TpT has announced a February sale - starting tomorrow you can get 28% off everything in my store. Perfect time to stock up on some bundles. To celebrate, I am giving away a $10 TPT Gift Card. To win, comment below with your favorite product from the store. You can also enter on Facebook and Instagram.
National School Counseling Week is coming up next week. I can't wait to celebrate. I plan to keep up with ASCA's Photo Challenge. You can also read about what I've done in my schools or laugh at some funny memes. What are some meaningful ways you celebrate school counseling week?
Ever feel like you have a revolving door in your counseling office and you find yourself using the same tried and true techniques? Sometimes they work but sometimes they just feel stale and you're looking for something new. I've pulled together some of my top strategies for working with anxious students. My number one tip is to remember that you are not working to stop anxious feelings, rather to help students learn to cope with their anxiety so that it doesn't stand in the way of living.
Strategies for Calming
These strategies are for students who are very anxious. They need to calm down right. now.
Strategies for Learning
An important part of coping with anxious feelings is to learn about them. Kids may not understand that anxiety is a normal feeling that can sometimes spiral out of control. When students are calm, they can learn how to think about their anxiety in order to master it.
One way that I teach kids about mastering their anxiety is to use the hand as model. The thumb is your feeling brain. Sometimes your feeling brain has strong feelings (wave thumb around). We can use our thinking brain to use strategies to calm our feeling brain down (lay fingers on top of thumb). Once the student knows this concept, I can typically use the hand as a visual reminder of the strategy.
I have compiled these strategies and more in a professional learning presentation. You can share this in a PLT, use in a parent conference, or refresh your own strategy toolbox. I've even added 4 printables of the senses grounding and the 5 point star breathing. Please check it out on TPT! What are your go-to strategies for working with anxious students?
It's time to step out of your comfort zone (possibly) and think about equity and social justice. I believe that all educators want the best for all students, however, the outcomes for non-white students are far below that of white students regardless of socioeconomic status. This summer, I had the piviledge of exploring the concept of interrupting racism with a colleague, Alicia Oglesby, at the ASCA conference. Here's the thing, we are not experts. We are school counselors who believe in the importance of interrupting racism and working for equity and social justice. On January 17, we will be hosting a webinar with ASCA on the same topic.
What do we mean by interrupting racism? The word interrupt is a verb that is defined as "to stop the continuous progress of (an activity or process)." So to interrupt racism, we must first identify obstacles to achievement of all students regardless of race and second to stop the continuous progress of the status quo. If educators want the best for all students, what are the obstacles that are standing in the way of all students succeeding at the same level? Some factors are completely out of your control as one school counselor in one building. But where can you impact change?
If you aren't familiar with Misty Copeland, I highly recommend learning more about her story. In her journey to become a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater, Misty faced racism again and again. Her story exemplifies the norms that can become embedded in any community. In ballet, Misty's body shape did not fit the norm. What norms do we have in education that may effect the way that we as educators treat students, parents, and learning environments? This discussion is essential to changing the way that your building conducts business. As school counselors, we are uniquely qualified to guide this work in our schools.
Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable.
It's uncomfortable for many people to talk about race. It's uncomfortable for many people to talk about how we might be failing students. It's uncomfortable to think about how systemic problems might be alive and well in our building. We care about students, we don't want to admit we are a part of the problem. I'm the first to acknowledge that this conversation is hard. This is one of the most difficult blog posts that I've written. I've started and stopped more times than I can count. But this is our work.
To help your staff become more comfortable with difficult conversations, try some of these tips:
So what gives? We're here, we want to do the right thing. I mean, I don't think I'm racist. Right?
Project Implicit, originally associated with Harvard University, "is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition - thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet."
Project Implicit characterizes implicit stereotype as one that occurs outside of conscious awareness and control. For instance, if you say that you believe that men and women are equally good at math, it is still possible that you associate math with men without knowing it. This would be an implicit math-men stereotype. This also applies to race. You might truly believe that all races are equal and still have implicit stereotypes. Project Implicit has online tests you can take to see how biased your thinking may be.
Interrupting Old Habits
Implicit biases become ingrained in habits. In this funny video about bikes, we can learn some things about how habits (like biases) can be broken:
5 Ways to Interrupt Stereotypes & Racism
The thing about interruptions is that they happen all the time, just walk into a kindergarten classroom. To interrupt racism and stereotypes, we must interrupt every day, every lesson, every contact:
Keep It Going
Ready to explore more? This post is just a fraction of what Alicia and I will cover in our webinar. Please join us or view the archive. I will post more here as I continue to explore this work. We have also created a handout with links to additional resources and next steps for you. This document may not be visible on mobile.
Where are you in the work of equity and social justice? Have you had discussions about race in your school? What tips can you share with others?
Goals are important. Without them where would we go? (Answer: There) We seem to think that kids know how to set goals because we do. In fact, it's a really hard skill. Here's a round up of everything goal related in the Counselor Up world to help you find your way. Happy New Year to you!
There are TONS of material on goal setting around the interwebs. I am a proud contributor of Confident Counselors and we have recently shared our top tips for setting goals with students. My wonderful counselor friends sure do have some great ideas. What are your go to tips for setting goals with students?
Welcome to my blog where I talk about all things school counselor and encourage others to Counselor Up!