Needed a little reminder card to slow down the phases of anger in some stressed kids today. We talked about the process and how slowing down in the moment will help to figure out when to reach out for help or a cool-down.
Being that I moved schools this year, I have only had this short year with my great new group of kids. Next year they will go off to high school and need the skills and good stuff to be ready to tackle the challenges they will find there. We spend so much time prepping for registration and talking about classes, graduation requirements, and logistical transition needs, that we forget that if the kids don’t have the skills to carry out these more mundane check-boxes, it’s nearly pointless! With all of this in mind, I started to freak out that I wouldn’t be able to get them properly prepared for their next phase, and that old feeling of letting them down started to creep in.
After getting a hold of myself and realizing I was being melodramatic (the hallway hormone osmosis factor), I thought back to a session I attended at the Virginia School Counselor Association this year on small groups. And viola! I decided to go in that direction. I started by establishing a couple of groups based on things I have heard through conferences, parents, and teachers as being barriers to success. And came up with five groups (the four here and one more for my perfectionists!).
Currently I am developing the each lesson. I settled on four sessions each so that I can try to do it twice before our standardized testing starts. In the meantime, I sent a letter to teachers outlining the project, and included an easy strip of paper that they could use to suggest kids. These groups are turning out to be so fun to plan, and I am really excited to get started with them in February.
Next up, I need to develop and permission slip for kids and start to get information out and lock in a schedule. My hope is that these groups can be part of my larger effort to help kids start to learn skills to help them operate without the assistance (corner cutting, entertainment, or otherwise) of technology. Updates to come!!
As far as I’m concerned, any day where I get to watch a Family Vacation scene with students is a good day. Today we worked on applications for High School Academies (something in our division where students can attend another school, if accepted into a high caliber program). I get a little competitive of my kids during this time when I am in 8th grade, and so I try to provide as many opportunities for perfected their applications as possible.
Although crazy, filling out these applications is much like filling out a college application (minus the charge, and FAFSA, so better really). Today’s pop up session was regarding short answer questions, such as future goals, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, etc. I am trying to get the kids to realize that for any application, we are simply selling ourselves so that they stand out against other students from across the city. For Middle Schoolers, I find that just about anything where they get to be social can become engaging.
So alas, I decided to relate how to sell yourself in short answers to how to make a great speech. We started with talking about the Elevator Speech (which is essentially what we are doing on paper for short answers), and then we discussed a Banquet Speech. That is, how to wrap things up in a really pretty package to make everything sound magical and amazing.
Before we ended the session with an open lab where they worked on their application (thank you Google Docs for allowing me to say “share it with me and I’ll read it later” when I Have 60 kids ready for attention!), we make our own toasts; we make them specific and detailed and beautiful. It is so fun and one of my favorite lessons!
*** This is easily adaptable for High Schoolers in college application workshops, or for career and networking lessons in all grades!
I’ve got another little freebie to add on here, this time, I’m posting a little project I’m going to try out in small groups. It’s for my girls, in celebration of Women’s History Month. Go chicks! Basically, I’d like for them to sign up, come in small groups and fill out the worksheet after a brief conversation about the Women’s Movement. Should that be capitalized? Not sure, and I’m OK with that (you know the saying, “those who teach, should know things like that.”). SO, below you will find a copy of the pass and the worksheet. I am attaching this great timeline to the pass as well for some inspiration (I mean, I know they probably won’t read it, but a girl can dream). My goal is to make a book that can be given to the school, or kept in the Guidance office. Anywho, enjoy! And let me know if you have any ideas!
I love the look of the pass, and will probably alter it for the book’s cover. The picture is from Edutopia’s amazing page on Women’s History Month, where I initially got my inspiration to do something. The lovely tag on both the pass and the worksheet were snipped from the always amazing Kind Over Matter. You can get the PDF by clicking the picture, or here and here.
So, as I said earlier, I have been working on a small career lesson for my 8th graders. I found some awesome videos to use, and I was stumped trying to avoid yet another assessment to tell the babies what they must be when they grow up. Those things still make me nervous when I take them recreationally, and I am actually in my meant-for-me profession; I can’t imagine how it must make them feel. Granted, if presented correctly (which I think I’m still working on), I understand kids can get the point that career assessments are meant to simply explore the broader idea of what they might like. But in the age of so many serious tests and exams, I can’t imagine they would be able to relax enough to not feel like they would be banished from all educational rights if they answer incorrectly. Luckily, I found this really cool diagram from Willo O’brien (which turns out is actually a pretty inspirational and cool bog too):
I’ve seen this before, but I thought this version was especially appealing. I remade it by middle-school-izing the verbiage and adding blanks so that they could fill in the information. You can get the PDF of the Career diagram by clicking the jpeg below, or you can snip the image to re-size if you’d like!
Now I just have to cross all of my fingers and toes that I can get the point across to a classroom of pre-teens before the 8th grade minds start to joke about my using the words “sweet spot.” I’ll have to work fast.
Today was our first Saturday make-up day, and boy did those parents tuck-and-roll those kids right out for a free Saturday! Smart little cookies they are, as I would have done the same thing, you betcha. It was a full-fledged day, and the kids and staff alike were really positive and productive. I decided to make a little treat for my teachers, and handed out these cards this morning. I mean, I was busy, but those ladies and gents were classroom-ready and took to their feet for the sixth day in a row this week! We certainly made lemonade with our Saturday lemon (plus, I still think my snowcation was lovely). The image is below if your teachers are needing a pick-me-up. I just sized it and inserted/copied the image on a business card template (mine had ten per page) to staple to the lemonade pack.
Sooo…Today I had to start tallying my time for work, delineating how I spend my time (e.g. P/T Conferences, 504 meetings, one on one, group, department meetings, etc). It is sort of hard to break apart all of the components of such crazy, moving days. You sit down and start responding to parent e-mails, start to organize classroom student response forms, get called down for a registration, get stopped with a class change form on the way, get an impromptu lesson on departmental goals upon walking into the office, talk with a family about a student’s history and choose classes, stop in at the lunch room on your way back and discuss some friend drama-rama, offer consultation on a student with a teacher picking up their class, speak with a student in the hall who has been put out and reiterate behavioral goals, return to a ringing phone, and then try to remember what it was you were trying to do before you left your office 15 minutes ago. How in the world is it possible to outline the tasks that you do all day, every week, within a month, throughout an entire year? And when we don’t record everything, we feel as though on paper we look like we may not be doing enough to justify our profession.
But alas, it must be done. Recording what I do throughout the day has saved my butt plenty of times. In going over a student history, recalling why I made one decision over another, catching a student not living up to the things they agreed to; I refer to my notes all the time. But still, I find myself thinking, ‘wait, I remember talking to that parent, what was it that they called about? Or, I did talk to that kid, but I never agreed to change his class past the deadline, or did I?’ One thing I have learned through internship and counselor subbing has been to make my own worksheets for processes that help me get the job done. In Grad school, I remember professors encouraging having us make worksheets in class, and begging us to really get cozy with Microsoft applications that can be helpful. Well let me tell you, I spoon those puppies now- and Word and Excel are the big spoon.
This is the Daily Log Sheet I created to keep record of everything I do. It is based on a sheet one of the lovely ladies had made that I subbed for when I was on the maternity circuit. I keep it on a clip-board that I bring with me everywhere like a besty. Then I move it over to a Daily binder, and have a running log. This way, if I so happen to forget to record my goings ons daily like I am supposed to (which I typically do), I have a reference to go to. Between this, and appointments in my Outlook Calendar, I can usually get the majority of my time down. I love to hear how other people track there time though, and like to take bits and pieces as I alter things.