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B Board and Doggies

I finally finished my bulletin board!  Before break, I made a mindful and executive decision (don’t tell my admin) to finish my registrations and tie up loose ends instead of finishing my 6th grade hall bulletin board. I did, however, involve STEM in my procrastination nation, as you can see below:

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Feel free to use this technology-infused intervention.  I think it’s genius.

I actually love making bulletin boards.  It’s a total excuse to get artsy and craftsy in the middle of a long week. Mindfulness, my dears can be productive (so are my lunches with peers where we have closed-door gossip sessions conversations about the goings ons of the day, but sometimes more is needed).  So, I have been wanting to use a really cool Kindness Game idea that I found at the trusty Edutopia.  I love how it gives simple ideas of how to be a good citizen, no matter where you are.  Always in the field of assessing the health of the school environment, it is also a perfect way to remind students (and staff!) that we can work together to help each other and be happier throughout the day.  So the finished product is…dun dun dun dun dldldldldldldld (that’s a drum roll, much more difficult to write than I thought)…

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Ain’t she pretty!  I laminated just about everything so I can wipe away middle-year germs and save it for later.  I tweeted it (@steffschoolcoun) to Edutopia and they actually tweeted back! I geeked out.

Just as an update from my short break post, here is a view from my loom on one of the last a lazy and lovely days:

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And here is one more of that cute pup, who was making us pay for leaving her behind when we traveled to see family in Ohio:

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Obsessed

I have all of these topics I have been wanting to discuss: grading practices, holidays, weaving craftiness, minute meetings, scheduling.  You know, professional topics that may aid in my professional and personal advancement.  But alas, I slack.

Why? BECAUSE A MAN’S GUILT OR INNOCENCE DEPENDS ON ME. Well, not really.  Or at all. But I am completely obsessed with an amazing podcast series.  Undisclosed.  It’s a new old podcast hinging on Serial, the podcast I was dutifully obsessed with last year.  These podcasts follow the case of a young man who was sentenced to life in prison when he was 17 years old.  It picks apart the case, the people involved, and the investigation of a young woman who was murdered in the late 90’s.

I’m serious though, it’s amazing.  The voyeur in me is interested for the storyline, and -to be completely honest- intrusion into the lives of those involved.  The mother in me weeps for the young woman’s family, especially when I imagine hearing so many details about the death of their loved one.  The student in me is intrigued learning about the legal system and subtleties of society.  The counselor in me ponders how this effects the life of a young person, wonders if Adnon was able to graduate, and winces for my students who have no idea how life can smack you in the face.

I would love to construct lessons around following the case through this medium.  I think students could gain so much from diving into such human information, and see how convoluted the legal system can be.  Even realize how much an argument, sources, and strategically placed words can make a difference in the outcome of just about anything.  And it’s applicable to so much more than just isolated legal cases too- think about the implications that can be taught about decision making and multiple perspectives.

I highly encourage anyone to check it out!  Take a look at the website, or get out your podcast app.  It’s addicting, and considerably better for me than watching Real Housewives (not to say I am not keeping up, we all have our vices people).  I have my opinions on the case, guilt, and/or innocence.  But my interest lays less on that, and more on the intrinsic peephole view on real people and real tiny choices that have resulted in alterations for all parties involved for the rest of their lives.  Though sometimes I feel a bit guilty hearing such intimate details about someone’s lives, as if I am exploiting them, but I try counteract that by really thinking of the material in a way that is not judgemental, but almost appreciative of the vulnerability of human living and our connected frailty.  It’s kind of an anthropology hobbyist’s dream.

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Writing Project! Whoop!

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.

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Patchwork Therapy

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An impromptu long snow weekend led to lots of crafty therapy.  I finished a quilt that had been in -ahem- progress for about a year now.  After some serious consideration (not really, it was more like productive procrastination), I decided to use this method that I saw some time ago on Whip Up.   It saved so much time!  Basically, I had all layers together (sandwiched right side down, batting, right side up), and then quilted everything together as I attached each line.  To take out a step in the quilty process (having to construct the top and then quilting the layers together) worked perfectly, especially since it will be an everyday couch quilt.  Here are some  in-progress pictures:

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Everything is quilted together- starting at the top, I laid out the bottom (RSD) with batting on top (using a few safety pins here and there).  I put the first line down RSU, and the next line RSD on top of it.  The I sewed all layers together.  Next, I folded over the top strip RSU, and laid the next strip on top of it RSD.  Going over and over until… voila!  Then I edged and was all done.  Sadly, all of the ups and downs on the floor to lay it out has me totally sore today.  The hazards of quilting are real people.

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I also finally finished a square by hand from the amazing Wombat Quilts.  I cannot put the fabrics together quite as well she does, but with her pattern it’s hard to mess it up!  Now, I am far too lazy to make an entire quilt, but I think it will be a lovely small something-or-another.  I just need to add an edge and back and I’ll be donezo.

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More for Career

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):

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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!

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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.

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Weekend Therapy

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This weekend, my therapy was totally retail-related.  But by way of magazines…the best kind.  I have long been a fan of Euro-import crafty mags, but this weekend it was brought to a whole new level when I brilliantly thought to myself, “Self, what the hey?  I wonder if there are any super-cool quilting magazines.  Could it be?…this one looks…yes…it is larger than the other magazines…yes…QUILTY GOODNESS EURO-STYLE??!!?!”  I apologize if the picture is, in fact, as fuzzy as it looks to me, but my excitement is clearly difficult to contain.  I went with Patchwork and Quilting and Popular Quilting (I’m not really sure how I missed Popular Patchwork, except for that I must find it).  I cannot be happier with these magazines, and just feel like there is something about the Euro mags that are more current, and way mare tutorial-ish.  I have even already found a new awesome sewy blog at Diary of  a Quilter from Popular Quilting– PLEASE check it out if you haven’t seen it yet…I would say it is imperative.  It’s pretty and helpful and inspiring.

I am sure that it is noticeable that I keep posting about  sewing blogs and magazines and haven’t posted any projects.  That’s because it is very time consuming to collect all of the “data” which means I’m not actually doing anything.  I’m ok with it though, it’s part of my process (and “productivity” is relative).  On the work-front, I have been stalking Kate’s Science Classroom though, who seems to take her class beyond typical Science lessons, and integrates some really great concepts for personal growth.  I admire her going above and beyond subject matter for her students, and find there are some great ideas here that can easily fit into the Counselor’s office as well!

One last note:  While perusing the crafty book section at my local book store, I couldn’t help but notice this precariously placed self-help book.  Regardless of the fact that I mix therapy and crafties right on this here blog thang, I had to refrain myself from leaving a note that says, “Crafting is in again!  Just because I’m crafting on a Saturday night doesn’t mean I have low self-esteem!  I choose this life! I have friends (friend) and everything!”

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Linkity Links

So, getting to be a part of the Sunshine Awards has made me a bit more aware of some of the blogs and links I frequent.  Since grad school I have been obsessed with counselor blogs (after a long love affair with crafty and food blogs).  As I started to sub, my addiction increased, but I also got bitter not knowing what age I would be working with, or whether or not I would even ever have my own office (I tend to get quite dramatic when I worry).  But for now (technically I am able to get axed for my first three years-yikes!), I have found a considerably constant home in Middle School, and can thus be free to waste as much time as I want on blogs that address my semi-focused population!  This is especially fun when we have impromptu days off.  We are currently on snowcation #2, and I am happy to report that I have completed my annual mandatory online training, which means I have been productive!  Besides the irrelevant fact that I was late, and had gotten e-mails from three different people, I can check training and bloggishness off of my to-do list.

But back to my point, I read some sweet links that peeked my interest, and some that made me excited to get back to the grind.  This is even despite the way I almost had my first crunch-cry before the snowpacalypse hit, as I tried to drudge through the first day of the semester: steady flow of students with wronged schedules, reminders for upcoming High School applications to distribute, students turning in said applications which have to be checked, necessary lunch visits for my grade-level with permission slips for a workshop to hand out, 3 new student registrations, two way too long parent/teacher conferences, a locked-out system leaving me to have to hand-write schedule changes, parents questioning 9th grade class choices, teachers requesting moves, and so on.  Of course, I would never go there because I ugly cry and it would scare the children.  Anywho, here are some interesting tidbits I learned today in between snow-ball fights, shoveling, and dryer loads.

1. This article/video was interesting as a parent and school counselor.  My kids’ timeline would be overwhelmingly red- crap!  I like the idea though, and I like that it reinforces the importance of teaching mindfulness to kids.  I’ll probably expand on this in a bit, as I have been trying to put together a little teacher info-e-mail on incorporating mindfulness lessons into the classroom.  Cool stuff.  I was also thinking about how the story mentions that stress can cause mimicked ADHD symptoms…Re-he-heally??! I mean, any school system worker will give the same shake of the head if you ask them if there has been an increase in kids with ADHD, and it makes me wonder if some of them have symptoms that are manifestations of stress, adjustment difficulties, anxiety, etc.  Not to say that all students have a misdiagnosis, but is it possible that some students’ needs are far different from our typical ADHD bag of tricks to yield academic achievement??? Hmmm…

2.  OK, then there was this really awesome blog post on First Grade Critter Cafe with a really awesome and advanced system to track a few academic initiatives in her school/classroom.  If you remember, I also have an obsession for organization, and well-oiled binder systems!  I just become very giddy when I see someone else who understands how lovely a good binder is.   And I’m totally thinking, some of the great stuff she’s got could translate well to school counseling and middle school.  I love the “Critter Cafe Menu” and it got me to think about how I could fashion some sort of ‘menu’ of services for students to choose from (e.g. mediation, one-on-one, group, etc.).

3.  Lastly, The Helpful Counselor (who seriously runs a nice blog and is genuinely helpful fo’ sho’) had a great post on Pinterest about needs assessments.  This was especially pointed for me since one of my goals for snowcation was to get my work goals and yearly assessment measures for my school system typed up and submitted (which may also be a tad late. may).  I definitely pinned this sucker so that next year, when I’m constructing my own goals from scratch (I inherited the goals from the previous counselor for this year) I can grab some of these tips.

All in all it’s been a crazy semester change but I’m surviving.  I leave you now with my kids enjoying some snow, just because pictures are fun.

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4. OK, one more. What. (I also have a voyeuristic obsession with reality TV, particularly on Bravo).

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Say Whaaaat?!

I am way super excited because MusicMovingForward nominated me for a Sunshine Award!  It just goes to show even a newb-tube like this counselor lady can make a tiny ruckus.  Seriously though, I really appreciate the recognition Miss Music, it is awesome encouragement to keep on trucking with this here interwebs site.

SO, as I understand, I have to say ten things about me that others might not know, and then link to ten other blogs that interest and inspire. SO, here goes with ten new (albeit probably boring) things about me:

1.  I have a puppy who is both the best dog in the world and biggest jerk ever.  I love her, and she is intriguingly hyperactive at all of the right and wrong times.

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2.  I love Spring and gardening, both inside and out of the house.  I have been obsessed with succulents for the past few years, and love working in my yard, even if my plants suffer for it.

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3.  I have wanted to be a School Counselor on and off since High School.  There may have been other loves in between, but I always went back to that dream.

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4.  My mamma raised me to smile and greet people- it is still crazy to me that people are really taken back by these simple things!  You can walk around smiling, or walk around frowning- either way you’re going to be walking around!

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5.  I like to get my craft on every chance I get.

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6.  I like an orderly and professional school- I feel like this type of environment show a kid a reflection of expectations, and a promise that the staff believes they are capable behaving accordingly.

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7.  I loves me a good Parent/Teacher Conference.  It is the best way to get all parties together and get on the same page- and quicker than e-mail threads.  I try to keep it sweet even if the air is stiff- often defensiveness dissipates when I earn the trust of the others involved.

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8.  One of my favorite things to do is take pictures.  My Olympus Pen is my bestie.

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9.  I am obsessed with Pinterest, and not ashamed of how much time I spend on there because it is so amazing.

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10.  One of my biggest fears is that I will get bitter- at work, home, and in life.
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Whew! That was slightly more difficult than I thought it would be!!! OK, now here is a countdown of some of my favesy blogs, in no particular order.  I know they may not all be able to participate, but I hope they feel the love!
KT in Kigali (she’s my amazing cousin!!)
Thanks so much again MusicMovingForward– this was fun and now I feel super special!
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Time, Times, and Timers

What has my weekend therapy been this weekend? Online shopping.  Usually this means that I look at unattainable things on my favorite sites like Anthropologie …I mean, who can resist the ridiculous detail that you can find in those clothes?? But, as I have mentioned, I am a public school school counselor, and let’s face it- we don’t go into this profession to get rich monetarily!  So I like to add $500 worth of clothes and shoes (approximately two shirts and a pair of flats, no?) to my cart, only to slowly dwindle them down to almost nothing, and eventually receding like a toddler to erasing everything.  But I’ve sure got one hell of a wish list on the puppy, I tell ya.  My husband bought me a $50 gift card once, and my daughter joked me for waiting three months to find the perfect sale items.  It’s how I roll, it’s my internal conflict; I loves me some expensive taste, but I’m cheap the way us 80’s kids were raised.

Such sad 1st world problems lead to my addiction to buying work related items.  I know very well that I justify the purchase because it is for work, even though it is absolutely unnecessary.  It’s what I do, and I’m ok with it- don’t judge.  Here are a few of my purchases from this weekend’s therapeutic tryst on Amazon:

1. I have been wanting to get some hourglasses since a few years ago when I started to realize how some frequent fliers need to be validated, but don’t need to miss their entire bell as they would like.  I like these because you get varied times.  This being, when one of my little babies comes in with a traumatizing (not) weekend friend fight or light vs. dark jeans debacle, I can pull out my hourglass and let them know just how much time they’ve got.  I like to have an open door policy, and I like for the kids to get to talk about anything they find relevent to life- even if it is very adolescent appropriate, which means it might not seem like a big deal to us big kids, but it is truly at the center of their little developing world.  But a woman’s got to get some work done too!  I’m hoping this will be a nice boundary we can all delight in.

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2. I also got this little bad boy.  When I worked in elementary, I would pull out all of these picture books to help the kids bring their tootsies back down to the ground, and remember how to behave like civilized 2nd graders (if there in fact is such a thing).  I have a collection of a ton of cool (and sometimes odd) picture books, that I was saddy-face about when I realized I would not be working in elementary school any time soon.  To my delight however, in a slightly sarcastic and patronizing way, I have fond that doing the same to a fit-throwing middle or high schooler can also strike a bit of a cord.  Whether it makes them realize they are acting like a 7 year old, or it reminds them of an easier time in elementary school (before the hormones and pressures, and added social scene), or it just offers a funny time-out, some bigger kids enjoy a moral-filled story from their youth too!

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OK fine, I did also get a new bag and treat for the pup, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to tie that in with a work necessity.  Back to the hourglass- I’m wondering how other counselors decide when student visits are appropriate.  How do we make time for the kids, while not taking time away from a very busy academic day?  Should they have to make an appointment (barring an emergency- and how do you define emergency when it is different for each kid?) or walk in with teacher permission? Ah time, times, timers.

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Theme: New

New seems to be the theme of my past year or so:  I started a new career in school counseling, met new kids, played with new coworkers, made new mentors and friends, became a new grad gradate, and –aaahhh full circle tie in– now I’ll start a new blog. Scary, lovely, anxiety-provoking, and inspiring to have so many changes, but I am starting to feel a settle coming sometime soon. Ish.  In my new best-job-ever, I am learning so much, as I sift through information I learned in school, past jobs, and substituting.  I dig out articles and Powerpoints I made, while smothering the voice that threatens me if I put two spaces after a sentence.  Likewise, now that I have moved on up to my own office, I am using techniques I observed as a sub and throw out acquired habits to develop my own processes that work better for my communication style.  Anywho, I hope to discuss some of this here, and touch on some things that help me make nice while I’m waste deep in hormones (like meditative handquilting and other holly-hobby crafts I get made fun of at home for partaking in), all the while hopefully becoming part of the online counseling community for some by-proxy first year supervision.  Hope I can keep up!

PS- I did take a few minutes today to hang some super-cute Kind over Matter ‘take-one’ posters.  I think these are awesome for hallways, office doorways, and teacher’s lounges alike! She’s got a ton of free print-outs over there, and this one I’ve gone to at each stop I’ve made.

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