Saturday, September 22, 2012

Girl Drama

It never fails that, each year, my school has a group of girls (grade 3 or 4) who cause girl drama!  I'm sure you would agree that it occurs in every school.  It normally starts with one girl who reports that one of her friends "isn't talking to me."  We talk about it, she says that she feels sad, and we plan to meet up after she has expressed her feelings to the other girl.  From that moment on, it seems that girls are "being mean to me" every day.  And then I reflect upon my own childhood...

The girls crack up when I tell them that I was, myself, a mean girl in the 5th grade.  I got pulled into the relational aggression (but we called it the "let's exclude" club).  I didn't have a counselor at my school, and the teacher was, I guess, too busy to even notice what was happening to this poor girl.  We were so mean to her, and we chose not to talk to her and even created an club that was geared at making fun on her.  Looking back, what we did was pretty minor, but it was still mean. 

Back to present day, I remind the girls that "being a girl is hard work."  The girls tell me that boys "have it easier," because they "are just mean for a day, maybe hit each other, and then make up."  Girls, on the other hand, harbor negative feelings about each other until they decide to just let it go.  I also remind the girls that, even as a 32-year-old, girl drama still exists into adulthood.  The best way to deal with it is to a) find at least one friend who will forever be loyal and b) learn the tools to be assertive.  I know...easier said than done, and I will have to admit to not always expressing my feelings assertively.  BUT, all of us girls know that drama will exist, but we can only learn to communicate our feelings to stand up for our beliefs!!!  You go, girl!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2...4...6...8...Who do we appreciate?

It's always nice to hear teachers make comments like, "Wow, you really do a lot for our school!" or "I appreciate what you do for my students."  I don't know if you have a WOW board, a place where you place any emails or notes you receive from kids, teachers, or parents.  If you don't, you need to make one!  I use one of my closet doors, and I tape any item that thanks me for what I do.  Some of my favorites are little cards given to me by students!  They are (usually) an illustration of how special I am to that student.  We all need that little bit of inspiration!!!

noun, plural ad·vo·ca·cies.
the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending 
I am not condoning that we PLEAD for support from our stakeholders, but I think we have the responsibility to recommend support.  How can we do that without blatantly asking for it?  I always say, "Actions speak louder than words."  I feel the most professionally fulfilled when I collaborate with a teacher to help a student.  With my actions, I am emphasizing the role of a school counselor; in turn, I am "recommending" that the teacher supports what I do.  It's kind of a win-win, as not only the student get help but also the teacher and me!  Accept this responsibility and advocate for your counseling program!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bulletin Board Magic

The sound of a stapler hitting the wall may be one of the best sounds ever!  It means that something is going onto my school wall; something that was created by a kid!  Often, my staff will walk by me using the said "stapler," and they'll make a comment like, "Just decorating our school again, Sarah?"  I just chuckle and always say, "Kids like to see their own work displayed."  It saddens me to know that some schools do not allow staples to be put in their walls, due to the type of wall material or the newness of the school.  REALLY, people???  What is more important than highlighting the work of a child?

Solution:  BULLETIN BOARDS!  I mean, there is no easier way to brighten up a hallway or help kids transfer your counseling lesson ideas outside of the classroom than with a bulletin board.  I used to use the rolled paper found in most school work rooms, but then I got smart!  I ventured to my oh-so favorite shopping establishment, a.k.a. Goodwill, and bought some bed sheets!  Duh...where had they been all my counseling life?  No longer do I have to worry about fading or riping.  Before I set up any boards at the beginning of the year, I must coordinate the fabric to the border that I normally buy at a local teacher store.  Now, the colors can't clash, but I have, on occasion, mixed pattern fabric with pattern border.  (Rebel, right?)  As I ever so elegantly staple the fabric to the wall, I consider what type of items will be placed on that specific board.  Will it be used for my monthly guidance lesson goodies?  Or, will it be used to feature that month's Bucket Fillers?  Either way, I know that my boards are magical, because they are kid tested and kid-approved!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who needs parents anyway??

Three words answer that question:  Our kids do! 

Sometimes, living in my counselor "bubble," I forget about the most important influences in our students' lives:  their parents.  Our school year started July 30, so we are currently in process of completing Parent/Teacher conferences.  Most years, I am not asked to sit in on any conferences, so I use those 5+ hours for planning, doing bulletin boards, consulting with parents informally, or talking with former students. 

This time of year, I have begun to learn more about my students, and I have learned their home situation.  In some cases, I realize that the school is the structured, consistent, safe place in the kids' lives, and going home means confused or fear.  However, in other, and MOST, cases, the home is the place where students are learning how to read, write, behave, and respect others.  As a parent of a Kindergarten student (I had my first elementary school P/T conference today...tear), I can now FULLY understand the importance of my role as a Mom.  Although I have full confidence in my daughter's teacher, I must accept the fact that I (and her Dad) am her main teacher.  It has to be my job to teach her the 5 R's...reading, writing, arithmetic, respect, and responsibility. 

As the conferences continue, I must seek out to connect more with our students' #1 fun! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Patriot Day 2012

In honor of 9/11/01.
Last year, I wanted our students to learn the importance of "giving back," and we celebrated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by participating in our first Day of Service!  I realized none of my elementary students were even alive on 9/11/01, and my principal and I discussed WHAT and HOW we would explain that day to the kids.  One of my teachers had the book (shown below), "September 12:  We Knew Everything Would be All Right."  I took pictures of all of the pages and made a powerpoint presentation for my teachers to project on their screens.  My principal read the words over our school-wide intercom, and the teachers "turned the pages" on the screen, so the students could not only hear the powerful words but also see the kid-drawn illustrations.  (My principal liked it so much, we're doing the same thing tomorrow!!!)
Great book for elementary students!
Beyond the book reading this year, our classes are also participating in some community service!  I paired my classes up, provided some themed stationary and construction paper, and the students are creating cards, letters, and pictures for local service men and women, Veterans, and the elderly at a local nursing home.  The focus is on SERVICE, and the students learn that we should "give back" to others, just as the men and women did on 9/11/01.  Let's all wear our red, white, and blue and celebrate the service given on September 11, 2001!  Happy Patriot Day 2012!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is my life!  I live in a home with my husband, Evan, my daughter, Addison, and my son, Ryne!  We live a crazy, busy life, but we wouldn't have it any other way!  I'm starting my adventure in "Blog World" after a recent discussion I had with someone who, I would say, is pretty important.  She recommended a blog, and I said "okay."  I follow a few blogs, and I have friends who write their own, so I realized that it couldn't be TOO hard.  So, here goes nothing...

I titled my blog, "A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Counselor," because the purpose of my stories will be to highlight the activities that occur both inside my counseling office and inside my school!  I have been a school counselor for seven years, and I couldn't imagine going to a better place each day! 

Look forward to (hopefully) some good ideas, advice, activities, and inspiration to help your classroom, counseling office, or even your home.  As I leave you now, and will always leave you, a quote from Erma Bombeck - "Children make your life important."