Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Professional Reading

I love having time to read during summer break. These are the new books I purchased for the counseling program that I will be devouring the next 2 months. I am sure they will be full of sticky notes to mark ideas I want to follow up on in the new school year. Any readers have suggestions?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mentors" Hope Dealers"

As I reflect on my year some of my best memories were mentoring a brand new counselor and co-leading our district's first group mentoring cohort for new elementary counselors. We had 8 counselors new to our district this year and some brand new mentors. To be sure the newbies all got the basic information and met folks they needed to know for collaboration (like CPS), we offered both individual one-to-one mentors and a monthly cohort meeting. The individual mentors follow the district model that is really designed for teachers, but we had total freedom with the group sessions. We did a needs assessment in the fall and planned our skill based sessions on what most of the newbies said they need: 1) how to set up groups; 2) how to construct and assess class lessons; 3) how to create a core curriculum action plan; 4) how to complete a closing-the-gap action plan... We ended the year with a 10 item reflection survey. The new counselors all appreciated the individual mentors AND getting to know the other new counselors and having the opportunity to discuss cases and "what is going on at your school?" "how do you handle ___?" Mentors are encouragers, models, motivators, and hope dealers. I always try to be the mentor I wish I had. I would have loved the group cohort. Mentoring the next generation of school counselors is very important work.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Winding Down the School Year

We get out tomorrow, June 23, so for this last week I made the simplest Bulletin Board of the year and let any student or staff write on a sticky note what they are most looking forward to this summer break. I wrote "Learning at the ASCA National Conference in New Orleans" and "Relaxing at the Beach." For me that is what summer is about, continuing my professional learning and restoring my batteries. As I see kids for the final time and meet with administrators to plan for next school year, I give myself plenty of time to reflect on the school counseling program this year - the successes and challenges. I was able to teach ALL students in the school 10 lessons which is a priority and a challenge since for the first time in 7 years I am the sole counselor because I lost my part-time counselor because of a decrease in enrollment. I led a crazy number of small groups this year and served over half the school but I need to be making sure I really reach the students who need Tier 2 services next year. Next year we are moving to using Second Step and MindUp district wide as the basis for Tier 1 in all elementary and middle schools, thus my involvement in summer curriculum work. I hope you all take time to learn something new and relax this summer!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

End of the Year School Climate and Bullying Student Survey

In our school management plan we strive to have a high percentage of staff respond appropriately to reports of bullying behavior. We have been using the Committee for Children Steps to Respect and now the Second Step Bullying Units which emphasize annual staff training and reminders to listen empathically to all reports (affirm the child's feelings) and gather enough information to determine if the behavior meets the definition of bullying (unfair, one-sided, negative power). Research shows that if staff do not listen to reports students will stop reporting. This question on the survey all 3rd - 5th graders completed last week shows we have aways to go to meet our goal.

Accessibility to counselor

I want all students to know they can ask to see me and I will make an effort to prioritize their request and meet with them as soon as possible. This year with fewer students at my school I had 58 slips completed by students. I also had 42 emails request/referrals from parents. Next year I need to do a better job of accurately tracking referrals from staff.

Monday, June 20, 2016

End of Year Student Needs Assessment

This year I had all students in grades 3-5 do a survey about school climate, bullying, and other areas I wanted to use to determine areas of improvement for the counseling program. It is hard to tell if students do not know they can self-refer even though I repeatedly tell them that or these numbers are lower than I'd like because teachers will not let them come see me or send me an email saying a child wants to talk. Like most counselors I have a message mailbox outside my office where students can ask for an appointment.