Sunday, January 21, 2018

Group Using Howard B. Wigglebottom Books

I hope you are all aware of the tremendous resources available at a non profit foundation. They currently have 15 books with companion posters, songs, and games available online. I prefer using the hard copy and have the entire set in my office. I have used a variety of these books for social/emotional groups with kindergarten through grade 2. Above is an outline of the topics and skills I recently used with a first grade group. Each book focuses on teaching a particular skill which makes them a terrific resource for a psycho-educational group. I have evaluated these groups and they do show a positive change in perception data. I vary which books I use depending on the needs of the group. I also change the activities depending on the age and ability of the group members. The children love Howard!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book to explain depression to children

Celeste thinks she is the happiest dog in the world. But when she notices something different about her human, Rupert, she wonders if things will ever be the same again. This is a great resource for elementary counselors to help explain depression of a loved one to young children. I have had parents suffer from such serious depression they have had to go to residential treatment for over 3 months. I wish I had had this to help the children begin to understand what their parents were experiencing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

No Name-Calling Week

I have my school celebrate No Name-Calling Week every year. I like that it occurs the same week as MLK day. It is easy to remind students about the power of words because Martin Luther King Jr. changed lives with his words. It was started by GLSEN ( no-name-calling-week ) which has lots of resources for educators. We use it to circle back and reinforce that repeated name-calling and teasing can become bullying. We also emphasize empathy and showing compassion for students who are being targeted. Of course in this digital age we mention how it can also occur using technology. This year I asked each teacher to send home information about the week to families to discuss at home and also to use it as a topic today for their morning meeting. 

These Students Take Down Slurs and Stereotypes

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Flexible Seating

Our whole school offers students flexible-seating options to assist with self regulation. It is a good fit with our Responsive Classroom approach. Children have different needs and preferences. When students come for individual counseling I let them sit anywhere they want: 1) on the floor; 2) in a bean bag chair; 3) on an exercise ball; 4) on a wobble stool; and 5) in a chair with an exercise band. To introduce the seating options for my small groups I use interactive modeling to set clear expectations and then we review them with anchor charts. I have 3 sizes of the wobble stool and it I have to remind students they must be able to have their feet flat on the floor to use a wobble stool to be a safe choice.  If students are not using the flexible options appropriately (spinning on stools or kicking the bands loudly) I just say they have made a choice not to use that option for the remainder of the group session. Fortunately I have only had one student throw a fit when asked to move to a chair.  I like having similar choices and expectations in my office as in our classrooms so I can help students figure out what works for them.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Lost at School

Lost at School by Ross Greene was revised in 2014. It offers so many practical ideas that help educators and parents address children with a variety of behavioral challenges. The real-life scenarios help the reader realize that often the adults totally miss the antecedents of negative behavior. I know our school like many do a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) but I totally agree with the author that many times there is a bias lens when these are done that suggest the child is manipulating the environment. The author has practical tools "Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems." I like how the author explains how to consult with teachers and the student to find solutions to problems. I recommend it to any counselor who has challenging students who are not responding to what has already been tried at school. By the way, the author does not let school personnel get away with blaming parents!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Growing Readers in a World of Screens

Reading is key to being a life-long learner. Part of our school counseling program mission statement is "By collaborating with staff, families, and community members, the school counseling program prepares all students to be successful lifelong learners, effective problem solvers, and responsible global citizens in a changing society." We are currently doing a book share with staff and parents using this book tapclickread. This book provides educators and families with an evidence-based guide to positive use of children's digital media. I read it over winter break and feel it is a very worthwhile resource to clarify our vision of literacy in the current digital age. It discusses more than just literacy, it addresses executive functioning, and interactions between children and the adults in their lives. The authors emphasize children need both the motivation to read and learn and the habits of mind that enable the focused work that comes with building a "reading brain." The book recommends the book a webinar Mind in the Making to learn more about seven essential executive function skills We are hoping to have one of the authors of Tap, Click, Read to our school this spring to discuss this book.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Resolutions

If you are writing New Years Resolutions or plan to have students do so when school resumes tomorrow, do not send the message "new year, new me."  It is much more likely people will carry through with resolutions if they build on something they are already doing. Other keys to  resolutions include: a) think small; b) be specific; c) be realistic; and d) have a plan to deal with obstacles. For example, I wear a Fitbit 24 hours a day. Currently my daily goal is 15,000 steps a day. My resolution for the New Year is 16,000 a day.  If by 6 pm I am not to my goal I will begin a specific workout to add steps. I like resolutions to focus on more than one area of life. Most people can commit to adding one event a month to build family or friend ties. I also like a resolution about adding something meaningful to a person's life like a new friend, a trip to somewhere new, or trying out a new activity. It is important to write down resolutions and review them frequently. I would recommend at least once a week for the first 3 months of the year.