Putting Out Fires

We just completed our first week of STAAR testing.  My children have learned that during “testing weeks” mom works late and is a little on edge. 

It is a normal routine at our house, to ask, “how was your day?” 

My son said, “I probably shouldn’t ask you mom, but how was your day?  Let me guess, a little stressful?”  I told him that testing weeks are stressful, but I will certainly survive.  My husband, who is a principal and completely understands testing weeks, told my 7-year-old son that on testing weeks, mom is a Firefighter!  Of course, my children thought that sounded so exciting.

As the week progressed, I pondered on “Firefighter” and thought that is exactly what District Testing Coordinators are.  We are firefighters that walk around campus all day extinguishing the small fires and sometimes big fires we encounter.

As the week came to an end, we were driving home from dance class.  I listened to my children’s conversations in the back seat.  My son tells his sister that he loves nonfiction because it is all factual.  To his sister he said, “so tell me what you want to be when you grow up and I will explain factual.”  My daughter said, “I don’t know what I want to me.”  My son then says, “Think about it, what do you really, really want to be?”  My daughter, who is a stinker at times, responds with, “I guess you will have to wait until I grow up and then it will be a BIG surprise!”  My son lets out a sigh and says, “At least give me a little hint!”  She then says, “Okay, they work really, really hard.”  I roll my eyes in the front seat, thinking about how stubborn she can be with her brother.  Then, my son says, “Addi, that is easy.  You gave it away.  You want to be a school counselor like mom.”  “YEP! You guessed it!”

There are definitely times, during testing weeks, that I question why in the world did I get my Master’s Degree, why did I become a DTC, and why am I a school counselor.  Then, there are moments that occur and they remind me why I do what I do, and why I chose this path.

So, as we finish out the school year with all the many state testing exams, I will try to remember these lessons learned this week:

1. I am a firefighter, and we will survive & extinguish all fires that arise.
2. My kids know I work really hard.
3. Someone small out there thinks my job is really cool!

Teen Anger {book review}

Two of my favorite books for helping teens and pre-teens deal with anger are:

The Anger Workbook for Teens helps students know how to control their anger and learn how to feel calm.  So many times, you will find students that live with anger on a daily basis to the point where they do not understand what calm feels like.  The workbook helps students find healthy ways to express their feelings by creating a game plan and setting goals.

Mindfulness for Teen Anger is another great workbook I love to use that helps students discover the roots of their anger.  As counselors, we often have teachers that will say: "he doesn't control his anger, she gets mad over the littlest things."  However, as counselors we know that the immediate issue is typically not the root of the problem.  Students need to be able to find those underlying issues, so they can successfully move from anger to a state of happiness.

Poster Boards

Outside my office I have a magnet clip that I use to change out posters with inspirational quotes!  You will be surprised how many students comment and notice when I change the poster!

My favorite place to find fun and cute quotes is etsy.com

You can find an endless amount of instant downloads that are ready to be
printed and laminated!

(They have several educational posters to print)

Some of the quotes I frame or plaster all over my office door.

I also change out this bulletin board outside my office!

Just sharing a fun way to inspire your students!

Quick Meets

Meeting with 450+ students individually can be hectic.  I have learned that there are perfect times to grab students quickly and check to see if they need more that just a quick meet!  For instance, do your students have down time in the cafeteria at lunch once they have finished eating?  Do your students have a few minutes of downtime before the bell rings in the morning?  If so, then this is a great time to meet with students and gather some great information.

Once again, I use Google Docs to create a form that allows me to take quick notes.

One thing I added to this form was their grade level.  That way once I hit submit and it sends it to a spreadsheet, I can sort by grade level and make sure I meet with every student.

All children want to know they are cared for and that someone will listen.

Google Drive & Seniors

The Spring semester of school always brings on a crazy, sprint to the finish, hectic and busy time.  For those of you that have Senior students, it is time to begin some very important documents.  One way I keep track of my Seniors, is through Senior Meetings.  We have a break period, that I can sit in the cafeteria and quickly write down (type on iPad) all that they have completed.  I then, go back and set up times to meet with them individually in my office to help them finish up all necessary paperwork.  

I have found that a key aspect to getting Seniors successfully graduated and on route to their next endeavor is through active and open communication with parents.  I use a Senior questionnaire that contains specific items.  I then, print it and mail it home to their parents.  

You can use google docs to create a form.  I then walk around with my iPad and complete...

Make sure your Senior questionnaire has at least these items:

1. Where have you applied?
2. Where are you going to apply?
3. Checklist of items to be completed: (Housing, FASFA, Scholarships)

Utilize Google Drive.  If you do not use Google Drive to create forms, then start!  They save me so much time and all of my documentation is in one place.

Here is a screen shot of part of my Senior Questionnaire:

Student Name
What are you doing after you graduate?
 Have you applied to college?  If so, where?
What applications can I help you complete?
Have you completed your housing application?
Have you completed your FASFA?
Addition Notes

Once I hit submit, the form will keep track of all responses in a spreadsheet.

Our school has a FASFA officer that comes to our school to meet with Seniors.  He helps them gather necessary paperwork, obtain a pin number, and complete their application.

Happy New Year!

Santa Letters

The truth about Santa Letters...what they really say!

Ho!  HO! hO!

Santa Letters being published in the local newspaper might be a small town "thing" that occurs.  Even if those cute little Santa letters no longer get published in your local newspaper, your teachers may partake in this Christmas tradition.  Are your students still writing them?  Are they hanging on their lockers or on a teacher's bulletin board?

Well, our small town still publishes those cute little letters and I always hurry to get multiple copies for my children's scrapbook and all the grandparents.  However, this year as I was reading those Santa letters I was really shocked!  Yes SHOCKED!  I am not sure how I missed this, but Santa letters reveal so much about our students.  

My children attend the school that I am also a counselor for.  So, as I read through the Santa letters I noticed things about my students that I miss in the hallways.  I read about a little boy that wished for his mom to come home because he didn't know where she was.  I read about another student that was hoping his parents would make up for Christmas.  I read about a little girl that wanted money to give her parents because they didn't have any.  

Santa letters show so much that we often miss.  They really say, I need someone to talk to!  I am struggling at home.  

Take time to read those cute little letters, where ever they may be posted.  I certainly learned a lot that I didn't know before about the students in my hallways.