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Be good

Who do you bring with you to work? One of my first feelings of inspiration as a counselor came early on in one of my counselor sub positions. As I started to feel close with the kids, and learn about their home lives and barriers, my perceived solutions often came from family advice I had been given to me at one time or another. When they were surprised by kindness, support, belief, and tough love, I began to feel more and more sad that these kids did not have such resources at home. I was raised in a gloriously crazy, large, ambitious family where there are copious and equal parts joy and work. I started wishing I could share my tribe with all of my students, and give them the tradition and fierce love I have been lucky enough to grow up with.

Since I couldn’t have my family members all come to work with me everyday, I realized that I could bring them in spirit. My paternal grandmother who had limitless optimism and faith in each individual; my maternal grandmother, a Sicilian matriarch who worked as hard as she expected of us, and loved with such conviction you had no choice but to believe in yourself; my aunt, who has lived her life with a disability and was more active and dreamed bigger than most able-bodied people. So many huge personalities come with me every day to work, and I try to be a channel to my kids so that they too can grow up with these lessons.

I am constantly telling my students, “be good” – sometimes softly, sometimes pleadingly, and sometimes with warning. My grandma always ended conversations with this simple expectation, and now that I’m an adult I see how meaningful it is.

Who do you bring to work with you? What is the endearing phrase that you use easily in your hallways, but that weighs generations of love?

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Back on the Donor’s Choose Train

We are knee deep in prepping for our Writing Standard of Learning, and I am seeing all kinds of crazy and creative ways that teachers are trying to make this material less tired. I started to realize that there are a lot of things I use with students, and keep in my office, that could easily be part of an English lesson. It makes complete sense too, after all, Guidance is about understanding, perspective, and communication. As I wished that I could share all of my office toys with the teachers, I realized that there might be a way to get some for everyone!

If you haven’t checked out Donor’s Choose yet, you totally should. It’s so easy to use because it’s a simple template. Then they are really helpful in making your project professional and marketable. Check out ours here and share if you’d like!

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Newbies

First of all, SimpleMind is amazing and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. If you are a visual understander, you have to check it out. My learning styles are mixed, but let me tell you, the way I understand things I know and organize my brain is definitely visual. This app is so easy to use and it is giving me all the life right now.

Second, I have an intern who is awesome and has gotten me thinking all about how I started things up and got going with my program. I feel like I’m at a great spot because I’ve found a comfortable rhythm, but it hasn’t been very long since I started. So when she asks me questions like, “how do you come to do all this??” I really had to take a pause a think about it.

Since starting as a counselor six years ago, I have been so lucky to be in a couple of schools and learn crazy tricks and see amazing things from so many teachers, counselors, administrators, kids, and parents. To compartmentalize all of it and break things back down to consecutive details has actually been kind of therapeutic. To start, my first thought was, “fake it ’til you make it!” and I proud of it (look, I’m a middle child, what can I say?)! A first day is a first day no matter what your experience is; to shower and show up is enough confidence building you need!

The rest gets a little more muddled. Where did I start? What did I need? Who did I ask? What was allowed? How did I know? I knew what was important to education, and my profession, and myself because of the thorough degree I obtained (I am lovingly reminded of this every month when I get the bill). But all of the academia in the world can’t completely prepare you for actually hopping (and later skipping) into the trenches. City to city, school to school, department to department…our job is transformed everywhere we go.

But there are a few goals and actions we are required to take…or really, figure it how to implement despite diverse school cultures. I’m trying to map out some of the things I experienced to better illustrate the beginnings, and decided to start with lessons. I think I will go into greater detail with some parts, and make a few more for a couple other crazy parts of our job. Let me know if I missed anything, would you?