Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Resources for Executive Functioning

These books provide educators including counselors was to help children, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, to improve executive functioning (EF) and flexibility. The Unstuck and On Target! program teaches three EF skills: 10 flexibility; 2) goal setting; and 3) making and checking plans.The program uses four teaching methods: 1) teach and use key scripts and words; 2) teach by doing; 3) use visual supports; and 4) make it fun! Solving Executive Function Challenges can help counselors understand the challenges of teaching EF and flexibility and how to put it in action. The Unstuck & On Target! is a curriculum guide with 28 lessons on 10 topics. If a counselor needs to lead a group for children who need to improve EF and flexibility the lessons are very scripted. I have co-lead groups using this curriculum in grades 2 and 3 with the school psychologist. We have used the lessons over 2 years because we don't run groups that last more than 12-14 sessions. The students like most of the group activities. The CD includes Home Extensions that can be sent home after each session. There is no special training required to use the materials, they are very straightforward.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of 28 children's books, died last month at the age of 51. To learn more about Amy go to whoisamy. I just wanted to pay tribute to Amy by mentioning some of her books that I use regularly in counseling. Duck! Rabbit! is a terrific book to teach different perspectives. My favorite is The OK Book  which I use with groups of students who are anxious. Other books by Amy I use are Spoon, Chopsticks, and I Wish You More. She did a number of TED Talks that are very inspiring including 7 Notes on Life.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Katie Kangaroo & Her Awesome Career Adventure

We have begun teaching the 16 national career clusters in all our elementary schools. Katie Kangaroo is an interactive career adventure that can be displayed on the Smart Board to introduce students to a job in each of the 16 career clusters in a fun an engaging way. I plan to use it with my first graders when we return from spring break. A word of caution, initially only 10 clusters appear and you have to go to all 10 before the last 6 open. I found that out by contacting the publisher Katie's adventure is structured by her asking each worker 4 basic questions. The program includes 14 follow-up activities to further enhance learning about careers. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Using Music in Counseling

When I went to the VSCA Conference last fall I attended a session on using music in counseling. I have been to a few similar presentations before but generally they involve using popular songs that have to be carefully screened and sometimes certain words deleted. I agree with the theory behind using music (and movement) in counseling with all populations. In the presentation they showed a clip of using music and rhythms with groups of children with special needs. I was in awe of all they did but I am not musical and I don't have the time or patience to screen popular songs. Despite my lack of confidence I did promise myself I would find opportunities to use more music and movement in my program this year. I bought two sets of rhythm sticks and have used them in activities in my self-regulation groups this year. Our school division adopted Second Step and it has songs that go along with each unit so I have used these. I also use some of the CD's produced by Conscious Discipline in kindergarten and first grade groups. I felt like I needed more for the upper grades so I was happy to find Sing-Along Guidance for Grades 3-8 by Young and Schwintek and published by I am using "Not Gettin' Paid for Watching TV" in grade 3 for a career lesson, "Don't Tell Me I Can't" in grade 4 for a goal setting lesson, and "It's All Up to Me" in a career lesson. These are songs that are written and performed by professional recording artists written with lesson plans for guidance lessons. I think some of the other songs and lessons, there are 12 in all, belong in the middle school.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rock or Clay Problem

Many students come see the school counselor because a problem has them stuck and they are overwhelmed by an uncomfortable situation that is causing them unpleasant emotions and stress. When talking to my upper grade students about problems I like to use the metaphor (and props) is it a Rock or Clay problem? Generally I start by giving them a rock and asking if they can change its shape. Then I give them Play-Doh and ask if they can change it. Then we talk about Rock problems like parents separating or one parent living in another country. There is nothing a child can do to change this type of situation so they just have to cope. Mindfulness is a great technique for rock problems. We generally generate a list of positive coping strategies: talk to someone you trust, exercise, journal writing, drawing, listening to music, etc. For clay problems they need to use self-regulation (control) and find a solution that will get them past being stuck. Sometimes I have them make a shape from the Play-Doh that represents the solution they plan to try. I have done this with individuals and in small groups. I did it the other day with my group of ELL students who all have experienced living separately from a parent and coming to US with no English. I gave them each a rock and a can of Play-Doh to take home so they could explain our session.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kindness Book

Maria Dismondy has many great books to use in counseling and for parents to read to reinforce social emotional development. As a counselor I am asked a lot about how to help siblings resolve conflicts and treat one another respectfully. Some of the students who are very kind to peers at school fight and fuss with siblings. This book is published available and will be available at Amazon soon. I can't wait for my copy to arrive! If you can't wait on her website the author reads the book aloud. She also has a Reader's Guide and coloring sheet. While you are on her site check out her other fabulous books like The Juice Box Bully, The Potato Chip Champ, Pink Tiara Cookies for Three, Chocolate Milk Por Favor!, and Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book To Teach Optimism

We use the MindUp Curriculum from the Hawn Foundation. It has a lesson titled "Choosing Optimism" which I think is one of the most important lessons. Optimism is a learned trait and if practiced, can become a way of thinking. The Curriculum suggests about 4 books as Literature Links and the ones for this lesson are okay but my favorite book on optimism Is Rain Brings Frogs by Maryann Cocca-Leffler. She is a great author and the message of hope in this book is powerful and the illustrations capture the audience. I use this with grade 2.

Group: First Grade Boys Social Skills and Self Regulation

I am starting my final round of groups for the school year, it may seem late but we go to school through the third week in June. Generally this round is more intense tier 2 intervention for students who need more support. They may have been in a group earlier in the year but they are still struggling with social emotional, behavioral, or self-regulation issues. Most of these referrals come from teachers in progress monitoring meetings but a few are from parents. This year I am doing 2 small groups with first grade boys using my Howard B. Wigglebottom group curriculum based on the books, songs, and online resources from I modify each year. I keep these groups really small 3-4 students in each group and they are 30 minutes long (they are pulled out of content class which means sometimes they miss social studies and sometimes science). I have shown you one boy's pre-group survey. The surveys do NOT go home, they are perception data for me. The pre-group survey helps me tailor the group to their needs. If they all report often "I am a good sport when I lose a game" I will skip that book and lesson. I make packets in advance and include the focus of the lesson and an activity each time. I have to vary the activities depending on their ability to write. I do 8 sessions and each time I have them color a star if they were following the group rules (these boys need this type of feedback). In the last session I will use the same basic survey (modified if we skipped a book). They take their group booklet home the last session so their parents can see what was worked on in group.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Anxiety and Depression: Consulting with Teachers

Our district is requiring all staff to go to mental health first aid training to help prepare them to deal with mental illness. Since the most common mental illnesses in elementary school are anxiety and depression, this is a resource I have available for my teachers. In Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Self-Regulation in Young Students, Nadja Reilly explains the impact of anxiety and depression and other mental health issues in children. She provides suggestions to build resilience and teach self-regulation in order to help kids to succeed in school and beyond.

Self-regulation, fun, and play activities are natural ways to relieve stress and worry and recharge energy. Reilly discusses how to teach students deep-breathing exercises and various ways to understand their bodies. The book provides detailed instructions for educators who teach children in grades K-5. Reilly lists materials needed, gives step-by-step instructions, and offers variations to accommodate specific needs.

As Reilly explains, the teacher can encourage students to come up with funny or silly names for these sensations to make them less threatening. The class comes together to come up with ideas for decreasing these body sensations, such as deep breathing. The book also provides a chapter on communicating with parents to promote teacher-parent collaboration and assist families with kids who are struggling. For use both in the classroom and with parents of school-aged children, this is a book school counselors may want to purchase and loan out to teachers.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Books about Depression for Kids

Like most school counselors I like to have a variety of books to share with students related to a specific concern or a strategy or skill to manage an issue or symptom.  Seeing characters in books going through something similar to the child normalizes it. Most children understand that is they write a book about it, then it must be pretty common. Here are some of the books on my bookshelf I use with students who feel depressed.
Bowden    I Just Want to be Me
Cook        Blueloon
Crist         What to Do When You Are Cranky and Blue (Grades 4-5)
Foley        Danny and the Blue Cloud
Jones        The Princess and the Fog
Malcolm   Meh: A Story About Depression
McIntyre   How Frederick Found His Light
McKee      Elmer and the Rainbow
Miles         Move Your Mood
Mundy       Sad Isn't Bad

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Depressed Students

This year I have noticed that more of our students are depressed and we have already done more suicide risk assessments in mid March than we did each of the past 3 years. Some of these are students who were referred for services in the past for anxiety.  About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder Children with depression may display these symptoms:
Depressed, angry, or irritable mood
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
Change in eating habits
Physical/somatic complaints
Mood swings
Feeling worthless or restless
Frequent sadness or crying
Withdrawing from friends and activities
Loss of energy
Low self-esteem
Thoughts of death or suicide
When symptoms last for a short period of time, it may be a passing case of “the blues.” But if they last for more than two weeks and interfere with regular daily activities and family and school life, a child may have a depressive disorder. This site is a good resource for parents

Teachers often overlook children with depression because it has internalizing symptoms not disruptive behavior with externalizing disorders, such as ADHD. Depressed children often don't ask for help at school because of negative thinking patterns: No one cares about my feelings, nothing can be done to help me, and so on (Cash, 2003). Younger students often lack the necessary language skills and self-awareness to report their depressed feelings. Even preschool age children can be depressed. Some students with depression will qualify for a 504 Plan and some may require an IEP.

School counselors can develop a positive relationship, provide emotional support, and teach students who are depressed coping skills.My go to goals for students with mood issues are: good sleep hygiene, healthy eating habits, and plenty of exercise (especially outdoors). There are not many resources for elementary counselors but these may be of some assistance

If a student has moderate to severe depression they should be referred out for cognitive behavior therapy and evaluation to see if medication is warranted.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Problem-Solving STEPs Bulletin Board

We use the Second Step program in all our schools Kindergarten through grade 8. The curriculum teaches a 4 step problem solving model. This is my bulletin board that stays up this month to remind the students of the STEPs. It is 3-D and super cute, made by our school base substitute teacher for the school counseling program.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Superheroes Unmasked

Steven Hitt and Ellen G. Stewart have put together Superheroes Unmasked: An Amazing Approach to Helping Children Learn Social/Emotional Insights and Skills that is published by youthlight Stewart is a certified school counselor and art therapist. Hitt is the Managing Director for the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and Assistant Professor of Dance. The developers researched the theory of superhero stories and play. The curriculum guide includes 15 lessons which are aimed at grades 2-6. I am using it as a basis for an 8 session Tier 2 small group for third grade boys. I did 
Session 1: Superheroes, Self-Awareness & Self-Esteem
Session 2: Listening is a Superpower
Sessions 3-7 based on "SUPER" (there are multiple activities for each letter so I selected based on needs of my group members) 
U=Understand the situation
P=Place yourself in their shoes
E=Encourage other ideas
R=Respond appropriately
Session 8:Super Mission Quest
Superheroes Unmasked would make a great after-school club curriculum because there are well developed lessons and many supplemental activities. There are 70 activities and games included aimed at kids becoming positive change agents.

Problem Solving Theme: Reading About Problem Solving Bulletin Board

This is the bulletin board outside our school cafeteria which shows the books I use in classroom lessons and with groups to teach problem-solving steps. We used parts of the Kindness board from last month to simplify the task of swapping out our boards monthly.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Evidence-Based School Counseling Conference (EBSC Conference) 2017

The Fifth Annual EBSC Conference hosted by the University of San Diego was just as rewarding as the one last year at the University of Georgia. I think the only counselors who were disappointed were those who discovered they waited too long to register since it sold out several weeks ago. I learned about things I knew nothing about like the counselors' role in linked learning. A break out session I found very interesting was led by last year's host (the University of Georgia) on their research "Who Is RAMPing and Who Is Not?" They had very interesting data and facilitated an interesting discussion about the current state and what might impact who RAMPs in the future. The highlight of the Conference for me was the Keynote address by a practicing school counselor in Arizona, Christa Mussi.
Christa has RAMPed at multiple schools and shared many valuable practical tips to manage an effective Evidence-Based School Counseling Program.
Our district presented a break out session Districtwide Initiative to Rock Tier 1 with
Evidence-based Classroom Lessons to a packed room. As promised here is a link to our presentation Districtwide Initiative to Rock Tier 1 with Evidence-based Classroom Lessons Go to the Evidence-based tab. 
I encourage you to watch for more information about this Conference that will be held in New York in March 2018!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book to Explain Brain to Help Children Self-Regulate

Julie Mendenhall, School Counselor, has written and published another great resource for counseling. "Sunny Shifts His Brain". The book teaches students in grades Prekindergarten to Grade 3 a little about the brain and then explains to children how to use two simple strategies: 1 Check: Learn when I need to change my behavior. and 2) Crisscross and Shift: Learn how to cross arms/legs and "shift" to clearer thinking. Crisscross is a concept I have been sharing with students, teachers, and parents for years that I believe comes from Brain Gym (learn more at I have shared these strategies with several teachers of children who need help developing self-regulation. This book is very useful to some of my students who have OCD type symptoms if not a formal diagnosis. It is one of several terrific resources for explaining and teaching self-regulation available at
Julie has presented this brain-based research to counselors and her PowerPoint is available on her website

Monday, March 6, 2017

New Book on Mindfulness for Young Children

Squirmy Learns to be Mindful by Joree Rosenblatt, a therapist and mindfulness educator, tells the charming story of Bella the butterfly who earned the nickname "Squirmy" for her impatience. Her mother teaches her to be mindful, calm, and focused. Squirmy teaches young children how to be mindful. Read how the author explains mindfulness on her website This book could be used in a class lesson, in a small group, or with an individual student to explain the value of being mindful. Order a copy of this flexible resource from

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Suicide Prevention Resource

"Tell Me More"
Tell me more... are 3 hard words to say but extremely important in assessing a student who has talked about committing suicide. Check out all the valuable resources at

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Books for Social Problem Solving

Our theme this month for classroom lessons is social problem solving using the 4 STEPs from Second Step. The Committee for Children has great video clips but in case technology fails I always take a book into classes. I can do the lesson with the poster and a book. These are some of the ones I use in groups to reinforce problem solving and as back up teaching tools in classes.

Arthur’s Eyes by Brown
But It’s Not My Fault by Cook
A Chair for My Mother by Williams
The Doorbell Rang by Hutchins
I Did It, I’m Sorry by Buehner
I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear by Janisch
It Wasn’t My Fault by Lester
Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by Davis & Soman
Prudy’s Problem and How She Solved It by Armstrong-Ellis
Stuck by Jeffers
Swimmy by Lionni
Talk and Work It Out by Meiners
What to Do With a Problem? by Yamada & Besom

Friday, March 3, 2017


Every child has a unique way of feeling, thinking, and interacting with others. I often start groups with one of these books to get to know more about one another. "I like myself! I’m glad I’m me. There’s no one else I’d rather be"... Karen Beaumont's words send kids a powerful message. After reading her rhyming book I Like Myself  to kindergarten or first graders I usually have the last line "I like myself because I'm ME!" on a paper and have students draw and right what they like about themselves. Odd Velvet by Mary Witcomb is a great book for second grade to encourage celebrating being yourself. (It can also be used for name-calling.) In a small group you can do a round and have each student say something unique or special about yourself then keep going around until all members can recall everyone's name and something special about them. Self-portraits are also a good activity for most of these books,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Self-Regulation Books

One of my favorite books on self-regulation is Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia a school counselor. It is available in English and Spanish and learn more about the author at  This engaging picture book introduces children to the practice of listening to their bodies which is the first step to developing self-regulation. My students love the "horse lips" strategy where you take a deep breath in through your nose and blow out through your lips like a horse. It can change someones brain from being mad to silly in a few seconds. It is loaded with ideas so I frequently use it in 2 sessions in both individual and small group sessions. It will be one you use frequently!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Problem Solving Theme

We use Second Step for Tier 1 and Tier 2 lessons and groups. The Problem-Solving Steps are taught at every grade level and social problem solving is our theme for March. This poster hangs in my office most of the second semester because I like to reinforce these steps in groups and some individual sessions as well where appropriate. Second Step teaches a 4-step problem-solving procedure (see poster) for social problems: 1) Say the problem without blame; 2) Think about solutions that are safe and respectful; 3) Think about what could happen if I do this - explore consequences; and 4) Pick the best solution and make your plan. We teach the problem solving steps by role playing different scenarios to help children understand and use this process. In kindergarten the 4 steps are mentioned but the focus is on the first 2 steps. Mini versions of the poster are kept in the grade 1-5 classrooms so students can refer to the steps frequently during daily interactions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Many Colored Days Bulletin Board

For Dr. Seuss' birthday March 2 I frequently turn My Many Colored Days into a bulletin board or door decoration. The books associates moods and emotions with colors and animals which is depicted on the display. This year we added the animals because I found the outlines on line at many_colored_days The outlines are the last few pages of this pdf. If you look at the Bulletin Board page you can see how we used this in the past along with our Empathy theme in November.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I am sure all elementary counselors use some of the many books Dr. Seuss wrote. The ones I use on a regular basis are: Horton Hears a Who!, The Lorax, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, The Sneetches, and The Zax. 
My Many Colored Days is my favorite by Dr. Seuss because it is useful in expanding students understanding of a variety of emotions. Being able to name or label emotions is key to self-regulation. To learn more about this read labeling-feelings-is-so-important
The book can be used for a variety of lessons or group sessions on feelings and there are many activities to choose from including those described here my-many-colored-days or many_colored_days

Self-Regulation Resource 6-inch Voice

I work with two groups of first grade boys who have limited self-regulation, including volume control, even when they are in a small group and remind them of our rules. My most successful session was based on this great book by Julia Cook. They were not able to estimate 6 inches which I had guessed so my worksheet has a ruler then they draw their hand (pinky to thumb) and write about where they should be using their 6-inch voice. The books has a built in "practice" for the 5 levels of volume from whisper to outside. I wish I had used this in my second session so I could refer to it each week. I plan to use a replica of the handout as a reminder for my next session.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Appreciating Happy Experiences

The MindUp Curriculum from the Hawn Foundation teaches the physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits of reliving happy experiences fully and mindfully. Remembering a happy memory releases the "feel-good" chemicals in our brain that flooded it at the time of the actual experience. When teaching that appreciating happy memories can help overcome sadness and insecurity, I use the delightful children's book Harry the Happy Mouse (2015) by n.g.k. Harry helps a Frog, but asks the Frog to repay the kindness to someone else. The book follows the good deed as it moves through other characters, who each selflessly help someone else, making themselves feel happy in the process! There are coloring and games that go with the book at harrythehappymouse that I have used with English Language Learners. But for my tier 2 first grade group my activity sheet for this session comes comes from a resource I have used for close to 10 years from MARCO colorful-counseling-with-cd/ by R. Sheritz Sartori & R. Hood Herrman. The Happy Memories sheet is from the Loss section of this worthwhile resource. My first graders in my Emotion Regulation group which we call "All Feelings are OK" enjoyed writing, drawing, and sharing 3 happy memories. They were visibly happier when they left the counseling office than when we began group!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Personal Safety Resource

Its hard to listen to the news for a week without hearing a horrifying story about sexual abuse. This week 60 Minutes told the story of one of the US Olympic Team physicians sexually abusing female gymnasts under the guise of "treatment." Parents struggle with how to talk about sensitive topics without scaring their kids. Sunny's Time to Tell by Julie Mendenhall available at does a great job of giving children strategies to handle difficult situations and how to know when and whom to tell. Julie is an elementary school counselor. She provides an Appendix that serves as a guide for educators using this resource in school and "Tips for Parents" as well. For more resources for kids, parents, and teachers go to 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kindness Rhyme for Kids - You Are Amazing!

This is a good short video that emphasizes being kind to self. I use it in grade 2.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Effects of Kindness on the Brain

There is science behind teaching children to be kind, about empathy, and practice compassion.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin proved that training students in compassion that involved practicing on loved ones, themselves,strangers, and finally someone they had conflicts with for 7 hours makes them more likely to act with compassion edu/brain-can-be-trained-in-compassion

Kindness Boomerang - "One Day"

This is the video I use in my fourth grade during the kindness lesson. Students respond well to the concept of passing along random acts of kindness without the expectation of anything in return. The also like short videos, especially those with music. I think this one definitely enhances my lesson and makes it more likely to "stick" with the students.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Preparing and Starting Small Groups

The most important stage of successful groups is pre-group planning. I taught group counseling in a graduate program for 10 years and my graduate students heard me say this over and over. I start groups by looking at the referral reasons and screening students to see if they are willing to participate in a group. In the fall most of my referrals come from parents and my prior knowledge of students, but the round I begin second semester is primarily focused on students who teachers feel need tier 2 support. I build my group sessions around the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors and student needs, If I can find quality resources for small groups I am delighted to use the plans and activities others have spent time piloting. The groups I am starting this week for my third graders are based on two resources I shared back in October. 
Boys: I am adapting seven lessons from First Steps to Social Success by Senn youthlightsocialsuccess for my KNIGHTS group with boys. I selected the knight theme to tie this group together because that is our school mascot. Our first activity is a shield that helps identify strengths and uniqueness. I constructed the pre/psot group survey based on what I thought they needed and the objectives for each session.
Girls: I am implementing the group StarBound by Miller youthlightstarBound with the girls. We used the StarBound resource with a fifth grade group that started in the fall and meets every other week but this resource has multiple activities with each session topic so you can implement it in more than one grade level (it is a grade 3-8 resource). The StarBound resource is linked to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors. Depending on how many sessions and what activities you select it covers most of the Mindsets and many of the Behaviors. I prefer to focus on 1-2 Behaviors a session so I selected: B-LS 1 B-LS 2; B-SMS 1 B-SMS 7; and B-SS 1 B-SS 2 B-SS 4 B-SS 5 B-SS 6 B-SS 7 B-SS 8
StarBound has a student survey but I created my own because I prefer to gather Perception Data with the type of pre/post surveys explained in the ASCA National Model Implementation Guide nationalmodelbooks Most of mine use a Likert scale with an even number of choices, forcing a positive or negative (rather than neutral) response. I also use scaling techniques to describe beliefs and open ended questions to assess knowledge.
When students come to the first session of group I have a folder for each member ready to go with a cover that is our opening session main activity, an attendance sheet with topics for each session, a copy of group rules or group contract, and the pre-group survey. I keep these folders in my office and everything members do gets kept in them to go home after the last session, except the pre/post-group surveys. Time is precious in group so this level of preparation is needed so I can focus on the process aspect of group once students are in my office.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kindness in 5 Words

Since today is ValenKIND Day I had my fourth graders summarize the big ideas we talked about kindness in 5 words. They did a good job writing about mindfully choosing to be friendly and caring with no expectation of anything in return.
For my lessons in the other classes I made a half sheet with a great example for them to formulate their Kindness in 5 words.

Happy ValenKIND Day!

Our SCA is currently spear heading a kindness challenge that includes randomactsofkindnessweek,  I am always happy to collaborate with the SCA and grateful I am not the staff member in charge. I call today ValenKIND Day and will be reminding everyone to be kind to themselves, those you love, and those who need love!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sharing DATA to Show Results

I loved seeing school counselors promoting their programs last week and really liked those wise counselors who used NSCW week as an opportunity to share results with stakeholders. They inspired me to do my first DATA report of the year on the two emotion regulation groups I wrapped up last week. Actually analyzing the pre-post surveys validated my belief that I would meet the goal and gave me plenty of ideas for how I can improve these groups next year. I use the DATA report from the third edition of "Making DATA Work" which aligns with the third edition of "The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs". "Making DATA Work" complements the ASCA National Model by providing step-by-step implementation strategies, skill-building activities, examples and resources to help school counselors develop program goals, collect and analyze data and share their findings with key stakeholders. I publish these reports in a variety of ways including sharing it with district supervisors, the school counseling program  advisory council, and hopefully our school board liaison. My stakeholders know about the school counseling program but I need to announce the impact in a way that non-counselors understand!

Friday, February 10, 2017

College/Career Readiness #NSCW17

ASCA wanted school counselors to promote college and career readiness today, the last day of National School Counseling Week. I don't ask my students what they want to be when they grow up (today's sign) because many will do jobs that do not currently exist. We promote the exploration of the 16 career clusters and talk about all postsecondary options. Staff and students are encouraged to wear college gear the first Friday of each month that students are in school. Staff is proud to show off their favorite college(s). I am in the picture with our library staff and their beautiful bulletin board!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I love being a school counselor #NSCW17

We got a harsh reminder if why it is so important for us to inform stakeholders about our programs. After our Counseling Supervisor gave our school board the annual update on the counseling program and suggested adding a career specialist at each middle school and more elementary counselors, a board member responded that the money is not in the budget for additional staff. It was suggested that teachers could do academic advising and she mentioned a school that does not have a counselor as a model. At our monthly meeting this week there was a lot of venting about the board comments. We concluded that we need to be more proactive in informing stakeholders about all the components of our program and especially the need for mental health support. This morning I tweeted this picture to my school board not because I love having my picture taken but because I want every student to have good access to school counseling. I am wearing my "iHelp" t-shirt that is the logo we use to brand our program.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reading opinions from students and staff about our role

I enjoy reading the comments counselor's received on the ASCA "I love my school counselor because" today on Twitter from their students and staff. Some even created videos of these signs. I love getting feedback from my students. I told the first grader who wrote me this note that I was keeping her sign in my smile file. I have kept a smile file for over 20 years. At the end of the year I usually reread the many cards and notes I have received and keep just a few. These notes raise the level of dopamine in my brain and make me feel appreciated and happy! I encourage all counselors to save some of the pictures and notes you get to reread on those difficult days when the job can seem overwhelming.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

School Not Guidance Counselor

I really appreciate the hard work of ASCA and the state branches advocating and supporting school counseling programs based on the ASCA National Model.I encourage you all to purchase the t-shirt and mugs sporting this logo which brands us as school counselors.catalog

Three years ago the Virginia School Counselors were successful in lobbying the Department of Education to change the language at the state level from guidance counselors to school counselors. That was an important step because now our state certification reads "School Counselor PreK-12."

At the local level it is important we continue to let stakeholders know we are School Counselors who lead comprehensive programs and do so much more than the academic "guidance" of the past. It is small things like the signs on our office doors that read "Guidance Office" when they should say "School Counseling Office" or "School Counselor." It educating our teachers that we deliver the School Counseling Core Curriculum preparing our students for the future not the vocational guidance of the past century.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Celebrating the Support Staff Give to School Counseling Program

My staff know I love tea, therefore, I don't think anyone will be too surprised that I am providing tea to promote school counseling and thank them for their collaboration. I also completed the Certificate of Appreciation provided by ASCA NSCW/2017certificate Normally I give the certificate and a gift to all the members of our School Counseling Advisory Council but our meeting was last week so this year I am going to display one certificate for the whole staff next to my tea station in the Teachers' Lounge. 

NSCW Theme 2017

National School Counseling Week 2017, "School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential," will be celebrated from Feb. 6-10, 2017, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by ASCA, highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. Each year ASCA picks a theme for the week. It fits well with our Mission Statement, "The Nottingham School Counseling Program is dedicated to helping all students establish their unique academic, career, and social emotional goals so they can reach their maximum potentials."