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.


I hope you are enjoying your Christmas break and catching up on some much needed rest and family time.  Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

Don't forget to follow me on Instagram at KayelaHarrell or twitter Counseling Hearts @KayelaHarrell

Trevor Romain

Trevor Romain has wonderful videos for school counselors.  
This week, I used his video: " Trevor Romain: Cliques, Phonies, & Other Baloney" to 
discuss how to be a true friend and how to be yourself.  We also discussed how you do not have to change yourself in order to have friends.  Real friends accept you for who you are.

You can also rent his videos from Netflix, if you do not have the money to buy his videos.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, from our family to yours.

A little Disney World Holiday fun...

Grinch Bullying

I am currently teaching a Bullying lesson over
You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch!

I start off by showing students a video clip of the Grinch at school from the movie.  Here is the Youtube Link:

The Grinch at School

I ask students how was the Grinch different from the other Whoville characters?
-He looked different.
-He was green.
-He was hairy.

The students made fun of the way he looked and the gift he wanted to give Martha.

We then read the story and I show them my little Grinch.  He comes out of a green bag...

I put together a packet for the students to work through.

(Mean, ugly, rude, stinky)

This page says:
If you are being bullied.
1. Tell them to stop.
2. Report it to your teacher.
3. Ignore, walk away, and think of your JOY.

When you are feeling sad or mad, if someone is upsetting you, don't let it bring you down.
Think of the JOY in your life.

Draw a picture of yourself in the O.
Write things that bring you joy in the letters J and Y.

I also created a page similar to the one above that asks
"Write adjectives to describe the Grinch's Heart at the beginning of the story."
(small, cold, mean)

I also included some coloring pages from free sites.  I just googled Grinch coloring pages.

Books to Share

I always have a book with me wherever I go.  I am currently reading:

Jesus > Religion (love this book)
By Jefferson Bethke

Start Something That Matters
By Blake Mycoskie (TOMS founder)

ASCA Journal

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."  -Mark Twain

During a time of grief

As I continue to grow in my profession, one thing I have learned is: Children Grieve Differently than adults do.  I have seen my fair share of devastating losses with the children in my schools (current and past).   It is not unusual to see children crying and then want to go play a few minutes later.  Children still pass through the stages of grief just as adults do.  However, children will look different.  Adults can grieve for a long hard time, whereas children can go through cycles or spurts.  Another aspect to remember is that children will grieve as they grow.  Years later, a child may miss a loved one during holidays or during a family time that triggers loss.  

Contacting the Family
Learning to speak to families during a time of loss is difficult.  This never gets easier, but my hope is that I continue to grow with this process.  Speaking to families during their grieving time can be challenging and it is easy to feel as though "we never say the right things."  A pastor friend always seems to know what to say and what to do.  I have learned the most from him. 

Some helpful questions and statements.
It is always important to express your condolences to the family.  Let them know that you are sorry for their loss.  Ask them, what can you currently do to help the family?  Let them know that your staff would like to bring food.  Ask them where the family is gathering.  It is also helpful if you can gather information about the funeral services.

Student’s Possessions
As soon as you are aware of a loss that affects a student, it is important for you to gather their belongings.  These are items that the family will want to keep and it is important for you to secure those possessions from their desk or locker, so they do not go missing.  These are cherished items for grieving family members.

I am not an expert, but I am always seeking information to help myself grow as a school counselor.  I hope you can take a little piece away from this post to help you with future grief counseling.

the {crawl}

i AM crawling to the finish

It is definitely December and I feel as though I am about to cross the finish line of Christmas Break.  Only a few months ago, I was packing a great lunch for my kids, had their backpacks ready, and clothes laid out the night before school.  However, at this moment I am doing the exact opposite.  I didn’t realize how I was completely failing at this thing called motherhood until last week. 

Addisyn came home with a star sticker on her face.  I asked her, “How did you get that awesome star?”  (Anticipating a great response like: I was quiet today, I was a great helper, or I was caught doing something great….)  Instead, her response was, “Mom this is what happens when YOU sign our discipline folders.”  My response, “Oh- so you get a star when mom does her mom job?”  “Yep, mom and you are not always the best at that.”

UGHHHH!  Yes, I sometimes forget to sign that lovely little folder that comes home every – single – day.  But I always look at it and it is always blank – which means my kids are doing good.  Although, their teachers repeatedly tell me that they talk nonstop.  HMMMMM… not sure how that all works, but it is working out for my kids!  So discipline wise- they are doing great! 

But let me say – in my defense.  I am tired.  I am tired of the spelling words, the nightly chapter books, & the math facts.  I know I am such a bad mom right now.  (I shouldn’t even be writing this post and admitting my defeat.)  I am an educator people!  I get the importance of all of this.  BUT- it is almost Christmas and I desperately need a mommy – school break.