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My book?! My book!

Got to come home from work to this beauty!!! So exciting, and can‚Äôt wait to connect with educators that find it helpful! ūüėćūüėćūüėć Thank you Free Spirit Publishing for making a dream come true!

Get yours here: https://www.freespirit.com/teaching-strategies-and-professional-development/responding-to-student-trauma-stephanie-filio#reviews

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Tackling the Weight of the World with Groups

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!).

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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!!

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Slow Start

I HAVE FOUR MORE DAYS OF SUMMER

Yep. Four more days. What a Summer it has been. We have had some serious changes this Summer in my family, some super sad and some exciting. It always seems to happen that way that the Summer is so seldom a slow burn. I can’t decide which way I like more. But I am ready to head back.

The crazyiness will begin soon, as I step into a new school. After my babies left for High School I’ve decided to take the leap and start a new adventure. As sad as I am to say goodbye to my old school, I am really excited to get my hands into a new place, new population, and forge new friendships. I get so much inspiration from the people around me, sometimes I think they get fatigued from my harassment! So now it’s time to give someone else a turn.

To prep for returning, I started reading The Balanced Teacher Path which has really helped me get into the mood to set my mind right, and remember to support the teachers on my hallway. It’s such an easy read, contains personal stories, and suggestions for the classroom and home. I seriously recommend it, and think it would be an amazing all-school read.

I also got to spend today in training with all of the secondary counseling peeps in VB. It was tough to wake up early, but it was so perfect to get me reignited and ready for the year. I am itching to get in, take care of scheduling conflicts, and get the year rolling. It feels so good to be in a profession that excites me enough to get my tail out of yoga pants and into business.

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Student Transitions

I have had the most exceptional, fun, laid-back, good kids for the last three years. I cannot even begin to imagine what work will be like after this year as I tearfully drag my feet and throw a fit the size of adolescent attitude move forward and usher in a new group. We rotate at my Middle School, so I will also be back with the littles. It takes adjustment, but it is really exciting to meet a whole new group and start the puzzle all over again.

The 6th graders are so crazy different from 8th graders. It is hard for me to remember my students being those little minis only a couple of years ago. A handful of them cried at the mere expanse of the school, some of those quiet mouths have blossomed, and others walk taller every day. I have also had plenty of time to think about things that may have helped them transition to Middle School and be more successful while there.

One of the things that I would love to know in advance is who will be my frequent fliers from the beginning. How can I help them? I look at plenty of data to get ideas, but who can I keep from flying under the radar for a year causing me to lose essential support time. So I got an idea to send some SOS packets to Elementary counselors. They know them best, they have lived with them for the last 5 years and they have all the dish I need to know who to approach and how. Imagine the time saved in rapport building to already have an in!

I gave each of our feeder schools’ counselors a couple of SOS envelopes, and asked them to write their frequent flyer students a letter that might help them when the hormones hit the fan in Middle School. I can pull them out and have a link for the kid to an easier, more familiar time. I also included some CLMS swag so that they can give some away and also have Middle School stuff around their offices. I figured this might subliminally add some face-time for us.

When I’m not wagging my finger speaking with my 8th graders, I start to imagine students in 5th grade and what they are doing. They have no idea how different their life will be, and I can’t wait to see another group grow and experience.

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5x7x5

Buy these for your office! They are so fun and easy to use (once you look up the syllable configuration because it was only your favorite unit in MS because it was the easiest). I play with all different types of kids and they all get their artsy-mode on and love it!

Find them all over the interwebs or sometimes at Marshall’s!

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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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Mmm…binderssss…

Well, I’m not sure what my weekend therapy will be this weekend.¬† The only thing I can hope is that it is NOT food-craft, since I spent the last two¬†snow days eating and cooking, and cooking and eating.¬† I returned to school today mainly to run from the sugar-induced chronic heartburn I developed while gouging on¬†comfort foods.¬† I mean, in part¬†I think it was a reaction to fight or flight impulses- must isolate! On the other hand, snow days are akin to summers; you are on vacation and thus do not retain calories. Except you do and I gained ten pounds.

Anywho, I should find something relevant to talk about. Got it! Binders!  I have always had a second, very type-A  personality at my work places.  With two kids, a puppy, and a husband,  I clearly have very little control over my environment, so when I am at work I am a neurotic organizational freak.  I know the topic of binders does not seem exciting- and now that I can see my enthusiasm from an outsiders perspective, it does shame me a bit- but they are my life!  Ever since I started working in the school system, I have found that good binders can make your day insanely more time-efficient.  This, as we know, is the key to the educational job- because just as you gear up for one task, you just know a kid is going to be referred in crisis, or  an upset parent is going to call, or an impromptu meeting is going to be added, or an administrator is going to need to have something investigated, or you are going to remember a training or task that is almost overdue, or you can just take your pick.

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Those binders look so good I can hardly stand it. I really am sick, I know.¬† The mini one is my binder for quickie and informational meetings, and a place where I keep smaller bits of informaiton like class IDs or phone codes.¬† I like¬†pretty colored binders because I like to have happy things in my work environment.¬† I know how trite¬†that sounded, and I am ok with it.¬† The¬†Daily Record¬†binder has all of my daily notes sheets (I plan on sharing this later) so if I need to reference something in the past I have everything right there. The 504/SRT/SST binder houses all of my extra sheets, instructions, etc for these types of plans, so I can grab everything together when I’m running out of the office to meet a parent or team.¬† The Handouts binder keeps extras and master copies of things I use, mostly of which I have made (for every handsome binder I enjoy, I equally love to make informational handouts and worksheets- one of the most valuable things I learned in grad school).¬†

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The General Information binder is my baby.¬† My Queen B.¬†My BFF.¬† The pages have changed for different sites I have been in, and the tabs have changed for different jobs, but it travels with me.¬† I really vamped¬†this bad boy up after my internship, in which my site supervisor showed me what she calls her “Bible.”¬† So true.¬† This has my master schedule, meeting notes, registration information, school specific information, state information, resources, and core team specific information.¬† I yank this thing out several times a day, and again, can grab it as I glide over to a meeting or P/T Conference and have all of the sources I need.¬† This was especially helpful when I subbed at different schools, and started in my new school.¬† Let’s take a second to honor my Ace, my binder.¬† It just…it just makes me happy.

I have to recommend finding a system that works for anyone working in the school system.¬† It is the same as we tell the kids- when our work space is less cluttered, so too is our brain.¬† Seriously, I think having a binder system helps me to keep¬†the many tasks we are responsible for separate, while also making it easier to find the things¬†I¬†need in a pinch.¬† I certainly have gone to the dark side before, over-complicating my process, and have since¬†paired it down¬†to make things work for me in the moment.¬† I’m sure this will change as I do as a professional, but for the moment I know¬†what I need and where to find it. Now that’s some good workday therapy right there.¬†