I tried that several years ago. It introduces students to the four strategies for dealing with name-calling and bullying that are
illustrated by the acronym SAFE – Say what you feel, Ask for help, Find a friend, and Exit the area.  The order of this just does not make sense to me.  This week is a great time to address the cruel name-calling and teasing that goes on in elementary schools every day.  Thanks GLSEN!

Friday, January 3, 2014

I love the theme "Celebrate Kindness" for this year's no name-calling week

Our school closed today because of bad weather.  It is a perfect day to plan activities for us to do January 20-12, 2014 to Celebrate Kindness while working to create safe school free of name-calling, bullying and bias. I want to focus on kind words instead of name-calling.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Graffiti Wall

This is a good wrap up technique to use in the final session of a study skills group.  I was very pleased to see how much the members remembered about topics we had covered the past 10 weeks.  Each member was able to write at least 2 unique topics and share what they learned.  A few members were able to add additional ones so that almost all the topics I felt were important ended up on the "graffiti wall."