To give you an idea, here are the groups that I typically ran:
- Fall Groups
- Winter Groups
- Spring Groups:
I am so excited to be over on Confident Counselors talking about how I make groups work. I even included a list of all the groups I run and how I organize my time.
To give you an idea, here are the groups that I typically ran:
Starting a new school can be intimidating and scary for students. I went to 9 schools by the time I was in 9th grade and I remember the feeling well! I am happy to welcome a guest blogger, Erainna Winnett, to share her clever idea for welcoming students! Erainna was a classroom teacher for 15 years before becoming a school counselor. She saw a need for newer resources in the field and self-published her first book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives . Find out how to win a free copy at the end of this post!
When new students arrive on our campus, I always go to their classrooms and introduce myself. I generally pull them into the hallway, tell them who I am, explain our Kindness Climate (we are part of Rachel’s Challenge), and walk them to our banner where they sign agreeing to show kindness and compassion daily. I also give them a pencil and walk them back to class leaving them with a high-five. To continue our relationship building, I send them a Welcome to Our School postcard. Students rarely, if ever, receive mail. When their parents hand them something addressed specifically to them, I believe it’s meaningful and memorable.
A Note from the Heart
Order inexpensive welcome postcards online or print at school using heavy cardstock. The first year I worked with our registrar and hand wrote a welcome message to each child the day they enrolled. This ensured they would receive the postcard the next day or the day after that. At first, about a third of my postcards would be returned undeliverable. After
talking with the post office, I discovered that most apartment buildings will only accept mail with the leaser's name. Remember, I want this to be special to the child and this particular piece of mail is FOR THEM. So, I began writing the child’s name, then c/o the parent’s name. This alleviated the problem. I’ve had several parents come into the office to thank me for just a unique greeting.
Our principal LOVED the idea but wanted to tweak it a little. She wanted to have our fourth graders (the seniors on our campus) write the welcome message. We had a contest where all fourth graders wrote a two to three sentence welcome. Next, we selected three winners and those are the messages new students receive in the mail.
One year, we were on a little stricter budget, so I addressed the postcard to the student and the teacher’s classroom name and number and delivered them when I went to introduce myself to the new student. Ensuring a successful transition for new students I think receiving this Welcome to Our School postcard is unique and lets children know they truly are welcome to THEIR new school and they’ve got a friend in the school counselor.
Thanks Erainna! What a great idea for welcoming new students with a personal touch! If you would like to win one of five copies of Erainna's book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives, sign up for the Counselor Up VIP List! Five of our superstar VIPs will win a copy of the book on Friday, August 11 at 4:00pm, sign up before then! It's that easy - no rafflecopter, no form, just VIP treatment - and I promise to never spam you! If you'd like an editable Welcome to Our School template, I got your back too! UPDATE: This giveaway has now ended. You can check to see if you were a winner on Instagram and Facebook!
Schools spend hours of professional learning time on pedagogy, the theory and practice of teaching. Typically, this time is spent on best practices for teaching academic standards. However, as adults we can see that success in the world around us is grounded in skills like time management, work habits, help-seeking behaviors, or metacognitive strategies. How can we support the learning of noncognitive skills in students through the PLC framework used widely in education? Recently, I have been working with a team in my district to dig deeper into noncognitive factors and how we support students in social emotional learning. I am extremely proud of this work.
Noncogntive Skills: sets of behaviors, skills, attitudes, and strategies that are crucial to academic performance in their classes, but that may not be reflected in their scores on cognitive tests.
Professional Learning Communities
Professional learning communities are groups of educators that work together to not only to ensure good teaching is taking place but that students are learning. The PLC is founded in four questions:
What noncognitive skills are embedded in this lesson or unit?
The first core question of the PLC is "what do we want students to learn?" Often we see noncognitive skills as separate from core academic learning. However, all learning requires noncognitive skills. Instead of thinking of social emotional learning as separate, let's ask ourselves which noncognitive skills are embedded in a unit or lesson. For instance, if a class is working on creating math video tutorials, which skills will they need to be successful? The ASCA mindsets and behaviors are a great place to look for skills necessary to successfully complete this work.
How will we know students are learning?
Right now, behavior, specifically office discipline referrals are the most frequent indicator that students are not learning the noncognitive skills needed to be successful. However, by the time an office referral happens, the time for learning has passed. Looking at the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, we see observable behaviors that could be assessed. In the PLC, we can look at the noncognitve skills we planned for students to use and learn and then determine if they effectively learned this skill. In our math tutorial example, we would make a plan to see that students were able to:
How will we respond if they don't learn?
Here is the key, the moment of change for all the work that school counselors do. Right now, when students lack noncognitve skills we typically wait for them to fail and then proceed to an intervention to "fix them." What if, instead, we were talking about students and their social emotional learning along the way, using the skills that we had defined as embedded in the academic lessons being taught. If students needed additional support in learning these skills, the intervention could be put in place before the lack of noncognitive skills caused them to be sent to the office, lack friends, or fail a grade.
How will we respond if they already know it?
Hint- the answer isn't to make them take care of the other kids. Let's face it, typically our students with robust noncognitive skills are tasked with helping others around them. While this works in small doses, it can be frustrating for both students. What if students who had developed noncogntive skills were given more choices and independence in their learning. If they were able to self manage, were self aware with social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making then the classroom is open to them to explore in depth and create their own learning. Thinking back to the video tutorial example, this might mean that students with robust noncognitive skills were able to create tutorials independently or to learn a video editing software not originally introduced to the entire class. It's both a reward (increased freedom) and a chance to expand their skillset.
Role of the School Counselor
School counselors aren't in the classroom daily to implement many of these ideas but we play a large role in collaborating and consulting with teachers, interventionists, and administration. One of the simple strategies that I have used is to align my lessons with noncognitive skills that support the academic content currently happening in the classroom. For isntance, I taught a lesson on cooperation while my first grade classes were learning about job sharing. If I were to do it again, I would take it one step further and have the first graders create a cooperation rubric for job sharing in the classroom. If you're interested in learning more, ASCA has a great page of resources on Using Noncognitive Skills to Improve Student Success. How do you support noncognitive skill development in your school?
I am excited to welcome Thomas Broderick, a Northern Californian freelance writer and consultant in the education field who occasionally blogs for Teach.com to talk about creating a professional learning network using twitter. This is even more meaningful to me as I have been blowing up my twitter account with the amazing things I have learned at #ASCA17.
Using Twitter to Follow the Best School Counselors
There are many ways to become an amazing school counselor. Some people spend a few years in the classroom before making the transition, while others jump right in after college or grad school. No matter how you arrive in the field, you should follow the sage advice of the nation’s best school counselors. But how do you find them?
At first glance, the social network Twitter may seem a world away from counseling. In fact, the opposite is the case. America’s best counselors regularly use Twitter to reach out to others in their profession. For aspiring school counselors, there is no better way to get insider information about counseling best practices than straight from the horse’s mouth.
In this article we’ll explore some of Twitter’s most influential counselors, and how you can use Twitter to expand your personal learning network (PLN). That said, let’s get started!
If you’ve never used Twitter, set up a professional profile that includes where you work and a link to your school’s website. If you already have a personal Twitter account, go ahead and set up a second professional account. It’s free!
NOTE: Make sure your professional account is open to anyone, and your personal account is only open to accepted followers. This is good advice for anyone working in a school.
When setting up a professional account, go ahead and follow every teacher/administrator at your school who uses Twitter. If they follow you back (and they should), they will be able to see the counseling best practices you retweet from the nation’s best school counselors. You can also use your professional account to share the amazing work you do in your building.
It’s now time to FOLLOW INFLUENCIAL COUNSELORS!
Three Great Counselors to Follow Right Away
Twitter Handle: @ttchorzynski
In January 2017, First Lady Michelle Obama awarded Terri the school counselor of the year award. Her Twitter feed is full of solid advice for counselors both new and seasoned. Her retweets come from a variety of professional counseling organizations you may want to follow, as well.
Twitter Handle: @CBelser_PSC
A nationally board-certified school counselor, Chris has spent the last six years researching counseling best practices. His Twitter feed is full of links to research studies and articles that can help counselors connect to students of all ages.
Matthew J. Beck
Twitter Handle: @mattjbeck
Matthew is an excellent resource for school counselors who work with LGBT students. His Twitter feed and website are full of personal examples from which all education professionals can gain valuable wisdom.
Using These (and Other) Resource
After you follow a few counselors, you are likely to discover a treasure trove of informational Twitter profiles to follow, as well. But your PLN is only just beginning. As you retweet only the best material, consider reaching out to the counselors you follow. Ask them questions. Bounce ideas off their heads. You’d be surprised about how many people on Twitter actually answer the questions their followers ask them.
Establishing these relationships can greatly benefit the work you do with students and teachers. Twitter is a valuable tool for school counselors. It connects the nation’s counselors together, allowing the best to teach the rest. Using Twitter in this way, passionate counselors new on the job can achieve long-term professional success.
Thanks Thomas and Teach.com for sharing some great ideas about using Twitter! Make sure you use #scchat in your posts so that you can connect with other amazing school counselors. Not sure what a hashtag is? I gotcha. Here are a few of my favorite peeps that I work alongside with on Confident Counselors all in one beautiful twitter list for you.
Ahem, also, make sure you follow me :)
Best laid plans, right? Sometimes being a school counselor feels like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Your brain is full of ideas and ways that you can support your students but the many demands on your time, extra duties, and never ending fires to put out can leave you feeling like you're not even sure where you spent your energy. What if I told you that there exists something that can help with that? Something you've heard of before but may have dismissed as "too much?" I believe that the ASCA National Model is the real problem solver for school counselors. That's why I'm so excited to speak at NCSCA's Summer Academy about taking a realistic approach to the National Model.
Here's some of the problems we will be solving:
Sound familiar?!?! Can I get a high five?
To the Rescue!
Guess what? Instead of these being these being the reasons your can't do the ASCA National Model - these are the problems that you can solve with the model. I know! This is some good stuff. So here are the goods: My presentation AND the super,amazing, awesome handouts I created to support your work. And guess what? We never even say the word template.
So what's your plan for problem solving? I gotta say, I think this is gonna be your year :)
Welcome to my blog where I talk about all things school counselor and encourage others to Counselor Up!